Can Machine Learning Save Us from Us?

Among the top headlines in Google News’s Technology section today was criminal hackers use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and its subset, ML (Machine Learning)1. Opening the article, I found a synopsis of a Tech Republic report, “Cybersecurity: Let’s Get Tactical,” in which the authors give ten ways cybercriminals are attacking with AI2 including

  • phishing attacks, in which, upon gaining credentialed access, automatic scripts can wreak havoc, including draining bank accounts
  • credential stuffing and brute force attacks, in which AI systems try passwords — and password possibilities — on many websites
  • bulletproof hosting services that use automation to hide the tracks of malicious websites, so they can’t be stopped by law-enforcement, or often flagged by network scanning tools

The fact is, it’s an arms race. Both malware and criminal sites would be pretty quickly and easily identified on a network by the nature of their activity. So the criminals try to disguise their malware in benign code and their sites in bulletproof hosting schemes. The way they keep the ruse going is through machine learning adapting to changing circumstances.

Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Becoming a Must for Investors

In July the World Economic Forum (WEF) delivered a paper1 that argued for putting the muscle of investment into shifting the cybersecurity landscape. WEF/Marsh & McLennan reports2 that among weapons of mass destruction and natural disasters, cyberattacks are seventh in likelihood and eighth in impact as the greatest threats to global prosperity.

UPS Store Breach Included Rhode Island Customers

UPS Store headquarters issued a letter1 to possible “victims of a phishing incident” that included Rhode Island UPS Store customers. Based on the letter, which hides the particulars, it looks like a criminal convinced an employee or employees in the UPS Store system to provide store email credentials. Once these credentials were had, customers emailing the store were also (or maybe only) sending their documents to the criminal. And possibly any data that had been kept in the email accounts were accessed.

Cyber Liability Risk…protect your business

While there are many publicized hacking attacks against large companies reported in the news, smaller companies face increasing computer liability risks, too. Almost every business uses technology in some way, and your business can be held liabile if certain types of information are compromised. It doesn’t have to be a hacking attack; it could be the loss or theft of a smartphone or laptop that could expose your business to liability…

Don’t You Be Singing those Black Friday Buyer Beware Blues

Alongside links to Amazon, Home Depot, Staples, etc. Google’s sponsored shopping sections also show unfamiliar stores with lower prices than those of the well-known retailers. But are these really good deals?

Here are some ways to see if an inexpensive site is really going to get you what you want. None of these are absolute rules; the more information you have to make your decision about trusting an unknown website with your account or other personal information, the better sense you can get whether it’s worth making the bargain.

So What Gets Patched Around Here Anyway?

Given the number of vulnerabilities and exposures that are revealed every day [ https://www.bryley.com/2019/07/23/crunching-the-patching-numbers/ ], Mike Carlson, Bryley’s Chief Technology Officer, and Garin Livingstone, Director of Operations, agreed to be interviewed to walk me through the process they go through to keep computer systems updated. Mike has deep experience with local- and wide-area network design and implementation, and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer™. Garin is a Microsoft Certified Technician™ and holds an A+ Certification, and has expertise in operations and technology.

Infographic: Tips for detecting a phishing email

Phishing emails are getting more complex all the time.  As the stakes rise, cyber criminals are employing increasingly subtle techniques and messaging.  Gone are the days when you simply had to turn down preposterous offers from royalty who had miraculously decided to become your unlikely benefactor.

The phishing email of today is designed to look as legitimate as possible.  It will try to distract you from clues that give away its true intent by creating a sense of urgency.  Typically they front as legitimate emails from familiar sources, sometimes even appearing to come from within your own organization.

Fortunately, once you know what to look for, these emails will be as easy to spot as those starting “I am a prince from [insert  random country name here], and I wish to bathe you in riches…”

The Compliance Effect

The Managed Security Service Providers journal, MSSP Insider, interviewed Bryley president Gavin Livingstone about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 1 compliance.

“Our manufacturing clients were especially observant and working toward [regulatory] compliance,” said Gavin. The interview was prompted by a survey by Scale Venture Partners, Cybersecurity Perspectives 2019 2 . In the report, 2018 data breaches like at Exactis, exposures like at Cambridge Analytica, and regulations like GDPR triggered businesses to improve cybersecurity and increase investment in their security solutions. As a result fifty-five percent of the surveyed executives increased their investment in new solutions, forty-nine percent increased their measurement and reporting around data privacy, and forty-eight percent increased investment in data privacy personnel.

The Mysteries of Microsoft’s Model for Windows

“All they had to do was come up with a way to charge ten bucks a month and now no one steals music,” I overheard a college student say. He was talking about how Apple transformed from selling software (mp3s via iTunes) to renting access to songs, aka Software as a Service (SaaS). Apple Music now has the most paid music subscribers in the US and based on this success, “announced new subscription offerings for magazines, TV shows and video games”. 1

Per Forbes, 84% of new software is being delivered as SaaS. 2 This selling model built Netflix memberships (20 million renters at the height of its DVD service compared to over 150 million SaaS subscribers today 3 ), Dollar Shave Club razors, Stitch Fix and Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. Subscriptions moved Adobe’s market cap more than 87% since 2012 to $108 billion. 4

technology patches

Crunching the Patching Numbers

There were 16,516 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)1 published in 2018. The time needed to analyze the relative importance of these to your organization would be something like 16,516 alerts times fifteen minutes to read and assess each one, which works out to about 500 days of work. If you decide that your organization is affected by twenty percent of these, that’s 3,304 vulnerabilities times an average of about an hour to patch each one — that will take about 40 days. And how many devices do you have that need this patch deployment? 2