Emerging Trends in Network Security

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‘We are building our lives around our wired and wireless networks. The question is, are we ready to work together to defend them?’, [1] asks the FBI in its cybercrime page. With 2015 showing an alarming increase not just in the number of cyberattacks but also in the diversity of attack methodologies, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.

Current threats to network security

Cyberattacks, whether passive or active, are currently less about bragging rights and more for monetary gain. Data exfiltration for ransom and industrial espionage has increased. Extortion payments in bitcoins and hactivism — attacking organizations’ IT for social/political causes, has gone up too. Adoption of the cloud computing services has thrown up new issues too, including those that arise due to the lack of standardization in admission and resource allotment on public clouds.

Trends in cyber security breaches show an increase in viruses and malware introduced through

-        mobile apps

-        aging Windows XP OS, 32/64 bit-based OS

-        low security IoT expansion

-        social networking

Trends also show an increase in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and core level security compromises like Government and private network surveillance too. So, how does an internet bound community fight back?

Current trends in network security:

Worldwide, organizations are fighting back, endeavoring to define standards and laws to bring order to the internet and online networking. Network security standards are being set by the ETSI (TC-CYBER), while the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is coming up with an open internet standard. Nations are also coming together to pass laws that will enable convicted hackers to be extradited to face charges.

However, an organization’s network’s security remains the organization’s responsibility. Today’s digitized organizations recognize the losses in intellectual property, money, and reputation that a cyber attack can cause, and work aggressively to thwart such threats. Security systems in place include:

-                    Implementation of compulsory two and three factor authentication and cloud-access    protocols

-                    Anomaly-based intrusion detection systems

-                    Stringent Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that prevent sideloading of apps

-                    DDoS mitigation installations

-                    Stress on protecting data with minimal effect on data sharing — Cross Domain Solutions (CDS),  data diodes (one-way data transfer systems), specially trained Data Protection Officers (DPOs) and more

-                    Professional vulnerability assessments of networks and apps

-                    Increased attention to security and regulation of IoT

-                    Honeynets (with network accessible decoy Honeypots to lure potential hackers)

-                    Incident response strategies that outline how the organization will prepare for, respond to,  recover and learn from a cyberattack.

-                    Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) for security monitoring and management

-                    Continuous monitoring of developments in the cyber security services worldwide

-                    Increasing adoption of Cloud-based Security as a Service (SaaS) solutions with trusted security service providers

Yes, the threat of cyber-ruin is very real for any organization with a network that connects to the internet from even one of its connected devices. However, with the CXO’s realizing the importance of prevention, better warriors on the right side, and the world ready to defend together, we hope to see more apprehends, more convictions, and definitely more secure global networking.

[1] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cyber Crime, accessed December 2015, https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber

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