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Despite Increasing Risk, Companies Are Still Not Prioritizing Cybersecurity

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March 10, 2021 – Experts said Tuesday that cybersecurity should be one of the top priorities for every business, but many businesses still don’t consider it as such.

“I was not that surprised to see 50 percent of executives count it as a high priority,” said Chad Kliewer, the information security officer of Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, at a Tuesday webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Let’s be honest, its not a moneymaker for most people,” he added.

Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I., who is chairman of the House Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems Subcommittee, was joined by several members of both the public and private sectors discussing cybersecurity for small and medium-sized businesses in the critical infrastructure industry. They used US Telecom’s recent 2021 Cybersecurity Survey as a backdrop for that discussion.

According to the survey, 26 percent of employees, versus 50 percent of executives, consider cybersecurity a high priority. Kliewer expressed disappointment about that gap, saying that for his company, he spends a lot of time focusing on employees and ensuring that they’re all informed on cybersecurity.

One challenge to be addressed to get businesses up to speed on cybersecurity is education and awareness.

Jeff Goldthorp of the Federal Communications Commission suggested on the webinar the possibility of federal agencies to providing “fairly robust and rich and large set of guidance and practices” to a smaller segment of the industry that “has a different set of needs or where the scale is smaller,” he said.

Ola Sage, CEO of CyberRx, expressed similar concern. There could be several reasons why employees don’t make cybersecurity as high a priority as executives, she said, including lack of mechanisms to communicate that message across the company, or employees believing that cybersecurity isn’t their personal responsibility. It comes back to the question of education and awareness, she said.

Langevin said cyber criminals often go after a broad range of targets, hoping to hit the easiest victims. “These criminals go after entities really with the weakest cybersecurity hygiene, which often unfortunately means small businesses,” he said. “Ransomware is rampant right now, and its hitting a lot of small businesses in addition to hospitals or school systems,” he said.

Langevin said cybersecurity monitoring is about “risk management,” which is an ongoing process.

The influence of foreign nation-state adversaries

The webinar came in the wake of other cybersecurity panels and congressional hearings on the recent SolarWinds cyberattack that infiltrated thousands of American companies and federal agencies. The hack is currently being blamed on Russia.

Langevin touched on the influence of foreign nation-state adversaries. “I want to make something perfectly clear: countries like Russia actively aid and abet cyber criminals,” he said.

“We’re really living in a golden age of cyber crime because there are countries, again, that allow and encourage criminals to operate within their borders,” he said. “While some of the talk of norms and the need for stronger cyber diplomacy may seem esoteric, I can really assure you that it is increasingly relevant to stopping the constant stream of intrusions targeting small businesses around the country,” he said.

Eric Goldstein, executive assistant director for cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said “adversaries of all types are targeting American businesses now.

“It is not just the case that if you are a company that has highly sensitive [intellectual property] or provides critical infrastructure that you are the only type of company at risk. We are now seeing adversaries, including criminal groups, that will launch what I call indiscriminate attacks targeting anybody in this country with a vulnerability,” he said.

“Every company in America is at risk,” he said, adding they need to “take urgent steps to manage vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure.”

Cybersecurity

Large Telecoms Pitch Strike Force for Internet Traffic Security Over Global Gateway

Verizon, AT&T and Lumen warned about prescriptive rules that could diminish security.

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WASHINGTON, February 23, 2023 – Verizon, AT&T and Lumen Technologies have proposed that the Federal Communications Commission adopt and lead a strike force consisting of various industry, government and international participants to come up with policy mechanisms to secure internet traffic over the global gateway.

The proposals are particular to the border gateway protocol, which is how global traffic is routed. The problem is that there are no security features to ensure trust of the information being routed, according to the FCC, which opened a proceeding on the matter on February 28 last year asking for commentary on what to do about the issue. The concern is that without security measures, bad network actors can redirect traffic to itself instead of the intended recipient, which exposes Americans to the theft of identity, extortion, financial transactions, and state spying, the commission noted.

In the letter last week, the three telecommunications companies proposed that secure internet traffic routing practices over the border gateway protocol first focus on critical infrastructure entities in the United States and its allies to allow these telecommunications companies to protect the traffic routes via filtering.

The filtering would involve registering traffic origins and identifying where to filter traffic along the route, including at interconnection peering points and customer routers. The proposed strike force would involve Big Tech companies and cloud platforms, which the FCC asked if it should include in its original proceeding document, as they have networking equipment and BGP routers. The internet service providers, who have their own filtering practices, also floated the possibility of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency requiring other agencies to provide that information.

