Compliance Data Loss Prevention
5 Things Every CISO Should Know About CCPA’s Impact on Their InfoSec Programs
24 April 2020
The California Consumer Privacy Act (or “the CCPA” for short) is California’s new data privacy law that came into effect on January 1, 2020.   This is the first of its kind in the US, and it’s going to impact your InfoSec program.  The purpose of this new law from a privacy perspective is to give consumers greater control over their personal information (PI). How? By giving consumers key privacy rights. You may be familiar with some of these rights, including: The right to know what PI a business is collecting about you  The right to know what these businesses do with that PI (via a privacy notice) The right to request access to that data  The right to have PI deleted  But, some rights are new, including: The right to request a business stops “selling” your PI The right to not be treated differently when making such a request While it’s essential consumers know their rights, security and compliance leaders need to pay attention, too. After all, failure to comply will result in fines up to $7,500 per violation.  So, if you’re a CISO, here’s everything you need to know about CCPA. The CCPA is one of the strictest consumer privacy laws in the US and it’s become the new standard Unlike Europe, the US doesn’t have a federal consumer privacy law. Instead, the US privacy landscape is made up of a smattering of both state and sectoral laws. As the CCPA ties enforcement to “California residents”, it may apply to services provided outside of California to Californians. Because it’s virtually impossible to know with absolute certainty who or where your customers are, it can become tricky to determine who you offer CCPA rights to and who you don’t. The result? Many companies have given CCPA rights to everyone.
The CCPA includes an obligation for your infosec program Indeed, when it comes to security, the CCPA only specifies that a business must “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the information” it processes.   Importantly, though, what those “reasonable” security procedures are and how they differ based on the information involved remains undefined.   But, what we do know is that if your business experiences a data breach and a Californian consumer’s PI is taken by an unauthorized person, your business could be on the hook for failing to implement reasonable security procedures. In addition to fines, the CCPA grants Californian consumers the right to sue you. This is called a private right of action.  While there is still much to be determined as to what “reasonable” means, the onus rests on you, as CISO, to review your infosec program and make sure you’re comfortable you’re doing your best to reach this “reasonable” standard. Looking at the NIST (800-53 or CSF), ISO 27001, and CIS controls are a great place to start.  The bottom line: businesses need to protect their data. Implementing a DLP solution is a necessary step all businesses need to take.
If a data breach happens on your watch, you may be held responsible for damages Statutory damages are new for Californian data privacy law.  Now, consumers can sue you for a data breach and they don’t have to show harm, meaning we could see a rise in data privacy class actions.   This CCPA private right of action promises to shake up the data breach class action landscape in which such actions have generally been settled for small amounts or dismissed due to lack of injury. Because, demonstrating and quantifying damages caused by a data breach can be difficult to show. With the CCPA, companies are vulnerable to potentially staggering damages in relation to a breach. Of course, this is in addition to revenue loss, damaged reputation, and lost customer trust. The CCPA allows consumers to seek statutory damages of between $100 and $750 (or actual damages if greater) against a company in the event of a data breach of PI that results from the company’s failure to implement reasonable security procedures. Putting this into context, a data breach affecting the PI of 100 California consumers may result in statutory damages ranging from $10,000 to $75,000, and a data breach affecting the PI of one million California consumers may result in statutory damages ranging from $100 million to $750 million.  These potential statutory damages dwarf almost every previous large data breach settlement in the US, and have the potential to see higher awards than we’ve seen with GDPR. It’s worth noting, though, that there is a 30-day cure period in which businesses can in some way remedy a data breach after receiving written notice from the consumer.  But, because the CCPA doesn’t define “cure,” it’s unclear how a business can successfully “cure” data security violations.  Prevention is better than cure. Your best chance of avoiding a breach and/or hefty fines afterward is to ensure your business has ‘reasonable’ security procedures implemented, including policies and other DLP solutions. While cybersecurity ROI is notoriously hard to measure, it’ll no doubt pale in comparison to the cost of a breach.  Learn how to communicate cybersecurity ROI to your CEO here. A successful private right of action by a consumer only applies to certain PI A couple of things need to happen before a Californian consumer can pursue this private right of action, including: The right only applies to data that is not encrypted or redacted. In other words, de-identified data or encrypted data is not subject to the private right of action or class action lawsuit.   The right only applies to limited types of PI – not the expansive definition found in the CCPA. This is a much more limited definition of PI than contemplated by the CCPA and, in practice, the majority of businesses’ data stores will not include this level of sensitive data.  The right does not apply if there has only been unauthorized access to data. There must also be exfiltration. This means that unsecured access to a cloud storage system on its own will not give rise to the right. There must also have been theft and unauthorized disclosures. For example, by an insider threat or nefarious third-party.   The harm to the consumer must flow from a violation of the business’s duty to implement reasonable security procedures. It will, therefore, be key for businesses to show a documented assessment of their security procedures in light of CCPA and to ensure a robust security program is in place to protect against data loss. If you are GDPR compliant, your infosec program is likely compliant The GDPR, somewhat similar to the CCPA, is vague when it comes to cybersecurity.  It makes data security a general obligation for all companies processing personal data from the European Union (EU) by requiring controllers and processors to implement “appropriate technical and organizational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk”.  This means that companies controlling or processing EU personal data should have implemented comprehensive internal policies and procedures to be in compliance with the GDPR. This likely makes them CCPA-ready, but IT leaders should still review their security programs. The most important thing to know is that businesses affected by the CCPA will now be responsible for not only knowing what data they hold, but also how it’s controlled. In order to ensure compliance, the first step should be revisiting your cybersecurity program. And, while it may be surprising to some, cybercriminals actually aren’t your biggest threat when it comes to data loss. It’s actually your own employees. After all, it’s your people who control all of the data within your organization. But, you can empower them to work securely and prevent data loss with Tessian.
Prevent data loss with Tessian To err is human which means your employees may make mistakes that could lead to a potential breach under CCPA.  Traditionally legacy technology has leveraged hardware and software focused on the machine layer to fight cybersecurity risks. This, of course, doesn’t address the biggest problem, though: The Human Element.  Tessian leverages intelligent machine learning to secure the Human Layer in order to understand human relationships and communication patterns. Once Tessian knows what “normal” looks like, Tessian can automatically predict and prevent dangerous activity, including accidental data loss and data exfiltration.  People shouldn’t have to be security experts to do their job. Taking advantage of Tessian solutions can help your organization mitigate your employee’s mistakes and keep them productive which is a key component of a robust security program.
Data Loss Prevention
How to Communicate Cybersecurity ROI to Your CEO
20 April 2020
CIOs, CISOs, and other IT leaders have a long list of internal and external factors to consider when putting together a cybersecurity strategy. If the ever-evolving threat landscape wasn’t challenging enough to keep up with on its own, there’s also a growing number of privacy regulations and compliance standards to satisfy and a market that’s more saturated with products than ever before. There’s also the issue of budgets. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to measure and communicate cybersecurity ROI which means justifying security investment can be challenging, especially when most organizations are facing significant budget cuts in light of COVID-19. Cybersecurity is, however, a business-critical function. It’s not a nice-to-have, but a must-have.  We’ve put together 3 tips to help you demonstrate the business value of cybersecurity solutions and get buy-in from your CEO.
Reframe cybersecurity solutions as business enablers While cybersecurity has historically been a siloed department, it’s becoming more and more integrated with overall business functions.  To see how far-reaching the implications of a cybersecurity strategy are, let’s consider the consequences of a data breach:  Lost data Lost intellectual property Revenue loss Losing customers and/or their trust Regulatory fines Damaged reputation These consequences directly affect a business’s bottom line.  But, cybersecurity solutions don’t have to be limited to prevention or remediation. In fact, cybersecurity can actually enable businesses and become a unique selling point in and of itself.  With regulations like HIPAA, CCPA, and GDPR dictating how organizations handle sensitive data, your cybersecurity framework can actually support growth by being a strong competitive differentiator. By investing in cybersecurity tools and personnel and being transparent about how your organization protects data, you’ll actually bolster credibility and trust amongst prospects and existing customers and clients.
