For our latest installment of Q&As with Philip Lieberman, President and CEO of Lieberman Software (see Cloud Computing and the Financial Services Industry: a Q&A), we’re covering recent trends in cybersecurity – state sponsored attacks, new legislation and the fastest-growing attack vector facing today’s enterprises.
IW: How serious of a threat are international state-sponsored cyber attacks? Is the risk as high for corporate enterprises as it is for government agencies, the military and power grids?
PL: The threat is extremely serious for both government and commercial entities. The probing of IT infrastructure is occurring 24/7 in both environments, with attacks being launched at both types of targets on a regular basis.
IW: Regarding President Obama’s new cyber initiative, is there an element where enterprises play a key role?
PL: Enterprises have always been the partners of government when it comes to cyber-security. This is especially true in the area of critical national infrastructure. The collaboration initiative is centered on new laws and incentives to industry to clean up its act in regard security, and to define the role that government takes in cyber-warfare. The commercial sector has rapidly developed a wide range of commercial off the shelf technologies to defend itself, and now these technologies and methods are being adopted in the government. The next step is to create a new legal and regulatory framework to force critical national infrastructure companies such as utilities to break the logjam of internal resistance to security caused by obstructive work rules and sclerotic corporate cultures that are unable to protect themselves from cyber-attackers.
IW: What fundamental changes should a corporate enterprise make to their information security processes to combat state-sponsored attacks?
PL: The first step that most organizations should make is to acknowledge that this is a real problem. Many companies assume that they have nothing of value, so the threats to them are minimal or non-existent. IT needs to be incentivized not just for uptime, but also for the quality of security, patching and forensic capabilities.
IW: How prepared are the majority of corporate enterprises today for battling state sponsored cyber attacks?
PL: The majority of corporations are completely unprepared for government level attacks. Most companies are pretty well prepared for amateur hackers and low-level criminals. Most organizations would benefit from better training, documented security processes and investment s in enterprise-level security solutions like privileged identity management.
IW: What is the fastest-growing attack vector for enterprises?
PL: The most dangerous threats are highly personalized attacks using custom developed software designed for one-time use against a specific individual. Using inexpensive and plentiful labor, as well as access to vast amounts of personal data on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and others, attackers can now create perfect email attacks that allow the insertion of remote control software onto corporate networks.