National Computer Security Day originated in 1988 after ARPANET (the internet before the internet) was attacked and resulted in 10% of connected computers being breached, and is ‘celebrated’ each year on November 30th. This year, it just so happens to fall the day after Cyber Monday, a day created in 2005 to encourage people to shop online. While one of these days highlights the importance of cybersecurity, and the other, to some, represents a shopping spree. These two successive ‘holidays’ together highlight the growing importance of identity governance and security.
In 2020, it was estimated that US shoppers spent $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, and early estimates for 2021 are showing around $11.3 billion. While the boon in sales is clearly positive for retailers and manufacturers, the flood of shoppers rushing to enter credit card information, billing addresses, and more, creates opportunities for attackers and work for IT and security teams. Also worth noting is that computers have evolved quite a bit since the first National Computer Security Day, and phones are now targeted by attackers at increasing rates in ‘smishing’ attacks. Online shoppers also need to be on the lookout for potential email scams, as the number of phishing emails surges in November, as attackers look to capitalize on people’s eagerness for a deal with advanced attacks coming via real-looking incoming messages.
For retailers hosting Cyber Monday deals, as shoppers buy things there is an influx of payment data which is sent to servers or virtual machines. The host organization must secure and process all this data; accordingly, there is no timeout even when data is increasing at astronomical rates. Common “tips” for online shoppers every year include only shopping with “trusted retailers,” and as the general population becomes privier to the cybersecurity reputations of businesses they shop with, making sure you stay off the naughty list can be the difference between record sales and being left out in the cold. Setting up strong identity governance to ensure that only the right types of users have access to data can help provide a foundation of trust that shoppers will look to in years to come. However, having solutions in place that can scale the massive amounts of data being processed and stored can be trickier, so selecting vendors that can provide flexible deployment options without breaking the bank is important to keep up and stay afloat.
Further, the threats of Cyber Monday no longer just apply to retail businesses. As noted on DarkReading, “Consumer devices are often used for business reasons and may have access to the corporate network, making attacks against mobile users problematic. Any mobile device that is compromised could leak sensitive business intelligence or allow access to the business’ internal network.” This also places added pressure on organizations to make sure that they are securing their entire workforces, and the data they require access to. It stands to reason that attackers are going after consumers as a way of breaking into the network of where they shop, but it also means they are leveraging newly gained trusted access to breach the network of where the identity works. While National Computer Security Day also highlights the need for individuals to become more aware of their online identities and how they store data online, it should also raise flags for the connected computers inside of any business. Here’s three tips that businesses can heed, especially as attacks ramp up as they always do around the holidays:
1. Identify who has access to what. This is relatively straightforward, in order to ensure that you stay safe around the holidays, having a continuous understanding of who has access to what is critical to maintaining order. This includes not only employees, but third-party contractors, auditors, interns, and everyone in between.
2. Enable your workforce with secure access. After getting the lay of the land, cutting down on unnecessary permissions can ensure that only the right people are accessing the right resources. This helps to enforce that only trusted and verified identities are maintaining customer payment information, and other critical data.
3. Set up controls to identify anomalies. It’s unfortunately inevitable that the perimeter will be breached, it then becomes a matter of what you do to minimize the damage. Having controls and policies in place to be able to suspend access, or otherwise take action if an anomalous activity is occurring helps teams prioritize action items they should take, which is especially important amidst the influx of activities around the holidays.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the tacit acknowledgement of events like National Computer Security Day show that we are all on the right path towards proper identity security and minimizing damage of attacks. Check out Omada IdentityPROCESS+ for a framework which describes the most important processes needed to ensure a successful IGA deployment. The framework has been developed with the goal of supporting successful IGA projects and has been created to help organizations implement well proven best practice processes.