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Emerging Threats Signal More Trouble for Financial Services Cybersecurity

Hedge funds, private equity companies, venture capital, and other financial services firms are prime targets for cyber criminals seeking to compromise data-rich institutions. Additionally, as keepers of valuable personal identifiable information (PII) and propriety data, the financial services sector is subject to increasing regulatory requirements as the cybersecurity threat landscape expands.

While financial firms have been highly motivated to make significant investments in cyber security, the need for risk management is only deepening from persistent threats. The Robinhood data breach is a recent reminder of the danger and the ease with which threat actors can gain access to networks. With over seven million customers affected, the Robinhood breach is the largest in history.

According to representatives from Robinhood, the cyber attack, which began with a social engineering exploit, has been contained and did not include social security numbers or account details. But what about the next time? What if the PII from over seven million customers found its way for sale on the dark web? The cascading consequences are staggering to contemplate.

“Financial services companies are incredibly popular targets because there are always new customers feeding the demand for personal and financial data to sell or use as leverage,” shares Chris Messer, CTO at Coretelligent. “Whether criminals are targeting your customers’ data to directly exploit, sell on the Dark Web, or to hold for ransom, the potential fallout for impacted clients and the financial and reputational risk to your business is extreme.”

There are more than a few emerging cyber threats that have security teams on edge. For example, the development of AI that can write better spearphishing emails than humans has staggering implications considering how many data breaches begin as phishing attacks. And don’t forget that phishing attacks are up by 22% in 2021.

In addition, AI-powered malware is a concern since it can target particular endpoints, making it more effective and profitable for hackers to cripple critical infrastructure and steal data with disruptive attacks. Finally, smishing incidents (like phishing, but via SMS) are also likely to increase in severity as attackers capitalize on a workforce that is increasingly doing business via their smartphones.

Multi-layered Approach to Information Security for Financial Service Organizations

Since businesses within the financial services industry are already required to have certain protections in place, it’s tempting to think that your organization is secure. But, unfortunately, between the increase in frequency and the changing nature of attacks—combined with the ever-changing compliance response—your cybersecurity implementation is not one-and-done. Instead, to keep up, a robust cybersecurity posture requires constant monitoring, continuing education of employees, periodic vulnerability assessments, regular penetration testing, and expert threat intelligence.

Coretelligent recommends implementing overlapping layers of security called defense-in-depth to protect your organization fully from ransomware attacks and other cyber incidents. These individual layers should include everything from easy-to-implement practices to complex security tools to defend your financial services organization. This defense-in-depth infographic highlights the cybersecurity strategy and best practices that Coretelligent employs for continuous multi-layered protection. These include next-generation firewalls, endpoint security, patch management and security updates, access management policies, advanced spam filtering, and much more.

Defense-in-depth

Coretelligent’s Multi-layered Cybersecurity Solution

Are you looking to evaluate your organization’s current security coverage? Use our Cybersecurity Evaluation Checklist to help assess your firm’s cybersecurity readiness. This checklist is a jumping-off point to help your firm determine its current cyber risk exposure and readiness for critical event management.

After completing the checklist, reach out to learn more about how Coretelligent can help to strengthen your cybersecurity posture now and into the future.

How Can Executives Manage Cyber Threats by Building a Culture of Cyber Readiness

cyber threatsReducing your organization’s risk from cyber threats requires a holistic approach. Cybersecurity should be integrated across all divisions and at all levels. Cybercriminals do not recognize your internal organization or care about job titles but seek to exploit any weaknesses they discover.

Cyber threats threaten your ability to operate, your reputation, your bottom line, and even the survival of your organization.

The foundation of effectively managing cyber risks requires building a culture of cyber readiness amongst your employees. Most cyber incidents begin with a human action—phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, malicious software, malware attacks, and other persistent threats usually start with an employee unknowingly initiating them by clicking on a malicious link or trigging malicious code by opening an attachment.

