With each passing year, cyber-security reaches new levels becoming increasingly sophisticated. But as cyber-security becomes more formidable, cyber-threats and the rate of malicious attacks increase proportionately. This and the many controversial security threats in 2018 subsequently led to wide concerns regarding the volatility in cloud security. Apparently, many organizations still believe cloud security has a lot of exploitable vulnerabilities.

Despite this, cloud spending is at an all-time high according to Gartner. The report from the popular research firm found that public cloud spending in 2018 exceeded $170 billion. A little over $10 billion was spent on cloud security and management. Gartner also predicts that the number will go up by at least 20% this year.

While cloud security professionals are already coming up with great new ways to combat breaches similar to the ones that turned heads in 2018, cloud security still needs more advancements considering that the increasing complexity of cloud environments are bringing forth newer, tougher security challenges.

That said, let’s check out a few such challenges that enterprises may have to beat this year.

Cloud complexity is on a whole another level

The cloud is already a complex technology. With businesses embracing multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments more than before, cloud complexity has reached even greater levels making data storage and transfers much harder.

The benefits of a multi-cloud architecture are enticing more businesses to come forward and adopt it, though only a few of the adopters are thoughtful enough to invest in a multi-cloud management strategy. Even with a strategy in place, a multi-cloud ecosystem presents a lot of data security and data management challenges.

So essentially, businesses will be operating on a highly volatile multi-cloud environment spanning on and off-premises systems, and more than one platform. The challenge is to develop advanced solutions and devise efficient implementation strategies to not only retain some amount of control but also to stabilize the environment.

Data breaches will cost a lot

As more businesses adopt the cloud, it’s safe to assume that more critical and sensitive data will be shifted to the cloud. Hence, any potential breach would be ridiculously expensive.

According to a Cost of Data Breach study by IMB and Ponemon in 2018, the global average cost of data breach went up as high as $3.86 million. This was a 6.4% increase compared to the data breach cost in 2017.

In 2019, the stakes are higher which means the data breach cost figure is likely to go even higher. Adding to the challenge is the rising complexity of how data breach attacks are carried out. It’s not at all easy even to detect a breach.

Threats are smarter now

Modern businesses are smarter thanks to powerful technologies like AI and big data. But they seem to have neglected the fact that technology is a double-edged sword. Thanks to technology, cyber-criminals are now capable of executing smarter attacks as well; even capable of using virtual assistants and chatbots for attacks.

Cyber-criminals can now develop chatbots that can superimpose themselves on websites and bait visitors into clicking malicious links, reveal sensitive information, or download malware-attached files.

Evolving mobility & BYOD

Back in the day, enterprises stored their sensitive data in the company premises on a tightly-guarded internal server. Data management was not that hard. But such a system may sound like a thing of the past now. This is the age of BYOD.

BYOD or Bring Your Own Devices is the norm now, as employees of an organization are no longer confined like enterprise data on on-premise servers. Authorized employees can now access official company data on their personal mobile devices, and from anywhere in the world. This means the likelihood of employees accessing sensitive data over public Wi-Fi or shared networks cannot be neglected.

This in turn means that the cyber-security department of the enterprise must be capable of protecting the data that’s probably getting transferred from one continent to another.

Employees will also be utilizing convenient data transfer techniques like for instance, over Slack or Google Drive or by sharing via DropBox. An enterprise won’t be having control over such platforms, making it difficult for them to remain GDPR and HIPPA-compliant. Making the matter more complex is the looming threat of data breaches.

One approach that’s widely considered to counter such scenarios is to invest in active directories or single sign-on (SSO) identity so that all devices can be brought under one network, enabling companies to instantly shut down all devices if a threat is suspected or identified.

Things to take into account

Smarter tech apparently invites smarter hackers. And while 2019 is widely considered as the year when smarter technologies become more accessible, technology professionals have their work cut out for them. This is of paramount importance to companies that have invested in cloud computing technologies as they will soon be forced to face and overcome a number of difficult security challenges this year.

Well thought out cloud security strategies and practices, data safety planning, and diligence are probably the most important things that can save enterprises from losing millions in a data breach. Professionals using the cloud will need to exercise caution during exchanges of sensitive data. They will need to figure out stricter password policies and learn about potential phishing techniques.

