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Cyber Security

The Cost of a Cyber Attack

Around the world, more and more IT professionals are focusing on cybersecurity as safeguarding data is becoming increasingly more important to an organization’s internal success strategy. According to a study published by the Ponemon Institute in July of 2018, the average number of cybersecurity breaches increased by 6.4% in 2017 costing enterprise organizations an average of $3.86 million and 69 days from discovery to resolution of all breach-related issues. To get even more granular, organizations experienced an average per-record cost of $148 for every lost or stolen record. While US-based companies are the most vulnerable, both in the probability of an attack occurring and attack-related expenses, every domain across the globe is potentially at risk.

The good news? The IT industry as a whole is getting smarter and more well-prepared to guard against major attacks. Organizations are investing more in cybersecurity prevention with action items like:

  • Purchasing software to ensure the safety and security of IT environments
  • Employee Training
  • Extensive use of encryption
  • Creating reaction plans
  • Assembling response teams to remediate issues as quickly as possible

``APPROXIMATELY $6 TRILLION IS EXPECTED TO BE SPENT ON CYBER SECURITY GLOBALLY BY THE YEAR 2021``

What are the most common types of breaches to occur?

It is an unfortunate reality that criminal activity exists in all facets of our society, including the IT industry. For many enterprise organizations, software solutions such as the SolarWinds security products are an important part of their security plan to keep their environments safe and protected from potential threats.

The three major contributors to cybersecurity breaches are criminal or malice attacks, system malfunctions, and human error, respectively.

Security breaches can come in all sizes and with all different agendas.  The most common type of breach usually involves hacking client data; however, there are many different motivators.

The “2018 Data Breach Investigations” by Verison cited more than 20 different types of security breaches or incidences as potential threats.

While hacking is the most common type of breach, the size for all breach types is getting bigger in terms of attack scope and the number of records affected.

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), reported a total of 1,632 data breaches and 197 million consumer records exposed in 2017averaging 121,000 records per breach. In 2018, the ITRC reported a total of 1,244 breaches impacting over 446 million records.

An average of 358,000 records per breach in the US means there was an increase of nearly 66% of records impacted per incident in 2018.

The number of people exposed is even greater when you factor in other countries. According to Symantec’s “Norton Cyber Security Insights Report Global Results,” 978 million people in 20 countries were affected by cybercrime in 2017.

A major contributor to the significant cost difference among countries is the amount of money required to notify customers once a breach has occurred. Notification costs range widely throughout the world, due in large part to differences in regulation, with the United States being the highest at $740,000 as of 2018. In the United States, notification costs include:

  • Creation of contact databases
  • Determination of all regulatory requirements
  • Engagement of outside experts
  • Postal expenditures
  • Email bounce-backs
  • Inbound communication setups

The Real Cost of a Data Breach

As per IBM’s study, companies saved an average of $1 million when a security breach was discovered within 100 days of its intrusion and could save another $1 million if a breach was contained within 30 days. However, IBM’s study discovered it took approximately 197 days for a company to identify a breach and 69 days to contain the breach.

One of the largest security breaches in 2018, affecting approximately 383 million people globally, was the data breach at Marriott International.  According to the ITRC, Marriott International’s network security was initially compromised in 2014, and the unauthorized access remained undiscovered and undisclosed until 2018.

These attacks can be detrimental to an organization’s bottom line, a lesson not lost on the global ride-share company, Uber. They learned of a database breach that impacted more than 600,000 customers worldwide in 2016 but waited to send breach notifications until almost a year later in 2017. US courts responded to these missteps by fining the organization over $148 million dollars (OAG-DC).

Other major breaches over the years such as Yahoo in 2013 affecting nearly all 3-billion Yahoo customers, and the infamous Equifax breach in 2017 impacting more than 146 million customers worldwide has led to major changes in legislation. By 2018, all 50 states had enacted some variation of data privacy laws while Europe went as far as passing the General Data Protection Rights Act (GDPR).

Tools like SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA) and Server & Application Monitor (SAM) provide organizations of all sizes the ability to effectively monitor environments and detect possible threats earlier, saving time and money.

