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Human Layer Security Podcast
Episode 4: The Fear Factor with Dr. Karen Renaud and Dr. Mark Dupuis
By Laura Brooks
20 January 2021
We have a fascinating episode lined up for you this week, as I’m delighted to be joined by Dr. Karen Renaud and Dr. Mark Dupuis. Dr. Renault is an esteemed Professor and Computer Scientist from Abertay University, whose research focuses on all aspects of human centred security and privacy. Through her work, she says, she wants to improve the boundary where humans and cybersecurity meet. And Dr Dupuis is an Assistant Professor within the Computing and Software Systems division at the University of Washington Bothell. He also specializes in the human factors of cybersecurity primarily examining psychological traits and their relationship to the cybersecurity and privacy behaviour of individuals.  And together they are exploring the use of fear appeals in cybersecurity, answering questions like whether they work or are they more effective ways to drive behavioral change. They recently shared their findings in the Wall Street Journal, a brilliant article titled Why Companies Should Stop Scaring Employees About Security. And they’re here today to shed some more light on the topic. Karen, Mark, welcome to the podcast! Tim Sadler: To kick things off, let’s discuss that Wall Street Journal article, in which you essentially concluded that fear and scaremongering just don’t work when it comes to encouraging people to practice safer cybersecurity behaviors. So why is this the case? Dr Marc Dupuis: Well, I think one of the interesting things if we look at the use of fear, fear is an emotion. And emotions are inherently short-term type of effects. So in some research that I did, about eight years ago, one thing I looked at was trade effect – which is a generally stable, lifelong type of effect. And I tried to understand how it relates to how individuals, whether in an organizational setting or home setting, how they perceive a threat, that cybersecurity threat, as well as their belief in being able to take protective measures to try and address that threat.  And one of the interesting things from that research was, how important the role of self-efficacy was, but more, perhaps more importantly, the relationship between trade positive aspect and self-efficacy. And so a trade positive effect is generally feelings of happiness and positivity in one aspect. And so what this gets at is, the higher levels of positivity we have with respect to trade effect, the more confident we feel, and being able to take protective measures. 
So how this relates to fear is, if we need people to take protective measures, and we know that their self-efficacy, their level of confidence, is related to positive effect, why then are we continually going down the road of using fear – a short term emotion to try and engender behavioral change? And so that was a, you know, interesting conversation that Karen and I had, and then we started thinking about well, let’s take a look at the role of fear specifically. TS: Karen, what would you add to that? Dr Karen Renaud: Well, you know, I had seen Mark’s background, and I’d always wanted to look at fear because I don’t like to be scared into doing things, personally. And I suspect I’m not unusual in that. And when we started to look at the literature, we just confirmed that businesses were trying to use a short-term measure to solve a long-term problem. Yeah. And so yeah, I was gonna say, why do you think that is? And you know, it almost seems using fear is just such a sort of default approach and so many, in so many things, you know, when we think about how, I’m thinking about how people sell insurance, and you know, it’s the fear, to try and drive people to believe that, hey, your home’s gonna get burgled.  Tomorrow, you better get insurance so you can protect against the bad thing happening. And why do you think companies actually just go to fear as this almost carrot to get people to do what they’re supposed to do? It feels to me as if the thing that intuitively you think will work often doesn’t work. So you know, there’s nasty pictures they put on the side of cigarette packets actually are not very effective in stopping heavy smokers. So, whereas somebody who doesn’t smoke thinks, oh my gosh, this is definitely going to scare people, and we’re going to get behavioral change, it actually doesn’t work. So sometimes intuition is just wrong. I think in this case, it’s a case of not really doing the research the way we did to say, actually, this is probably not effective, but going well, intuitively, this is going to work. You know, they used to, when I was at school, they used to call up kids to get them to study. Now, we know that that was really a bad thing to do. The children don’t learn when they’re afraid. So we should start taking those lessons from education and applying them in the rest of our lives as well. 
TS: Yeah, I think it’s a really good call that it’s almost like we just generally, as society, need to do better at understanding actually how these kinds of fear appeals work and engage with people. And, then, maybe if we just go a layer deeper into this concept of fear tactics. You know, are people becoming immune to fear tactics? 2020 was a really bad year, a lot of people faced heightened levels of stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic and all of that change. Do you think that this is playing a part in why fear appeals don’t work?  KR: Well, yeah, I think you’re right. The literature tells us that when people are targeted by a fear appeal, they can respond in one of two ways. They can either engage in a danger control response, which is kind of what the designer of the fear appeals recommends they do. For example, if you don’t make backups, you can lose all your photos if you get attacked. So, the person engaging in a danger control response will make the backup – they’ll do as they’re told.  But they might also engage in a fear control response, which is the other option people can take. In this case, they don’t like the feeling of fear. And so they act to stop feeling it. They attack the fear, rather than the danger. They might go into denial or get angry with you. The upshot is they will not take the recommended action. So if cybersecurity is all you have to worry about, you might say, “Okay, I’m going to engage in that danger control response.”  But we have so many fear appeals to deal with anyway. And this year, it’s been over the top. So if you add fear appeals to that folks will just say, “I can’t be doing with this. I’m not going to take this on board.” So I think you’re absolutely right. And people are fearful about other things, as well as just COVID. And so you know, adding the layer to that. But what we also thought about was how ethical it actually is to add to people’s existing levels of anxiety and fear…
TS: And do you think that this, sort of, compounds? Do you think there’s a correlation between if people are already feeling naturally kind of anxious, stressed about a bunch of other stuff that actually adding one more thing to feel scared about is even less likely to have the intended results on changing their behavior? MD: Yeah, I mean, I think so. I think it just burns people out. And you kind of get this repeated messaging. You know, one thing I think about, just because we in the States just got through this whole election cycle, and maybe we’re still in this election cycle, but where all these political ads are using fear time and time and time again. And especially with political ads. But I think, in general, people do start to tune out and they want to. They just want to be done with it.  And so it’s one of these things that, I think, just loses its efficacy, and people just kind of have had enough. I have a three and a half year old son. And you know, my daughter was very good at listening to us when we said, “This is dangerous, don’t do this.” But my son, I’m like, I’m like, “Don’t get up there. You’re gonna crack your head open, and don’t do this.” And he ignores me, first of all, and then he does it anyway. And he doesn’t crack his head open. And he says, “See, Daddy, I didn’t crack my head open.” And I’m like, no. But it gets to another point; if we scare people and we try to get them scared enough to do something. But when they don’t do it and if nothing bad happens, it only reinforces the idea that “Oh, it can’t be this bad anyway.” KR: Yeah, you’re right. Because of the cause and the effects. If you divulge your email address or your password somewhere, and the attack is so far apart, a lot of the time you don’t make that connection even.  But it’s really interesting. If you look way back during the first Second World War, Germany decided to bomb the daylights out of London. And the idea was to make the Londoners so afraid that the British would capitulate. But what happened was a really odd thing. They became more defiant. And so we need to get a look back at that sort of thing. And somebody called McCurdy who wrote a book about this — she said people got tired and afraid of being afraid. And so they just said, “No, I don’t care how many bombs you’re throwing on us. We’re just not going to be afraid.” Now, one day if people are having so many fear appeals thrown at them, they’re losing their efficacy. TS: A very timely example talking about the Blitz in World War II, as I just finished reading a book about exactly that, which is the resilience of the British people through that particular period of time. And as you say, Karen, I knew very little about this topic, but it absolutely had the unintended consequence of bringing people together. It was like a rallying cry for the country to say, “We’re not going to stand for this, we are going to fight it.”  And I guess everything you’re saying is reinforced by the research you conducted as well, which completely makes sense. I’m going to read from some notes here. And in the research paper you surveyed CISOs about their own use of fear appeals in their organization. How Chief Information Security Officers actually engage with their employees, and it said 55% were against using fear appeals, with one saying, fear is known to paralyse normal decision making and reactions. And 36% thought that fear appeals were acceptable, with one saying that fear is an excellent motivator. And not a single CISO ranked scary messages as the most effective technique. What were your thoughts on these findings? Were you surprised by them?