Lead with facts and figures specific to your organization A critical aspect of communicating ROI is evidence. It’s important you come armed with the right evidence and, whenever possible, quantify the threats and the risk.  For example, you could start with the more general statistics that 90% of data breaches start on email and that misdirected emails were the number one incident reported under GDPR. Then you could use Tessian’s Breach Calculator to determine your organization’s potential exposure. According to our data, on average, 707 misdirected emails are sent every year in businesses with 1,000 people. Referencing this specific number will make the risk more tangible and the need for a solution more urgent.  Likewise, if you’re pitching for new inbound email security solutions, a phishing simulation could help demonstrate the likelihood of a successful attack. Or, if you need to make a case for network vulnerabilities, hiring a penetration tester could help prove that there are, in fact, chinks in your armor.  Curious how many misdirected or unauthorized emails are sent in your organization? Book a demo to find out. 
Engage with the larger organization Communicating the value (and necessity) of cybersecurity measures to your larger organization isn’t easy. Not only are technical risks hard to translate across departments, but policies and procedures can often be seen as a hindrance to employee productivity.  But, if you can engage with the larger organization and create a positive security culture, you’ll have a better chance of getting buy-in from C-level executives. How? More and more, CISOs are relying on gamification, positive reinforcement, and interactive content like videos and podcasts to promote their strategies. Whatever the method or medium, the most important thing is that risks and responsibilities – which the entire organization bears the burden of – are communicated so that everyone, regardless of department or level of seniority, can understand.  The benefits of this are two-fold. Not only will you demonstrate the value of cybersecurity via in-house evangelists, but you’ll also empower security-aware employees to become your biggest cybersecurity asset. (You can read more about the importance of empowering your people and protecting the Human Layer here.) This, in turn, helps your overall objective to prevent data loss and data exfiltration. Get more advice from security leaders for security leaders Ultimately, communicating security ROI relies on translating cyber risk to business risk, and making security a guiding principle for your larger organization. This is more important today than ever with new risks and challenges related to remote-working.  Looking for more advice? We constantly update our blog with new tips and best practices around security. We also found this article: The 5-Step Framework for CISOs Starting in a New Company very helpful, especially when it comes to negotiating budgets and delegating risk owners.
Data Loss Prevention
Remote Worker’s Guide To: BYOD Policies
16 April 2020
With the outbreak of COVID-19, workforces around the world have transitioned from secure office environments to their homes.  While some companies already had the infrastructure and policies in place to support a remote workforce, other smaller organizations and even some large enterprises are facing a number of challenges in getting their teams set up, starting with access to secure devices like laptops and phones. One way to empower your employees to work safely wherever they are is to implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. What is a BYOD Policy?
While BYOD policies are something of a necessity now – especially with delays and even cancellations in global supply chains for the devices virtual workers rely on – they were formerly an answer to IT consumerization.  Consumerization of IT refers to the cycle of technology first being built for personal, consumer use and then later being adopted by businesses and other organizations at an enterprise level. It’s often the result of employees using popular consumer apps or devices at work, because they are better than the legacy tech used by the organization. What are the benefits of a BYOD policy? There’s a reason why the BYOD market was booming pre-COVID-19. In fact, the market is expected to be valued at more than $366.95 by 2020, a big jump from its valuation of $30 billion in 2014. Note: This forecast was made three years ago, which means the sudden and global transition to remote-working will likely drive more growth. So, what are some of the benefits for businesses? You’ll Enable a Productive Remote Workforce  This is no doubt the most important reason to adopt BYOD policies, especially now. If your employees have historically worked on desktops and you’re struggling to set each person up with a laptop, BYOD policies will enable your people to keep working, despite hardware shortages and other challenges. Beyond that, though, you’ll also enable your people to work freely from wherever they need to, whether that be in transit, at home, or in the office. You’ll Reduce Burden on IT Teams Employees tend to be more comfortable and confident using their own personal devices and their native interfaces. For example, someone who has worked on a Windows computer for 15 years may struggle to suddenly start working on a Mac. That means there will be less dependence on IT teams to train or otherwise set-up employees on new devices. But, it’s important to consider the security risks along with the benefits so that your employees and data stay safe while working from personal devices.  What are the security risks involved in using personal devices? Physical security Loss or theft of a personal device is one of the biggest concerns around BYOD policies, especially when you consider that people tend to carry their mobile phones and even laptops with them at all times. If a device fell into the wrong hands and adequate security measures weren’t in place, sensitive data could be at risk.  Network security If a cybercriminal was able to gain access to a personal device, they could maneuver from one device to another and move through an organization’s network quickly. Once inside, they could install malware, steal sensitive information, or simply maintain a foothold to control systems later. Information security Data is currency and personal devices hold a lot of information not just about an organization and its clients, vendors, and suppliers, but also about the individual. If you imagine all the sensitive data contained in Outlook or Gmail accounts, you can begin to see the magnitude of the risks if this data were exposed. Physical and network security risks are threats to information security, which proves how important securing devices really is. Tips for employers To minimize the risk associated with BYOD policies, we recommend that you: Enforce strict password policies. Mobile phones should be locked down with 6-digit PINs or complex swipe codes, and laptops should be secured with strong passwords that utilize numbers, letters, and characters. Your best bet is to enforce MFA or SSO and provide your employees with a password manager to keep track of their details securely. Equip devices with reliable security solutions. From encryption to antivirus software, personal devices need to have the same security solutions installed as work devices. Ideally, solutions will operate on both desktop and mobile ensuring protection across the board. For example, Tessian defends against both inbound and outbound email threats on desktop and mobile. Read more about our solutions here.  Restrict data access. Whether your organization uses a VPN or cloud services, it’s important to ensure the infrastructure is configured properly in order to reduce risk. We recommend limiting access through stringent access controls whenever possible (without impeding productivity) and creating policies around how to safely share documents externally. Limit or block downloads of software and applications. IT and security teams can use either blacklisting or whitelisting to ensure employees are only downloading and using vetted software and applications. Alternatively, IT and security teams could exercise even more control by preventing downloads altogether. Educate your employees. Awareness training is an essential part of any security strategy. But, it’s important that the training is relevant to your organization. If you do implement a BYOD policy, ensure every employee is educated about the rules and risks.  Tips for employees  To minimize the risk associated with BYOD policies, we recommend that you: Password-protect your personal devices. Adhere to internal security policies around password-protection or, alternatively, use 6-digit PINs or complex swipe codes on mobile devices and strong passwords that utilize numbers, letters, and characters for laptops. If you’re having trouble managing your passwords, discuss the use of a password manager with your IT department. Avoid public Wi-Fi and hotspotting. The open nature of public Wi-Fi means your laptop or other device could be accessible to opportunistic hackers. Likewise, if a phone is being used as a hotspot and has already been compromised by an attacker, it’s possible it could be used to pivot to the corporate network. Put training into practice. While security training is notoriously boring, it’s incredibly important and effective if put into practice. Always pay attention during training sessions and action the advice you’re given. Report loss or theft. In the event your device is lost or stolen, file a report internally immediately. If you’re unfamiliar with procedures around reporting, check with your line manager or IT team ASAP. They’ll be able to better mitigate risks around data loss the sooner they’re notified.  Communicate with IT and security teams. If you’re unsure about how to use your personal device securely or if you think your device has been compromised in some way, don’t be afraid to communicate with your IT and security teams. That’s what they’re there for. Moreover, the more information they have, the better equipped they are to keep you and your device protected.  BYOD policies offer organizations and employees much-needed flexibility. But, in order to be effective as opposed to detrimental, strict security policies must be in place. It’s not just up to security teams. Employees must do their part to make smart security decisions in order to protect their devices, personal data and sensitive business information. Looking for more tips on staying secure while working remotely? We’re here to help! Check out these blogs: Ultimate Guide to Staying Secure While Working Remotely Remote Worker’s Guide To: Preventing Data Loss 11 Tools to Help You Stay Secure and Productive While Working Remotely 
Compliance Data Loss Prevention Spear Phishing
Advice from Security Leaders for Security Leaders: How to Navigate New Remote-Working Challenges
15 April 2020
As a part of our ongoing efforts to help security professionals around the world manage their new remote workforces, we’ve been holding virtual panel discussions and roundtables with ethical hackers and security and compliance leaders from some of the world’s leading institutions to discuss cybersecurity best practice while working from home. Our panelists and speakers have included David Kennedy, Co-Founder and Chief Hacking Officer at TrustedSec, Jenna Franklin, Managing Counsel, Privacy & Data at Santander, Stacey Champagne, Head of Insider Threat at Blackstone, Ben Sadeghipour, Head of Hacker Education at HackerOne, Chris Turek, CIO at Evercore, Jon Washburn, CISO at Stoel Rives, Peter Keenan, CISO at Lazard, Gil Danieli, Director of Information security at Stroock, and Justin Daniels, General Counsel at Baker Donelson We’ve compiled some of the key takeaways to help IT, privacy, and security professionals and employees stay secure wherever they’re working. 