``GLOBAL AVERAGE COST PER PERSON OF A BREACH: $148``

Due to the global nature of our society, all industries face challenges in maintaining a secure network. That being said, some industries face greater challenges in keeping data secure. Here are the top 5 industries most likely to encounter a breach along with the average cost per record:

  • Healthcare = $408
  • Financial Services = $206
  • Technology = $170
  • Industrial Manufacturing = $152
  • Public Sector (Government) = $75

Networks for large, global businesses are not the only networks that get attacked; networks for small, local businesses are just as vulnerable. A report by Consumer Reports found that small businesses often have the same level of sensitive information but lack the knowledge or resources to maintain a secure network. “Cyber attacks are often automated, hitting many servers at once, and so hundreds of small businesses may get caught up for every 1 major company that’s affected.”

Regardless of the size of your organization, SolarWinds has solutions that can protect your IT environment from these types of attacks. Tools like Network Configuration Manager (NCM), Patch Manager, and Access Rights Manager can be used to satisfy controls and manager access rights, while Log & Event Manager (LEM) and Network Performance Manager (NPM) can be used to ensure that security controls are working properly.

Where do network security vulnerabilities come from?

More often than not, security breaches are the result of outside entities wanting access to information on a network. But, threats to a network can also start from inside the network.

Unsurprisingly, there are many points of entry for malicious attackers to target your IT environment. According to the study published by Verison, these are the top 5:

  • Web Applications
  • Miscellaneous Errors
  • Point of Sale
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
  • Privilege Misuse

In their study, Verison found that web applications on a network were attacked more than any other point of entry. “This includes exploits of code-level vulnerabilities in the application as well as thwarting authentication mechanisms. [The use] of stolen credentials is still the top variety of hacking in breaches involving web applications, followed by SQLi.”

The Internet of Things: A Growing Threat

Additionally, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other wireless devices are a growing area of concern. The OECD notes that the current consumer market (current employees using a network or the public accessing a network) regularly utilize a wide variety of IoT devices such as: wearables (smart watches, phones), smart home applications (Nest thermostats, TVs), and motor vehicles.

The increased number of IoT devices connecting to a network poses a number of threats to an organization’s IT environment. In the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) report “Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World”, the FTC’s panel cautioned that many companies manufacturing IoT devices may not come from a background with network security in mind or are unfamiliar with security compliance.

Moreover, some low-end devices may not be able to update device software or, “may lack economic incentives to provide ongoing support or software security updates at all, leaving consumers with unsupported or vulnerable devices shortly after purchase.” According to the FTC, IoT devices could potentially:

  • Allow for unauthorized access and misuse personal information
  • Used to facilitate attacks on other systems
  • Create safety risks that could be exploited to harm consumers

With the rising number of devices, it’s important to know who is on the network. SolarWinds’ Network Configuration Manager (NCM) can show what devices are connected, when devices approach end-of-service and end-of-life, make configuration changes, and even lock down devices with unauthorized access.

NCM’s network automation features were designed to manage changes across a network and maintain standards and service to all devices connected to the network all while reducing downtime and ensure that your network is compliant and secure.

``GROWING USE OF IoT DEVISES INCREASED THE AVERAGE COST PER PERSON PER BREACH BY $5``

While our ability to protect against attack continues to improve, IT trends confirm that the bad actors are just as adaptable. With every new software patch, there are numerous hackers ready and waiting to find new ways to exploit it.

The recent vulnerability discovered in Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client serves as a good example of an organization taking a proactive approach to protecting customers once a threat was discovered. Microsoft went as far as offering a patch for XP clients, a product that had reached End of Service years before the vulnerability was discovered. While most individual users have moved on to newer versions of the product, Microsoft knew that many of their enterprise clients were running XP and did not want to risk exposing their systems to threat of attack.

This shift towards security preparedness should come as no surprise given the nearly $4 million price tag associated with identifying, containing, and remediating a data breach. Combine that with the potential of Federal prosecution and it would be downright reckless of organizations to exclude cybersecurity measures from their strategic plan. The growing number and size of attacks over the past decade confirm the importance of cybersecurity for all domains worldwide. As IT professionals it is our duty to remain diligent in our fight against attacks and continue to produce effective and innovative tools to protect the masses from the effects of a detrimental breach.