MD: We were, I think, surprised that many were against the use of fear appeals. You look at these individuals that are the chief person responsible for the security, information security of the organization. And here they’re coming out and telling us, yeah, we don’t believe in using fear appeals. And there’s multiple reasons for this one, maybe they don’t believe in the efficacy of it. But I think it’s also because we don’t know how effective it’s going to be, but we do know that it can also damage the employee employer relationship.  And as well as some ethical issues related to it, you start to add up the possible negative ramifications of using fear appeals. And it was interesting, even going back to that example, during World War II, you think about why this was effective in what England was doing. It’s because they were in this together, they have this sense of this communal response of, you know. We’re sick of being scared, we’re in this together, we’re gonna fight in this together, and I think maybe CISOs are starting to see that, to try and help make the employee/employer relationship more positive and empower their employees rather than trying to scare them and hurt that relationship. TS: And there was one really interesting finding, which was that you found the longest serving CISOs – i.e. those with more experience – were more likely to approve the use of cybersecurity fear appeals. Why do you think that is? Is fear, maybe kind of an old school way of thinking about cybersecurity?  KR: I think as a CISO, it’s really difficult to stay up to date with the latest research, the latest way of thinking. They spend a lot of time keeping their finger on the pulse of cyber threat models, the compromises hackers are coming with. But if you go and look at the research, the attitudes towards users are slowly changing. And maybe the people who approve of fear appeals aren’t that aware of that. Or it might be they just become so exasperated by the behavior of their employees over the years that they just don’t have the appetite for slower behavioral change mechanisms. You know, and I understand that exasperation. But I was really quite heartened to see that the others said no, this is not working – especially the younger ones. So you feel that cultural change is happening. TS: One thing I was gonna ask was, there’s this interesting concept of, you know, the CISOs themselves, and whether they use fear appeals in their organization. Do you think that’s somewhat a function of how fear appeals are used to them, if that makes sense? Like they have a board that they’re reporting to, they have a boss, they have stakeholders that they’ve got to deliver results for – namely, keep the organization secure, keep our data secure, keep our people secure. Do you think there’s a relationship between how fear appeals are used to them in terms of how they use that then to others in their organization? MD: I think that’s an interesting question. I mean, I think that’s always possible. And I, you know, I think a lot of times people default to what they know and what they’re comfortable with, and what they’ve experienced and so on. And maybe that’s why we see some of the CISOs that have been in that role longer to default to that. And, you know, some of them might be organizational structural as well. Like I said, if they are constantly being bombarded with fear appeals by those that they report to, then, maybe they are more likely to engage in fear appeals. That question is a little unclear. But I do think it’s an interesting question because it, again, intuitively it makes sense. I can have a conversation with someone and, you know, if I want to use fear appeals, I don’t have to make a case for them. The case is almost intuitively made in and of itself. But trying to do the counter and say, well, maybe fear appeals don’t work, it’s a much bigger leap to try and make that argument than I think to try and say, “Well, yeah, let’s scare someone into doing something, of course, that’s gonna work, right.”
TS: I think it’s an interesting point. I think it’s just really important that we also remember, certainly in the context of using fear appeals, that there is a role beyond the CISO, as well. And it’s the role the board plays, it’s the culture of the organization, and how you set those individuals up for success. Like, on one hand as a CISO, the sky is always falling. There is always some piece of bad news or something that’s going wrong, or something you’re defending. And I think it’s again, maybe there’s something in that for thinking about how organizations can kind of empower CISOs, so that they can then go on to empower their people.  And so shifting gears slightly, we’ve spoken a lot about why fear appeals are maybe not a good idea, and how they are limited in their effectiveness. But what is the alternative? What advice would you give to the listeners on this podcast about how they can improve employee cybersecurity behavior through other means, especially as so many are now working remotely?  KR: Well, going back to what Mark was saying, we think the key really is self efficacy. You’ve got to build confidence in people, and without making them afraid.  A lot of the cybersecurity training that you get in organizations is a two-hour session that brings everyone into a room and we talk with them. Or maybe people are required to do this online. This is not self efficacy. This is awareness. And there’s a big difference. So the thing is, you can’t deliver cybersecurity knowledge and self efficacy like a COVID vaccination. It’s a long-term process and employers really have to engage with the fact that it is a long-term process, and just keep building people’s confidence and so on.  What you said earlier about the whole community effect, up to now cybersecurity has been a solo game. And it’s not a tennis solo game, right. It’s a team sport. And we need to get all the people in the organization helping each other to spot phishing messages or whatever. But you know, make it a community sport, number one. And everybody supports each other in building that level of self efficacy that we all need. TS: I love that. And, yeah, I think we said it earlier. But you know, just this concept of teamwork, and coming together, I think is so, so important. Mark, would you add anything to that in terms of just these alternative means to fear appeals that leaders and CISOs can think about using with their employees? MD: Yeah, I mean, it’s not gonna be one size fits all. But I think whatever approach we use, as Karen said, we really do need to tap into that self efficacy. And by doing that, people are going to feel confident and empowered to be able to take action.  And we need to think about how people are motivated to take action, you know. So fear is scaring them personally, about consequences they may face like termination or fines or something else. But if you start thinking about developing this and, as I mentioned before, this being in-this-together, this is developing an intrinsic motivation that “I’m not doing this, because I’m fearful of the consequences”, so much. It’s more “I’m doing this because, you know, we’re all in this together.” We want to make this better for everyone. We want to have a good company, we want to be able to help each other. And we want people to take the actions that are necessary to make sure that we are secure, and we’re here to be able to talk about it.  TS: Yeah, it’s exactly what both of you are saying that if somebody feels that they can’t, if they don’t have that self efficacy, they’re not going to raise things, they’re not going to bring it forward. And ultimately, that’s when disasters happen, and things can go really bad. And then, I love the idea of, you know, it makes complete sense that if you are striking fear into the hearts of people, it’s not necessarily going to have the desired outcome 100% of the time, but isn’t it a little bit of fear needed? I mean, when I say this, of course, it has to be used ethically. But when I’m thinking about just the nature of what organizations are facing today, and we’ve just heard about the Solar Winds hack, and there are a number of others as well. These things are pretty scary, and the techniques that are being used are pretty scary. So isn’t a little bit of fear required here? And is there any merit to using that to make people understand the severity and the consequences of what’s at stake? MD: Yeah, I think there’s a difference between fear and providing people with information that might inherently have scary components to it. And, so what I mean by that is, when people are often using fear appeals, they’re doing it to scare people into complying with some specific goal. But instead we should provide information to people – which we should, we should let people know that there are some possible things that can happen or some possible consequences – but not with the goal of scaring them, but more with the goal of empowering them by giving them information. They, again, tap into that self efficacy, more so than anything else, because then they know that there’s some kind of threat out here. They’re not scared, but they know there’s a threat. And if they feel empowered through knowledge, and through that self efficacy, then they’re more likely to take that action, as opposed to designing a message that’s just designed to scare them into compliance.
TS: From your experience, can either when you think of any really good examples of how companies or any campaigns that have maybe built this kind of self efficacy or empowered people without having to use fear as the motivating factor? KR: And I think I mentioned one of them in the paper. So there’s an organization that I’m familiar with and they had a major problem with phishing. They appointed one person and if anybody had a suspicious message, they say “you were quite right to report this to me, thank you so much for being part of the security perimeter of this organization. But email looks fine, you can click.” Overtime, this is actually built up efficacy. They don’t have phishing problems anymore, in that organization, because they have this person. And it’s almost an informal thing he does but he’s building up self efficacy slowly but surely, across the organization, because nobody ever gets made to feel small by reporting or made to feel humiliated. We’re all participating. We’re all part of this, that that is the best example I’ve seen of actually how this has worked.  TS: Yeah, I really like that. It’s like, when people do risk audits, they will say that the time the alarm should sound is when there’s nothing on the risk register. When the risk registers may be getting 510 entries every single week, you know, that people actually do have that confidence to come forward. And also they’re paying attention, right? They’re actually aware of these things.  And where I want to go next is to talk about this is a side of things in the cybersecurity vendor world. You know, many companies that are trying to provide solutions to organizations do rely quite heavily on this concept of fear, uncertainty and doubt. It’s even got its own acronym right? FUD. And, essentially, FUD is used so heavily. As the saying goes “bad news sells” – we see scary headlines, the massive data breaches dominate the media landscape. So I think it’s fair to say eliminating fraud is going to be tough. And there is a lot of work to do here. In your opinion, who is responsible for changing the narrative? And what advice would you give to them for how they can start doing this? MD: I think it definitely, you know, starts in things such as having these conversations and trying to, I guess, place a little uncertainty or doubt into those decision makers and CISOs about how effective fear is. It’s kind of flipping the script a little bit. And maybe part of it is we need a new acronym, to say, well give this a try, or this is why we think this is going to work, or this is what the research shows. And this is what your peer organizations are doing, and they find it very effective. Their employees feel more empowered. So, I think a lot of it is just beginning with those conversations and trying to flip the script a little bit to start to help CISOs know. Well, you know, it’s always easy to criticize something, but then the bigger question is, okay, if, if we’re taking the use of fear and its effectiveness for granted, then what are we going to replace it with?  And a lot of it, we know that self efficacy is the major player there but what’s that going to look like? And I think Karen gave a great example looking at what an organization is doing, which is increasing improving levels of self efficacy. It’s creating that spirit of we’re all in this together and it’s less about a formalised punitive type of system. And so looking at ways to tap into that and for one organization, it might be you have a slightly different approach, but I think the concepts and stuff will be the same.