The proposal also includes “collaborative assurances” in which the ISPs would provide confidential technical briefings about the practices.

But they advise against the FCC making prescriptive rules about such practices, noting that different ISPs have different approaches by design, and that any onerous approach could jeopardize security, not bolster it.

Questions about FCC’s jurisdiction over a fundamentally global internet routing system

The trio also questioned the jurisdiction of the commission on the routing ecosystem, which is fundamentally global.

“Asserting prescriptive regulatory control over internet protocols could have cascading effects, prompting international regulators – and authoritarian regimes in general – to seek greater internet control at the global level through” the United Nation’s telecommunications regulatory, the International Telecommunication Union.

“This would create barriers to U.S. leadership in the global digital economy and U.S. national security and is directly contrary to core interests of the United States and our free market democratic allies,” they added.

The FCC’s notice came just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which resulted in reports of increased cyberattacks from the warring regions. In fact, the FCC accused Russian network operators of inexplicably routing traffic through its country, including from traffic from Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and major credit card companies MasterCard and Visa.

It also came before a law was passed that requires critical infrastructure companies to report to the federal government within a certain timeframe when they have experienced a hack or breach, as the country grapples with a number of high-profile attacks since the pandemic began.

The FCC has targeted national security threats by halting license authorizations to Chinese firms and putting on a blacklist a number of companies whose equipment American telecommunications companies are expected to remove from their networks.

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Cybersecurity

Smaller Companies Facing Cybersecurity Insurance Headwinds: Equifax Executive

Cost of insurance for cybersecurity could be a problem for smaller companies.

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WASHINGTON, February 15, 2023 – Smaller companies may face increasing cybersecurity insurance costs as the market evolves, warned an executive at credit bureau company Equifax.

Cybersecurity insurance will be extraordinarily important for small-to-medium-sized businesses, said Jamil Farshchi, executive vice president and chief information security officer. But premium cybersecurity insurance coverage has increased in recent years, with many small-to-medium-sized businesses relying on that cybersecurity insurance to keep them safe.

“These are small businesses that don’t have the resources that larger organizations do,” Farshchi said. “So I worry as the insurance market evolves, the premiums and the coverage levels are getting such that is very difficult.”

Equifax was a victim of one of the country’s most infamous breaches, when in 2017 the data of 147 million Americans were stolen by hackers. The company settled for hundreds of millions of dollars with the Federal Trade Commission.

Experts have urged companies to assume that any outside program is vulnerable to hacking, a position known as “zero trust.” This way, they can take the necessary measures to address the attack.

The United States has been on heightened alert when it comes to cybersecurity issues. Over the last two years, a number of high-profile cybersecurity breaches have impacted a software company, an oil transporter, and a meat producer. Those cybersecurity problems have triggered legislation that requires that the federal government be alerted when critical industries suffer such breaches.

After Russia invaded Ukraine early last year, a number of cybersecurity hacks emerged from those countries, according to an Atlas VPN report shortly after the invasion.

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Cybersecurity

CES 2023: Consumers Need to Understand Personal Cybersecurity, Says White House Cyber Official

Consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, said Camille Stewart Gloster.

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Photo of John Mitchell, Tobin Richardson, Amit Elazari, and Camille Stewart Gloster (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – In addition to building a more robust cybersecurity workforce, policymakers should consider consumer education, said Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem for the White House, speaking Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2023 has featured numerous discussions of cybersecurity in sectors ranging from transportation to Internet of Things home devices. On Thursday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufactures should design and pre-configure devices to be secure, thus reducing the security burden on consumers.

For their own protection, consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, Stewart Gloster said Saturday. “The sooner that people understand that their physical security and digital security are inextricably linked the better,” she argued. According to the panel’s moderator, Consumer Technology Association senior manager for government affairs John Mitchell, 82 percent of data breaches in 2021 involved “the human element, stolen credentials, phishing, misuse.”

Stewart Gloster’s team is working on a national cyber-workforce and education strategy, she said, which will address the federal cyber workforce, the national cyber workforce, cyber education, and “digital safety awareness.”

Stewart Gloster said workforce initiatives should promote the participation of “people of a diverse set of backgrounds who are highly skilled and multidisciplinary who can take a look at the problem space, who can apply their lived experiences, apply the things they’ve observed, apply their academic backgrounds to a challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

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