Security Audit

Choosing A Managed Detection & Response Provider

Why Managed Detection & Response Provider may be the right move

Companies outsourcing security need Managed Detection & Response providers (MDR) more than ever to improve cyber resilience. With the security landscape growing more complex, and the costs of maintaining adequate in-house security teams high, it makes sense for many companies to outsource the tasks of threat hunting and response to ensure that they can promptly identify potential threats and react swiftly to mitigate damages. Managed Detection & Response providers often integrate tools such as Endpoint Detection & Response and other solutions to detect threats, analyze risk, and correlate threat data to pinpoint patterns that could indicate a larger attack.

How to choose the right Manged Detection & Response Provider

Smart moves: you’re making them. How do we know? For one, you’re investigating ways to close the gaps in your threat detection and incident response. Which makes sense, given that assembling the talent and tech to thoroughly thwart attackers requires more than most organizations can commit to. Even smarter, you’re checking out Managed Detection and Response (MDR) Services, an increasingly popular solution which combines expertise and tools to provide monitoring and alerting, as well as remote incident investigation and response that can help you detect and remediate threats.

9 things to look our for when choosing a Managed Detection & Response Provider

  1. Your Managed Detection & Response Provider should combine numerous data inputs from security detection tools, threat intel feeds, third party data sources, and the IT asset database to identify not only where there is a threat but its risk compared to others in the queue.

  2. Assess your company's present and future technology needs and initiatives. Qualify, quantify and communicate those needs throughout your company. Is the Managed Detection & Response Provider able to address your range of needs?

  3. Technology strategies should encompass people and processes as part of the organization's mission and strategies. Do they offer ongoing employee training as part of their service?

  4. Does the Managed Detection & Response Provider continuously assess your organization's performance for meeting objectives? You want a partner that focuses on continuous evaluation and improvement of your objectives.

  5. Review your company's goals and mission. Ensure they are clear and concise and can be communicated to all organizational stakeholders as well as your new IT partner.

  6. Perform annual policy and process reviews to assess organization's readiness for external reviews and incident response.

  7. Identify and create teams within your organization to define current challenges and align initiatives to those challenges.

  8. Through playbooks and pre-defined workflows, you can quickly assess and begin to remediate security incidents based on best practices. Ask a Managed Detection & Response Provider if they include such materials as part of their package.

  9. CIOs/CISOs should have unprecedented transparency to all aspects of the security environment. Through dashboards and visualization techniques, CIOs/CISOs will be more easily able to communicate with Managed Detection & Response Providers which vulnerabilities and threats exist and the risks of inaction.


Cyber security IT skills in-demand in US

There’s no doubt that demand for the technologically skilled will only increase in the upcoming years, as practically every company becomes a software-driven enterprise. A survey by the jobs site Monster found that in the US, jobs in the digital sector have multiplied at more than twice the rate of other non-digital tech sectors, and are predicted to grow by 20% in the next decade.

However, which skills will be particularly in demand? While it’s unlikely that the IT skills demanded by the jobs market today will become redundant within our lifetimes, the field is constantly evolving, and there are certainly growth areas on the horizon that IT professionals would do well to educate themselves in.

Cyber security

Cyber security is an area set to grow exponentially in importance in the upcoming years. Every time a breach is suffered by an organisation, there is a huge cost both in terms of financial loss and loss of reputation and brand value.

A recent study carried out by jobs site Indeed indicated that the US is dangerously short on cyber security skills and that the number of cyber security jobs advertised in the US is the third highest globally, meaning demand exceeded candidate interest by more than three times.

Development

Demand for skills in development is here to stay (for the time being anyway – this could change as soon as AI is more widely used to code). In 2017, the demand for software developers and engineers increased by 13% in the UK.

Devops

Another important area of growth is the trend for companies to take a devops approach to their IT departments, meaning that developers well versed in this outlook will be the most employable.

Cloud computing

It’s widely recognised that cloud computing is the future, and every IT professional should feel comfortable using these systems. Demand for cloud infrastructure specialists is increasing across the board.

Machine Learning and AI

These are two obvious areas of increasing growth. In the US, demand for AI jobs increased threefold between 2015 and 2018, even surpassing the UK in terms of demand.

Prevent DDoS attacks across your enterprise

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks feature amongst the most dreaded kinds of cyber attacks, for any enterprise today. This is especially because, as the name itself suggests, there it causes a total denial of service; it exhausts all resources of an enterprise network, application or service and consequently it becomes impossible to gain access to the network, application or the service.

