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It's Time to Build a Cyber Panic Room

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As destructive attacks flourish and counter-incident response becomes mainstream, organizations need to make a tactical paradigm shift from prevention to detection to suppression.

Genghis Khan was a mastermind. A terrifyingly brilliant military strategist who altered the course of world history. He used fear to paralyze his enemies. In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, J ack Weatherford writes:

In one apocryphal account circulated to create anxiety among the enemy, the Mongols supposedly promised to retreat from a besieged city if the defenders would give them a large number of cats and birds as booty. According to the story, the starving residents eagerly gathered the animals and gave them to the Mongols. After receiving all the birds and animals, the Mongols attached burning torches and banners to their tails and released them, whereupon the frightened animals raced back into the city and set it on fire.

History repeats itself. This year, the overt colonization of American cyberspace continued at breathtaking speed.China and Russia have escalated their cyberespionage campaigns and cybercriminals have armed themselves with weapons-grade capabilities, which has allowed them to conduct thousands of virtual home invasions unabated.

I fear that now is the time that "the year" winter comes. Strategically,geopolitical conflict has served as a harbinger for destructive cyberattacks. More rogue nations have developed A-teams that are leveraging sophisticated attack campaigns which are destructive in nature. Cyber intrusions have transformed from burglary to home invasionto arson. As shown in our Quarterly Incident Response Threat Report (QIRTR ), there has been a threefold increase in destructive attacks. A full 32% of all attacks witnessed by our Incident Response partners were destructive. Cyber spies and cybercriminals alike are setting our networks on fire.

After 21 years in cybersecurity, I am witnessing a dramatic evolution of cybercriminal capabilities, which is terrifying. The increasing attack surface coupled with the utilization of advanced tactics has allowed the adversary to become clairvoyant.The cybercriminal is already in our house. Given this phenomenon, we should mirror a model of physical security that is used to protect dignitaries and diplomats― the panic room.


It's Time to Build a Cyber Panic Room
Image credit: Kecko [ CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

A panic room , according to Wikipedia, is a "fortified room that is installed in a private residence or business to provide a safe shelter, or hiding place, for the inhabitants in the event of a home invasion."

A traditional panic rooms contain communications equipment like a phone or radio so that law enforcement authorities can be contacted. There is also a monitor for CCTV and alarms. Creating a panic room around your critical assets, users and subnets is imperative today. Ascorporations continue to deploy additional services and Internet of Things based devices, the surface area prone to attack is becoming too vast for existing static and sparsely deployed preventative controls. Consequently, organizations will need to make a major shift in security spending to provide improved situational awareness and visibility into the more advanced attacker movements after a breach. This spending must be strategic and accompany a tactical paradigm shift from prevention to detection to suppression.

Panic Room 101 Create an inventory of the most critical assets and users. Conduct a penetration test, whose objective is to destroy those assets. Deploy application control/iron boxing on those assets. This is your fortified room. Deploy endpoint detection and response (EDR) technology on all endpoints that have access to those assets. This is your CCTV and alarm system. Outsource managed detection and response to monitor threats against your environment.

Cyberspace has become punitive. As destructive attacks flourish and counter-incident response becomes mainstream, we must ensure that we create an inhospitable environment for cyber criminals. It is time to build your panic room.

Related Content: 7 Real-Life Dangers That Threaten Cybersecurity The Day of Reckoning: Cybercrime's Impact on Brand 5 Things the Most Secure Software Companies Do (and How You Can Be Like Them)
It's Time to Build a Cyber Panic Room

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec. 3-6, 2018, with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Tom Kellermann is the chief cybersecurity officer for Carbon Black Inc. Prior to joining Carbon Black, Tom was the CEO and founder of Strategic Cyber Ventures. On January 19, 2017 Tom was appointed the Wilson Center's Global Fellow for Cyber Policy in 2017. Tom previously ...View Full Bio


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