Security is essential for a business. However, on the other hand, security is something we all wish would just happen by itself. We don’t want to spend much time adjusting settings or fixing problems. We just want our devices and data to be safe as if by magic. At least I do. And companies do not wish to appoint too many resources to the management of security, but wish to find a cost-efficient but still totally reliable way to handle security.
Since joining the company a few months back, I have had the pleasure to listen to many talented and extremely enthusiastic people talk about security – and the solutions related to it. In these months I think I have learned more about the security threats and how to prevent them than in all the years of my working life so far. One of the key learnings is that the foundation of security is to have the right tools for all levels of security.
Wouldn’t you want to stay on top of this all 24/7, but effortlessly? For that, you need a central, holistic security management tool. Without it, this can all be too hard and time-consuming and you would need a lot of resources to take care of the security issues.
Luckily, this can all be very easy with the right tool. F-Secure Policy Manager is a security management tool that lets you shift your security to autopilot. As Yoshito Sato from Green House company puts it: ”We do not have to worry if each computer is secure or not anymore”.
European Cyber Security Month (or National Cyber Security Awareness Month as it’s known in the US) is just around the corner. And considering the recent disclosure of Yahoo’s massive data breach, it seems like a good time for companies to give some consideration to their cyber security policies. One person glad to see it arrive is F-Secure Cyber Security Advisor Erka Koivunen. Erka, who’s advised people, companies, and even governments on how to protect themselves from online threats for years, wants to let people know that security is more than relying on the latest technologies or devices for protection. It’s just as much about processes and practices as it is about technology. That’s why Erka is participating in an “Ask me Anything” session on Reddit called “How to Create a Culture of Security.” Erka will answer your questions about what you, your colleagues, and your boss need to know about being hacked. Plus, Erka will be joined by Cosmin Ciobanu from the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (better known as ENISA, the organized of European Cyber Security Month) to provide some additional insights on how to improve security in workplaces around Europe. This will be Erka’s second AMA, having previously fielded a range of questions about online privacy in an AMA conducted last Data Privacy Day. The AMA session on October 4th kick-off at - New York (EDT) -> 9:00 AM - UTC -> 13:00 - London (BST = UTC+1) -> 14:00 - Berlin (CEST = UTC+2) -> 15:00 - Helsinki/Athens (EEST = UTC+3) -> 16:00 We’ll update this blog post with the link as soon as it’s available, so check back here so you don’t miss out. UPDATE: Click here to go to Erka's AMA on Reddit.
Cyber security is becoming a huge industry. After all, the data breaches, cyber espionage, and ransomware infections you read about the news are hardly good things. Companies are now making big investments in putting a stop to these problems. That means jobs. And cyber security jobs are generally pretty good. One recent study points out that cyber security jobs pay almost 10% more than other IT positions. And because more companies are hiring more cyber security specialists, and because the cyber security industry is expanding rapidly, it’s a good time to start thinking about getting into the field. Cyber Security Base with F-Secure is a course series created by F-Secure and the University of Helsinki. The series aims to get potential cyber security experts into the workforce by giving them the basic training they need for entry-level cyber security positions. The course series, conducted through the University of Helsinki’s MOOC, is open to the general public as well as existing IT students. The material will be taught in English and can be completed entirely online, making it useful for people all over the globe. There are no formal prerequisites required for enrollment. However, a basic understanding of coding, how the internet works, and internet security are necessary to understand the course content. Participants can expect to learn about the following topics: Building secure software systems Using tools to analyze flaws in software EU legislation relevant to cyber security Performing risk and threat assessments on existing systems The course series is well suited to people with an active interest in information technology, students currently pursuing a computer science degree, or current IT professionals interested in specializing in cyber security. Participants that perform well and complete the series will have the skills necessary to work as junior consultants in the cyber security industry. Cyber Security Base with F-Secure begins on October 25th, 2016. Anyone interested in the course series can sign up here for updates and other news.
Bitcoin has not only changed the economics of cybercrime by providing crooks with an encrypted, nearly anonymous payment system autonomous from any central bank. It's also changed researchers' ability to track how much money criminals are making. "Bitcoin is based on Blockchain, and Blockchain is a public ledger of transactions. So all Bitcoin transactions are public," explains Mikko Hyppönen, F-Secure's Chief Research Officer. "Now, you don’t know who is who. But we can see money moving around, and we can see the amounts." Every victim of Ransomware -- malware that encrypts files and demands a payment for their release -- is given a unique wallet to transfer money into. Once paid, some ransomware gangs move the bitcoins to a central wallet. "We've been monitoring some of those wallets," Mikko says. "And we see Bitcoins worth millions and millions. We see a lot of money." Watching crooks rake in so much money, tax-free, got him thinking: "I began to wonder if there are in fact cybercrime unicorns." A cybercrime unicorn? (View this as a PDF) A tech unicorn is a privately held tech company valued at more than a billion dollars. Think Uber, AirBNB or Spotify -- only without the investors, the overhead and oversight. (Though the scam is so profitable that some gangs actually have customer service operations that could rival a small startup.) "Can we use this comparison model to cybercrime gangs?" Mikko asks. "We probably can’t." It's simply too hard to cash out. Investors in Uber have people literally begging to buy their stakes in the company. Ransomware gangs, however, have to continually imagine ways to turn their Bitcoin into currency. "They buy prepaid cards and then they sell these cards on Ebay and Craigslist," he says. "A lot of those gangs also use online casinos to launder the money." But even that's not so easy, even if the goal is to sit down at a online table and attempt to lose all your money to another member of your gang. "If you lose large amounts of money you will get banned. So the gangs started using bots that played realistically and still lose – but not as obviously." Law enforcement is well aware of extremely alluring economics of this threat. In 2015, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received "2,453 complaints identified as Ransomware with losses of over $1.6 million." In 2016, hardly has a month gone by without a high-profile case like Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paying 40 Bitcoin, about $17,000 USD at the time, to recover its files. And these are just the cases we're hearing about. The scam is so effective that it seemed that the FBI was recommending that victims actually pay the ransom. But it turned out their answer was actually more nuanced. "The official answer is the FBI does not advise on whether or not people should pay," Sean Sullivan, F-Secure Security Advisor, writes. "But if victims haven’t taken precautions… then paying is the only remaining alternative to recover files." What sort of precautions? For Mikko, the answer obvious. "Backups. If you get hit you restore yesterday’s backup and carry on working. It could be more cumbersome if it’s not just one workstation, if your whole network gets hit. But of course you should always have good, up to date, offline backups. And 'offline' is the key!" What's also obvious is that too few people are prepared when Ransomware hits. Barring any disruptions to the Bitcoin market, F-Secure Labs predicts this threat will likely persist, with even more targeted efforts designed to elicit even greater sums. If you end up in an unfortunate situation when your files are held hostage, remember that you're dealing with someone who thinks of cybercrime as a business. So you can always try to negotiate. What else do you have to lose?