Protecting the UK’s universities during the COVID crisis and beyond

by Lee Carass

The UK’s higher education sector is one of the country’s most prized assets. Its universities are among the world’s leading academic institutions and also play a major role in creating the skills, research and IP needed to drive the economy forward. But as major hubs of people and sensitive data, universities also represent a major target for attackers. 

Whether they’re aimed at causing damaging ransomware-related outages, tricking finance teams into wiring funds abroad, stealing staff and student data, or lifting sensitive research, these cyber-threats represent a serious financial and reputational risk to the sector. In a new era of COVID-19, where many universities will be expecting significantly reduced student numbers and income, there’s more pressure than ever to keep such threats at bay.

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The Zero Day Initiative: Working Hard to Secure the Connected World

by Jay Coley

Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) has for 15 years been promoting coordinated vulnerability disclosure through what is now the world’s largest vendor-agnostic bug bounty program. Much of this work goes on behind the scenes, with little fanfare. But it’s vital work nonetheless in helping to secure the connected world, whilst providing early protection for Trend Micro/TippingPoint customers.

A case in point was Microsoft’s silent patching of two ZDI-discovered bugs this week.

Behind the scenes
Discovered by ZDI’s Abdul-Aziz Hariri, the two vulnerabilities exist in the way that the Microsoft Windows Codecs Library handles objects in memory. If exploited, CVE-2020-1425 would allow an attacker to obtain information to further compromise a system, while CVE-2020-1457 could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code.

It’s rare that patches are silently deployed by Microsoft like this to its customers, but that shouldn’t detract from the hard work of ZDI researchers here. In fact, ZDI was the number one external supplier of vulnerabilities to Microsoft last year, accounting for 38% of publicly discovered Microsoft flaws.

Why ZDI?
Why is this important? Because without programs like ZDI which advocate responsible disclosure, grey and black market trading of vulnerabilities would proliferate, resulting in less secure products and more exposed customers.

Vulnerability exploits are a vital pre-requisite of many cyber-attacks today. By galvanising the research community and incentivising responsible disclosure, the ZDI can help to make the digital world a safer place. Not only that, but we can also provide early protection for Trend Micro and TippingPoint customers. In this case, our customers were safe for over three months, before vendor patches were issued.

Head in the clouds: why nuanced security training is essential to remote working success

by Bharat Mistry

Organisations have been forced to adapt rapidly over the past few months as government lockdowns banished most workers to their homes. For many, the changes they’ve made may even become permanent as more distributed working becomes the norm. This has major implications for cybersecurity. Employees are often described as the weakest link in the corporate security chain, so do they become an even greater liability when working from home?

Unfortunately, a major new study from Trend Micro finds that, although many have become more cyber-aware during lockdown, bad habits persist. CISOs looking to ramp up user awareness training may get a better ROI if they try to personalise strategies according to specific user personas.

What we found
We polled 13,200 remote workers across 27 countries to compile the Head in the Clouds study. It reveals that (72%) feel more conscious of their organisation’s cybersecurity policies since lockdown began, 85% claim they take IT instructions seriously, and 81% agree that cybersecurity is partly their responsibility. Nearly two-thirds (64%) even admit that using non-work apps on a corporate device is a risk.

Yet in spite of these lockdown learnings, many employees are more preoccupied by productivity. Over half 56% admit using a non-work app on a corporate device, and 66% have uploaded corporate data to it; 39% of respondents “often” or “always” access corporate data from a personal device; and 29% feel they can get away with using a non-work app, as IT-backed solutions are “nonsense.”

Four security personas
This is where the second part of the research comes in. Trend Micro commissioned Dr Linda Kaye, Cyberpsychology Academic at Edge Hill University, to profile four employee personas based on their cybersecurity behaviours: fearful, conscientious, ignorant and daredevil. 

In this way:

Fearful employees may benefit from training and simulation tools as well as real-time feedback from security controls and mentoring.

Conscientious staff require very little training but can be used to good effect as exemplars of good behaviour and to team up with “buddies” from the other groups.

Ignorant users need gamification techniques and simulation exercises to keep them engaged in training, and may also require additional interventions to truly understand the consequences of risky behaviour.

Daredevil employees are perhaps the most challenging because their wrongdoing is the result not of ignorance but a perceived superiority to others. Organisations may need to use award schemes to promote compliance, and, in extreme circumstances, step up DLP and security controls to mitigate their risky behaviour.

By understanding that no two employees are the same, security leaders can tailor their approach in a more nuanced way. Splitting staff into four camps should ensure a more personalised approach than the one-size-fits-all training sessions most organisations run today. Employees will benefit from training and simulation platforms like Trend Micro’s Phish Insight, with its diverse library of training content designed to suit the varying cultures of organisations, skill levels and roles of employees. 

Join Trend Micro for a fresh perspective on cloud security

by Ross Baker

The current pandemic has done little to reduce the daily workload of most CISOs. In fact, with cyber-criminals ramping up social engineering efforts against home workers and attacks on remote access infrastructure, your spare time may well be more precious than it’s ever been. That’s why Trend Micro has created Perspectives, a jam-packed two-hour virtual event focused around the topic of securing digital transformation. 

Experts from AWS, Azure, Trend Micro, IDC and some of our biggest customers will come together to share their insight on Thursday, June 25.

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