TS: Again, it ties in a really important point, which is just more understanding is needed, I think, by the lay person, or the people that are putting this out.  And, and then I think, Marc, to your point just about this being collective responsibility. I mean, I see it as a great opportunity as well, because I think everyone would welcome some more positivity and optimism, right? And if we can actually bring that to the security community, which is, you know, generally a fearful community, focusing on defense and threat actors. The language, the aesthetic, everything is generally negative, fearful, scary. I think there’s a great opportunity here, which is that, you know, doesn’t have to be that way and that we can come together. And we can have a much more positive dialogue and a much more positive response around it.  There was something that I wanted to touch on. Karen, you speak about, in your research, this concept of “Cybersecurity Differently.” And you explain, and I’m going to quote you verbatim here – “It’s so important that we change mindsets from the human-as-a-problem to human-as-solution in order to improve cybersecurity across the sociotechnical system.” What do you mean by that? And what are the core principles of Cybersecurity Differently? KR: When you treat your users as a problem, right, then that informs the way you manage them. And, so, then what you see in a lot of organizations because they see their employees’ behaviors as a problem. They’ll train them, they’ll constrain them, and then they’ll blame them when things go wrong. So that’s the paradigm.  But what you’re actually doing is excluding them from being part of the solution. So, it creates the very problem you’re trying to solve. What you want is for everyone to feel that they’re part of the security defense of the organization. I did this research with Marina Timmerman, from the University of Darmstadt, technical University Darmstadt. And so the principles are:  One we’ve been speaking about a lot: encouraged collaboration and communication between colleagues, so that people can support each other. We want to encourage everyone to learn. It should be a lifelong learning thing, not just something that IT departments have to worry about.  It isn’t solo, as I’ve said before, you have to build resilience as well as resistance. So currently, a lot of the effort is on resisting anything that somebody could do wrong. But you don’t then have a way of bouncing back when things do go wrong, because all the focus is on sort of resistance. And, you know, a lot of the time we treat security awareness training and policies like a-one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t refer to people’s expertise. It doesn’t go to the people and say, “Okay, here’s what we’re proposing, is this going to be possible for you to do these things in a secure way?” And if not, how can we support you to make what you’re doing more secure.  Then, you know, people make mistakes. Everyone focuses on if a phishing message comes to an organization, people focus on the people who fell for it. But there were many, many more people who didn’t fall for it. And so what we need to do is examine the successes, what can we learn from the people? Why did they spot that phishing message so that we can encourage that in the people who did happen to make mistakes?  I didn’t get these ideas, just out of the air. I got them from some very insightful people. One of them was Sidney Dekker, who has applied this paradigm in the safety field. What’s interesting was that he got Woolworths in Australia to allow him to apply the paradigm in some of their stores. They previously had all these signs up all over the store – “Don’t leave a mess here” and “Don’t do this” – and they had weekly training on safety. He said, right, we’re taking all the signs out. Instead, what we’re gonna do is just say, you have one job, don’t let anyone get hurt. And the stores that applied the job got the safety prize for Woolworths that next year. So, you know, just the idea that everyone realized it was their responsibility. And it wasn’t all about fear, you know, rules and that sort of thing. So I thought if he could do this in safety, where people actually get harmed for life or killed, surely we can do this in cyber?! And then I found a guy who ran a nuclear submarine in the United States. His name is David Marquet. He applied the same thing in his nuclear submarine which you would also think, oh, my goodness, a nuclear submarine. There’s so much potential for really bad things to happen! But he applied the same sort of paradigm shift – and it worked! He won the prize for the best run nuclear submarine in the US Navy. So it’s about being brave enough to go actually, you know, what we’re doing is not working, and every year it’s not working Maybe it’s time to think well, can we do something different?  But like you said, Marc, we need a brave organization to say, okay, we’re gonna try this. And we haven’t managed to find one yet. But we will, we will! TS: And that’s one of the things I wanted to close out on. I spoke to you at the beginning of this podcast is how much I love the article in the Wall Street Journal, but also just the mission that both of you are on – to improve, what I see really is the relationship between people and the cybersecurity function. And my question to you is, again, touches on that concept of how much progress have we actually made? And then, to close, how optimistic are you that we can actually flip the script and stop using fear appeals? MD: Yeah, I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress, but not nearly enough. So, you know, there’s, and part of the challenge, too, is, none of this stuff is static, right? All this stuff is constantly changing; the cybersecurity threats out there change, we’re talking, so much, about phishing today, and social engineering is going to be something different next year. And so it’s always this idea of playing catch-up. But also, you know, having the fortitude to take that step out there to take that leap of faith that maybe we can do something else besides using fear. 
MD: I think I am optimistic that it can be done. We can make a lot of progress. For it to actually be done to, you know, 100%… I don’t know that we’ll ever get to that point. But I feel like we can make a lot of progress. And looking at part of this is recognizing the fact that – you’re mentioning the socio technical side of this – this isn’t just a technical problem, right? And a lot of times the people we throw into cybersecurity positions have this very strong technical background but they’re not bringing in other disciplines. Perhaps from the arts, from literature, from the humanities, and from design, we can bring new considerations to try and look at this as a very holistic multidisciplinary problem. If the problem is like that, well, then solutions definitely have to be as well.  We have to acknowledge that and start trying to get creative with the solutions. And we need those brave organizations to try these different approaches. I think they’ll be pleased with the results because they’re probably spending a lot of time and money right now, to try and make the organization more secure. They’re telling their bosses, the CISOs are telling their bosses, well, this is what we’re doing. We’re scaring them. But the results don’t always speak for themselves.  TS: And, Karen, what would you add to that? KR: Well, I just totally concur with everything Mark said, I think he’s rounded this off very nicely. I ran a study recently – it was really unusual study – where we put old fashioned typewriters in coffee shops and all over, and we put pieces of paper in. We just typed something along the top that said, “When I think about cybersecurity, I feel…” and we got unbelievable stuff back from people going: “I don’t understand it, I’m uncertain.” Lots and lots of negative responses – so there’s a lot of negative emotion around cyber. And that’s not good for cybersecurity. So I’d really like to see something different. And, you know, the old saying, If you keep doing the same thing without getting results, there’s something wrong. We see it’s not working, this might be the best way of changing and making it work. TS: I completely agree. I completely agree. Thank you both so much for that great discussion. I really enjoy getting deeper as well, and hearing your thoughts on all of this. As you say, I think it’s a win-win scenario on so many counts. More positivity means better outcomes for employees. And I think it means better outcomes for the security function.   If you enjoyed our show, please rate and review it on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. And remember you can access all the RE:Human Security Layer podcasts here. 
