IT Security Stories to Watch: Cybercriminals Attack the White House
The White House cyber attack tops this week’s IT security stories to watch, as cybercriminals recently targeted an unclassified computer network used by ‘s senior staff. Also in the news, updates on the Home Depot breach, a new study from Ponemon and a survey from Thycotic.
This cyber attack against the White House appeared to be exploratory, and The New York Times pointed out cybercriminals may have been probing the White House’s unclassified systems.
A White House official last week confirmed the cyber attack, and the incident raises questions about the White House’s IT security strategy.
What do managed service providers (MSPs) need to know about the White House cyber attack? Find out in this week’s edition of IT security stories to watch:
1. Cybercriminals attack the White House
Cybercriminals who reportedly may have been working for the Russian government attacked the White House last week.
White House officials said the intruders did not damage any White House systems, and to date, there has been no evidence that the White House’s classified network was hacked.
“In the course of assessing recent threats, we identified activity of concern on the unclassified Executive Office of the President network,” a White House official told The Washington Post. “We took immediate measures to evaluate and mitigate the activity … Unfortunately, some of that resulted in the disruption of regular services to users. But people were on it and are dealing with it.”
2. Home Depot data breach costs credit unions nearly $60 million
How much damage did The Home Depot (HD) data breach cause? A new Credit Union National Association (CUNA) survey that included responses from 835 credit union participants showed the incident may have cost credit unions nearly $60 million.
CUNA researchers found 7.2 million credit union credit and debit cards were affected by the Home Depot data breach that the retailer started investigating in September.
“The bottom line is that credit union members end up paying the [data breach] costs — despite the fact that the credit unions they own had nothing to do with causing the breach in the first place,” CUNA President Jim Nussle said in a prepared statement.
Nussle added he believes Congress needs to step in to protect consumers and vendors against data breaches.
“Congress must act to protect consumers by taking steps to enhance data security standards for merchants,” he said.
3. Ponemon: IT is losing the cloud security battle
A new Ponemon Institute study commissioned by SafeNet revealed the majority of IT professionals said they believe it is more difficult to use conventional security practices to protect sensitive data in the cloud.
The study, titled “The Challenges of Cloud Information Governance: A Global Data Security Study,” showed 71 percent of IT professionals confirmed that cloud computing is very important today, and 78 percent said they believe it will remain important over the next two years as well.
Researchers also found, however, that 70 percent of respondents agreed that it is more complex to manage privacy and data protection regulations in the cloud, and the types of corporate data stored in the cloud, such as emails and consumer, customer and payment information, are the types of data that are most at risk.
“The findings reveal that global organizations are struggling to secure data in the cloud due to the lack of critical governance and security practices in place,” Ponemon Institute chairman Dr. Larry Ponemon said in a prepared statement. “To create a more secure cloud environment, organizations can begin with simple steps such as including IT security in establishing security policies and procedures; increasing visibility into the use of cloud applications, platforms and infrastructure and protecting data with encryption and stronger access controls such as multi-factor authentication.”
4. Thycotic: User management and monitoring tools are key
How many organizations have been victimized by cybercriminals recently? A new survey from Thycotic and IANS Research of 100 IT professionals showed every respondent said his or her organization has experienced a significant attack or data breach in the past two years.
Other survey findings included:
- 62 percent of respondents said cybercriminals took advantage of unchecked, excessive privileges to move laterally or escalate access within the organization during their attack.
- 37 percent credited network intrusion detection solutions with the discovery of cyber attacks, while others were primarily aided by host-based intrusion detection software (24 percent), local system logs (14 percent), behavioral patterns of access attempts (10 percent) and anti-malware technology (10 percent).
- Of organizations that detected privileged account and credential abuse, nearly 47 percent said that the initial attack compromised a privileged user’s workstation, while 31 percent indicated that a privileged user’s credentials were stolen.
“We have long passed the point where organizations can afford to ignore the significant threat that cybercriminals pose to companies’ sensitive data and customer reputation,” Thycotic CEO Jonathan Cogley said in a prepared statement. “With new data breaches occurring every day, those in charge of IT security must acknowledge the fact that there is no silver bullet for securing important information. Organizations need to invest in strong privileged user management and monitoring tools that allow them to not only shore up protection alongside other security initiatives, but also to aid in determining where attacks began in the event of a breach.”