In general, a DDoS attack is launched simultaneously from multiple hosts and it would suffice to host the resources, the network and the internet services of enterprises of any size. Many prominent organizations today encounter DDoS attacks on a daily basis. Today DDoS attacks are becoming more frequent and they are increasing in size, at the same time becoming more sophisticated. In this context, it becomes really important that enterprises look for DDoS attack prevention services, in fact the best DDoS attack prevention services, so as to ensure maximum protection for their network and data.

The different kinds of DDoS attacks

Though there are different kinds of DDoS attacks, broadly speaking there are three categories into which all the different kinds of DDoS attacks would fit.

The first category is the volumetric attacks, which include those attacks that aim at overwhelming network infrastructure with bandwidth-consuming traffic or by deploying resource-sapping requests. The next category, the TCP state-exhaustion attacks, refer to the attacks that help hackers abuse the stateful nature of the TCP protocol to exhaust resources in servers, load balancers and firewalls. The third category of DDoS attacks, the application layer attacks, are basically the ones targeting any one aspect of an application or service at Layer 7.

Of the above-mentioned three categories, volumetric attacks are the most common ones; at the same time there are DDoS attacks that combine all these three vectors and such attacks are becoming commonplace today.

DDoS attacks getting sophisticated, complex and easy-to-use

Cybercriminals today are getting cleverer and smarter. They tend to package complex, sophisticated DDoS attack tools into easy-to-use downloadable programs, thereby making it easy even for non-techies to carry out DDoS attacks against organizations.

What are the main drivers behind DDoS attacks? Well, there could be many, ranging from ideology or politics to vandalism and extortion. DDoS is increasingly becoming a weapon of choice for hacktivists as well as terrorists who seek to disrupt operations or resort to extortion. Gamers too use DDoS as a means to gain competitive advantage and win online games.

There are clever cybercriminals who use DDoS as part of their diversionary tactics, intending to distract organizations during APT campaigns that are planned and executed in order to steal data.

How to prevent DDoS attacks

The first thing that needs to be done, to prevent DDoS attacks from happening, is to secure internet-facing devices and services. This helps reduce the number of devices that can be recruited by hackers to participate in DDoS attacks.

Since cybercriminals abuse protocols like NTP, DNS, SSDP, Chargen, SNMP and DVMRP to generate DDoS traffic, it’s advisable that services that use any of these ought to be carefully configured and run on hardened, dedicated servers.

Do repeated tests for security issues and vulnerabilities. One good example is doing penetration tests for detecting web application vulnerabilities.

Ensure that your enterprise implements anti-spoofing filters as covered in IETF Best Common Practices documents BCP 38 and BCP 84. This is because hackers who plan DDoS attacks would generate traffic with spoofed source IP addresses.

Though there are no fool-proof techniques that can prevent DDoS attacks completely, you can ensure maximum protection by ensuring proper configuration of all machines and services. This would ensure that attackers don’t harness publicly available services to carry out DDoS attacks.

It’s to be remembered that it’s difficult to predict or avoid DDoS attacks and also that even an attacker with limited resources can bring down networks or websites. Hence, for any organization, it becomes important that the focus is always on maximum level protection for enterprise networks, devices, websites etc.

Maryland fails OIG security audit

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General audit of Maryland’s Medicaid system found the state did not adequately secure its Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) and Medicaid data, which potentially put patient data and operations at risk.

OIG performed a vulnerability assessment scan to determine if there were existing vulnerabilities on the MMIS network, devices, websites and database. And while OIG officials found the state adopted a security program for the system, there were “significant system vulnerabilities.”

“These vulnerabilities remained because Maryland did not implement sufficient controls over its MMIS data and information systems,” the report authors wrote.


 

While there’s no evidence of unauthorized access, officials found that if exploited, the system flaws would have allowed unauthorized access and exposed Medicaid data and “the disruption of critical Medicaid operations.”

 

Not only that, but officials said the vulnerabilities were significant enough that it could have compromised the integrity of the state’s Medicaid program. While details of the flaws weren’t publically disclosed, officials said they were caused by a lack of sufficient controls.

Officials made a series of recommendations to bolster the state’s security program and systems to meet federal requirements. State officials agreed with recommendations and outlined steps it had taken and their plans to shore up security.

Maryland is just the latest state to be audited by OIG, many with similar results. In fact, HHS itself had a less than stellar audit in Dec. 2017. The audits are intended to find flaws and improve security posture across government systems.

It should serve as a reminder for organizations to audit their own programs, as hackers are becoming more sophisticated and require just a small window to gain access to a network.