Daily Tech Digest - September 20, 2020

Why disaster recovery preparation is even more important during a pandemic

From a cyber perspective, disaster recovery during a pandemic raises new challenges as well. The rapid expansion of remote work introduces new vulnerabilities. Many organizations have relaxed perimeter security controls to allow remote connectivity, introducing new threat vectors that threat actors can exploit to gain access to networks. Lately, many of these attacks have focused on ransomware and data destruction, which encrypt data and often corrupt critical backup systems, rendering existing disaster recovery plans unusable. An "all hands on deck" approach to manual recovery is often the only response to these conditions. Unfortunately, social distancing protocols and remote work arrangements can make those manual recovery efforts an impossibility. ... IT disaster recovery generally falls into one of two categories: A natural disaster event (earthquake, flood, etc.) or a system failure (such as failures in hardware, software or electrical). This year, actual DR responses we have witnessed have included issues with local or regional power outages, or power infrastructure issues. We have seen this across multiple industries including financial services with outages during peak customer windows and prolonged recovery times.

Iranian hacker group developed Android malware to steal 2FA SMS codes

In a report published today, Check Point researchers said they also discovered a potent Android backdoor developed by the group. The backdoor could steal the victim's contacts list and SMS messages, silently record the victim via the microphone, and show phishing pages. But the backdoor also contained routines that were specifically focused on stealing 2FA codes. Check Point said the malware would intercept and forward to the attackers any SMS message that contained the "G-" string, usually employed to prefix 2FA codes for Google accounts sent to users via SMS. The thinking is that Rampant Kitten operators would use the Android trojan to show a Google phishing page, capture the user's account credentials, and then access the victim's account. If the victim had 2FA enabled, the malware's 2FA SMS-intercepting functionality would silently send copies of the 2FA SMS code to the attackers, allowing them to bypass 2FA. But that was not it. Check Point also found evidence that the malware would also automatically forwarding all incoming SMS messages from Telegram and other social network apps. These types of messages also contain 2FA codes, and it's very likely that the group was using this functionality to bypass 2FA on more than Google accounts.

Clean Coders: Why India isn’t on the List

A more vexing element that drives the problem — a majority of the Indian software companies look at software purely as a business. It’s mostly about getting the deliverables ready on the quoted time and almost never about striving for quality results. Consequently, the team treats coding as a task to be ticked off with numbers rather than a task requiring quality — something that would actually educate folks to avoid future mistakes. It’s a chain reaction, really. When the organization itself does not prioritize clean quality coding when a product is being developed, most coders lose the urge to be curious about better practices and approaches since they have to direct all their efforts into meeting deadlines. Even to this day, many skilled professionals in the industry lack the ability to convey their ideas and pain points effectively during client meetings or within the team. Organizations need to establish the fact that coding is only one aspect of the job and that communication is equally important. Especially in the service sector, when we are constantly collaborating on large-scale projects, it’s absolutely crucial for clients and internal teams to be on the same page.

6 big data blunders businesses should avoid

Owing to modern technologies, all trades, irrespective of size, have access to granular and rich data that is based on their operations and clients. The major hurdle in this is dealing with a massive quantity of data that are both challenging to maintain and costly to manage. Despite the presence of appropriate tools, dealing with such data is a cumbersome activity. Errors are a frequent presence with the layers of complexity involved in dealing with Big Data. However, Big Data holds diverse leverages for businesses. ... Thus, Big Data becomes the defining leverage for innovative enterprises to gain an edge over their competitors. The usage of these data is sure to exceed 274.3 billion by 2022 globally with each individual generating approximately 1.7 megabytes of information per second.  With such leverages in point, can you really afford to make mistakes with regard to blunders regarding Big Data? So, here are some big data blunders that businesses need to avoid to harness its full capabilities and enjoy the leverages that it brings.

Tracking global cybercrime activity and the impact on the digital economy

The EMEA region saw lower overall attack rates in comparison to most other global regions from January through June 2020. This is due to a high volume of trusted login transactions across relatively mature mobile apps. The attack patterns in EMEA were also more benign and had less volatility and fewer spikes in attack rates. However, there are some notable exceptions. Desktop transactions conducted from EMEA had a higher attack rate than the global average and automated bot attack volume grew 45% year over year. The UK originates the highest volume of human-initiated cyberattacks in EMEA, with Germany and France second and third in the region. The UK is also the second largest contributor to global bot attacks behind the U.S. One example of a UK banking fraud network saw more than $17 million exposed to fraud across 10 financial services organizations. This network alone consisted of 7,800 devices, 5,200 email addresses and 1,000 telephone numbers. The overall human-initiated attack rate fell through the first half of 2020, showing a 33% decline year over year. The breakdown by sector shows a 23% decline in financial services and a 55% decline in e-commerce attack rates.

