Summer is the ideal time for taking a well-deserved break. Unless you are in charge of your company’s cybersecurity.
As your employees leave the office to enjoy a summer vacation, they are accessing company systems remotely through unsecured Wi-Fi and mobile networks. At the same time, when the office empties out, it can be challenging to maintain a strong cybersecurity posture. Less staff on call means fewer people are keeping an eye on cyber defenses; therefore summers are often plagued by longer response times.
Summer Is The High Season for Hacks, Breaches and Cyber Incidents
Not that the other seasons are all that quiet. Throughout 2017 we witnessed the hacking of Homeland Security, the Democratic National Convention (DNC), and other major incidents. However, summer takes the crown as the high season for cyber attacks. If you don’t believe us, take a look below at just some examples of massive summer breaches and cyber attacks.
- August 2016: Cyber criminal Peace listed 200 million Yahoo user credentials for sale on the dark web.
- August 2016: SWIFT, the system banks use to send payment instructions, was hacked at least three times over the summer. One of the attacks resulted in threat actors stealing over $80 million from Bangladesh Bank.
- May 2017: Within a day WannaCry has infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, affecting UK’s National Health Service, Telefónica, FedEx and Deutsche Bahn, along with hundreds of companies worldwide.
- June 2017: The “NotPetya” ransomware cyber-attack has hit two of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, Mondelez and Reckitt Benckiser, with Reckitt Benckiser estimating a £100 million hit in revenue as a result.
The list goes on and on, with events growing steadily more sophisticated and threatening.
Unsecured Wi-Fi Exposes Your Sensitive Data
Millions of people are on the move during the summer, which means they are relying on public Wi-Fi at airports, hotels and restaurants. Since 2013, the number of public hotspots has grown by 888%, exceeding 250 million worldwide.
Most people are completely ignorant of the risk they take when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, and your employees are not an exception. According to a recent survey, over 60% of people mistakenly believe their data is safe while on public Wi-Fi, while at the same time 87% of U.S. consumers have used the readily available public internet.
Not only are these hotspots easily hackable, but often they are set up by hackers for the sole purpose of stealing sensitive data and credentials. Hotels, airports, and public Wi-Fi networks aren't exactly strongholds of cybersecurity. Since 2016, 1,200 InterContinental Hotels suffered hacks, Trump's luxury hotel chain was hit by malware attacks, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide were hit by a data-stealing hack attack, to name just a few.
Public Wi-Fi is extremely convenient to use, and you can safely expect your on-the-go employees to use it at one point or the other. Quite often they will use unsecured networks to access company assets remotely or log into their company email, exposing these assets to hackers. During the summer, when the exodus of employees on vacation begins, this translates into significantly higher levels of risk that IT teams, CSOs and CISOs need to address.
Less Staff = Longer Response Time
At a time when companies are especially vulnerable to threats, security teams have less staff manning the office. Since IR teams often rely on various blends of automatic and manual technology, with less personnel, vigilance is weakened and response times get longer.
This is especially problematic for CISOs and their security teams, as the longer that the breach remains undetected, the more severe the damage will be—in both the long and short-term. Cyber attackers have the opportunity to go deeper, to hijack more devices and to do more serious damage before their penetration is even noticed. This has clear implications for the ultimate cost of the incident to the organization.
Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of Data Breaches study shows a clear relationship between how quickly an organization can identify and contain cyber incidents and the ultimate cost of the breach. More specifically, when a breach was identified within 100 days, the average cost was $5.83 million per breach. However, when a breach went undetected for longer than 100 days, the average cost increased by nearly 40%, amounting to $8.01 million.
No enterprise can allow security levels to be compromised simply because employees are on vacation or sick leave. Dependency on manual vigilance is no longer a viable solution for preventing cyber penetration.
Automated IR is by nature proactive rather than reactive, ensuring accurate detection and response regardless of external factors. It entails automated alert investigation, ongoing recording of all events, zero-gap endpoint and incident visibility, and remote surgical remediation—all this, without relying on the presence or absence of a large response staff.
Protect Your Employees On The Go
Ignorance about the risks of remote access should be addressed. Employees should be given recurring cybersecurity training and encouraged to know their role in the prevention and response process to handle security incidents, especially when working or logging into the company’s network remotely. To increase protection, installing automated IR agents on their laptops could help remediate the potential incidents quicker.
Enjoy Summer Without Breaches
Summer is an opportunity for hackers to take advantage of less staff on call and increased remote access combined with possible ignorance when it comes to the use of public Wi-Fi and mobile network security. In addition to cybersecurity training, companies should take advantage of automatic IR agents to effectively protect vulnerable systems even with fewer staff around to respond to alerts and contain the breaches.