How to Effectively Protect Your Organization from Cyber Threats?

How can you, as a leader, promote a culture of cybersecurity readiness to reduce your risk from these types of threats? Here’s a high-level, holistic roadmap for considering how best to incorporate security throughout your firm to defend your organizational assets.

→ Executives – Drive cybersecurity strategy, investment, and culture

As a leader, it is essential that you understand the basics to help integrate cybersecurity as a significant component of your operational resilience.  And that resiliency requires an investment of both time and money. This investment will fuel actions and activities that build and sustain a culture of cyber preparedness that will protect key infrastructure and intellectual property.

→ Employees – Develop security awareness and vigilance

Employees are a critical line of defense. Gone are the days when security threats were the sole responsibility of the IT team. Securing an organization in this current cyber threat landscape requires education, awareness, and participation from all. Therefore, any investments in cybersecurity must include strong end-user training.


Related Resource → 7 Cybersecurity Tips for Practicing Good Cyber Hygiene


→ Systems – Protect critical assets and applications

Data is the foundation of any business; it is the most valuable asset. Know where your data resides, know what applications and networks store it, and know who has access to what data. Build security into the critical infrastructure of your organization’s data to protect against outside attacks.

→ The Digital Workplace – Ensure only those who belong have access

Implement authority and access controls to manage employees, managers, and customers’ access to your digital environment and protect against unauthorized access. Setting approved access privileges requires knowing who operates on your systems and with what level of authorization and accountability.

→ Data – Make backups and avoid the loss of information critical to operations

Even well-protected systems can be breached if someone makes a mistake. Therefore, make protecting data a priority by implementing a thorough a robust backup program. Additionally, develop a plan that will allow you to quickly recover systems, networks, and data if a breach occurs.


Related Resource → Think About IT: The Case for Cloud Backup


→ Incident Response – Limit damage and quicken restoration of normal operations

The strategy for responding to and recovering from a cyber incident involves developing an incident response plan and regularly evaluating that plan and preparing for its use for business continuity during a crisis.

3 Strategic Actions to Tackle First

Defend Against Cyber Threats with Coretelligent

Balancing business initiatives with security and technology can seem challenging, but Coretelligent can help. We provide white-glove, fully managed, and co-managed IT services to highly regulated industries like financial services and life sciences. In addition, our comprehensive security and backup and disaster recovery solutions work for you around the clock so you can have peace of mind. To learn how Coretelligent can help your business, contact us at 855-841-5888 or via email at info@coretelligent.com.

How to Spot a Phishing Email

How to Spot a Phishing EmailEmail phishing activity increased significantly in the second quarter of 2021, especially in the financial services sector. According to a 2021 Mimecast report, 60% of survey respondents saw increased phishing emails with malicious links or attachments over the past year. That’s not to mention the FINRA incident in June, in which criminals perpetrated a phishing attack by sending fake emails to FINRA members.

Common attacks are nothing more than online scams involving gift cards, while some are targeted spear phishing campaigns with the goal of gaining access to corporate networks. The best defense against fraudulent emails is educating end-users on how to spot a suspicious email. Phishing schemes often have signs that can trigger recipients to question their veracity. The key is to slow down and pay attention to the details. To that end, we have put together a list of ten common phishing email characteristics.

