Cyber Risk News & Trends

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Cybersecurity This Month

Predictions for 2018

The new year kicked off with leading institutions weighing in with their cybersecurity predictions for 2018. MIT predicts we will see more large-scale data breaches in the year ahead. Companies that hold sensitive information, especially related to personal web browsing habits, will be popular targets. Ransomware attacks, such as Wannacry, will continue to remain a popular tactic among hackers as they will likely focus their attention on cloud computing businesses, with smaller companies among the most vulnerable. MIT predicts that hacks targeting electrical grids, transportation systems as well as other critical infrastructure can be expected in 2018. Hackers will look to AI to drive more phishing attacks and design more sophisticated malware. The rise of cryptocurrency will encourage hackers to hijack computer networks to increase the computing capacity necessary to assist in theft of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. There is cause for alarm that hackers may choose to breach the networks of hospital chains, airports or other sensitive locations and entities should prepare accordingly. As companies ratchet up their security to address hacking risks, companies with EU locations or selling goods or services to EU residents also must act to meet the rigorous requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), effective May 25, 2018, or face major penalties.

Chip Flaws

The world’s computer-chip and software makers scrambled to respond to the disclosure of two widespread hardware vulnerabilities found by cybersecurity experts that could affect most of the world’s modern computing devices. Tech manufacturers and researchers described the two vulnerabilities as design flaws, long present in most modern chips. The bugs, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, make data stored in the working memory of shared servers and individual devices—including personal computers, tablets and smartphones—vulnerable.

Email Biggest Source of Data Breaches

Email was the biggest source of data breaches in 2017, with 73 breaches between Jan. 1 and the end of November reported to HHS, affecting 573,698 people. Hospital staff seem to understand this, citing email as the most likely medium for a breach, according to a new survey from security firm Mimecast and HIMSS Analytics. They're not wrong: 4 in 5 U.S. physicians have had cyberattacks in their practices, according to an Accenture survey, and about 78% of respondents to the Mimecast survey said they'd had either a malware and/or ransomware attack in the last 12 months. 

A survey conducted by Accenture in association with American Medical Association (AMA) reveals that every 8 in 10 doctors in the United States have experienced cyberattacks in their clinical practices. Additionally, the survey discovered that nearly two-thirds of all the surveyed physicians who experienced an attack have gone through a downtime of more than 4 hours causing equivalent loss to patients as well as doctors & staff. 

Future of EU/Privacy Shield

Perhaps it's not surprising, given the extensive compliance guidance provided by the EU Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29), but the WP29 recently expressed concern about the lack of “clear guidance” provided by the Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission to U.S. companies adhering to the Privacy Shield. Essentially, the WP29 is of the opinion that “any data concerning an employee in the context of an employer-employee relationship” should only be transferred under the Privacy Shield if the receiving company has an active certification that contains the required commitments for transferring HR data.

Top News

Safeguarding your biggest cybersecurity target: Executives
Senior executives are among the favorite targets of malicious hackers and other bad actors, in part because they are more likely to hold valuable information — or have a high level of access to such data.

That’s why it’s so important for organizations to make sure C-level officers and other top executives are adhering to the strictest data protection standards and are using appropriate security technologies whenever possible, including when they travel to high-risk locations.
CIO.com on January 15, 2018

Six Cyber Threats to Really Worry About in 2018
Hackers are constantly finding new targets and refining the tools they use to break through cyberdefenses. From AI-powered hacking to tampering with voting systems, here are some of the big risks on our radar screen.
Technology Review on January 2, 2018

What health care systems view as the top tech priorities for 2018
From cybersecurity to the priority of AI in health care, this study looked at what health care systems are paying attention to for 2018.
NY Business Journal Technology News on Dec 7, 2017

Increased Recognition to Improve Cybersecurity in Healthcare Sector
There is an increasing recognition of the need to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare sector (particularly relating to medical devices).  For example, the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce recently asked HHS in a formal letter to “develop a plan of action for creating, deploying, and leveraging [bill of materials] for health care technologies,” which refers to the process of listing out medical device components (including software) and any known risks. The request comes on the heels of similar recommendations in the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force report and concerns raised by the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks.
Lexblog Network on Dec 4, 2017