Human Layer Security Podcast
6 Cybersecurity Podcasts to Listen to Now
19 January 2021
If you’re interested in cybersecurity, this list of the best cyber security podcasts is for you.  We’ve collated six of the best cyber security podcasts in the world — where engaging hosts provide breaking news, intelligent analysis, and inspiring interviews. The Best Cyber Security Podcasts The CyberWire Daily Launched: December 2015 Average episode length: 25 minutes Release cycle: Daily As one of the most prolific and productive cybersecurity news networks, CyberWire has access to world-class guests, top research, and breaking news. The CyberWire Daily brings listeners news briefings and a great variety of in-depth cybersecurity content. The CyberWire Daily showcases episodes from across CyberWire’s podcast catalog, including Career Notes, in which security leaders discuss their life and work; Research Saturday, where cybersecurity researchers talk about key emerging threats; and Hacking Humans, which focuses on social engineering. Here are some great recent episodes: Deep Instinct’s Shimon Oren talks about his research on the worrying re-emergence of the Emotet malware Craig Williams, head of outreach at Cisco’s Talos Unit, discusses the perils of malicious online ads (malvertising) Ann Johson, Microsoft’s Corporate VP Cybersecurity Business Development, discusses her career journey —- from lawyer to cybersecurity executive Unsupervised Learning Launched: January 2015 Average episode length: 25 minutes Release cycle: Weekly Originally called “Take 1 Security,” Daniel Miessler’s Unsupervised Learning podcast is an insightful look at long-running themes and emerging issues in cybersecurity. Miessler has provided thoughtful written commentary on cybersecurity for over two decades. His podcast’s format varies: most weeks involve a run-down of the week’s cybersecurity headlines, but some episodes feature an essay, interview, or a book review.  Some standout episodes over the past year have included: An analysis of Verizon’s all-important annual data breach report  An interview with General Earl Matthews on election security A spoken essay about how the US should address its ransomware problem WIRED Security Launched: November 2020 Average episode length: 8 minutes Release cycle: Every weekday WIRED Security is part of WIRED’s “Spoken Edition” range of podcasts, and it’s a little different from the other podcasts on our list. Each episode features a reading of a recently-published WIRED article about cybersecurity. We love this podcast because it’s short and snappy (episodes generally range from 4 to 12 minutes long), released daily, and provides free access to WIRED’s incredible in-depth journalism.  Some great episodes from the past few months include:  A recap of 2020’s worst hacks (there were many to choose from) An analysis of the critical — and possibly permanent — security flaws among Internet of Things devices  A look at how Russia could be exploiting poor cybersecurity practices among remote workers RE: Human Layer Security Launched: December 2020 Average episode length: 22 minutes Release cycle: Weekly RE: Human Layer Security is an exciting new podcast hosted by Tessian CEO Tim Sadler. Sadler talks to business and technology leaders about their experiences running and securing some of the world’s leading organizations. The show flips the script on cybersecurity and addresses the human factor. Join world-class business and technology leaders as they discuss how and why companies must protect people – not just machines and data – to stop threats and empower employees. Guests have included:  Howard Schultz, Starbucks former CEO, on why culture trumps strategy when building and protecting a business Stephane Kasriel, Upwork former CEO, on how companies can embrace remote working Tim Fitzgerald, CISO at ARM, on why security should serve people’s interests and empower employees to take care of themselves New episodes launch every Wednesday. Don’t miss out!  Security Now Launched: August 2005 Average episode length: 2 hours Release cycle: Weekly Security Now is the oldest podcast on our list, but it has truly stood the test of time. Now entering its 16th year, the podcast still has a vast listener base — and continues to provide timely and insightful analysis on important cybersecurity topics. Every Monday, Security Now provides a detailed breakdown of all (and we mean all) the weeks’ security and privacy headlines. If you’re ever feeling out of the loop, spending a couple of hours listening to hosts Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte will bring you back up to date. Recent discussions on Security Now have included: How SolarWinds shareholders are launching a class-action lawsuit following the company’s disastrous hack Why WhatsApp users are flocking to Signal following a privacy policy update How swatters are using IoT devices to misdirect emergency services teams  The Many Hats Club Launched: November 2017 Average episode length: 45 minutes Release cycle: Sporadic The Many Hats Club is a coalition of people from across the information security community, including coders, engineers, and hackers — whether blackhat, whitehat, or greyhat. The Many Hats Club podcast is a great way to get to know the next generation of infosec professionals. Host CyberSecStu interviews a great range of guests about a broad range of topics, including hacking, privacy, and cybersecurity culture. Recent highlights include: A conversation about DDoS mitigation and mental health with security researcher Notdan A discussion about women in infosec with cybersecurity commentator Becky Pinkard  A strictly NSFW interview with the controversial McAfee founder John McAfee   Our Roundup What’s your favorite cybersecurity podcast? Let us know by tagging us on social media! And, if it’s RE: Human Layer Security, make sure you follow it on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode.
Human Layer Security Podcast
Episode 3: Security For The People, Not To The People, With Tim Fitzgerald
By Laura Brooks
06 January 2021
In this episode of the RE: Human Layer Security podcast, Tim Sadler is joined by Tim Fitzgerald, the chief information security officer at ARM and former chief security officer at Symantec.  Now, Tim believes that people are inherently good. And to think of employees as the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity is undeserving. Tim thinks employees just want to do a good job. Sometimes mistakes happen, which can compromise security. But rather than blaming them, Tim urges leaders to first ask themselves, whether they’ve given their people the right tools, and they’ve armed them with the right information to help them avoid these mistakes in the first place. In this interview, we talked about the importance of changing behaviours, how businesses can make security part of everybody’s job, and how to get boards on board.  And if you want to hear more Human Layer Security insights, all podcast episodes can be found here.  Tim Sadler: As the CISO of ARM, then what are some of the biggest challenges that you face? And how does that affect the way you think about your security strategy?  Tim Fitzgerald: I guess our challenges are, you know, not to be trite, but they’re sort of opportunities as well. That by far, the biggest single challenge we have is ARM’s ethos around information sharing. As I noted, we have a belief, that I think it has proven out to be true over the 30+ years that ARM has been in business, that the level of information sharing has allowed ARM to be extraordinarily successful and innovative.  So there’s no backing up from that as an ethos of the company. But that represents a huge amount of challenge because we give a tremendous amount of personal freedom for how people can access our information and our systems, as well as how they use our data to share both internally with our peers, but also with our customers who we’re very deeply embedded with, you know. We don’t sell a traditional product where we, you know, they buy it, we deliver it to them, and then we’re done. The vast majority of our customers spend years with us developing their own product based on our intellectual property. And so that the level of information sharing that happens in a relationship like that is, is quite difficult to manage, to be candid. TS: Yeah, it really sounds like you’ve been balancing or having to think about not just the effectiveness of your security strategy or your systems but also that impact to the productivity of employees. So has Human Layer Security been part of your strategy for a long time at ARM or even in your career before ARM? TF: In my career before ARM, at Symantec. Symantec was a very different company, you know, more of a traditional software sales company. It also had 25,000 people who thought they knew more about security than I did. So that presented a unique challenge in terms of how we work with that community, but even at Symantec, I was thinking quite hard about how we influence behaviour.  And ultimately, what it comes down to, for me is that I view my job and human security as somewhere between a sociology and a marketing experiment, right? We’re really trying to change people’s behaviour in a moment, not universally and not their personal ethos. But will they make the right decision in this moment, to do something that won’t create security risk for us?  You know, I sort of label that sort of micro transactions. We get these small moments in time, where we have an opportunity to interact with and influence behaviour. And I’ve been sort of evolving that strategy as I thought about it at ARM. It’s a very different place in many respects, but trying to think about, not just how we influence their behaviour in that moment in time, but actually, can we change their ethos? Can we make responsible security decision-making part of everybody’s job? And I know that there’s not a single security person who will say they’re not trying to do that, right. But actually, that turns out to be a very, very hard problem.  The way that we think about this at ARM is that we have, you know, a centralized security team and I guess, ultimately, security is my responsibility at ARM. But we very much rely on what we consider to be our extended employee, or extended security team, which is all of our employees. Essentially, our view is that they can undo all of the good that we do behind them. But I think one of the things that’s unique about how we look at this at ARM is, you know, we very much take the view that people aren’t the weakest link. That they don’t come with good intent, or they don’t want to be good at their job or that they’re going to take shortcuts just to, you know, get that extra moment of productivity, but actually that everybody 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.