Conclusion

Data breach is an avoidable scenario of course. But avoiding data breach and overcoming security challenges today will require on-cloud enterprises to invest more money and time into securing their data just in case. They will have to make sure that their employees are aware of what’s at stake with regular security awareness workshops.

Ultimately, they have to realize that ensuring cloud security is not the responsibility of one particular department in an organization. It’s a shared responsibility that demands knowledge, diligence, and dedication. If your organization has already moved to the cloud and is willing to invest in augmenting cloud security, AOT’s cloud expertise could be what you are looking for. We can ensure that your organization gets the best out of its cloud in terms of benefits and security. Get in touch with us.

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A few years ago, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore published his predictions for the digital revolution – what was later referenced by many as Moore’s Law. So Moore evidently believed that as time passes, the power of computing abilities would improve exponentially while their relative cost goes down.

Today, we see it all coming true. The rapid growth of technology drives innovation across enterprises while making cutting-edge tech affordable for the average joe. One such tech that’s been creating a lot of buzz for the last couple of years is the Internet of Things. The IoT technology is about smart devices connected to a network communicating with each other to perform various tasks without the need for human intervention.

The possibilities presented by IoT are endless. However, there are also risks associated with the tech. Since IoT-enabled devices are all interconnected in a network, an isolated security breach can potentially compromise all the devices in the network as well as the integrity of the IoT ecosystem. IoT security has been a cause of major concern for many companies; also the reason why several organizations are still reluctant to invest in the technology despite IoT gaining momentum overtime.

But all of that can be fixed however. All it takes is a dedicated effort to secure and protect IoT devices. Here are a few security strategies that could help.

Secure storage of Access Logs

Surprisingly, one of the most common security issues associated with IoT is the lack of awareness of the IT department when devices are connecting to the network. They certainly know the devices connected to the system and possess the access logs as well. But the device identification and/or verification processes at present cannot address the tremendous amounts of IoT devices going online. This makes it rather easy for hackers to launch an attack.

To address this issue, access logs should be securely stored in a centralized repository monitored by trained cyber-security professionals who should also keep an eye IoT endpoints for DDoS threats.

Secure communications

IoT is still evolving. Best practices become outdated rather quickly. This applies to security practices as well. At present, IoT encryption practices are full of exploitable gaps. In addition, not many organizations use powerful encryption to secure communications in the IoT ecosystem.

Every kind of traffic and data should be secured by the most reliable security protocols. Web traffic should be secured by HTTPS, DNS security extensions, and other secure protocols while stored data on flash drives are fortified by anti-malware programs.

Secure password policies

A typical domestic IoT device – be it a network printer, router, or some kind of sensor most likely won’t have strong authentication and access protocols. For an organization, this approach is an open invitation for cyber-criminals. There are organizations that don’t even consider multi-factor authentication when dealing with IoT.

Robust authentication and access mechanisms can make all the difference. As part of the IoT security strategy, it’s wise to implement policies that recommend strong and unique passwords that use uppercase/lowercase letters, numbers, and even symbols. Additionally, end users must also be made aware of the importance of security and the best security practices.

Security-based design principles

If you think every IoT device manufacturer prioritizes incorporating powerful security features right from the design phase itself, you are wrong. The concept of reinforcing security, in many organizations, generally doesn’t have a spot in the design lifecycle of IoT devices. Some devices aren’t even adequately tested for security vulnerabilities potentially leading to the devices getting malware-infected along with the supply chain.

This is why it’s important to consider improving security and privacy in the entire supply chain. If the manufacturers plan to sell their services on a contract basis, they should also be willing to adopt security-based design principles while designing their products; especially if the manufacturer intends to keep customers locked with contracts for a long time.

Conclusion

It should be observed that cyber vulnerabilities can potentially increase along with technological advancements. At present, cyber-security is unable to catch up with the growing momentum of new-gen technologies like IoT, blockchain and the likes. There is progress however.

While cyber-criminals are on the lookout for opportunities and security gaps they can exploit to launch an attack, it’s important to invest in security from all fronts – be it securing data, communications, network, accessibility etc. If the IoT manufacturer values security that much, they will get more credibility among the end-users who can then use the tech without being concerned about their data being compromised.

If IoT is to succeed, security needs to be prioritized.

At AOT, security for our digital solutions is one of our top priorities. Rest assured that the IoT solutions from us will feature top-notch fortifications and powerful security barriers to safeguard your data. Talk to our experts to get a detailed understanding of our security practices.