How to defend against spear phishing (inbound threats) Communicate new threats. Cybercriminals are carrying out opportunistic phishing attacks around COVID-19 and the mass transition from office-to-home. Keep employees in the loop by showing them examples of these threats. But, it’s important to not over-communicate. That means you should ensure there’s one point of contact (or source of truth) who shares updates at a regular, defined time and cadence as opposed to different people sharing updates as and when they happen. Create policies and procedures around authenticating requests. Communicating new threats isn’t enough to stop them. To protect your employees and your data, you should also set up a system for verifying and authorizing requests via a known communication channel. For example, if an employee receives an email requesting an invoice be paid, they should contact the relevant department or individual via phone before making any payments. Enable multi-factor authentication. This easy-to-implement security precaution helps prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing systems and data in the event a password is compromised.   Encourage reporting. Creating and maintaining a positive security culture is one of the best ways to help defend against phishing and spear phishing attacks. If employees make a habit of reporting new threats, security and IT teams have a better chance of remediating them and preventing future threats.  Update security awareness training. Remote-working brings with it a host of new security challenges. From the do’s and don’t of using personal devices to identifying new threat vectors for phishing, employees need to refresh their security know-how now more than ever.
How to defend against data exfiltration (outbound threats) Exercise strict control over your VPN. Whether it’s disabling split tunneling on your  VPN or limiting local admin access, it’s absolutely vital that you minimize lateral movements within your network. This will not only help prevent insider threats from stealing data, but it will also prevent hackers from moving quickly from one device to another.  Block downloads of software and applications. This is one of the easiest ways to minimize the attack vectors within your network. By preventing downloads by individual users, you’ll be able to exercise more control over the software and applications your employees use. This way, only vetted tools and solutions will be available for use.  Secure your cloud services. As workforces around the world are suddenly remote, cloud services are more important than ever. But, it’s important to ensure the infrastructure is configured properly in order to reduce risk. We recommend limiting access whenever possible (without impeding productivity) and creating policies around how to safely share documents externally. Create a system for onboarding and offboarding employees. Both negligent and malicious incidents of data exfiltration are on the rise. To prevent new starters or bad leavers from mishandling your data, make sure you create and communicate new policies for onboarding and offboarding employees. In order to be truly effective, this will need to be a joint effort between HR, IT and security teams. Update security awareness training. Again, remote-working brings with it a host of new security challenges. Give your employees the best chance of preventing data loss by updating your security awareness training. Bonus: Check your cybersecurity insurance. Organizations are now especially vulnerable to cyber attacks. While preventative measures like the above should be in place, if you have cybersecurity insurance, now is the time to review your policy to ensure you’re covered across both new and pre-existing threat vectors.  Our panelist cited two key points to review: If you are allowing employees to use personal devices for anything work-related, check whether personal devices are included in your insurance policy. Verify whether or not your policy places a cap on scams and social engineering attacks and scrutinize the language around both terms. In some instances, there may be different caps placed on these different types of attacks which means your policy may not be as comprehensive as you might have thought. For example, under your policy, what would a phishing attack fall under? 
How to stay compliant Share updated policies and detailed guides with employees. While employees may know and understand security policies in the context of an office environment, they may not understand how to apply them in the context of their homes. In order to prevent data loss (and fines), ensure your employees know exactly how to handle sensitive information. This could mean wearing a headset while on calls with clients or customers, avoiding any handwritten notes, and – in general – storing information electronically. Update security awareness training. As we’ve mentioned, organizations around the world have seen a spike in inbound attacks like phishing. And, when you consider that 91% of data breaches start with a phishing attack, you can begin to understand why it’s absolutely essential that employees in every department know how to catch a phish and are especially cautious and vigilant when responding to emails. Conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). As employees have moved out of offices and into their homes, businesses need to ensure personal data about employees and customers is protected while the employees are accessing it and while it’s in transit, wherever that may be. That means compliance teams need to consider localized regulations and compliance standards and IT and security teams have to take necessary steps to secure devices with software, restricted access, and physical security. Note: personal devices will also have to be safeguarded if employees are using those devices to access work.  Remember that health data requires special care. In light of COVID-19, a lot of organizations are monitoring employee health. But, it’s important to remember that health data is a special category under GDPR and requires special care both in terms of obtaining consent and how it’s processed and stored.  This is the case unless one of the exceptions apply. For example, processing is necessary for health and safety obligations under employment law. Likewise, processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health. An important step here is to update employee privacy notices so that they know what information you’re collecting and how you’re using it, which meets the transparency requirement under GDPR.   Revise your Business Continuity Plan (BCP). For many organizations, recent events will have been the ultimate stress test for BCPs. With that said, though, these plans should continually be reviewed. For the best outcome, IT, security, legal, and compliance teams should work cross-functionally. Beyond that, you should stay in touch with suppliers to ensure service can be maintained, consistently review the risk profile of those suppliers, and scrutinize your own plans, bearing in mind redundancies and furloughs.  Stay up-to-date with regulatory authorities. Some regulators responsible for upholding data privacy have been releasing guidance around their attitude and approach to organizations meeting their regulatory obligations during this public health emergency.  In some cases, fines may be reduced, there may be fewer investigations, they may stand down new audits, and – while they cannot alter statutory deadlines – there is an acknowledgment that there may be some delays in fulfilling certain requests such as Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs). The UK privacy regulator, the ICO, has said they will continue acting proportionately, taking into account the challenges organizations face at this time. But, regulators won’t accept excuses and they will take strong action against those who take advantage of the pandemic; this crisis should not be used as an artificial reason for not investing in security.  
Looking for more advice around remote-working and the new world of work? We’ve created a hub with curated content around remote working security which we’ll be updating regularly with more helpful guides and tips.
Data Loss Prevention
Remote Worker’s Guide To: Preventing Data Loss
09 April 2020
Over the last several weeks, workforces across the world have transitioned from office to home. While security teams may have struggled initially to get their teams set up to work securely outside of their normal environments, by now most organizations have introduced new software, policies, and procedures to accommodate their new distributed teams.  We spoke with former CISO of KPMG Carolann Shields along with Tess Frieswick of Kivu Consulting and Hayley Bly of Nielsen about what the shift means for cybersecurity in a webinar on March 26. Carolann summed it up nicely when she said “Remote-working introduces complexities that you just don’t have when you can have everyone sitting in an office behind a firewall. It’s a difficult task trying to keep everyone secure and behavioral change and educating folks will be really important. If those things weren’t already a part of your cybersecurity program, they’re going to need to become a part of your cybersecurity program.”  While IT departments no doubt bear the burden of protecting sensitive data, data loss prevention (DLP) is the responsibility of the entire organization. And, while this sudden move to remote-working brings a host of new challenges – from effectively collaborating to co-working with partners, roommates, and children – data security should still be top of mind for both security leaders and individual employees, too.
