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4/16/2015
03:00 PM
Ryan Vela
Ryan Vela
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Breach Defense Playbook

How to be smart about defending against your next attack.

Over the next several weeks, this blog series will outline breach prevention and incident response services that organizations can use to stay ahead of hackers and not fall victim to the cyberbreach fallout. However, before we look forward, let’s look back and recount what we’ve seen in the news recently so we can learn from others:

  • January 2015, Anthem: 80 million sets of names, birth dates, member IDs, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and employment histories are stolen from the second-largest health insurer in the U.S. Victims include current and former Anthem health plan members, and also non-members with other insurance companies for whom Anthem managed paperwork.
  • April-June 2014, Community Health Systems: 4.5 million patient records that included names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers, and social security numbers were available to hackers. The Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability was used for infiltration.
  • April-September 2014, Home Depot: 53 million email addresses and 56 million credit and debit card accounts were stolen from the largest home improvement retail chain. Hackers used custom malware to scrape data from self-checkout registers.
  • July 2014, JPMorgan Chase: 83 million personal accounts and 7 million small business accounts were stolen from the largest U.S. bank. Hackers stole the login credentials for a JPMorgan employee. One system that was not upgraded for two-factor authentication was targeted for infiltration. The same hackers also are suspected of targeting Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, E*Trade, Regions Financial, ADP, and Fidelity Investments.
  • February-March 2014, Ebay: 145 million users were asked to reset their passwords. Hackers stole email addresses, encrypted passwords, birth dates, addresses, and other information. Hackers were able to infiltrate the organization and access a database by using stolen employee credentials.
  • November-December 2013, Target: 70 million user accounts and 40 million credit and debit card accounts were stolen. Hackers used a third-party vendor to access the network and then used scrapers on point-of-sale devices to steal data.
  • British Airways, Japan Airways, Premera, Uber, Slack, Mozilla, Sony Pictures, Staples, UPS, Neiman Marcus, Korea Credit Bureau, European Central Bank, AOL, Living Social, Evernote, Gamigo, Court Ventures, Adobe, UbiSoft, Zappos, Steam, NHS, Blizzard, Sony Play Station Network, and the list goes on and on. I have been tracking over 100 major breaches since 2004.

If organizations want to keep their names off this list and out of the headlines, they need to know where to start. First, they need to identify what matters most within their organization so they can align their security strategy behind it. Whether it is financial data, personally identifiable information, or intellectual property, organizations need to know what directly influences their reputation (and revenue). Once they understand this key aspect of their cyber-infrastructure from a strategic perspective, they can make the right investments to protect it and secure the environment.

Second, organizations should get visibility into the data moving into, out of, and between segments of their network. Only through inspecting and adjudicating the content of moving data can an organization ensure that malicious activity is not going on.

Lastly, organizations should focus on implementing a defense-in-depth strategy for their cyber-infrastructure. Along with the “not if, but when” maxim, defense-in-depth will decrease the risk of critical data compromise while at the same time increase the probability of intrusion detection.

Building on these lessons, this blog series will examine the playbook organizations should follow to prevent and prepare for breaches. The series will begin with deterrence by talking about cybersecurity engineering, penetration testing, and security controls. Then it will touch on detection by hunting for breach indicators. From there we’ll move to prediction by reviewing an organization’s security program as well as using open-source intelligence. And, because we live in a “not if, but when” breach world, we’ll delve into response and assessing an organization’s incident response readiness. Lastly, we’ll get into governance with respect to risk, audits, and assessments. Stay tuned!

Ryan Vela is a Regional Director for Fidelis Cybersecurity. He has 15-years' experience in conducting investigations and digital forensic analysis. Ryan served as a Strategic Planner at the Defense Computer Forensics Laboratory (DCFL), where he established plans for the ... View Full Bio
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