SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Cybersecurity guidance for board members: how to tell if your organisation is a breach target

By Patrick Martlew
Thu 24 May 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article written by CrowdStrike vice president of services Thomas Etheridge

Long gone is the belief that cybersecurity is just an IT issue and that senior leadership doesn’t have to play a role in risk management. To meet the evolving security challenge requires an enterprise-wide approach, and leadership from the board has never been higher or a more pressing priority. This is especially important with Scams Awareness Week 2018 currently taking place, urging all Australians to take a more proactive approach to protecting against threats from phishing to identity theft to false billing.   

As a board member, it’s important to consider why an organisation may be targeted and it’s important to embrace the maxim that states “the ‘what’ is less important than the ‘who’ and the ‘why.’” The intent behind this statement is that malware and other methods used in an attack offer little from a strategic perspective. Though they represent critical details about what happened and how to remediate that individual incident, what's more important - strategically - is to identify the actors and motives behind an attack.

Motivations in a cyber world

Cybersecurity threats should be evaluated based on the following motivations; espionage, criminal and hacktivist. Within each of these categories, it’s possible to outline a set of likely adversary types who execute cyberattacks with those motives in mind.

These attacks can be financially motivated, destructive or focused on stealing intellectual property to gain a geopolitical advantage. Being aware of the various types of attacks adversaries will use is important to help board members understand modern threats that are constantly evolving and trying new techniques.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently released their annual report which explains the key scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on communities in Australia. The report found that a total of $340 million was lost, a $40 million increase compared to 2016 – and these are only the scams that have been reported.

Knowledge of who is likely to attack an organisation and why helps to arm board members with some of the information they need to issue guidance on their organisation’s defensive posture. It also prepares them to be as effective as possible in the event of a cybersecurity incident. In addition to understanding the attacker’s motives, board members must have similar discussions about the perceived value of an organisation’s systems and data, along with a view into valuable information from strategic intelligence sources.

With the introductions of the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, now more than ever board members need to have an understanding of the risks of a cyber breach and the legal requirements when it comes to the organisation's response.

High-Value Asset vs. High-Value Target

Cybersecurity is all about risk management. Understanding risk through the cybersecurity lens requires a conversation around assets and targets. Organisations often use the term “high-value asset” to define those systems, applications, data sets, etc., that it views as worth more to the organisation than other assets. It's the organisation’s own view of what the “crown jewels” are. Conversely, high-value targets are those the adversaries are looking to compromise.

Understanding this difference is important when considering how best to prepare for the inevitable cyberattacks of today. You certainly should solidify your defences to protect your high-value assets, but don’t be so short-sighted as to ignore the perceived value that others may place on different areas of your business.

Similarly, the antiquated idea that “they don’t care about little ol’ me” should be removed from consideration by every organisation with an Internet connection. Low-hanging fruit still has plenty of juice in it for the wide range of online adversaries that exist today.

Additionally, supply chain partners were the initial attack vector in 12 percent of incident response cases CrowdStrike investigated over the past 12 months. This means that adversaries leveraged companies that were often smaller and less secure to gain access to their end target through a trusted partner relationship. This means, your organisation may not be the ultimate target, but you could become collateral damage as the attacker compromises your environment to reach their desired goal.

The role of the board in a discussion over what constitutes “high-value” is to help the organisation see the forest in spite of the trees. Because board members are not living the mission of the organisation daily, in most cases board members are in a perfect position to provide an assessment of value from a more objective vantage point.

Additionally, many board members are selected for their vast experience across multiple organisations and industries. This provides members with an opportunity to speak from a perspective that is different from those within the organisation.

One last note about high-value targets: as a member of the board, you probably are one. Threat actors often focus their efforts on an organisation’s senior leaders because of the influence they wield and the information they have access to. Make sure you have taken the appropriate steps to secure your own business and personal accounts and ask your security staff for guidance on how to best protect yourself and the companies you oversee.

Strategic threat intelligence can help

Understanding adversary motives and placing a value on your organisation’s assets is often made easier when you’re able to leverage threat intelligence. Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) takes on two primary forms. Tactical intelligence is information that can immediately improve your defences against known vulnerabilities and attacks. Examples include IPs or URLs, malware signatures and suspicious patterns, or other indicators that can be added to your preventative tools.

Alternatively, strategic intelligence informs high-level activities that an organisation can take to properly calibrate its security posture. Examples include information about new attack methods, shifts in targeting behaviour by threat actors, or political or economic events that are likely to inspire a shift in threat actor activity. This intelligence is not as simple to apply to the organisation as tactical intelligence but may ultimately prove to be more valuable because it can inform both security and business decisions.

As a board member, you may not have access to either tactical or strategic CTI by default, but your decisions should be informed by at least the strategic patterns and threats in these reports. Ask your IT leaders how they’re incorporating threat intelligence into the day-to-day decision-making process, how it informs their understanding of the threat the organisation faces, and how that threat is evolving.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Adatree, Brother, Databricks, Nutanix & Rubrik
We round up all job appointments from May 20-26, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
4/10 Australian SMEs fallen victim to cyber-attacks since pandemic
Almost four out of teb SMEs in Australia have fallen victim to cyber-attacks since the pandemic began, according to a new study.
Story image
Transport
Third-party automotive apps bear significant privacy risks
Mobile applications for connected cars provide various features to make life easier for motorists, but they can also be a source of risk.
Story image
Malware
Fortinet introduces self-learning AI in latest offering
Fortinet is introducing self-learning AI capabilities in its new network detection and response offering, FortiNDR.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Phishing
Vishing attacks reach all time high - Agari and PhishLabs
"Hybrid vishing campaigns continue to generate stunning numbers, representing 26.1% of total share in volume so far in 2022."
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Ransomware
Employees on the frontline of cyber defense - report
In the first quarter of 2022, employees found themselves more than ever at the frontline of cyber defense, according to a new report from Kroll. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Microsoft
Global cybersecurity insurance market worth $11.5b this year
Future Market Insights finds the cybersecurity insurance market is expected to reach USD$11.5 billion in 2022, growing to $61.2 billion in 10 years.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Phishing
WhatsApp and QR codes the next scam threat - report
KnowBe4 has warned it expects to see an increase in QR Codes and the WhatsApp chat platform being used for phishing and other scams. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Asia Pacific plagued by sophisticated bad bots - report
The three most common bot attacks were account takeover, content or price scraping, and scalping to obtain limited-availability items.
Story image
VPN
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Microsoft
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
Phishing
MailGuard warns of new scam targeting Telstra customers
Telstra customers in Australia are being warned of a new scam involving "Unsuccessful Payment" messages.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Training
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
Malware
'Alarming' rise in ransomware threats - Verizon report
As criminals look to leverage increasingly sophisticated forms of malware, it is ransomware that continues to prove particularly successful.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
BYOD / Bring Your Own Device
How zero trust can lead the battle against ransomware
SecOps teams champion a zero trust strategy to support the fight against the escalating risk of cybercrime and help monitor threat actors across a network.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Ransomware
APAC ranks third-highest region targeted by ransomware
Asia Pacific has ranked the third-highest region globally to be targeted by ransomware, according to cybersecurity firm Group-IB.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.