So, what can you do to help prevent data loss within your organization? We have some tips. 1. Don’t work from your personal devices While it may seem harmless, using your personal devices – whether it’s a laptop, desktop computer, mobile device, or tablet – for work-related activities creates big security risks. To start, your personal devices won’t be configured with the same security software as your work device.  Whether it’s the protection offered by a simple firewall or antivirus software, you’re more protected when working on company-sanctioned devices. Beyond that, though, the process to get work-related documents onto personal devices is risky on its own. We’ve written about this extensively in our blog The Dark Side of Sending Work Emails “Home”. In short, personal email accounts are more likely to be compromised than work email accounts. It may be because your personal email account is configured with a weak password or, the worst case, your personal email account may have already been infiltrated by an attacker who could easily intercept whatever sensitive data you’ve emailed to yourself.  Note: IT teams should ensure employees have a secure way to connect their authorized work devices to their personal printers in the event they need to print any documents. This will help them avoid them having to send sensitive documents to their personal accounts in order to print. 2. Be cautious whenever sending sensitive information via email Tessian has seen a 20% increase in email use with the shift to remote working. That means more sensitive data is in motion than ever.  More email traffic, unfortunately, means employees have more opportunities to make mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes an employee can make is sending an email to the wrong person and, as most of us know, it’s easy to do. So, to avoid making this costly mistake, always double-check the recipient(s) of your emails. Ensure you haven’t made any spelling mistakes, and, if you’re using autocomplete, make sure the correct email address has been added. Beyond that, you should always be vigilant when using Cc vs. Bcc and Reply vs Reply All and take time to check that you’ve attached the right documents.  3. Stay up-to-date on the latest phishing and spear phishing trends Cybercriminals use increasingly advanced technology and tactics to carry out effective phishing and spear phishing campaigns. They also tend to take advantage of emergencies, times of general uncertainty, and key calendar moments. While you should always be on the lookout for the red flags that signal phishing attacks, you should also stay up-to-date on the latest trends. We’ve written about several on our blog, including phishing attacks around COVID-19, Tax Day, and the 2020 Census. For more information on how to catch a phish, click here. 4. Use password protection, especially for conferencing and collaboration tools Zoom has made headlines over the last several weeks for the security vulnerabilities found in the platform. While the online conference tool is working on their backend, individuals must do their part, too. To start, ensure you’re using strong passwords. For an application like Zoom, this also means always password-protecting your meetings, never sharing meeting links with people you don’t know or trust, and never sharing screenshots of your meeting which include the Zoom Meeting ID.  Managing so many passwords can be difficult, though. That’s why we recommend using a Password Manager. Click here for more information about the Password Manager we use at Tessian along with other tools that help us work securely while working remotely.  Note: If you’re an employee, you shouldn’t download new software or tools without consulting your IT team.  5. Avoid public Wi-Fi and hotspots Currently most of the world is working from home, but “working remotely” can extend to a number of places. You could be staying with a friend, traveling for work, catching up on emails during your commute, or getting your head down at a café.  Of course, to do work, you’ll likely rely on internet access. Public Wi-Fi or hotspotting from your mobile device may seem like an easy (and harmless) workaround when you don’t have other access, but it’s not wise. The open nature of public Wi-Fi means your laptop or other device could be accessible to opportunistic hackers. Likewise, if a phone is being used as a hotspot and has already been compromised by an attacker, it’s possible it could be used to pivot to the corporate network. 6. Follow existing processes and policies When working from home or otherwise outside of the office, you have much more autonomy. But that doesn’t mean you should disregard the processes and policies your organization has in place. Whether it’s rules around locking your devices (see below) or procedures for sharing documents, they’re just as important – if not more important – while you’re working remotely.  This applies to training too. If your organization offers security training, do your best to keep those tips and best practices top of mind. If you’re unclear on the do’s and don’t of cybersecurity, consult your IT, security, or HR team. 7. Always lock your devices  Working outside of the office, even in a home environment, carries additional risks. That means you should always lock your devices with good passwords or, in the case of mobile phones, 6-digit PINs or complex swipe codes. 
8. Report near-misses or mistakes  Whether you’ve sent a misdirected email, fallen for a phishing scam, or had your device stolen, it’s absolutely vital that you report the incident to your IT or security team as soon as possible. The more lead time and information they have, the better the outcome of remediation.   By sharing this information, your colleagues will be better informed and your business can modify procedures or applications to help prevent the issue occurring again. It’s a two-way street, though. Organizations must build positive security cultures in order to empower employees to be open and honest. For more tips on how to stay safe while working remotely, read this Ultimate Guide. We’ll also be publishing more helpful tips weekly on both our blog and LinkedIn.
Data Loss Prevention Human Layer Security
Ultimate Guide to Staying Secure While Working Remotely
By Maddie Rosenthal
27 March 2020
The gradual trend towards remote working has been expedited by recent events, and now businesses and employees alike find themselves adapting to moving almost everything online to accommodate a distributed workforce. Obviously, this has a massive impact on how we behave and how we work, which inevitably has an impact on security culture. In this blog, we’ll discuss what we consider to be the main challenges and questions that arise from moving to a remote working model, and how both management teams and employees can make good decisions about security.
The risk involved in sending work emails “home” It may seem harmless to send an email containing a spreadsheet or a project proposal to your personal email address in order to have easy and quick access whenever you need it. But doing so is risky for a number of reasons.  Personal email accounts can be compromised, especially as they are often configured with weak passwords Email is not a default encrypted medium. If an attacker were in a position to intercept your email, they would be able to read them, and any attachments if not encrypted Devices used to access personal email, such as personal laptops and mobile phones, may also be more easily compromised than work devices safeguarded by your company The bottom line is, sending sensitive information to your personal email accounts increases the risk of data exfiltration, both from insider threats and outsider threats. You can read more about this – including how to prevent data exfiltration – in this article.  Public Wi-Fi vs. using a personal device as a hotspot While for now, most of the world is working from home, “working remotely” can extend to a number of places. You could be staying with a friend, catching up on emails during your commute, or getting your head down at a café. Of course, to do work, you’ll likely rely on internet access. While connecting to public Wi-Fi is not encouraged, the risks can be managed if the right systems are put in place. As an employer, you should ensure that any services an employee must connect with over the internet (such as a web portal for your email or time tracking app), are only served over HTTPS. This is the encrypted version of HTTP, which is used to transfer data over the web. Using HTTPS ensures that all data transmitted between your network and the employee’s device is encrypted. For any services that should not be offered over the internet but that employees will require access to, you should enable them to connect via a VPN.  As an employee, here’s what you can do to be safe: When connecting to a service over the internet, check the address bar to ensure the protocol used is HTTPS, not HTTP. If you’re using a service from your employer that isn’t HTTPS, avoid connecting and let alert your IT team of the oversight.  Ensure you keeping VPN software on work devices up-to-date Importantly – and despite many articles written stating the contrary – using a personal mobile phone as a hotspot to connect a work laptop to the corporate network can actually raise more concerns than connecting via public Wi-Fi.  From a security perspective, any device used to connect to your network could be a risk. Why? Because there’s no way for a company to effectively manage the software and security of devices they do not own. If a phone is being used as a hotspot and has already been compromised by an attacker, it’s possible it could be used to pivot to the corporate network. Any connections made over HTTPS will still be encrypted, of course, but it’s still important to weigh up the risks and err on the side of caution.  This may be easier to understand with an example. Let’s say you open a malicious attachment from a phishing email on your mobile device. If that malicious attachment contains spyware, hackers can (rather easily) infiltrate your phone. That means that if you then connect to your company network on your laptop via your phone’s hotspot, hackers will have a foothold into your company network, too.  Top tip: Any personal devices used in this way should fall under the domain of your corporate “Bring your own device” (BYOD) policy. Each organization’s policy will be different, so it’s best to check with your IT and security teams before you consider using a hotspot as a workaround in the case of limited access to Wi-Fi.
Best practice around using cloud storage to share documents For many organizations, cloud services have replaced company local networks to store, manage, and share information. While it’s fair to say that the transition from office-to-home is certainly easier with cloud storage, there are still some security concerns that must be addressed in order to lock down your sensitive information. Most concerns center around the perceived risks of allowing someone else to host your data. And, because it’s stored on the “cloud” it can – in theory – be accessed by anyone on the internet with the right credentials. In the worst case, this could be an attacker who comprises a user laptop or guesses a weak password. But, there are several ways to ensure your cloud system is secure. Organizations considering moving to a cloud system should consider: How the data is backed up Risks associated with denial of service (DOS) attacks  Legal complications that may arise from certain types of data being stored overseas Not sure how to navigate these considerations? Concerns about standards and support can all be worked out during the contract stage, and many companies offer secure and resilient storage. It’s no different to any risk assessment phase when purchasing a new service. At Tessian, we use Google Drive. It’s still necessary to put in the work to ensure that your data is stored in the correct places, and appropriately secured, just as you would with a local storage solution. Folders should be structured and locked down with appropriate access permissions to ensure that only users who are authorized to view the contents can do so. For example, you can restrict access to and sharing with people outside the corporate network. In addition, requiring two-factor authentication for Google accounts is very important. Conferencing and collaboration tools Remote-working means an increased reliance on conferencing, chat, and other collaboration applications to stay in touch with colleagues. All such applications come with security considerations. IT and security teams must be clear with employees about what sort of information can be shared over these applications, after assessing their suitability. Without clear guidance, employees may act in ways that are less than secure in order to do their jobs, which means comprehensive policies and procedures must be put in place and communicated clearly across an organization.  We share our criteria for vetting and onboarding new tools in our blog, 11 Tools to Help You Stay Productive and Secure While Working Remotely. You’ll also find a list of tools we use across departments to stay connected while working remotely. Additionally, it’s important to ensure employees understand which applications should be used to share which kinds of information and where the design of the application itself may lead to a compromise.  For example, a screenshot of a conference call or online meeting may reveal information that would be useful to an attacker; such as a Zoom meeting ID that allows anyone to join that meeting without a PIN. If such a screenshot were shared online, this could be exploited by an attacker and give them unlimited access to private, internal communications.   