10 Signs of a Phishing Scam

  1. It just doesn’t look right – Is there something a little off with the emails? Too good to be true? Trust your instincts about the warning signs of potentially suspicious activity.
  2. Generic salutations –  Instead of directly addressing you, phishing messages often use generic names like “Dear Customer.” Using impersonal greetings saves the cybercriminals time so they can maximize their number of potential victims.
  3. Links to official-looking sites asking for sensitive data – These fake websites are often very convincing, so before revealing personal information or confidential data, examine the site to make sure it’s not a fraudulent website.
  4. Unsolicited email that uses personal details about you – Information like job title, previous employment, or personal interests can be gleaned from social networking sites like LinkedIn and then used to make a phishing email more convincing.
  5. Unnerving phrases – Thieves often use phrases meant to scare you (such as saying your account has been breached) to trick you into acting without thinking, and in doing so, revealing information you ordinarily would not.
  6. Bad grammar or spelling – Grammar mistakes and misspelled words are a dead giveaway in a basic phishing attack. The use of unusual syntax is also a sign that something is wrong.
  7. Urgent request – For example: “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed.” By convincing you the clock is ticking, phishing scammers hope you’ll make a mistake by clicking on a phishing link or opening a malicious attachment.
  8. You’ve won the grand prize – This phishing technique is common but easy to spot. A similar, trickier variation asks you to complete a survey (thus giving up your personal information) in return for a prize.
  9. Verify your account –  These types of phishing attacks spoof real emails asking you to verify an online account with a site or organization. Always question why you’re being asked to verify – there’s a good chance it’s a scam.
  10. Cybersquatting – Often, cybercriminals will purchase and squat on website names that are similar to an official website in the hopes that users go to the wrong site, such as www.google.com vs. www.g00gle.com. Always take a moment to check out the URL before entering your personal information.

Coretelligent’s Recommendation:

It is essential for your organization to have comprehensive solutions for cybersecurity designed by a trustworthy, proactive provider. Our CoreArmor solution offers 24/7 intrusion detection and monitoring, in-depth assessment to identify vulnerabilities, best-in-class phishing testing and end-user awareness training, and more. Your organization must be protected against emerging email threats in 2021 and beyond. Contact us today for strategic guidance on how to mitigate the security risk from phishing attempts.

Cybersecurity Tips

Cybersecurity TipsCybersecurity Awareness Month, now in its 18th year, aims to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity in both our professional and personal lives. Held every October, Cyber Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure that individuals, organizations, and businesses have the cybersecurity tips and resources they need to be safe and secure online.

Every year, led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), Cybersecurity Awareness Month sends a clear message about security and the importance of partnership between government and industry, from the White House to individuals.

Doing our part to help raise awareness, Coretelligent will be sharing information and resources to help keep your business safe from cybersecurity threats. To kick things off, we have put together a list of cybersecurity tips as a quick introduction to persuade your team to assess your firm’s current security readiness from a cyber attack. Stay tuned throughout October for more cybersecurity tips and resources.

Cyber Security Tips for Good Corporate Cyber Hygiene

  1. Double (or triple) up on login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) across your organization for all accounts and devices to ensure that only authorized users gain access to your secure data. CISA’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) How-to-Guide is a good resource for more information.
  2. Shake up your password protocol. According to the NIST guidance, users should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Encourage end-users to switch up passwords across applications, accounts, and websites. Using unique, strong passwords can make it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access and protect your organization in the event of a breach. A password manager and online password generator can be employed to generate and for remembering different, complex passwords. Another solution is to employ SSO to control passwords centrally and avoid user password sprawl across various platforms, which can lead to poor password choices, reuse, and insecure safekeeping.
  3. If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, or another networked device, the best defense against viruses and malware attacks is to perform updates on a regular basis to verify that the latest software updates get applied to your software, browser, and operating systems. A plan that includes the automatic security update is a critical layer of security and part of a multi-layered defense strategy.
  4. Don’t get hooked. Cybercriminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. So if you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate— or if the email looks phishy, do not respond and do not click on any attachments or suspicious links in emails. Instead, report the phishing attempt to help your IT team and email provider block other suspicious fake emails before they arrive in your inbox. In addition, the use of random phishing simulations are a valuable exercise to help end-users spot phishing attempts.
  5. Beware of social engineering traps. Many people don’t realize that much of the posts seen on social media asking for seemingly random details are created by criminal networks. They use these posts to gather data that can be mined for potential passwords and other secure information. For example, posts like, “What car do you wish you still had?” or “Tag your childhood best friend” can be used to help criminals work out the answers to your security questions. Not only can these tactics impact personal data, but are used to target employees in order to gain access to corporate networks. Read CISA’s Social Media Cybersecurity Tip Sheet for more information about good social media and cybersecurity practices.
  6. Don’t forget about mobile. Most connected Internet of Things devices are supported by mobile applications. Mobile devices are often filled with suspicious apps running in the background, or using default permissions users never realized they approved, that are gathering personal information and login credentials without user being aware. A robust cybersecurity posture should include a plan for protecting data from employees using compromised mobile devices to access to corporate networks.
  7. Stay protected while connected. Utilizing Virtual Private Network (VPN) for employees remotely connecting is the best way to protect networks. A VPN creates a secure connection that encrypts information so that it’s hidden as it travels. This connection makes it harder for attackers to see and access data. VPNs are essential when accessing sensitive data like personally identifiable information (like social security numbers) or protected health information, especially when using public wi-fi networks. In today’s hybrid workplace, VPNs are a must to protect against suspicious activity.