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Blockchain was originally developed to make cryptocurrency viable in an environment of rapidly advancing technologies and complex security requirements. The technology soon became a hot trend thanks to the emergence and subsequent success of bitcoin, and proceeded to evolve beyond being just a framework for cryptocurrency exchanges.

As a matter of fact, blockchain’s fundamental principles themselves make the technology useful for businesses across a variety of industries. Though many of the proposed potential applications of blockchain are theoretical, many companies have succeeded in leveraging the technology to derive surprising outcomes different from coin exchanges.

Here are a few ways how businesses effectively harness blockchain technology.

Identity verification

When almost every kind of information – personal & professional, of a consumer are being exchanged online, there would obviously be security concerns. Accounts with personal data are increasing in social media channels, and most of said data are stored and secured on cloud. Even so, there’s still a looming threat of identity theft.

Someone with ill intentions need only put in a little effort to get access to personal data of an internet user. The data can then be used to cause irreparable damage. Considering the threat and associated risks, actions that require identity verification generally follow the practice of asking for physical evidence that can’t be instantaneously copied like credit/debit card or some certificates. But the processes involved can take a lot of time.

Businesses have now started to use blockchain to decentralize proof of identity ensuring that there is no single point of failure or weak links in the chain. Cyber-criminals won’t be able to take any action that compromises the data. A good example is Civic, a security company. They implemented a platform that uses biometric data to access blockchain-driven multi factor authentication. This way their users will find it easier to handle even the most secure actions without any complex login formalities or physical evidences.

Cloud storage improvements

Modern businesses generate tremendous amounts of data that also hide many insights that could help businesses improve themselves in terms of productivity and growth. With so much data involved, businesses started relying heavily on cloud technologies. Cloud servers can store all that data and keep them secure. The data can be accessed via any device or platform at any time with valid credentials.

However, cloud servers are still machines that are maintained by singular entities. If the security of the company that provides the cloud storage service is breached, the service itself is considered to be compromised and unsafe.

To avoid such a scenario, Storj – a startup founded in 2014, came forward with the goal of growing or expanding network cloud storage to a point where it won’t rely on governing bodies by using blockchain technology. Users will only need to pay flat fees for storing/downloading data, and can put up their own storage space as a repository to earn money. Traditional cloud storage services use CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to cache files and hasten delivery. Blockchain-based cloud storage can make things even faster and better.

Clean-up of gem trading industries

The gem trading industry generally has always been questioned for its unethical practices and lack of transparency. Though the buyers and sellers are continents apart, there’s massive amounts of money involved in the industry which occasionally leads to controversies that demand transparency.

Highly unethical practices in the gems trading industry including mistreatment and exploitation of miners, trading of fake gemstones, exaggerated specifications, purity ratings etc. all lack transparency. All these issues can be solved by a blockchain ledger – every transaction becomes accessible to anyone who wants to take a look, which in turn makes it very difficult for traders to get away with their illegal and unethical practices.

The challenge lies in making the use of such a blockchain system implicitly mandatory in the industry. Everledger, a Fintech startup, is currently pursuing this goal by providing a blockchain system that tracks buying and selling of diamonds. They are working on further expanding the technology to cover the rising percentage of diamond trade.

Green energy system

This is probably one of the most unique ways how blockchain is being harnessed. Blockchain grants a lot of benefits, but is resource-intensive. Proof-of-work calculations demand great processing power which deters many businesses from using blockchain.

Now bring solar power into the scene. Though it has never actually gone mainstream, solar power is still the key to renewable energy. Solar panels are just too expensive to install and maintain, and don’t always deliver expected power output efficiently. But, the technology is advancing.

By connecting power meters to blockchain nodes, people with solar panels can sell electricity they don’t use or buy electricity when they need it without the involvement of energy companies. There won’t be confusion regarding reward rates and systems as the entire thing will be community-driven. Consensus algorithms can verify and validate transactions. Solar Bankers, an energy company, is working towards making off-grid, reliable green energy systems.

Provide processing power???

Blockchain can provide processing power?

Technically, yes.