How to physically protect your devices Working on devices outside of the office, even in a home environment, carries additional risks. There is always the potential for an attacker to get physical access to a device. In the home environment, employees should be reminded that their devices are gateways to sensitive information. They should always lock devices, and make sure they’re secured with good passwords or, in the case of mobile phones, 6-digit PINs or complex swipe codes.
Employees should also make sure that devices aren’t left in plain sight, such as near windows at home or on a passenger seat if travelling by car. This will help prevent opportunistic theft. While it may sound unlikely, you should always assume that devices might be stolen. In fact, in an organization of reasonable size, it will almost certainly happen. That means that encryption should be used to protect the data on them, and employees should know exactly when and how to report thefts to the support team. This ensures that the devices can be wiped if they are activated. Any organization that has a remote-working policy in place should also provide employees with privacy screens for their laptops, and encourage them to always work in positions that minimize line-of-sight views of their device screens by others.  This has the added benefit of showing clients or other professional contacts that the business takes security seriously. About that OOO message… “Hi, I’m on vacation right now, returning April 15th. If it’s urgent, you can contact me directly on my personal number or email below, or my line manager at…” It’s human nature to want to be helpful. When setting an out-of-office message, therefore, we often try to give the recipient as much information as possible to help them out. However, it’s important to consider whether that information really needs to be shared, and whether it might be useful to an attacker. When planning a spear phishing attack – a type of phishing attack that is targeted at a specific individual or small set of individuals – an attacker will try to gather as much open-source intelligence about their target as they can in order to make the email as believable as possible.  Phone numbers, alternative email addresses, details about company structure and reporting lines, and other data points are all things that could be useful to an attacker. Again, businesses should make sure employees are aware of these risks and should provide them with a simple template for OOO messages alongside guidance on how and when to forward important emails while away. Top tips for businesses setting up remote-working policies…. Keep policy points clear and concise and support them with similarly written procedures. Employees cannot practically absorb or retain 60+ pages of security policy, especially not overnight. When approving the use of new tools or software, always communicate the change to your employees, including guidelines on how and where to access them. Remember that users are going to make mistakes because they are human. Support them and encourage them to report issues, rather than making them afraid to admit to a mistake. Give clear channels for reporting such issues, supported by technical and human resources; for example, guidance on how to report a potential phishing email along with a method to contact support in the event of account lockout. Consider other technical challenges, such as how your support team can verify user identity when asked to reset a password or perform other remote technical support functions. Ensure your support team is trained and briefed to offer remote workers reassurance and understanding when a security issue arises. Remote workers need to feel connected with their colleagues during difficult moments. Top tips for employees working from home… Use company-approved cloud or VPN services to access work documents instead of emailing sensitive information to your personal email accounts. Don’t download new software or tools without consulting your IT team. Keep your software and operating systems up-to-date. Always lock your laptop and keep all of your devices password-protected. Avoid public Wi-Fi and don’t rely on personal hotspots; whenever possible, find a secure, stable network to connect to. Before you join that call or connect to that site – especially if it requires installing new software – stop and think about the potential implications. If you’re not sure, ask your colleagues or support team for help. If you make a mistake and find yourself alarmed or fearful, it’s important to stop, think, and get someone else involved to support you. Report near misses. If you almost make a mistake, the odds are that others have also almost done the same thing. By sharing this information, your colleagues will be better informed and your business can modify procedures or applications to help prevent the issue ever occurring. During this transitional period, we think it’s incredibly important to provide everyone – our employees, our customers, and our community – with as much information as possible. With that said, you may also find the below links helpful in getting your team set up to work remotely.  FTC online security tips for working from home NCSC issues guidance as home working increases in response to COVID-19 We’ll also continue sharing best practice tips both on our blog and on LinkedIn. 
Data Loss Prevention Human Layer Security
How Can Organizations Empower People to Prevent Data Exfiltration?
By Maddie Rosenthal
24 March 2020
As data has become valuable currency, data exfiltration is a bigger issue now than ever before. And, while it’s a complex problem to solve, it’s not a losing game. Techniques and technologies have been evolving and today we are better able to control and prevent data exfiltration. To successfully prevent data exfiltration, you have to understand the various moving parts. When it comes to protecting data, there are three key challenges: People Processes Technology
Preventing Data Exfiltration With People: The Role of Training Since old-school software and keyword tracking tools have proven largely ineffective at preventing exfiltration, some security teams have proposed that rather than relying only on software, people should be trained on how to safely manage data and information.  Training allows employees to learn about internal policies, regulations like GDPR and CCPA, and other best practices around data. But, it’s important that organizations reinforce training with practical applications. Some training will reinforce company policies and compliance with data privacy regulations. but the majority of training and awareness programs center on teaching employees about inbound threats like phishing attacks and BEC. Very few training and awareness programs educate employees about outbound security risks like accidental and deliberate data loss.  Preventing Data Exfiltration With Processes: In-Situ Learning To really empower employees to work securely and prevent data exfiltration, organizations have to look beyond compliance training to in-situ learning opportunities provided by contextual warnings, triggered by suspicious activity.  Beyond preventing breaches, these warnings help promote safe behavior by asking employees to pause and think “Am I making the right decision?” But, too many warnings or pop-ups may have the opposite effect. Take, for example, pop-ups that prompt you to accept cookies on websites. Because most of us encounter these on every website we visit, we ignore them or blindly click to consent. This is called alert fatigue; the more pop-ups you see, the less you care about them. The same applies to in-situ learning. If employees encounter notifications warning against risky behavior on 25% of emails they send, they’ll stop paying attention to them. So, what’s the solution? Warnings should only trigger when there’s a genuine security risk. That means security software must be able to distinguish between normal emails and suspicious ones with the utmost accuracy. Warning notifications should also contain relevant and easy-to-comprehend information about why the email has been flagged to help reinforce security training with context.  Tessian Enforcer, Guardian, and Defender do just that. 
Preventing Data Exfiltration With Technology: Machine Learning Even with training and in-situ learning, organizations need a final line of defense against data exfiltration. For many organizations, that last line of defense is rule-based technology.  But, rule-based solutions are blunt instruments.  The best way to illustrate this is through an example.  To prevent data exfiltration on email, an organization might block communications with freemail accounts (for example, @gmail, @yahoo, etc.). But, imagine the marketing department outsources work to a freelancer. In that case, the freelance worker may use a freemail account. When the employee attempts to communicate with this trusted third-party, the email would be blocked and the employee will be unable to carry out their work. Unlike rule-based solutions, ML-based solutions like Tessian are agile.  Tessian’s machine learning algorithms are trained off of historical email data to understand evolving human relationships on email. Instead of relying on rules to flag suspicious emails, it relies on context from millions of data points from the past and present. That way, solutions like Tessian Enforcer and Tessian Guardian are able to uniquely understand every email address in an organization’s network and can, therefore, automatically (and accurately) identify whether a recipient is a trusted third-party or an unauthorized non-business account.   Learn More About How Tessian Empowers People to Work Securely Preventing data exfiltration requires well-trained employees and intelligent solutions. To learn more about how Tessian combines in-situ learning with machine learning to reinforce training and prevent data loss, request a demo.  
Data Loss Prevention
11 Tools to Help You Stay Secure and Productive While Working Remotely
23 March 2020
With the outbreak of COVID-19, organizations are relying on tools and software to enable their employees to work remotely. While this transition from office-to-home may be relatively seamless for some, it can be quite a challenge for those who didn’t already have these virtual systems set-up and deployed. As a tech start-up, Tessian has had remote-working processes and security policies in place since the beginning and, as a part of that, we have a long list of fully vetted productivity tools and software that we’ve made available to our employees.  So, to help IT, security, operations, and HR teams around the world balance productivity and security, while also attempting to conduct “business as usual”, we’re sharing applications we use to ensure our people are always protected while working, whether that’s from the office or from home.
