Monday, 18 November 2019 14:36

Drones might pose an emerging security risk: CyberArk


Drones need to be treated as any other Internet of Thing devices, with software that gathers and stores sensitive information that needs to be protected, according to IT security company CyberArk Labs.

In its latest report on the top cyber security trends that will shape 2020, CyberArk says organisations need to consider who has the ability to control the drone’s activities, what information the drone is storing, how access to that information is being managed and monitored, and ultimately who owns responsibility for securing it.

“These questions will need to be addressed by the creation of a security framework that can help mitigate emerging security risks and potential regulatory and compliance challenges,” CyberArk says when referring to a Goldman Sachs prediction that businesses will spend more than US$17 billion in the next five years on drone functionality - with an emphasis on innovation and development.

According to CyberArk, to date the security concern around drones has mostly been focused on the physical damage that could be perpetrated by nefarious actors, including nation states.

But CyberArk says that in 2020 “we could start seeing attackers focus more on what drones know and how that information can be exploited for intelligence gathering, corporate espionage and more”.

“While it’s true that drones have the potential to do physical damage, the longer-term opportunity for attackers is to use drones as another pathway to steal – and manipulate – sensitive information,” the security company warns.

On security trends, CyberArk also reported:

  • The butterfly effect of ransomware: In the first nine months of 2019, reports indicate there were between 600-700 ransomware attacks on government agencies, healthcare providers and schools in the U.S. alone. Cities and public sector organisations around the world have faced a steady barrage of ransomware attacks, with momentum continuing to build heading into 2020. With the goal of these attacks aimed at disruption and destabilising systems, cities and towns in particular will need to elevate their approach to cyber resiliency. The constant bombardment will have a butterfly effect that’s impact will reach far beyond what we’ve seen to date.
  • Attacker innovation shifts to the cloud: The absence of spectacular ransomware attacks like Petya doesn’t mean attackers have stopped investing in malware. They’re just shifting their focus. In many ways attackers subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. The malware families that have been around for years still work, and are effective for many reasons, mostly because many organisations still neglect to adhere to basic patching practices. That said, attackers keep looking for new ways to monetise their assaults. If they’ve got malware that is steadily performing in Windows environments, what’s the next target? Wanting access to a greater diversity of systems, including cloud environments and containers, we’ll begin to see innovation in ransomware that focuses more on Linux to take broader advantage of digital transformation trends.
  • Cyber insurance gold rush fuels ransomware attacks: Despite government warnings not to pay the ransom in ransomware attacks, more organisations are turning to cyber insurance to protect their assets and uptime. We expect to see a significant increase in the number of entities buying cyber insurance, making it one of the fastest growing markets related to cyber security. In fact, cyber insurance is projected to be a $7 billion market in the U.S. alone. However, this investment in “protection” is having a contrary effect – and will drive even greater waves of attacks. Attackers will target organisations with cyber insurance because of the high likelihood of getting paid. This is because insurance companies weighing the cost benefits of a pay-out will often choose to do so if the cost of the ransom is less than the cost of downtime needed to rebuild a network. Ultimately, this gold rush will benefit attackers – tilting the power in their direction, fuelling resources and spurring the need for policy changes and disruption across the insurance industry.
  • Election security: Cyber Attacks as a disenfranchisement mechanism election security is a hot topic for democracies everywhere. While much of the discussion tends to focus on disinformation campaigns, including the use of deepfake technology to influence opinion, attacks will evolve to have a broader disruption theme that goes beyond media. Beyond ballot box tampering, it’s important to consider the broader impact of disruption and disenfranchisement. Attackers have repeatedly demonstrated skill at causing disruption – when it comes to impacting democracy, we could see disruption come in many – even seemingly disconnected – forms. We’ve considered the impact of stalling major transportation systems – like buses and trains – in major metropolitan areas that could keep citizens from safely getting to the polls. A sequencing of these attacks that impact core infrastructure – halting transportation, shutting down the electrical grid or launching an attack on voter registration databases – can have a domino effect and impact the ability for the voting system to operate consistently with trust and reliability.

Biometrics creating a false sense of security in the enterprise

With biometric authentication becoming increasingly popular, we’ll begin to see a level of unfounded complacency when it comes to security.

While it’s true that biometric authentication is more secure than traditional, key-based authentication methods, attackers typically aren’t after fingerprints, facial data or retinal scans.

Today, they want the access that lies behind secure authentication methods. So, while biometric authentication is a very good way to authenticate a user to a device, organisations must be aware that every time that happens, that biometric data must be encrypted and the assets behind the authentication are secure.

Even more importantly, the network authentication token that’s generated must be protected. That token, if compromised by attackers, can allow them to blaze a trail across the network, potentially gaining administrative access and privileged credentials to accomplish their goals – all while masquerading as a legitimate, authenticated employee.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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