Zero Trust, Controlled Privileges and Data

ARCON has always propagated the message of controlling and protecting the inner realm of an organization’s IT network. It builds the foundation for robust cybersecurity. 

Whether the cyber-criminal sits outside the realm or is present inside the periphery, typically it is the compromised insider-privy to confidential information- who is behind an insider attack or cyber-espionage.

Recently approximately thirty (30) multinational companies faced the wrath of state-sponsored actors. The incident has brought to the forefront yet again the dire need to adopt robust access management methods to prevent the theft and exfiltration of sensitive data.

 What exactly happened?

A report published by a US-based cybersecurity firm revealed that a state-sponsored group, in years’ long cyber operations, stealthily stole intellectual property worth trillions of dollars. The victims are multinational organizations from manufacturing, pharmaceutical, energy and utilities sectors spread across Asia, Europe and North America.

The alarming report unveiled that state-sponsored cyber-criminals exfiltrated hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data. This data includes strategic blueprints, IT architecture diagrams, Intellectual Properties of drugs among other forms of sensitive data.

Why did this happen? 

Cyber-criminals always focus on cutting-edge technologies from where they can obtain most of the case-sensitive data to execute cyber-attacks in the future through compromised network, devices, people and digital identities.

The worst part therefore in this incident is that IT security communities are skeptical that there could be a massive cyber espionage that could inflict more disastrous damage to the organizations in the future.

Since the theft was happening secretly for more than a year, the researchers are afraid that the business units of the organizations, network architecture, the employees’ email accounts, credentials and even the stakeholder’s data could be at stake. 

The forensic analysis

It was established (after the first intrusion from cyber-criminals) that these state-sponsored actors had maintained full access to everything in the network that would enable them to identify and target the sensitive information at the right time.

Typically, the following loopholes invites targeted cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage:

 Access mechanisms to the IT network and infrastructure devices, including critical information are not robust enough. As a result, it becomes a cakewalk for cyber-criminals to execute zero-day types of attacks.

Zero monitoring of the end-user activities. It enables and emboldens the cyber-criminals to keep on performing the espionage and subsequently steal the enterprise data.

While organizations adopt new technologies to enhance business processes and business efficiency, many times the areas of data security are ignored. As a result, clandestine infrastructure helps the hackers to obtain unauthorized access control of the critical systems and eventually critical-business information is compromised.

For a long period, organizations fail to conduct an IT audit which again lure the malicious actors to keep on doing the anomalies.

Non-compliance to the global regulatory standards help the cyber crooks to inflict every possible damage. 

How could it have been prevented?

ARCON being a global thought leader, innovator and trend-setter in the information security domain, propagates the adoption of the following cyber-attack preventive measures:

 Zero Trust Architecture: The four critical components in the IT infrastructure: Network, People, Data and Devices, must always be controlled by a rule and role-based defined permissions to prevent unauthorized access. At every level of access, a trust has to maintained through authentication and authorization tools to establish the authenticity of the users.

End-User Monitoring: Seamless monitoring of the end-user activities helps organizations to know who is accessing what at what time and for what purpose. Otherwise, the irrelevant and malicious users can misuse information that he/ she is not authorized to access. ARCON | Privileged Access Management is a robust tool for end-user monitoring.

‘Just-in-time’ Access to Target Applications: Allowing 24*7 access to users increases the threat surface. Always-on access invites application misuse, abuse, snooping among other forms of threats that can lead to social engineering and subsequent cyber-attacks. 

Audit Trails: It helps organizations to generate and maintain reports on every user activity on target systems at predefined time intervals. Any suspicious activity could be easily detected and notified so that the organization can take crucial preventive decisions.

Compliance: Following the global compliance standards is the safest way to protect an organization from anomalous activities. Adhering to IT security and regulatory mandates builds the foundation of a robust cyber-security framework. ARCON’s enterprise-level solutions like Privileged Access Management (PAM), Endpoint Privileged Management (EPM), Identity and Access Management (IDAM), User Behaviour Analytics (UBA), My Vault and others help organizations to follow the mandates.

The Bottom-line

Protecting Intellectual Property is one of the core responsibilities of any multinational enterprise. Organizations are adopting new and advanced technologies to climb the ladder for business growth. However, to give a robust foundation to that ‘business growth’, simultaneous focus on data security is a must.

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