What should you consider before onboarding an application? There are a lot of collaboration and productivity tools out there. But, it’s crucial organizations only use those that have the highest standards and protocols around safeguarding data.  At Tessian, we scrutinize and vet all applications to ensure they comply with our own strict data and privacy protection criteria. While the below assessment isn’t exhaustive or applicable to all tools, software, or applications that might be useful while employees are working remotely, it should help you identify products that are sound from an information security and data protection perspective.  Does the application process personal data? If so, why and in what volume? Where is the data processed?  Does the application take back-ups of data? If so, how often? Who has access to the data in the platform? Is access conditional upon Multi-Factor Authentication (2FA, for example)?  Does the application have a policy in place that addresses Incident Response to patching and other security issues? Does the application protect data in transit between services using encryption?  Does the application protect internal data in transit? If so, how? Is the application certified with any regional or international data security standards? Not sure where to find all of this information? You should be able to find vendor’s privacy and data policies on their website. You can also contact them directly. For example, we always ask that a vendor assessment form be completed and, when solutions process a large amount of data, we’ll schedule a follow-up call.
Collaboration and productivity tools we use at Tessian Zoom Used across every department at Tessian, Zoom is a video conferencing platform that helps keep us connected with each other and our customers across continents. Now, we’re even using it for our weekly all-company meetings, which means almost 200 people are joining at once. It’s made collaboration – especially in isolation – much easier.  You can record the sessions, break larger groups into smaller teams via Breakout Rooms, and there’s an add-in for calendar systems which makes scheduling virtual meetings as easy as in-person meetings. While they’ve always offered solutions for educators, healthcare providers, and virtually every other industry, Zoom has developed even more solutions and resources in light of the pandemic. Use this resource to find out how Zoom can support businesses moving to a remote-working model. Clubhouse While we use other project management platforms like Trello, Clubhouse is a favorite amongst our product and engineering teams because it’s made specifically for developers and is deeply integrated with GitHub. It makes creating and tracking workflows for features, bugs, sprints, or long-term projects easy. GitHub For most engineers, this is an obvious one, but worth mentioning nonetheless. GitHub was built for developers and allows users to host and review code, manage projects, and build software, all in one place.  Importantly from a security and admin perspective, you can deploy it to your environment or to the cloud.  OpenVPN In any remote-working environment, secure access to network resources is the top priority. If employees can’t access their work, they can’t do their jobs. And, to prevent employees from sending work emails to personal accounts or exfiltrating data, organizations have to implement a solution that extends to different sites, devices, and users.  We use OpenVPN. In addition to extending centralized unified threat management to remote networks, encryption ensures privacy on different Wi-Fi networks.  Google Drive We also use Google’s cloud storage system, Google Drive, to enable file sharing in and out of the office. Again, the name of the game is collaboration and with integrations into other applications like Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets all available on desktop and mobile, it’s easy for different individuals and entire teams to work together.  But, it’s important that you implement security processes to ensure everything you store in your Drive stays safe. To start, you should secure access to the Drive by enabling 2FA for all Google Accounts and set-up strict policies around sharing documents externally. You should also limit access internally to different Drives. For example, each department can have its own, limited-access Drive in addition to an all-company Drive. Peakon Knowing how your employees are feeling is essential for business growth and personal development. Of course, gauging employee engagement and experience is easier said than done and is especially difficult when your entire organization is working remotely. Peakon does the heavy lifting for you via bi-weekly online surveys and enables HR, People, and Executive teams to make changes to their organization that make an actual impact. How? By gathering feedback from every employee anonymously and comparing results to industry benchmarks.  IronClad IronClad is a digital contract platform that makes workflows for legal, finance, sales, and recruitment teams seamless.  The difference between this application and other services that let people “sign” digital agreements (DocuSign, Adobe Sign, etc.) is that IronClad extracts and catalogs metadata from contracts and integrates with other systems and platforms to make information accessible and actionable.  Slack According to the brand’s tagline, Slack is “where work happens” and, while many organizations use it in an office environment on top of email, it’s especially helpful for remote-working teams.  You can create different channels for different projects or conversations, update your “status” to let your co-workers know you’re ill, in transit, or away from your computer, and even loop in contacts from outside of your organization.  The company has seen a surge in usage since the outbreak and is rolling out new features to make the app (on both mobile and desktop) easier to use. Better still, there are three different plans available depending on your needs, including a free version.  Confluence Confluence – an Atlassian product – is a knowledge management tool. We use it as an ever-evolving source of truth for our organization: our wiki. Every team inputs and updates key information – from processes to KPIs – so that internally, anyone, at any time, anywhere, can quickly and easily find answers to questions related to onboarding, our products, or internal policies.  Figma Used by our product, design, and marketing teams, Figma is a web-based all-in-one design tool that makes collaboration and iteration fast and easy. You can share projects internally or externally with a URL, which means you don’t have to continually upload, save, or sync projects.  This is huge and means you can move from design-to-code more seamlessly. Beyond that, there are built-in commenting features that can integrate with Slack so that different people can track progress and flag issues in real-time.  Astute eLearning The need for training, whether around compliance, security, or something department-specific, doesn’t go away simply because an organization has moved from an office to a virtual environment. And, unfortunately, engaging with employees for training can be hard in-person, which means it’s an even bigger challenge while they’re out-of-office. At Tessian, we’ve used Astute eLearning, a web-based learning experience platform that lets your employees complete online training. Using the platform’s bank of certified videos and skills-assessments, you can monitor your employees’ progress through courses and, from that, identify and close any skills gaps.  Top tip: To ensure your employees are enabled to sign-in to all of these different apps securely and quickly, we also recommend using a password manager and Single Sign-On tool.  Want more information? As we all try our best to adapt to the “new normal” during these uncertain and challenging times, we’ll continue sharing best practice tips to keep our employees, customers, and the general community secure while working remotely.  Check back on our blog for the latest updates.
Data Loss Prevention
What is Data Exfiltration? Tips for Preventing Data Exfiltration Attacks
25 February 2020
Today, data is valuable currency. Don’t believe us? Data brokering is a $200 billion industry…and this doesn’t even include the data that’s sold on the dark web.  For an organization, this data can be anything from customer email addresses to financial projections and the consequences of this data being leaked are tremendous and far-reaching. When data is leaked purposefully and without authorization, we call it data exfiltration. You may also hear it referred to as data theft, data exportation, data extrusion, and data exfil.
What are the various types of data exfiltration? Data can be exfiltrated in a number of ways from both insiders and external bad actors. We’ll cover both in this article but, if you want to learn more about insider threats, read this blog: What is an Insider Threat? Insider Threat Definition, Examples, and Solutions. Here are some of the most common ways in which data exfiltration can be carried out. Email According to IT leaders, email is the number one threat vector. It makes sense.  Over 124 billion business emails are sent and received every day and employees spend 40% of their time on email, sharing memos, spreadsheets, invoices, and other sensitive information and unstructured data with people both in and outside of their organization.  Needless to say, it’s a treasure trove of information, which is why it’s so often used in data exfiltration attempts. But how? Insider threats emailing data to their own, personal accounts or third-parties External bad actors targeting employees with phishing, spear phishing, or ransomware attacks Employees, contractors, and other individuals with access to an organization’s systems and networks could email databases, calendars, images, planning documents, and other sensitive data to their personal email accounts or to other third-parties.  If there’s no security software in place to prevent an email from being sent anywhere, it just takes one click of a mouse to move data from inside of an organization into the wild.  But, it’s not just insiders who can exfiltrate data via email. Bad actors can, too, via phishing, spear phishing, or ransomware attacks. In this case, an employee (the target) will receive an email that appears to be legitimate. If successful, this fraudulent email will get them to share credentials, download a malicious attachment, or otherwise share sensitive information.  If the bad actor crafts the email in such a way that it appears to genuinely be from a trusted source like a CEO or third-party supplier, the target will often fall for the scam. Downloads/Uploads Data can also be exfiltrated via a USB or another personal device like a smartphone, laptop, camera, or external drive.  An employee (or someone else with access to the company network) simply has to download or upload the data without being detected in order for the attempt to be successful.  This happens more frequently than you might think. One report shows that: 15% of insiders exfiltrate data via USBs and 8% of external bad actors do the same 11% of insiders exfiltrate data via laptops/tablets and 13% of external bad actors do the same Via the Cloud  While working in the cloud, storage services like Google Drive and DropBox offer employees incredible flexibility (especially when working outside of their office environment), but there is risk involved around data exfiltration. Again, both insiders and outsiders could exfiltrate data via the cloud; all the person needs is access. Once they have access, they could simply copy, download, or print sensitive documents or they could modify the virtual machines, make malicious requests to the cloud service, and deploy malicious software. Physical theft  Before the digitization of many business operations, data was exfiltrated via physical theft. It still happens! This could involve someone taking documents or entire servers with them when they leave the office, or faxing documents to themselves or a third-party. In this case, lockable confidential waste bins, paper shredding devices, and security cameras or personnel could help secure sensitive data. But, how do you prevent digital data exfiltration? 