Load Testing APIs and Websites with Gatling: It’s Never Too Late to Get Started

If it is your first time load testing, whether you already know the target user behavior or not, you should start with a capacity test. Stress testing is useful but analyzing the metrics is really tricky under such a load. Since everything is failing at the same time, it makes the task difficult, even impossible. Capacity testing offers the luxury to go slowly to failure, which is more comfortable for the first analysis. To get started, just run a capacity test that makes your application crash as soon as possible. You only need to add complexity to the scenario when everything seems to run smoothly. ... If an average can give you a quick overview of what happened in a run, it will hide under the rug all the things you actually want to look at. This is where percentiles come in handy. Think of it this way: if the average response time is some amount of milliseconds, how does the experience feel in the worst case for 1% of your user base? Better or worse? How does it feel for 0.1% of your users? And so on, getting closer and closer to zero. The higher the amount of users and requests, the closer you’ll need to get to zero in order to study extreme behaviors. 

Who Should Own Data Governance?

Many organizations position data governance under the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Other organizations position data governance under the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) or the Chief Operational Officer (COO). In addition, some organizations position data governance under the Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) or the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). These days there are so many C-levels. Placement of data governance under any one of these C-level people is never wrong. Data governance must reside somewhere and having a C-level person as your Executive Sponsor is always a good thing. In fact, many organizations state that senior leadership’s support, sponsorship and understanding of data governance is the number one best practice for starting and sustaining their program. Having a C-level person as your Executive Sponsor often dictates where data governance will reside in the organization. Is it better for data governance to be placed in Finance and report through the CFO than it is to have it reside in Operations and report through the COO? The answer to that question is, “It depends.” It depends on the interest and ability of that person and that part of the organization to provide for the proper level of capacity in terms of resources to operationalize and engage the organization.

Why Are Some Cybersecurity Professionals Not Finding Jobs?

Simply stated, these good people cannot get hired in a cyber job. Going much further, they argue that select organizations (who discuss millions of unfilled jobs) are pushing their own training agendas, certifications offered, want to boost certain company stock prices or have other reasons to encourage this “abundance of cyber jobs remain vacant” narrative, even though it is not true, in their opinion. I want to be clear up front that, I disagree with this narrative. I do believe that many (perhaps millions but we can argue the numbers in another blog) global cybersecurity job vacancies do exist. Nevertheless, I truly sympathize with these people who disagree, and I want to try and help as many as I can find employment. I also want hiring managers to set proper expectations.  In addition to my blogs and articles, I have personally mentored and helped dozens of people find cyber jobs, from high school students to new college graduates to CISOs and CSOs. (Note: this is not my "day job" but one way I try to give back to the security community – just like so many others are doing as well.) I also champion ways that government CISOs struggle in this area, and how tech leaders can find more cyber talent.

Seven Steps to Realizing the Value of Modern Apps

With organizations running a multitude of environments to meet the demands of their applications, each with unique technological requirements, finding the platform isn’t the only challenge. What’s hard is that the development and management is more complex than ever before, with IT and developers navigating traditional apps, cloud- native, SaaS, services and on-prem, for example. Here’s where you need a common ground between IT teams, Lines of Business and developers – where having a single digital platform is critical – to remove the potential for silos springing up, enable the better deployment of resources, and provide a consistent approach to managing applications, infrastructure and business needs together. It’s about creating one, common platform to ‘run all the things’. One, software-defined digital foundation that provides the platform – and choice of where to run IT – to drive business value, create the best environment for developers and help IT effectively manage existing and new technology via any cloud for any application on any device with intrinsic security. One platform that can deliver all apps, enabling developers to use the latest development methodologies and container technologies for faster time to production. 

4 measures to counteract risk in financial services

Financial services regulators across jurisdictions have identified concentration risk as a factor to consider in assessing risk in outsourcing. That risk has two components (i) micro-risk where reliance on a single provider for core operations may present an undue risk of operations if there is a single point of failure and (ii) macro-risk where reliance on financial firms within the ecosystem are so reliant on a vendor that a single point of failure risks causing a broad systemic risk to the operations of the financial services sector. Notably, this risk is not unique to cloud services and, as the Bank of England commented in its Consultation Paper on Outsourcing and Third Party Risk Management, “a small number of third parties have traditionally dominated the provision of certain functions, products, or services to firms, such as cash machines or IT mainframes.” In other words, the issue of concentration risk is not net new but has been a feature within the financial services industry for decades. While cloud remains relatively nascent compared to entrenched providers of legacy systems, like the mainframe, its increasing adoption means that financial institutions must account for, and mitigate against, micro-risk issues of concentration in use of cloud providers.

Quote for the day:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” -- Viktor E. Frankl

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