Facebook fraud, WhatsApp fraud, ransomware, and Identity theft. It is impossible to spend any time online or following world news and not have heard at least one of these terms. Cybercrime has become increasingly common in modern global society due in great part to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 abruptly forced the world online, permanently changing the way we do business; reducing capital expenditure, and resulting in an estimated 47% increase in productivity (Prodoscore), indicating that the culture of remote work could be a mainstay.
However, this change also presented increased opportunities for malicious digital actors or attackers. These attackers at once capitalized on the increased access to the less digital savvy. As such, 2021 saw an unprecedented increase in cybercrimes by approximately 600% globally (PurpleSec). Additionally, the frequency of the attacks was not the only factor to increase, the average impact per incidence also grew. It was reported that the average increase in cost for a data breach rose by $137,000 USD(BestPractice).
The type of cybercrime to record the most impressive growth was ransomware, which spiked by a massive 1,885% against governments, an average of 288% against corporations, and 755% against healthcare providers, even leading to the first recorded ransomware-related death(SonicWall, Forbes). Individuals may not have suffered to the same degree from ransomware attacks, but there has been a significant increase in the frequency and impact of digital fraud and identity theft worldwide. The most significant trend, however, is the increase in direct attacks against supply chains such as the Colonial Pipeline hack (TechTarget), showing that cybercrime can change quality-of-life society-wide.
With no sign of a decline in 2022 and beyond, it is critical that individuals and enterprises take steps to better secure their digital assets. At Trenchant Cyber Ops, we believe in a usable defense-in-depth approach, which begins with increasing awareness of cyber threats, and cybersecurity principles, and using Human-Centered Design techniques to develop user-friendly and intuitive (usable) security practices to mitigate these threats.
Usability and awareness are important. Despite all the newest, complicated technical countermeasures you can deploy to safeguard both individuals and enterprises, it only takes one click to compromise an entire network, and in some cases even satellite networks (e.g., supply chain). This article will serve as an introduction to the basic cybersecurity knowledge necessary to secure your digital assets.
Cybersecurity is a collection of all practices, policies, and technical measures that stand between digital attackers and their potential victims. At Trenchant Cyber-Ops we define it as follows:
“Cybersecurity is the attempt to protect digital assets from theft, manipulation, or access by unauthorized persons”
We holistically approach this process, using and advocating what we call usable defense-in-depth as our core philosophy. Defense-in-Depth (DiD) consists of using overlapping lines/levels of defense to reinforce each other and increase the cumulative security of the environment. It requires user security awareness, policies, procedures and documentation, and technical defenses. At Trenchant we have evolved DiD into a more impactful form by applying Human-Centered Design principles to inform every stage of the DiD process, making our approach truly intuitive and usable. We know that if your users/employees find your security protocols cumbersome or inconvenient, they are prone to forget or circumvent them whenever possible, weakening the security of your digital assets.
To understand the true impact and importance of user awareness and usability, we simply need to consider the overlap between individual and enterprise cybersecurity. A compromised enterprise can leak precious personal identification information of the individuals associated with it (clients, employees, service providers). This information can be used by skilled attackers to better target these individuals with customized attacks. Conversely, compromised individuals are one of the largest threats to enterprises. Attackers can use them as the perfect attack vectors to target all enterprises they interact with on some level. Usable Defense-in-Depth offers enhanced protection for both direct and indirect /networked digital assets
Now that we have established an awareness of the threat posed by cybercrime, and the basics of the approach necessary to secure your digital territory and assets, we will briefly list the key components of the usable defense-in-depth model. These are:
- Password management
- Technical tool management
- Operating systems
- Network Switches and Routers
- Wireless Networks
- Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), & Honeypots
- Physical Security
- Social Engineering Defense and OSINT exposure
We will explore these approaches in the second part of this series, found here.