What types of tools and technologies can prevent data exfiltration?  Preventing data loss is a top priority for IT, security, and compliance leaders. Not only do they want to protect client and customer information and their own Intellectual Property (IP), but they want to avoid the many consequences that come from a data breach. But, data loss prevention (DLP) is a real challenge. And, while there are a handful of solutions, many fall short. Blocking or blacklisting domains, channels, or software     What it is: Data exfiltration prevention has often been simplified to stopping communication with certain accounts/domains (namely freemail accounts like @gmail) or blocking access to certain tools and software (like DropBox, for example).  Why it doesn’t work: This is a blunt approach that impedes on employee productivity. There are many legitimate reasons to communicate with freemail accounts, such as updating private clients, managing freelancers, or emailing friends and family about non-work issues. What’s more, a determined insider could easily circumvent this by setting up an account with its own domain. Secure Email Gateways (SEGs) What it is: SEGs are essentially more sophisticated spam filters. They’re used to block malicious inbound email threats like phishing attacks. Why it doesn’t work: While SEGs may be effective in blocking bulk phishing emails, they can’t stop all spear phishing emails. That means the most targeted attacks can still get through and employees could easily fall victim to an attack and unknowingly exfiltrate data to a bad actor. (Not sure what the difference is between phishing and spear phishing? Read this.) Labeling and tagging sensitive data What it is: The first step in any DLP strategy is to label and tag sensitive data. This way, it can be monitored (and stopped) when it is seen moving outside the network.  Why it doesn’t work: This approach relies entirely on employees tagging data correctly. Given how much data organizations handle, the manual process of tagging isn’t viable; employees may label incorrectly or, worse, not do it at all. Rule-Based solutions What it is: Organizations could implement rule-based solutions that take the form of “if-then” statements. These “if-then” statements involve keywords, email addresses, and regular expressions that look for signals of data exfiltration. Why it doesn’t work: Similar to tagging, rule-based solutions are impossible to maintain because data changes in value and sensitivity over time. Beyond that, you simply can’t define or predict human behavior with rules. That’s why 85% of IT leaders say rule-based DLP is admin-intensive and just 18% say it’s the most effective way to prevent data loss.  Training  What it is: Because it’s people who control our data, training is a logical solution to data exfiltration. In fact, 61% of organizations have training every 6 months or more frequently.  Why it doesn’t work: While training does help educate employees about data exfiltration and what the consequences are, it’s not a long-term solution and won’t stop the few bad eggs from doing it. You also can’t train away human error, including breaking the rules or falling for scams like phishing attacks. Learn more in our report: Why the Threat of Phishing Can’t Be Trained Away. Machine Learning What it is: Machine learning – especially ML models trained on historical email data – understands the intricacies and fluctuations of human relationships over time. That means ML models can constantly update their “thinking” to determine whether an action looks like exfiltration or not.  Why it does work: This is the “human” way forward. Machine-intelligent software recognizes what looks suspicious, much like a trained security professional could. However, unlike humans, it can do this thousands of times per second without missing information or getting tired.  How does Tessian prevent data exfiltration? Tessian uses stateful machine learning to prevent data exfiltration on email by turning an organization’s own data into its best defense against inbound and outbound email security threats.   Our Human Layer Security platform understands human behavior and relationships, enabling it to automatically detect and prevent anomalous and dangerous activity like data exfiltration attempts and targeted phishing attacks.  Importantly, Tessian’s technology automatically updates its understanding of human behavior and evolving relationships through continuous analysis and learning of the organization’s email network.  Tessian Enforcer detects and prevents data exfiltration attempts by: Analyzing historical email data to understand normal content, context, and communication patterns Establishing, mapping, and continuously updating every employee’s business and non-business email contacts into relationship graphs  Performing real-time analysis of outbound emails before they’re sent to automatically predict whether the email looks like data exfiltration. This is based on insights from relationship graphs, deep inspection of the email content, and previous user behavior Alerting users when data exfiltration attempts are detected with clear, concise, contextual warnings that reinforce security awareness training Tessian Defender detects and prevents data exfiltration attempts by: Analyzing historical email data to understand normal content, context, and communication patterns Establishing, mapping, and continuously updating every employee’s business and non-business email contacts into relationship graphs  Performing real-time analysis of inbound emails in real-time to automatically predict whether the email looks unsafe. This is based on insights from relationship graphs, deep inspection of the email content, and previous user behavior Alerting users when targeted email attacks are detected with clear, concise, contextual warnings that reinforce security awareness training To learn more about data exfiltration and how Tessian is helping organizations like Arm keep data safe, talk to one of our experts today.
Data Loss Prevention
How Does Data Loss Prevention for Email Work?
09 February 2020
Data Loss Prevention is a vital part of security frameworks across industries, from Healthcare and Legal to Real Estate and Financial Services. There are dozens of different DLP solutions on the market, each of which secures data differently depending on the perimeter it is protecting. There are three main types of DLP, including: Network DLP Endpoint DLP Email DLP While we’ve covered the topic of email DLP broadly in this Complete Overview of DLP on Email, we think it’s important for individuals and larger organizations to fully understand what the proper application of email DLP can offer and, with that, why it’s so important to know which email DLP system to implement. How can DLP for email protect an organization? Importantly, there are two types of threats DLP must account for: Accidental Data Loss: To err is human. For example, an employee might fat finger an email and send it to the wrong person. While unintentional, this mistake could and has led to a costly data breach. DLP solutions need to be able to flag the email as misdirected before it’s sent, either by warning the individual or automatically quarantining or blocking it. Malicious Exfiltration: Whether it’s a bad leaver or someone hoping to sell trade secrets, some employees do, unfortunately, have malicious intent. DLP solutions need to be able to identify data exfiltration attempts over email before they happen in order to prevent breaches. An introduction to rule-based DLP On a basic level, the bulk of DLP solutions operate via rule-based policies, using if-then statements to lock down data after it’s been classified. For example, if you want to ensure your HR department doesn’t share personally identifiable information (PII) like employees’ social security numbers, you could create a rule on email: “If an outbound email to a party outside of the organization contains the word ‘social security number’, then block. it.” You could also create a more broad rule. For example, if you wanted to prevent accidental data loss of company information, you might forbid employees to send emails to their personal email accounts. To enforce this, you might block all emails from an official company account to freemail accounts like  @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com. Of course, these rules need to be set up separately for each organization where a DLP system is implemented. Various factors can influence these rules, including the type of data being protected, workflows, and existing policies, procedures, and tools. This will help you recognize potential “borders” that sensitive data shouldn’t cross. The limitations of rule-based DLP Unfortunately, DLP – especially rule-based DLP – can be a blunt instrument.
Rules simply don’t reflect the limitless nuances of human behavior. A better approach to DLP While IT and security teams could work tirelessly to properly deploy and maintain rule-based DLP solutions to detect potential threats and limit the exposure of sensitive data, there’s a better, smarter way. Human Layer Security. Instead of rules, Tessian’s DLP solutions use contextual machine learning models to understand the context of human behavior and communications. Trained on historical emails and real-time correspondence, machine-intelligent software can recognize what looks suspicious; similar to what a human cybersecurity expert could do. However, unlike humans, it can do this thousands of times per second without missing key information or getting tired. Which email DLP solution is right for my organization? As we’ve mentioned, each organization has different needs when it comes to DLP. Some might need more network protection while others need to lock down email. In either case, it’s important to consider the budget, ease of deployment, and internal resources alongside the biggest threat vectors for data loss. If your biggest concern is data exfiltration and you’re looking for a solution that’s easy and quick to deploy and that doesn’t require heavy maintenance from an administrator, Tessian Enforcer may be right for you. If your biggest concern is accidental data loss and – again – you’re looking for a solution that’s easy and quick to deploy and that doesn’t require heavy maintenance from an administrator, Tessian Guardian might be for you.