From a phishing attack to a ransomware attack, cyber threats are constantly evolving. If you are unsure whether your firm employs good cybersecurity hygiene practices or not, then it may be time for a security check-up. Remember, cybercriminals will use any security vulnerabilities they can find to gain access and steal data. You can start with these cybersecurity tips and move on to using our free Cybersecurity Checklist to review your security measures. Coretelligent is here to help with advice from our cyber security experts about our enhanced security solutions designed specifically for small-to-mid-sized companies. Reduce your risk from security incidents, contact us today for help responding to your cybersecurity gaps.

CIA Triad

This article is the first in a series breaking down one of the fundamental concepts of cybersecurity. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy reading this post. In fact, it’s designed to help executives gain a deeper understanding of cybersecurity in order to better evaluate their firm’s posture. Part 2 can be found here.

What is the CIA Triad?

The CIA Triad is a fundamental security model that acts as a foundation in the development of security policies designed to protect data. It is comprised of three tenets: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.

In theory, the CIA Triad combines three distinct means of interacting with data to create a model for data security. First, the principle of confidentiality requires that only authorized users have access to data within a system. The second tenet of integrity imparts the necessity of the trustworthiness and veracity of data. The final component of availability dictates that data must be accessible where and when users need it. The intersection of these three concepts is a guiding framework for protecting digital information.

What Are the Origins of the Triad?

As much as the name implies, the CIA Triad is not related to the Central Intelligence Agency; although, their cyber security program almost assuredly utilizes the model.

The individual principles have existed since even before computer data became a reality in the mid-twentieth century. And they were independently utilized in data security since then, but it is not known when the tenets were first thought of as a triad. The term is mentioned in the 1998 book Fighting Computer Crime, and it appeared to be the standard among security practices at that time. No matter when the idea of the Triad was first conceptualized, the principles have long been in use by security professionals who understood the need to make information more secure.

Where Does the CIA Triad Fit into Cybersecurity?

Effective protection of digital assets begins with the principles of the CIA Triad. All three tenets are necessary for data protection, and a security incident for one can cause issues for another. Although confidentiality and integrity are often seen as at odds in cybersecurity (i.e., encryption can compromise integrity), they should be balanced against risks when designing a security plan.

The CIA Triad forces system designers and security experts to consider all three principles when developing a security program to protect against modern data loss from cyber threats, human error, natural disasters, and other potential threats. It is a springboard for conceptualizing how information should be protected and for determining the best way to implement that protection within a given environment.


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Why the CIA Security Triad is Essential

The Triad is essential because it is a reliable and balanced way to assess data security. It weighs the relationship between confidentiality, integrity, and availability from an overarching perspective. The framework requires that any attempt to secure digital information will not weaken another pillar of defense. Additionally, the CIA Triad effectively identifies risk factors in IT systems. It is also a gateway for even more advanced risk assessment and management tools, such as the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list and the National Vulnerability Database.