8 in 10 doctors have experienced a cyberattack in practice
A survey conducted by Accenture in association with American Medical Association (AMA) reveals that every 8 in 10 doctors in the United States have experienced cyberattacks in their clinical practices. The surveyed physicians also admitted that not enough Cybersecurity support is being rendered by the government that holds them responsible for a data breach of patient information. AMA researchers have discovered that a staggering 83% of physicians out of the surveyed 1,300 doctors say that they were extremely concerned that future attacks could not only interrupt their clinical practices but can also put an end to their entire career. “If a patient record is leaked and falls into the hands of the bad guys, then the patient will surely sue the practitioner for the information leak which could make a physician financially paralyzed forever”, said David O Barbe, AMA President.
American Medical Association - Wire on Dec 12, 2017

Email is the biggest source of data breaches
Email has been the biggest source of data breaches this year, with 73 breaches between Jan. 1 and the end of November reported to HHS, affecting 573,698 people. Hospital staff seem to understand this, citing email as the most likely medium for a breach, according to a new survey from security firm Mimecast and HIMSS Analytics. They're not wrong:  4 in 5 U.S. physicians have had cyberattacks in their practices, according to an Accenture survey, and about 78% of respondents to the Mimecast survey said they'd had either a malware and/or ransomware attack in the last 12 months. Nearly a quarter of respondents to the Mimecast survey said they'd had 16 or more malware and/or ransomware attacks in that time.
Modern Healthcare - Breaking News on Dec 12, 2017

Examining WP29's requirements for Privacy Shield
At its 113th plenary meeting held on Nov. 28, 2017, in Brussels, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party adopted its EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Report, which renders an opinion on the annual review of Privacy Shield recently conducted by the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The WP29’s report articulates a set of concerns regarding both the commercial aspects of the Privacy Shield as well as U.S. surveillance laws regarding access to data for law enforcement and national security purposes. It also offers up what the WP29 would like to see in terms of remedies and some deadlines for their implementation. Should these remedies not be addressed, the report makes clear WP29 will take legal action.
IAPP on Dec 6, 2017

U.S. Agencies Grapple with Student-Data-Privacy Guidance for Schools
Two federal agencies are grappling with how to guide schools on protecting students’ personal information while using educational technology. That increasingly delicate balancing act was front and center during a discussion Friday convened by the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission. At issue were such fundamental questions as:

  • What counts as students’ personal information?  
  • How should schools and companies protect parents’ legal right to access and delete information collected online from young children? 
  • Should ed-tech vendors be allowed to use information collected in schools to improve their products and services, or does such activity constitute impermissible commercial use of student data? 
  • How can the nation’s school districts maintain “direct control” of the increasingly vast troves of student information they now regularly hand over to third-party companies they designate as “school officials” under federal law?

Education Week on Dec 4, 2017

PC updates to keep out hackers slow some computers, Microsoft says. Is yours one?
As the world's biggest computer companies release a wave of software upgrades to fix the big chip security flaws that became public last week, users have feared slowdowns in computers, games, browsers and phones.

Microsoft suspended some of its required updates after there were reports that on some computers running Advanced Micro Devices processing chips, the patches caused the computers to stop working. On others, it warned users might experience a slowdown.
USA Today on Jan 9, 2018

Tech Giants Race to Address Widespread Chip Flaws
The world’s computer-chip and software makers scrambled to respond to the disclosure of two widespread hardware vulnerabilities found by cybersecurity experts that could affect most of the world’s modern computing devices. Tech manufacturers and researchers described the two vulnerabilities as design flaws, long present in most modern chips.
Wall Street Journal Technology - What's News on Jan 4, 2018

Google Apps Script vulnerability could have opened the door for malware
Google Apps Script is a JavaScript-based language used for the creation of add-ons and extensions for applications in the Google ecosystem, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. The code editor is available in the Chrome browser and the official Apps Script website details how the scripts run on Google servers. Uncovered by Proofpoint, threat actors exploiting this vulnerability could use it to drop any form of malware on a machine -- although such attacks have yet to be observed in the wild.
ZDNet on Jan 4, 2018

Hackers hit major ATM network after U.S., Russian bank breaches -report (MSFT, VZ)
A previously undetected group of Russian-language hackers silently stole nearly $10 million from at least 18 mostly U.S. and Russian banks in recent years by targeting interbank transfer systems, a Moscow-based security firm said on Monday. Group-IB warned that the attacks, which began 18 months ago and allow money to be robbed from bank automated teller machines (ATMs), appear to be ongoing and that banks in Latin America could be targeted next. The first attack occurred in the spring of 2016 against First Data's "STAR" network, the largest U.S. bank transfer messaging system connecting ATMs at more than 5,000 organizations, Group-IB researchers said in a 36-page report.
Markets Insider on Dec 11, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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