Evolving threats and new security incidents continue to trend in identity management and cybersecurity news across the industry. Enterprises and IT professionals recognize the need for better security protocols in the face of newer, bigger and more intimidating threats. “As threats and attacks increase, it’s important for organizations to design and implement customized layered security based on a comprehensive risk assessment to protect systems and data from unauthorized access in light of these current trends” says Henry Bagdasarian, Founder of Identity Management Institute.
Blackmail Comes to Ransomware
Ransomware is one of the biggest threats in recent years with a darker twist. As businesses improve ransomware detection and mitigation, hackers are upping the ante by launching attacks involving a combination of data theft and system lockdowns. Many are no longer simply demanding ransom payments in exchange for restoring system access. Now, hackers are threatening to expose stolen data if their targets refuse to pay.
This leaves businesses with little recourse but to meet hackers’ demands. Restoring data from backups may allow organizations to continue operating, but it doesn’t prevent hackers from leaking confidential information on dark web forums or posting it on public websites. Data leaks threaten user and customer security and put businesses at risk of being fined for privacy law violations.
Hackers are using the threat of these consequences to collect higher ransoms; however, companies have no guarantee stolen data won’t be leaked even after paying up. Focusing on strong, strategic identity management practices can help protect networks from such attacks and prevent incidents of catastrophic data theft and loss.
A criminal gang which was behind the REvil (Sodinokibi) ransomware extorted Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, a New York-based law firm which represents many celebrities, threatening to release sensitive files and data on the company’s clients following a successful hack and ransomware infection unless the the firm pays a $42 million ransom demand. After lawyers’ refusal to pay the ransom, the hackers leaked 2.4 GB of stolen data on Lady Gaga. The data reportedly includes contracts between the artist and her producers, live performers and other collaborators.
In addition to doubling the ransom demand, hackers also made another veiled threat against the celebrity law firm, threatening to release files related to US President Donald Trump. As a warning shot, hackers published the first batch of President Trump’s ‘Dirty Laundry’ emails after being branded as cyber terrorists. The gang threatened to publish Trump’s dirty laundry if the biggest cyber-ransom ever, $42 million was not paid.
Coronavirus Goes Cyber
Coronavirus outbreaks around the world have dramatically increased instances of searches for the name of the virus and related keywords. Hackers are exploiting this popularity to launch a wave of new phishing and malware attacks.
By hinting at conspiracy theories and playing off fears, hackers can potentially convince users to click on links in or download files from malicious emails. Instances of this type of phishing are occurring in various languages around the world. Researchers have uncovered numerous “unique” malware files associated with the trend.
People may receive emails citing a mysterious coronavirus cure or promising more information about a supposed new outbreak. If the phishing attempt isn’t recognized and a user’s device is infected, the malware can begin capturing account and login information through the use of keystroke logging.
Businesses need to be particularly diligent about alerting employees to these malicious phishing campaigns. It’s easy for people to panic and give into fear in the face of an apparent epidemic. Raising awareness can prevent reactive mistakes from undermining network security.
Blockchain Identity Management Market Shows Impressive Projections
Valued at $107 million in 2018, the market for blockchain identity management is projected to hit $11.46 billion by 2026. A look at what’s driving the growth reveals the desire for a decentralized self-sovereign identity solution providing up-to-date user information in real time. Companies and organizations are looking for identity management options with the ability to provide better, more scalable security solutions, and the blockchain shows promise in fulfilling these needs.
The concept of a single authentic identity stored immutably in the blockchain has applications across many industries. From banking to healthcare to business networks, blockchain identities could be used to build trust between all parties by using numerous authentication factors to verify individuals. At the same time, the blockchain could offer improved privacy protection to help both users and organizations maintain data security across platforms.
Zero Trust Implementation Drags in the Face of Doubts
Continuous authentication through zero-trust security has the potential to significantly improve identity and access management, but IT and cybersecurity professionals still lack the confidence necessary to implement the framework within their organizations.
According to a survey conducted by Cybersecurity Insiders, two-thirds of cybersecurity professionals are interested in using zero-trust security models, but one-third don’t feel equipped to actually deploy the strategy. Making the move to zero trust does require more effort than implementing other protocols. However, removing barriers to implementation allows businesses and organizations to address some of their most pressing security concerns, including:
• Endpoint security
• Privileged account management
• Vendor and other third-party account access
Laying a framework for transitioning to zero-trust security can guide security professionals and the companies with which they work in mapping out the steps necessary to cover all vulnerable areas of the network with this comprehensive form of access management.
The biggest takeaways for IT departments, cybersecurity professionals and enterprise executives are the need for stronger security and continuing user education. Changes in common threats like ransomware suggest further evolution in the future. Organizations need to be ready with appropriate defenses and responses.
Educating users minimizes the risk of the kinds of errors that lead to breach activity. By coupling educational initiatives with ongoing security improvements, organizations can create stronger protections against known threats and any new attacks appearing in the future.