Coretelligent incorporates the core tenets of the CIA triad in our cybersecurity, managed IT, cloud solutions, and more. We guide our clients on how best to balance making their data secure, available, and reliable. To learn more about our solutions, reach out for a consultation with our team.


Related Content →  Evaluate your security readiness with our  Cybersecurity Checklist.


Defense-in-depth Multi-layered Cybersecurity

Defense-in-depth Multi-layered Cybersecurity

Within weeks after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, the company was already facing two class-action lawsuits. In the latest filing, gas station owners allege that Colonial Pipeline “intentionally, willfully, recklessly, or negligently” failed to secure their critical infrastructure from cyberthreats adequately. The cost of defending these lawsuits can be added to the amount of revenue lost during the 5-day shutdown, the $4.4M ransom Colonial paid to hackers, and the estimated tens of millions of dollars it will take to restore their systems.

Independent audits commissioned by Colonial in 2018 acknowledged their inadequate cybersecurity protections before the cyber attack, including the avenue the hackers utilized to breach their systems. This detail implies that Colonial could have avoided the attack if they had implemented the recommended changes.

When was your company’s last vulnerability assessment? Have you made the recommended improvements? Do you know how to address your security vulnerabilities?

Are you putting your business at risk because of your deficient posture?

What is at stake from a ransomware attack?

  • Financial loss from shutdowns and restoration efforts
  • Reputational damage
  • Fines and penalties from regulators
  • Permanent loss of proprietary data
  • Exposure of confidential and proprietary data
  • Costly lawsuits from clients, employees, and others impacted by data breaches or loss of productivity from stoppages
  • The complete failure and dissolution of your company

Could you defend your current strategy to investors and regulators if a breach occurred?

 

Escalating Threats

The potential risks from a deficient or merely adequate cybersecurity posture are just too significant. The escalating cyber threat landscape requires a rigorous, dynamic, and proactive security strategy. The only way to truly protect your firm from cyber threats is with a robust cybersecurity position. The most secure approach is utilizing multi-layered protection, often referred to as defense-in-depth. Without this method, your company is an easy target for threat actors, and it could even be considered negligent in the event of cybersecurity incidents.

To provide some context—your lax security approach is just as negligent as leaving your front door wide open and announcing to the world that you are out of town for the week.

 

Defense-in-depth Multi-layered Cybersecurity

This infographic demonstrates the multi-layered approach to security, specific best practices, and their associated Coretelligent solutions.

 

What Does Multi-layered Security Strategy Encompass?

Defense-in-depth is a system of overlapping security layers that range from easy-to-implement controls to complex security tools. These layers are designed to create an interlocking barrier, not unlike the security system at your home, which might include a door with a deadbolt, motion-detection lights, security cameras, and an alarm system that act as overlapping protections designed to safeguard your home. These individual protections combine to work as a system that is continuously protecting your home. Multi-layered cybersecurity operates in the same manner. And just like your home security defends on two fronts—as a deterrent to criminals and as a barrier for any criminals foolish enough to attempt to break in—a strong cybersecurity posture defends on two fronts.

Our defense-in-depth infographic highlights the cybersecurity best practices that Coretelligent employs including next-generation firewalls, endpoint detection and response, patch management and security updates, access management policies, advanced spam filtering, and more.

 

Coretelligent’s Multi-layered Cybersecurity Solution

Looking to evaluate your organization’s current security coverage? Use our Cybersecurity Evaluation Checklist to help you appraise your firm’s cybersecurity readiness. This checklist is a jumping-off point to help your enterprise determine its ability to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks before it is too late.

 

 

After completing the checklist, reach out for questions about how Coretelligent can help to strengthen your cybersecurity. Learn more about what we offer, including cloud-based solutions, backup and business continuity services, IT planning and strategy, compliance solutions, and more here.