And, just to finish that thought, we do both, right? I mean, we’re not going to stop doing all the other stuff we do to kind of help protect our people in ways that they don’t even know exist. But the idea for us, here, is actually that we have rare opportunities to empower employees to take care of themselves.  One of the things we really like about Tessian is that this is something we’ve done for our employees, not to our employees. It’s a tool that is meant to keep them out of trouble.  TS: Yeah, I think I think that’s a really, really good point. You know, I think a lot of what you’re talking about here, as well as just security culture, and really establishing a great security culture as a company. And I love that for employees rather than to employees. I mean, it sounds like this really, you know, you have to at the core of the organization, and be thinking about the concept of human error in the right way when thinking about security decision making. And I guess, thinking that people are always going to make mistakes. And as you said, it’s just because they, you know, they are people, and maybe walk us through a bit more about how you how you think or what advice you might have for some of the other organizations that are on the line today about how they might talk to, you know, their boards or their other teams about rationalising this risk internally and working with the fact that our employees are only human. TF: Yeah, for me, this has been the most productive dialogue we’ve had with our board and our executive around security. I think most of you on the phone will recognise that when you go in and you start talking about the various technical layers that we have, that are available to protect our system, the eyes glaze over pretty quickly. And they really just want to know whether or not it works.  The human security problem is one that you can get a lot of passion on. In parts, because, I think it’s an unrecognized risk in the boardroom. That while the insider – meaning sort of a traditional insider threat that we think about which is a person who’s really acting against our best interest – can be very, very impactful. At least at ARM, and certainly in my prior career, the vast majority of issues that we have, and that have caused us harm over the last several years have been caused by people who do not wish us harm. 
They’ve been people just trying to do their job, and making mistakes or doing the wrong thing, making a bad decision at a moment in time. And trying to figure out how we help them not to do that is a much more difficult problem than trying to figure out how to put in a firewall or putting DLP. So we really try to separate that conversation. There are a lot of things we do to try and catch that person who is truly acting against our best interest but that actually, in many ways, is a totally different problem. At ARM, what accounts for more than 70% of our incidents, and certainly more than 90% of our loss scenarios is people just doing the wrong thing. And making the wrong decision, not that they were actively seeking to cause ARM harm.  If I might just give a couple of examples because it helps bring it home. The two most impactful events that we’ve had in the last two years at ARM was somebody in our royalties, you know, we sell software, right? So every time somebody produces a chip, we get paid. So that’s a good thing for ARM. But having somebody who’s royalty forecast gives you a really good sense of what markets they intend to enter and where they tend to go as a company.  And most of our customers compete with each other because they’re all selling similar chips, software design into various formats. So having one customer having somebody else’s data would be hugely impactful. And in fact, that’s exactly what we did not that long ago. Somebody pulled down some pertinent information for a customer into a spreadsheet, and then fat fingered an email and sent it to the wrong customer. Right, they send it to Joan at Customer X instead of Joan at customer Y. And that turned out to be a hugely impactful event for us as a company, because this is a major relationship and we essentially disclosed a strategic roadmap from one customer to another. A completely avoidable scenario. And it is a situation where that employee was trying to do their best for their customer and ultimately made a mistake. TS: Thanks for sharing that example with us. I think it’s a really, really good point. And I think for a long time in security, we were talking about insider threats, and people immediately think about malicious employees and malicious insiders. And I think it’s absolutely true what you say that, the reality is that most of your employees are, you know, trustworthy and want to do the right thing. But they sometimes make mistakes. And when you’re doing something as often as, say, sending an email or sharing data, the errors can be disastrous, and they can be frequent as well… TF: …it’s the frequency that really gets us right? So insider threat – the really bad guy who’s acting against our best interest. We have a whole bunch of other mechanisms that, while still hard, we have some other mechanisms to try and find them. That’s an infrequent high impact. What we’re finding is that the person who makes a mistake is high frequency, medium to high impact. And so we’re just getting hammered on that kind of stuff. And the reason we came to Tessian in the first place was to address that exact issue. As far as I really believe in where you guys are going in terms of trying to address the risk associated with people making bad choices versus acting against our interest. TS: This concept of high frequency, I think, is super interesting. And one of the questions I was actually going to ask you was around that. Hackers and cyber attacks get all the attention because these are the scary things. And naturally, it’s what you know, boards want to talk about, and executives want to talk about. Accidents almost seem less scary. So they get less focus. But this frequency point of how often we share data. We send emails, and it’s, you know, it has analogies in other parts, other parts of our lives as well with like, we don’t think twice before we get in a car. But actually, you know, it’s very easy to have human error there. Things can also be really bad. Do you think we need to do more to educate our, again, our boards, our executive teams and our employees to actually sort of open their eyes to the fact that inadvertent human error or accidents can be just as damaging as, as attackers or cyber attacks?  TF: Yeah, it depends on the organization. But I would suggest that generally, we do need to do more. We, as an industry, we’ve had a lot of amazing things to talk about to get our board’s attention over the last 10 years. These major events, and loss scenarios, often perpetrated by big hacking groups, sometimes nation-sponsored, are very sexy to talk about that kind of stuff and use that as justification for the reason we need to, to invest in security.  And actually, there’s a lot of legitimacy behind that. Right. It’s not that that’s fake messaging. It’s just, it’s just part of the narrative. The other side of the narrative is that, you know, we spend more time on now than we do on nation-state type threats. Because what we’re finding is not only by frequency, but by impact right now, the vast majority of what we’re dealing with is avoidable events, based on human error, and perhaps predictable human error.  I very much chafe at the idea that we think of our employees as the weakest link, right? I think it sort of under serves people’s intent and how they choose to operate. So rather than that, we try to take a look in the mirror and say, what are we not providing these people in order to help them avoid these types of scenarios?  And I think if you change your perspective on that, rather than see people as an intractable problem, and therefore we can’t, you know, we can’t conquer this. If we start thinking about how we mobilise them as part of our overall cybersecurity strategy and defense mechanisms, it causes you to rethink whether or not you’re serving your populace correctly.  And I think in general, not only should we be talking to our senior executives and boards more, more clearly about where real risk exists, which for most companies is right in this zone. But we need to be doing more to help those people combat rather than casting blame or thinking that the average employee is not trustworthy, or will do the wrong thing.  You know, I’m an optimist. So I genuinely believe that’s not true. I think if we give people the opportunity to make a good decision, and we make the easiest path to get their job done, the secure path, they will take it. That is our job as security professionals.
TS: Yeah, I think the huge point there and you know, the word that was jumping out for me is this concept of empowerment. And I think it is strange sometimes when you look at a lot of security initiatives that companies deploy, and how we almost don’t factor in that concept of the impact it will have on an employee’s productivity.  And I guess at Tessian, we’re great believers that, you know, the greatest technology we’ve created has really empowered society. So it’s made people’s lives better. And we think that security technology should not only keep people safe, but it should do it in a way that empowers them to do that best work. When you were sort of thinking about how to solve this problem of inadvertent human error on email people sending emails to the wrong people, or dealing with the issue of phishing and spear phishing. What consideration did you have for other solutions that were out there? You know, what did Tessian address for you that you couldn’t quite address with those other platforms?  TF: Yeah, a couple things. So coming from Symantec as you might expect, I used all of their technology extensively and one of the best products Symantec offers is their DLP solution. So I’m very, very familiar with that. And I would argue we had one of the more advanced installations in the world running internally at Symantec. So I’m extremely familiar with the capability of those technologies. I think what I learned in my time and doing that is when used correctly in a finite environment, a finite data set, that type of solution would be very, very effective in keeping that data where it’s supposed to be and understanding movement in that ecosystem. When you try and deploy that, broadly, it has all the same problems, as everything else is, 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. So you end up trying to write these very, very complex rules that are hard to manage. What I liked about Tessian is that it gave us an opportunity to use the machine learning in the background, to try and develop context about whether or not something that somebody was doing was, was either a typical, or perhaps just by the very nature, and maybe it’s not a typical, maybe it’s actually part of a bad process. But by their very nature of the type of information they’re sending around and the characteristics of information, we can get a sense of whether or not what they’re doing is causing us a risk. So it doesn’t require recipes, completely prescriptive about what we’re looking for. It allows us to learn with the technology and with the people on what normal patterns of behaviour look like, and therefore intervene when it matters and not, and not sort of having to react every time another bell goes off.  To be clear, we still use DLP in very limited circumstances. But what we found is that was not really a viable option for us, particularly in the email stream. To be able to accurately identify when people were doing things that were risky, versus, you know, moving a very specific data set that we didn’t want them to.  TS: Yeah, that makes a tonne of sense. And then if you’re thinking about the future, and sort of, you know, what you hope Tessian can actually become, you know, where, where does it go from here? What’s the opportunity for, for Tessian as a Human Layer Security platform?  TF: Yeah, I recall back to talking to you guys, I guess, last spring, and one of the things I was poking at was, you have all this amazing context of what people are doing an email, and that’s where people spend most of their time. It’s where most of the risk comes from for most organizations. So how can we turn that into beyond just you know, making sure someone doesn’t fat finger and email address, or they’re not sending a sensitive file where it’s not supposed to go? Or, you know, the other use cases that come along with Tessian? 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 to become more predictive? Where we start to see patterns of behaviour of individuals that would suggest to us that they are either susceptible to certain types of risk, or, you know, are likely to take a particular action in the future, there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge that can be derived from that context, particularly if you start thinking about how you can put that together with what would traditionally be kind of the behavioural analytics space. Can we start to mesh together what we know about the technology and the machines with real human behaviour and, therefore, have a very good picture that would help us? It would help us not only to find those actual bad guys who were in our environment that we know were there, but also to get out in front of people’s behaviour, rather than reacting to it after it happened. And that, for me, that’s kind of the holy grail of what this could become. If not predictive, at least start leading us towards where we think risk exists, and allowing us an opportunity to intervene before things happen. TS: That’s great, Tim, thanks so much for sharing that with us. TS: It was great to understand how Tim has built up his security strategy, so that it aligns with and also enhances the overall ethos of the company. More information sharing equals a more innovative and more successful business. I particularly liked Tim’s point, when he said that businesses should make the path of least resistance the most secure one. And by doing that, you can enable people to make smart security decisions and build a more robust security culture within an organization.  As Tim says, It’s security for the people, not to the people. And that’s going to be so important as ways of working change. If you enjoyed our show, please rate and review it on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. And remember you can access all the RE:Human Security Layer podcasts here.   
