Nine New Zealand websites have been compromised in a huge online data breach in the middle of January. 2018 was a landmark year for security vulnerabilities and aggressive cybercriminals, and it seems that 2019 is going to continue in the same vein.

The Information Security Forum (ISF) released their Global Security Threat Outlook for 2019 late last year. Here are the top 4 emerging threats detailed in their report. 

  1. The increased sophistication of cybercrime and ransomware – some cyber criminals will have their origins in existing criminal structures, while others will emerge focused purely on cybercrime.
  2. The impact of legislation – national and regional legislators and regulators will fall further behind the needs of a world eagerly adopting revolutionary technologies.
  3. Smart devices challenge data integrity – internet-connected devices, smartphones, conference phones, tablets, even smart TVs are capable of being hacked and contents captured and transmitted.
  4. The myth of supply chain assurance – ISF claims that assuring the security of a supply chain is a lost cause. Focus needs to concentrate on managing key data and understanding where and how it has been shared across multiple channels and boundaries, irrespective of supply chain provider.

They go on to say “cybersecurity must partner with multiple lines of business within an organization. Collaboration offers the best hope of defeating the cyber risk beast.”

Those bullet points are a good reminder that we should have a strong understanding of potential exposures of the business information assets. Data profiling can quickly identify what files might be exposed to hacking and leaking. Ask and answer these questions:

  • What kind of data is there in our business?
  • How critical is the data to our business?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • Who has access to the data? Both internal and external players.
  • Who is responsible for protecting data?

 and use the results of your profiling to prioritise and build protection and defence strategies for your data.

But what about the basics?

Cyber threats are growing in every dimension: variety, scale, complexity, country of origin, and type of bad actor — from script kiddies and hacktivists to organised cybercrime rings and foreign intelligence operatives. Then there are the persistent factors like human error, loss and theft of physical devices, malicious insiders, and security skills gaps and shortages. In modern digital ecosystems, proactive risk management and multi-layered defence must be structured and sustained as enterprise-wide efforts.

In preparing to deal with the increased sophistication of threats, don’t forget the basics.

  1. Microsoft and other 3rd-party software patching. It is absolutely essential that OS and other software updates and patches are applied to the entire fleet in a timely fashion. Always prioritise security patches – vendors issue patches in response to real-time threats. The faster you apply them the better.
  2. Password policies. Implement and enforce the use of complex passwords. Consider the use of a password management tool to reduce the burden of remembering long and complex passwords. Enforce login lockout if several attempts have been to enter an incorrect password.
  3. Multi-factor authentication. Send a code to the employee’s smartphone, or use biometrics (fingerprints) and facial recognition.
  4. Employee training. This is critical. Consider security training as mandatory. Topics include secure practices around email, password policies, logging in from public spaces. The training sessions must include testing with a 100% pass grade for compliance. Training should be repeated annually.
  5. Device lifecycle. Ensure that devices being replaced are securely wiped and disposed of.

 Another element among the basics but worth speaking about separately is the security features of laptops that are used in the office, at home, and on business travel. To illustrate what a big difference secure devices can make, let’s examine the features of HP’s Elite PCs.

HP Sure Start Gen4 secures your PC at the BIOS level. It protects the firmware that antvirus can’t reach, and automatically recovers the BIOS from malware.

  • HP Sure Recover provides automatic and secure network-based OS recovery, even if malware wipes your drive.
  • HP Sure Run guards critical OS processes and restarts them if attacked by malware.
  • HP Multi-Factor Authenticate Gen2 secures your login with up to 3 factors, including hardened biometrics such as fingerprints.
  • HP Sure View Gen2 provides an integrated privacy screen which deters people reading the contents of your screen at the touch of a button.

These features go a long way towards protecting your business assets even if devices are lost or stolen.

Risk Resilience

In closing, as part of your preparation for threat management, you need to begin building in risk resilience if you haven’t already. This ensures the sustainability and success of the business even when you are subjected to the almost inevitable attack. Risk resilience tightens the gap between awareness and action. It heightens the readiness of your organisation to detect and respond to threats and attacks. Part of resilience is the formation of cross-business rapid response teams that are ready to deploy. Finally, part of your threat management and risk resilience should be rehearsed recovery strategies that can restore systems and devices to a pre-hack position.

For more information or to discuss anything in this article, please feel free to reach out to Acquire at 0800 444 774 or visit our dedicated HP store -


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