Data Loss Prevention
Data Privacy Day: Why You Need to Protect Your People
28 January 2020
Everyone has an email blunder story. Whether you forgot to bcc someone or you sent a message to the wrong person, mistakes on email are common. After all, the average worker spends two fifths of their working week on email, so accidents are bound to happen. But it could be happening in your organization more often than you think. According to our data, employees at large organizations send over 130 emails a week to the wrong person. What’s more, workers are also sending company data to unauthorized or personal email accounts nearly 200,000 times a year. In SMBs, we found that employees send as many as 177 emails a year to the wrong person.
Our data highlights how much of a risk employees pose to an organization’s data security. Misdirected emails – emails accidentally sent to the wrong person – are particularly dangerous. Beyond just embarrassment over cc’ing the wrong person, for example, we are seeing serious repercussions as more people expose personal and corporate data. Simply misspelling a name can result in sensitive data or company secrets falling into the wrong hands and your company facing a regulator’s wrath. More than a simple mistake In fact, latest figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) reveal that emails being sent to the wrong person were the leading cause of online data breaches during 2019. UK organizations reported 1,357 data breaches caused by people emailing the incorrect recipient last year, up from 447 in 2017. That’s a 300% increase in misdirected emails over two years.
Last year, the ICO made it clear that failure to implement appropriate organizational and technical measurements to protect data under GDPR will result in significant penalties. With so much at stake, businesses need to consider whether their company data is properly protected from incidents of human error. And Data Protection Day (EU) / Data Privacy Day (US) on 28 January acts as a timely reminder to do this. To keep data safe, businesses need to start at the human level and protect their people. Human error is the leading cause of data breaches, and this is because people make mistakes, break the rules and are easily hacked. In many cases, people may not even realize they’re doing anything wrong. Businesses, therefore, need to take a people-centric approach to cybersecurity that focuses on educating and protecting their employees. But in addition to policies and training, organizations also need to add an extra layer of security. Securing the human layer Human Layer Security (HLS) is technology that secures all human-digital interactions in the workplace. By focusing on the human layer (employees, suppliers, customers) as opposed to the machine and systems layer (networks, devices, apps), HLS keeps business’ sensitive data and systems safe. Tessian’s Human Layer Security technology understands human behavior and relationships, enabling it to detect and prevent dangerous activity. Importantly, Tessian’s technology learns and adapts to how people work without getting in the way or impeding productivity. Tessian uses stateful machine learning models to analyze historical email data in order to understand human relationships and communication patterns. Once we know what normal and abnormal look like, Tessian can automatically predict and prevent security breaches caused by people, for example, accidentally sending emails to the wrong person or exfiltrating sensitive data to personal accounts. Given the huge volumes of sensitive data exchanged every day, the consequences of just one of these emails ending up in the wrong hands are extremely damaging. Not to mention the serious financial penalties of personal data breaches. It’s time to protect your people with Human Layer Security.
Customer Stories Data Loss Prevention Human Layer Security
Insights on Human Layer Security from Tim Fitzgerald, CISO of Arm
23 January 2020
In case you missed it, on January 22 Tim Sadler, Tessian’s CEO and co-founder, hosted our first webinar of the year which explored the biggest threat to an organization’s security: its employees. To understand the risk of human error in the workplace and how Tessian’s Human Layer Security platform is able to mitigate that risk, Tim S. was joined by Tim Fitzgerald, the CISO of Arm for a live Q&A. Before joining Arm over two years ago, Tim F. served as the CSO of Symantec for over five years. He has a special interest in digital data and human security. Arm is a customer of Tessian’s, and has deployed Tessian Defender,  Tessian Guardian, and Tessian Constructor. Consequently, Tim F. is not just attuned to the security risks associated with employees making mistakes, he understands how best to combat those risks. While you can listen to the full webinar and Q&A on-demand here, below are some of the key takeaways from Tim Fitzgerald. Where does risk really exist? Tim Fitzgerald: “It is very ‘sexy’ in security to talk about big hacking groups and use that as justification to invest in security. And there’s a lot of legitimacy behind that. But the other side of the narrative – which we spend more time on now than nation-state type threats – is how do we not do it to ourselves? Because now we’re more often dealing with avoidable events caused by predictable human error.” “I think, in general, not only should we be talking to our senior executives and boards more clearly about where real risk exists – which for most companies is the human layer – but we also need to be doing more to help these people combat the problem rather than just passing blame.” To err is human, but people are (generally) well-intentioned TF: “I very much chafe at the idea that we think of our employees as the weakest link. It underserves peoples’ intent and how they choose to operate. Rather than that, we try to take a look in the mirror and say ‘What are we not providing our employees to help them avoid these type of scenarios?’” “At Arm, we take the ‘people-are-people’ view. Not that they’re the weakest link; not that they don’t come with good intent; or that they don’t want to be good at their job; or that they take shortcuts just to get that extra moment of productivity. But, actually, everyone wants to do a good job and our job is to arm them with both the knowledge and the tools to be able to keep themselves secure, rather than trying to secure around them.” The role of a CISO is people-centric TF: “I view my job in human security as somewhere between a sociology and a marketing experiment. We’re really trying to change peoples’ behaviors in a moment. Not universally, not their personal viewpoints. But will they make the right decision in this moment to do something that won’t create security risk for us? Evolving that strategy relies not just on how we influence behavior in that moment of time, but actually, can we change their ethos? Can we make responsible security decision-making part of everybody’s job?” “Security is ultimately my responsibility. But, we very much rely on what we consider our extended security team, which is all of our employees. Our view is that they can undo all the good that we’ve done behind them to try to compensate for the risk that normal human beings create.” Security solutions should empower employees TF: “By far the biggest single challenge we have is Arm’s ethos around information sharing. We have a belief – that has proven to be true – that this level of information sharing has allowed Arm to be extraordinarily successful and innovative. There’s no backing up from that, and that represents a huge amount of challenge; that level of information sharing is quite difficult to manage. “Rather than saying people are an intractable problem and therefore we can’t conquer this, if we start thinking about how we can mobilize them as a part of our overall cybersecurity defense mechanism, it causes you to rethink whether or not you’re serving your populous correctly.”
Machine learning enables Human Layer Security TF: “What I liked about Tessian is that it gave us an opportunity to use the ML in the background to try and develop context about whether or not something that someone was doing was either atypical or perhaps just part of a bad process. Either way, we can get a sense of whether or not what they’re doing is causing us risk. It doesn’t require us to be completely prescriptive about what we’re looking for, but it allows us to learn with the technology – and with the people – what normal patterns of behavior look like and, therefore, intervene when it matters and not have to react every time an alarm goes off. “You have all this amazing context of what people are doing on email, which is where people spend most of their time and where most of the risk comes for most organizations. How can we turn this into more than just making sure someone doesn’t fat finger an email address or send sensitive files where they’re not supposed to go? Can we take the context that we’re gaining through how people are using email and create more of those moments in time to connect with them?” Tessian fits into a larger security framework TF: “We have a whole bunch of other mechanisms to protect against traditional insider threats – the people who are really acting against our best interest – but that instance is infrequent and high impact. The person who makes the mistake is high frequency, medium-to high-impact. We were getting hammered on that sort of stuff, which is why we came to Tessian.”
“When used correctly and in a finite environment or a finite data set, DLP solutions are very effective at keeping that data where it’s supposed to be and understanding movement in that ecosystem. When you try to deploy that broadly though…you start to run into the inability of the DLP system to understand where that data is supposed to be. Is this person supposed to have it based on their role and their function? It’s not a smart technology like that. You end up trying to write these very complex rules that are hard to manage.” The future of Human Layer Security TF: “Can we start to mesh together what we know about the technology and the machines with real human behavior? It’ll not only help us find those bad guys in our environments who we know are there, but also to get out in front of people’s behavior rather than reacting to it after it happens. That’s the holy grail of what this could become. To get – if not predictive – at least start leading us toward where we think risk exists and allowing us an opportunity to intervene before things happen.” Want to learn more about how Tessian helps Arm catch and stop accidental data loss with Tessian Guardian and prevent spear phishing attacks with Tessian Defender? Read the case study here.
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