Human Layer Security Spear Phishing DLP Data Exfiltration
Worst Email Mistakes at Work and How to Fix Them
By Maddie Rosenthal
05 January 2021
Everyone makes mistakes at work. It could be double-booking a meeting, attaching the wrong document to an email, or misinterpreting directions from your boss. While these snafus may cause red-faced embarrassment, they generally won’t have any long-term consequences. But, what about mistakes that compromise cybersecurity? This happens more often than you might think. In fact, nearly half of employees say they’ve done it, and employees under 40 are among the most likely. !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//"); In this article, we’ll focus on email mistakes. You’ll learn: The top five email mistakes that compromise cybersecurity How frequently these incidents happen What to do if you make a mistake on email
I sent an email to the wrong person At Tessian, we call this a misdirected email. If you’ve sent one, you’re not alone. 58% of people say they’ve done it and, according to Tessian platform data, at least 800 are fired off every year in organizations with over 1,000 people. It’s also the number one security incident reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under the GDPR. (More on the consequences related to data privacy below.) Why does it happen so often? Well, because it’s incredibly easy to do. It could be a simple typo (for example, sending an email to instead of or it could be an incorrect suggestion from autocomplete.  What are the consequences of sending a misdirected email? While we’ve written about the consequences of sending an email to the wrong person in this article, here’s a high-level overview:  Embarrassment  Fines under compliance standards like GDPR and CCPA Lost customer trust and increased churn Job loss Revenue loss Damaged reputation
Real-world example of a misdirected email In 2019, the names of 47 claimants who were the victims of sexual abuse were leaked in an email from the program administrator after her email client auto-populated the wrong email address.  While the program administrator is maintaining that this doesn’t qualify as a data leak or breach, the recipient of the email – who worked in healthcare and understands data privacy requirements under HIPAA – continues to insist that the 47 individuals must be notified.  As of September 2020, they still haven’t been. I attached the wrong file to an email Employees can do more than just send an email to the wrong person. They can also send the wrong file(s) to the right person. We call this a misattached file and, like fat fingering an email, it’s easy to do. Two files could have similar names, you may not attach the latest version of a document, or you might click on the wrong file entirely.  What are the consequences of sending a misattached file? As you may have guessed, the consequences are the same as the consequences of sending a misdirected email. Of course, the consequences depend entirely on what information was contained in the attachment. If it’s a presentation containing financial projections for the wrong client or a spreadsheet containing the PII of customers, you have a problem.  Real-world example of sending the wrong attachment A customer relations advisor at Caesars Entertainment UK – a part of Caesars Entertainment – was sending emails to the casino’s VIPs. In the emails, the employee was meant to attach a customized invitation to an event. But, in one email, the employee accidentally attached the wrong document, which was a spreadsheet containing personal information related to some of their top 100 customers.   Luckily, they also spelled the email address incorrectly, so it was never actually sent.  Charles Rayer, Group IT Director, details the incident – and explains why this prompted him to invest in Tessian Guardian – in a Q&A.  You can watch the interview here. I accidentally hit “reply all” or cc’ed someone instead of bcc’ing them Like sending a misdirected email, accidentally hitting “reply all” or cc instead of bcc are both easy mistakes to make.  What are the consequences of hitting “reply all” or cc instead of bcc? As you may have guessed, the consequences are the same as the consequences of sending a misdirected email. And, importantly, the consequences depend entirely on what information was contained in, or attached to, the email. For example, if you drafted a snarky response to a company-wide email and intended to send it to a single co-worker but ended up firing it off everyone, you’ll be embarrassed and may worry about your professional credibility.  But, if you replace that snarky response with a spreadsheet containing medical information about employees, you’ll have to report the data loss incident which could have long-term consequences. Real-world example of hitting “reply all” In 2018, an employee at the Utah Department of Corrections accidentally sent out a calendar invite for her division’s annual potluck. Harmless, right? Wrong. Instead of sending the invite to 80 people, it went to 22,000; nearly every employee in Utah government. While there were no long-term consequences (i.e., it wasn’t considered a data loss incident or breach) it does go to show how easily data can travel and land in the wrong hands.  Real-world example of cc’ing someone instead of bcc’ing them On January 21, 2020, 450 customer email addresses were inadvertently exposed after they were copied, rather than blind copied, into an email. The email was sent by an employee at speaker-maker Sonos and, while it was an accident, under GDPR, the mistake is considered a potential breach.  I fell for a phishing scam According to Tessian research, 1 in 4 employees has clicked on a phishing email. But, the odds aren’t exactly in our favor. In 2019, 22% of breaches in 2019 involved phishing…and 96% of phishing attacks start on email. (You can find more Phishing Statistics here.) Like sending an email to the wrong person, it’s easy to do, especially when we’re distracted, stressed, or tired. But, it doesn’t just come down to psychology. Phishing scams are getting harder and harder to detect as hackers use increasingly sophisticated techniques to dupe us.  !function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//"); What are the consequences of falling for a phishing scam? Given the top five “types” of data that are compromised in phishing attacks (see below), the consequences of a phishing attack are virtually limitless. Identify theft. Revenue loss. Customer churn. A wiped hardrive. But, the top five “types” of data that are compromised in a phishing attack are: Credentials (passwords, usernames, pin numbers) Personal data (name, address, email address) Internal data (sales projections, product roadmaps)  Medical (treatment information, insurance claims) Bank (account numbers, credit card information) Real-world example of a successful phishing attack In August 2020, The SANS institute – a global cybersecurity training and certifications organization – revealed that nearly 30,000 accounts of PII were compromised in a phishing attack that convinced an end-user to install a self-hiding and malicious Office 365 add-on. While no passwords or financial information were compromised and all the affected individuals have been notified, the breach goes to show that anyone – even cybersecurity experts – can fall for phishing scams. But, most phishing attacks have serious consequences. According to one report, 60% of organizations lose data. 50% have credentials or accounts compromised. Another 50% are infected with ransomware. 35% experience financial losses. I sent an unauthorized email As a part of a larger cybersecurity strategy, most organizations will have policies in place that outline what data can be moved outside the network and how it can be moved outside the network. Generally speaking, sending data to personal email accounts or third-parties is a big no-no. At Tessian, we call these emails “unauthorized” and they’re sent 38x more than IT leaders estimate. Tessian platform data shows that nearly 28,000 unauthorized emails are sent in organizations with 1,000 employees every year.  So, why do people send them? It could be well-intentioned. For example, sending a spreadsheet to your personal email address to work over the weekend. Or, it could be malicious. For example, sending trade secrets to a third-party in exchange for a job opportunity.  What are the consequences of sending an unauthorized email Whether well-intentioned or malicious, the consequences are the same: if the email contains data, it could be considered a data loss incident or even a breach. In that case, the consequences include: Lost data Lost intellectual property Revenue loss Losing customers and/or their trust Regulatory fines Damaged reputation No sensitive data involved? The consequences will depend on the organization and existing policies. But, you should (at the very least) expect a warning.  Real-world example of an unauthorized email In 2017, an employee at Boeing shared a spreadsheet with his wife in hopes that she could help solve formatting issues. While this sounds harmless, it wasn’t. The personal information of 36,000 employees was exposed, including employee ID data, places of birth, and accounting department codes. You can find more real-word examples of “Insider Threats” in this article: Insider Threats: Types And Real-World Examples How can I avoid making mistakes on email? The easiest answer is: be vigilant. Double-check who you’re sending emails to and what you’re sending. Make sure you understand your company’s policies when it comes to data. Be cautious when responding to requests for information or money.  But vigilance alone isn’t enough. To err is human and, as we said at the beginning of this article, everyone makes mistakes.  That’s why to prevent email mistakes, data loss, and successful targeted attacks, organizations need to implement email security solutions that prevent human error. That’s exactly what Tessian does. Powered by machine learning, our Human Layer Security technology understands human behavior and relationships. Tessian Guardian automatically detects and prevents misdirected emails Tessian Enforcer automatically detects and prevents data exfiltration attempts Tessian Defender automatically detects and prevents spear 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. That means it gets smarter over time to keep you protected, always.  Interested in learning more about how Tessian can help prevent email mistakes in your organization? You can read some of our customer stories here or book a demo.