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Do You Need Help Addressing Security Concerns? Finding the right security strategy can be overwhelming. ``What are my most vulnerable areas? What products are best for my environment? Where do I even begin?`` We get it. . .we have been there, and we want to help! Provide your contact details and a little bit of information about your environment and one of our team members will reach out to start the conversation.

December 2018 SolarWinds – Version Upgrades

Is your SolarWinds Environment ready for 2019?

SolarWinds recently released version upgrades for NPM, NCM, NTA, IPAM, and general updates to the Orion platform and we want to make sure your team is completely up to date.

What’s New?

  • NPM 12.4 – Cisco ACI® Support. Now your team can accurately monitor your SDN environment with Cisco ACI support and other general interface and performance improvements.
  • NCM 7.9 -Simplify configurations with multi-device baselines. Easily create, assign, and implement baseline templates across multiple devices.
  • NTA – 4.5 Alert on Flow. Create custom alerts to quickly identify extreme changes in traffic flow and remediate issues more efficiently.
  • IPAM 4.8 – Update includes Infoblox® support, the ability to replace custom fields with more convenient custom properties, and more comprehensive support for Linux users.

Where does Loop1 come in?

2018 IT trends found that nearly half of IT professionals have a reactive organizational strategy, leaving teams spending 50% of their time maintaining and trouble shooting an environment, instead of working on mission critical tasks. So what can Loop1 engineers do to mitigate this issue and get your team back on track?

  • Manage updates and optimization
  • Monitor & trouble-shoot your environment
  • Implement proactive monitoring strategies to pinpoint issues faster
  • Identify mission critical tasks for your team

While the SolarWinds product suite has completely changed the game for IT monitoring software with out-of-the-box solutions, many of our clients have benefitted from Loop1 engineers walking them through the update process – saving time and effort in the long run.

What does Loop1 Bring to the Table?

  • Over 7 years of experience with SolarWinds products per engineer on staff
  • More than 600 SolarWinds engagements in 2018 – including many version upgrades
  • Over half of the Fortune 500 Companies are currently Loop1 clients
  • Engineers work in some of the most complex environments across the globe
  • Ability to quickly remediate some of the more common update issues experienced
  • Provide valuable insight and problem solving for the more difficult obstacles

If you need help with your upgrade, contact us at info@loop1.com, and a member of our expert staff will reach out to discuss your needs.

End-of-Life Announcements

An End-of-Life Announcement was made December 4th, 2018 for the following SolarWinds Products:

NPM 12.1, NTA 4.1, NCM 7.6, IPAM 4.5, VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM) 4.2, User Device Tracker (UDT) 3.2, and Enterprise Operations Console EOC) 1.5.

If you are currently using one of these products, it is advised to upgrade to a more recent version.

What Happens if I Have Conflicting Alerts?

Loop1 Answers Top Questions from Alert Noise Webinar

We recently hosted a webinar on alert noise – the importance of getting them under control and how to customize for your needs.

If you missed it, you can view it here:

We had a rich conversation in our Q&A portion where our host, Chrystal Taylor, walked attendees through application in specific scenarios.

The top questions and answers were:

I have a Windows domain environment with mostly laptops plugged into Cisco switches. I would like to get an alert if/when someone that has a non-domain computer joins my switches. Can I create alerts based on this situation?

There are a couple of different ways we could approach this. If you’re using DNS in your environment and all of your other devices are DNS, and something pops up that isn’t using DNS, you can trigger an alert to let you know. If you want to go a different route, you can utilize an events monitor or a script monitor to check for devices not on the domain.

We need some of our servers to monitor interfaces and hardware. Often, when the node goes down, we get a barrage of alerts for the interfaces and the hardware going into an unknown state. How do we protect against this from happening?

You can use dependencies. There are supposed to be automatic dependencies to keep this from happening, so when your node goes down, all of those that are a child of that node shouldn’t be alerting you. If you’re still getting alerts, you can add a condition to your alerts so when your device is down, you won’t receive notifications.

Is there a way to edit the default email template used for when creating a new alert?

There’s not a way to change the default email template. There are, however, variables to change for an email address. But as far as edits to the template go, there’s not a way to do that to our knowledge.

Can the text of an alert on an application have variables or values in the alert from the different groups? Like nodes or alerts?