Golem – an open source, decentralized supercomputer is how. The supercomputer doesn’t have any centralized processing, and can be accessed by anyone. It derives power from blockchain mining, and allows its customers to rent its immense aggregated power. Companies and research firms that require great amounts of processing power to calculate complicated things, like for instance weather patterns, no longer need to invest in on-premises computing systems. Power that would’ve gone to waste is thus made highly productive.

Conclusion

Blockchain has already gone mainstream when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Considering the fact that many eCommerce organizations are willing to add bitcoin support and many others have already started experimenting with blockchain for enhancing cyber-security, it’s safe to say that the technology is here to stay for a long time.

Cryptocurrencies are the center of attention at the moment. But meaningful blockchain solutions like the ones mentioned above will soon make blockchain something that future generations will look at with awe.

If you want to learn what new-gen technologies can do for your business, AoT technologies is where you will find answers. Drop us a message now.

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Businesses today operate in a sophisticated IT environment involving cloud and many other technologies to keep ahead of the competition. However, operating in such an environment requires every business to be capable of identifying security threats, or any security-related events for that matter, to minimize the impact should anything bad happen.

Where cyber security of business stand today

Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report says cyber-attackers employ a variety of techniques during their campaigns – close to 62% attacks were linked to hacking, while 51% used malware. 14% of attacks were due to mistakes from employees that led to exploitable security gaps.

Now that AI has started dominating, cyber-attackers can use it as well – from identifying security vulnerabilities to scaling their attacks and personalizing phishing mails. All of this demand businesses to have stringent security measures in place. They will have to constantly keep both eyes on the network for a wide range of potential threats that resemble conventional cyber-attack patterns.

Fortunately, the massive amounts of real-time and historical security event data of a business can help it prepare for almost all kinds of security threats. Then, the challenge would be to make sense of such large volumes of data. The business would then need the right tools to analyze and correlate the data. Advanced analytics techniques thus become critical for modern-day businesses to defend against complex cyber-attacks.

What they can do

In case of a suspicious event, information security department of the enterprise along with the threat response team can run queries in real-time against their large datasets so as to verify the impact and duration of the potential threat. Analysts can then either confirm the threat and proceed with investigating it or discount it as just an anomaly.

But in order to this, they are obviously going to need serious hardware power and fast analysis capabilities, not to mention accurate and consistent data. Security teams of most businesses might be capable of handling such a gargantuan task with cutting-edge digital solutions. But not all such solutions were designed with big data in mind.

Big data – cyber security in practice

Most such solutions were designed for on-premise environments, and processing huge amounts of data in real-time might require the business to scale their infrastructure which can be costly. Storing such data can be an expensive challenge as well.

One feasible option is keep historical data accessible to the security team for a certain period of time. As soon as an event occurs, analysts can analyze the historical data and investigate the depth of an attack. However, this approach limits the effectiveness of the security team over long periods of time.

Fortunately, again, the cloud can address this particular challenge effectively by overcoming cost-prohibition and similar challenging economics associated with data processing and analyses. Cloud storage solutions make big data more acceptable in an enterprise. Enhancing existing security solutions so they can work with big data platforms is also a nice approach which can make the entire system capable of exploring massive datasets at scale, subsequently improving the overall security aspect.

In practice, all this can be overwhelming for the security team of a big enterprise. But that kind of fatigue can be alleviated with the use of machine learning and AI. With AI, the organization can prioritize specific security alerts and automate responses and procedures reducing the security team’s effort significantly. As a matter of fact, ML-based systems can be trained to spot suspicious behavior patterns that pre-defined security policies may miss. But this approach requires the business to invest significantly in data science skillsets.

If a combination of all of these technologies are to deliver great results, there should be adequate collaboration between the human resources. Security teams comprising of threat response units, forensic analysts, and IT professionals should be able to collaborate in a data environment which can streamline and speed up the processes involved.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the big data approach is the right way to augment cyber-security enough to withstand the risks of this age. For this approach to be effective, however, it should be complemented by other powerful technologies that can shield an organization from cyber-attacks or at least let the organization know if there’s a chance for something bad to happen.

The cloud, machine learning, AI, and collaboration solutions combined can help big data deliver optimal results for enterprises concerned about cyber-threats. Choosing the right platforms can make all the difference in securing enterprises.

If you still have queries related to cyber-security and what technologies like the cloud and big data can do for your organization’s cyber-security, AoT may have all the answers you need. Drop us a message to explore your options and understand how we can help you with this particular challenge.