Human Layer Security Podcast
Podcast Episode 2: We Just Accelerated The Future By A Decade, With Stephane Kasriel
By Laura Brooks
31 December 2020
Tim Sadler: In this episode, I’m speaking with Stephane Kasriel, the former CEO of Upwork, and a future of work visionary. Now, some companies have been practising remote working for many years. But for others, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a remote work environment almost overnight.  In my research for this discussion, I was amazed to find that last year 44% of companies didn’t allow remote work at all. And globally, only 52% of people worked from home at least once a week. We’re fast forward now to 2020. And things couldn’t look more different. And as Stephane says, in our upcoming discussion, it’s likely will never go fully back to our old ways of working. Stephane shares his tips on how to build a remote working strategy for the long term, his opinions on what the future holds, and explains why he believes flexible working is a win-win for everyone.  And, by the way, you can find all our podcast episodes here. TS: Stephane, can you tell us a bit more about how distributed working was built into upwards DNA? Stephane Kasriel: You know, there’s an expression here. So first of all, thank you for having me, Tim, this is fantastic. But really, you know, one of the expressions that people use in the Bay Area is eating your own dog food. And so Upwork is a website and a mobile app that helps people work from home, and helps companies engage with people that work from home. And so we decided from day one, that we couldn’t convince our customers to do this if we didn’t do it ourselves.  And so Upwork today has about 2000 people. There’s about 300 of them who work in an office, two offices in the Bay Area, one in Chicago, but the vast majority of people are working from home. I think we have people in something like 500 different cities in the world. And some of them have been working with a company for a decade or longer. So this is not just short term gigs for low value work. A lot of these core software development, legal services, financial services for the company, just people that are not physically present in the office. TS: 500 offices, that is a huge achievement to have that kind of scale of remote workforce. What have you actually learned along the way about making remote work a success with your team? SK: You know, there’s a lot of different learnings. I would say increasingly, people have documented those learnings. So Upwork has an entire website, and it’s been updated for the pandemic. You know, obviously to say the obvious, there’s a lot more people that are working from home right now than ever in the past, many of whom were not prepared for this, and their companies were not prepared for this. So Upwork has published a pretty meaningful set of recommendations. But it’s not the only company that has done it. GitLab has an amazing set of documents, Zapier, Trello – which is part of Atlassian. And there’s probably half a dozen different companies that have done remote that scale, you know, automatic. The people behind WordPress, are the people behind Basecamp.  So I would say like at the very highest level, I would just say treat people the way you want to be treated, right? Like, put yourself in the shoes of one of your people working from home, particularly in a time like today where this is not normal remote work. This is remote work where people may be sick, people may be scared of being sick, they may have people close to them that are sick, they may have children at home, they may have multiple people on zoom at any point in time and not enough bandwidth to connect.  And so just I would say rule number one is empathy, realize that this is a tough time for everybody. And leading with care and love is probably one of the best things you can do. The second one – which is probably pretty obvious if you manage people in different time zones – realize that they have different working hours from you. Switch from a very synchronous model, where everybody’s on Zoom all day long, or everybody’s meeting at the same time, to something that’s more asynchronous – where you you do more writing, or you do more things on Loom – which is kind of the the offline version of Zoom, if you will.  And you know, and I would say that the third thing is just realize that you need to communicate even more when people are distributed than when they’re local. So, you know, repeat yourself, set up meetings, when meetings need to be set up, document more than you would otherwise and don’t assume that everybody knows what’s in your head. Because that’s really not true even when they work close to you. But it’s even harder for them to get into your head if they’re remote. And there’s a long long list beyond that. But I would say those are like the high level ones.
TS: Yeah, and I love that point about leading with empathy. I think it’s so important during this time, and obviously these are… You know, we’re seeing the kind of the key takeaways from years and years of trial and error. What have been some of the lessons learned along the way? And, you know, you’ve outlined some really important practices here for companies who are just getting to grips with this with this new normal. But it’d be really interesting to understand, you know, what hasn’t worked out in the way that you thought it might have? And what approach would you encourage companies to take so that they can have a continual cycle of learning with how they’re improving their remote work initiative? SK: I think like, that’s the key, right is a continuous cycle of learning, like, get feedback on what’s working and not document the best practices, share them to the organization, especially if you’re a bigger company, there might be part of your organization that’s doing it really well, and other parts of their organization not so much. And sharing best practices is absolutely essential. But you know, I would, I would say, there’s probably two things. One is, learn about time zones, you know, if people are in multiple different countries, work life balance matters, and expecting somebody to be always awake from 2am to 5am, because that’s what you need. Unless that’s truly what they were signing up for. Initially, it’s probably not a good idea. So when we assembled teams within Upwork, we were always cognizant of having people and potentially two different time zones that were compatible with each other, but really on three, so for instance, us plus Asia plus Europe, somebody does not sleep. So that’s, that’s one component of it. The second one, which actually is what companies are being forced to do right now. So that’s helpful, is when you’re switching from a very local model to a very distributed model, the easiest way to do it is not to hire a bunch of people from the outside that are working remotely. But instead to allow your current employees, especially the people that are the most tenured, that really know how to get things done. When they give you feedback, you’re going to listen to the feedback, let them work remotely. And by the way, that doesn’t just mean working from home in San Francisco, that means if they choose to relocate to another part of the country, let them do that, in fact, encourage them to do it. We have a relocation package, we actually call it the relocation package, which is, if you’re based in San Francisco, and you want to move to another part of the country, we will actually pay for your moving expenses. It’s hard enough, if you’re not a remote first company, it’s hard enough for your existing employees to work remotely, it’s even harder for new people to come in and work remotely.  And so the challenge with a lot of companies is they try to go from one extreme, which is, you know, everybody’s in the same office to the other where you hire a bunch of new people who know nothing about the company, and don’t know anybody, and have them be successful. And I think the intermediate plan is to take your existing people and allow them to work from home. Check this is happening right now. Step two is allow your existing people to relocate to another part of the country if they choose to. And, then, step three, start to open up hiring, probably first in places where you have local employees already, because you’re going to have that, you know, face to face connection from time to time, which is really helpful to build a sense of community. TS: And this leads me on nicely. I think that the relocation pack – I like that terminology. And there are a lot of people who are, I think rethinking where they have to be based in terms of, you know, their location to actually now work for the companies they do. You describe flexible working as a win-win scenario, I guess, for employees, and also for the employer. Could you maybe unpack that a little bit and just share a bit more of your thinking around that with us? SK: Yeah, and I would say there’s even a third component, which is society as a whole. Right? So why is it a good thing for employers? Well, you know, the main downside, which is the myth is people are going to be working less, it’s bad for your culture, you’re going to have retention issues, all that stuff, none of which is true, right in, in companies that are good at measuring worker productivity, and most of them are not. There is no data that shows that worker productivity goes down when people are working remotely. In fact, there’s tonnes of data that shows the opposite. The idea that it’s bad for retention, like employee loyalty, I can give you the example of Upwork the people that work remotely stay at the company at least twice as long as the people that are based in San Francisco. And it’s pretty obvious why, you know, if you’re based in San Francisco, you’ve got all the other tech companies that are trying to poach you all the time. When you live in the middle of Sacramento or Stockton, Modesto or even outside of California, there’s a lot less competition for talent, right, so it’s good for companies. employee retention, obviously cost, you know, like the cost of living in San Francisco is so high that you can find equally talented talent for significantly less money elsewhere.  