Yes. What you’re able to use is going to depend on the property you’ve triggered on. If you’ve set your alert to trigger on a node status, you’ll probably have to use the custom variables. SolarWinds does let you create custom sequels to pull any information from the database in. You can use other variables in there to pull information. If you have something custom from your table that you need to pull in, you can definitely do that. It just takes some tweaking on the front end.

What if you have conflicting alerts?

If you have conflicting alerts, they should both trigger. Alerts don’t take priorities.

For more information on how you can customize your alerts or questions about this specific webinar, please feel free to contact us.

One Client’s Journey to Slaying Alert Noise

Photo by Jacob Miller on Unsplash

 

When we started working with our client, he was overwhelmed.

He had finally convinced his organization to invest more than $250,000 in the SolarWinds platform, but he knew he wasn’t using the tool to its full potential. Subsequently, he was losing faith in the investment.

“It’s just not useful to me,” he told us.

It wasn’t the SolarWinds software that was the issue. The problem was it was flooding him with alerts – the default ones — that were clogging up his inbox. He would investigate each alert only to find that it wasn’t an issue he needed to watch. He couldn’t decipher which were critical and which were just noise.

We had a Loop1 engineer come in, and spend the day with him. Together, they completely customized his alert systems to work for him. They eliminated all of the repetitive alerts and replaced them with ones that worked for his role and his organization.

Now that he’s been cleared of alert noise, he spends his time proactively monitoring his environment. His boss no longer sees his department as a profit drain and his people are better able to meet deadlines – all because they’re no longer investigating unnecessary alerts.

Almost all of our clients come to us feeling overwhelmed with alert noise. Ready to eliminate this nuisance once and for all?

Join our complimentary webinar, on March 22, where we’ll give you ideas on how to customize your alerts to your needs and finally eliminate the noise.

Register here.

6 Instant Benefits When You Address Alert Fatigue

Ding. Buzz. New email in inbox. Ding, Ding, DING!

What’s that noise? Yes, it’s another alert, most likely one of hundreds (or more!) you could see today.

On a good day, they’re a mild nuisance. On a bad day, they’re painfully distracting, forcing you to surrender your precious time to seeing if these alerts are even worth investigating.

At Loop1, we believe the truth is in sight, and you just need to look at it through different eyes. In the thick of alert noise, we’re going to challenge you to look at noise completely differently – in a way where they can actually serve you and bring you valuable insights.

Here are 6 benefits you could enjoy, right now, if you started working on customizing your alerts to work for you, not the other way around:

  1. Reduce False Alerts – When you purchase SolarWinds, you may not realize that it comes with 100+ alerts already enabled. Simply put, if you don’t customize the defaults, your world will be very noisy. Getting a handle on alert noise gives you the reassurance that when you receive an alert, it’s important.
  2. Create Actionable Alerts – When you customize your alerts to your needs, you can also enable them to tell you when action is needed – and when it’s not. For example, if your memory is too high, your alerts can be configured to show which processes are actually consuming the memory, giving you helpful intel to remediate the issue quicker.
  3. Improve Alert Management – Many SolarWinds admins find themselves as an alert order taker, configuring one-off alerts for every person who requests one. Pretty soon, you’re managing a platform with several 100 different alerts. Getting a handle on “alert sprawl” will help you reduce duplicate alerts as well as reduce unnecessary overhead on the database back-end of the platform be limiting the number of alert.
  4. Create Alert Tracking – When you’re suffering from alert noise, every alert is a squeaky wheel. But, you can minimize noise by prioritizing which ones are high priority, creating fewer alerts that are smarter. Plus, tracking such as custom reports and dashboards help you see where the repeat offenders are.
  5. Customize a Logical Escalation Protocol – Getting a handle on alert noise can also enable you to have an escalation process in place. For example, if a Microsoft SQL server crashes, it can prompt an alert to the right person. If that person doesn’t acknowledge or remediate the alert after a period, the protocol can resend the alert or trigger an alert to a secondary person.
  6. Clear the Way for Trend Analysis – Most professionals who are bombarded by alert noise aren’t analyzing trends. When you clear your life of unnecessary alerts, you’re paving the way to being more proactive and preventing problems.

Ready to learn more about preventing alert noise? Watch our webinar at: https://youtu.be/LzDIA8hrOeA