Right. So that’s the company point and I would say more than cost savings. For the most part. It’s about attraction of talent and retention of the talent on the employee side, you know, like, I think we’ve done many, many surveys over the years at Upwork. And most people would prefer to have more flexibility in their life, and to be able to potentially relocate to another part of the country. You know, the San Jose Mercury News does a study every year, and they just updated it and went up again. But last year, more than 50% of the tech employees who live in the Bay Area said that they would choose to leave the Bay Area if they could keep the same job and the same thing. And so there’s a meaningful number of people who live in places like New York and London and San Francisco and Shanghai, not because they really enjoy the lifestyle of the cost of living, but because that’s where the jobs are. So that’s, that’s how it helps people.  But secondly, it also helps people that are excluded from the current workforce to participate in the workforce. So one of the studies that Upwork does every year is called Freelancing in America. We asked freelancers, would you ever choose to work for a regular employer? And 50% of freelancers say no. And when you ask them why, usually the answers are care duties. If physical or mental disability makes it hard for them to contribute to a regular office environment, or living in a part of the country where there’s no job. So you’re really allowing lots and lots of people, who otherwise can’t get access to great jobs, to have access to them.  And then the third piece is society as a whole. So one thing that’s, you know, pretty well documented by economists. If you have a highly paid worker, moved to a part of the country that is economically challenged, it creates, on average, an extra four jobs. And it’s pretty obvious why right? You put a highly paid software developer in the middle of the country, and they’re going to start to consume goods and services, which further creates more jobs and restarts the new economy, as opposed to today. I mean, if you look at the situation here in San Francisco, almost all of the people whose jobs truly require them to be in San Francisco, can’t afford to live anywhere nearby. And meanwhile, the people whose jobs can be done from anywhere only live in San Francisco. So it’s kind of the opposite of where it needs to be. And I think this distributed work approach can really be a win-win for society, for the workers and for the employers as well.
TS: Yeah, yeah. There’s some fascinating stats there as well. I’d seen a few, a few of those recently. It does, you know, it seems obvious when you say it, that there are so many other benefits that come from this kind of setup. And I guess from the company’s perspective, it’s, it’s really, really important that you’re empowering your workforce and your employees to be successful in this environment. And there are certain things, when you’re running a company that you still have to get right, whether you’re a remote work environment, or whether you are in physical offices around the world.  And obviously, a topic very close to our heart is security and thinking about how you keep people secure with the data they’re handling, whether they’re working from their home office, or their front room. And it’d be good to hear your perspective, some of the things that you’ve done to empower your workforce overall from a technology perspective. And then, when it comes to actually security specifically, what do you think companies need to have in mind? SK: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s definitely several, you know, components to allowing a distributed workforce to be successful. There are human resources related matters. There are legal related matters, right? Employment is regulated in just about every country. So you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Usually, there’s tax and accounting implications, if you have Nexus in multiple states in the US, let alone if you have people in multiple countries, and you employ them directly, this might create financial tax and accounting matters that you need to resolve.  And then to your point, there’s huge security considerations that you need to take into account. And I would say, like in the case of Upwork, specifically, there’s two different natures of the issue, if you will. One is bring your own device, right? Most of the people on Upwork are freelancers. We don’t send them a laptop, we don’t send them an iPhone, we don’t control their environment. But then they get access to the secure environment of the network infrastructure. So securing a Bring Your Own Device type of environment, absolutely critical.  The second one is we don’t know where they are. You can’t assume that, right? So you need to design systems and policies to make sure that the intellectual property of the company and the security of the company is not compromised. To give you one example, very early on Upwork, we decided that anything that needs to be secure, should be behind the VPN, irrespective of whether you’re working from home, or working from the office. So from day one we said, location should not matter. There’s nothing magical about the office, we should always assume that you are in a non trusted environment, and make sure that we build systems to accommodate for that. TS: Yeah, and this also comes down to the point, I imagine, of the culture that you create as a remote work company. And you know, we can be used to building culture or certainly as a CEO, I’ve been used to building culture, when you have people in the office. You can get people together, you can do socials together, and those kinds of things. What are some of the tips that you have for organizations who are thinking about how you actually create a really, really amazing culture as a remote company, and, you know, having to consider all of these other things like the practices? And you ran through some of them HR legal security? SK: Yeah, well, you know, I would say other than right now, where everybody’s stuck at home and really can’t meet face to face. In general, I think most remote-first companies tend to do lots and lots of face to face meetings. At Upwork, we had a meaningful travel budget where we would do meet ups. So not 2,000 people in the same place, which, you know, doesn’t work for most people, but we would give agile teams a small budget every year so that they could meet up in a cool city. And every time we’d have meetings in, you know, Budapest, and Madrid and Chile and where have you. And it’s a great perk for people. For a couple of weeks, they would be in an Airbnb, and they’d be coding during the day. And they’d be, you know, socialising in the evenings and weekends, and people tend to really like that, right? So, face to face does matter.  I think we’re going to go from a world where we organize off-sites to a world where we organize on-sites, if you will. But this, you know, is really true. Like there is a social connection network, that is how to do a Zoom. And regularly you need to, you know, updated by having face to face meetings. Now, that’s not really possible right now. But I would say the second part of your answer is, culture is bigger than just, you know, free coffee in the office or ping pong table, or what have you. Culture is a set of values and a shared purpose. You’re widening the talent pool so much that you can find people that are really passionate about what you do. And so as a result, you can find people who really live the values, live the purpose of the company, they’re here, because they truly believe in the mission of what you’re trying to do. And that, to me, is really what culture is about.
TS: Yeah, it’s so important. I couldn’t agree more. And I think as well, for many companies there, it’s also a good thing that we’re being stretched, and they’re being challenged to think deeper than just some of the kind of superficial skin deep perks, maybe that you know, otherwise would have substituted something that is altogether so much more important for for companies. And I have to ask you, we’ve spoken a lot about remote work, this is something you’ve been practising for a long time. Now, what is your thesis? What’s your opinion on the future of work? And I guess I’m specifically interested as well, this change, I guess, nobody saw coming in this way that we, you know, we’ve been accelerated to remote working, what do you think it means for, you know, the next five years in terms of companies and technology, but also outside of our sector? SK: You know, I think it just accelerated the future by a decade. The sobering fact is, I think, the virus has done more in three months than I’ve been able to do in 10 years. But we’ve really gone into the future in a really big way. And I think what really matters here is to understand what’s not working and fix it quickly. There are plenty of things that you can do wrong. This is the time where we can improve diversity, we can improve inclusion, and we can improve efficiency, and have more efficient companies. And so I think it’s really important for companies to pull their managers, to pull their employees, and to figure out, you know, very quickly, like, what are we not doing well, and to optimise for it. Because that train has left the station, and it’s moving fast right now. TS: So you think that the, I guess this change will show companies a way of working, that means that you know, whether they like it or not, we’re not going back to the way things were, you know, this is something that’s here to stay. And whether we go to hybrid environments, or fully remote environments, we now have to adapt to this new way of working. SK: Yeah, I mean, I doubt that every company is going to be fully distributed anytime soon, right? I mean, there’s definitely going to be a hybrid model, which is one thing that companies need to figure out is how you become inclusive of the remote workforce when there’s a lot of people still in the office. But I think there’s a lot of misconceptions companies had about remote work that are being disproved right now.  Now, to be fair, I think there’s also a concern right now that because people are working from home in conditions that are not ideal, you know, as I said earlier, people that are sick, and people that have kids that are. I think some companies may come to the wrong conclusion, which is why this was really a failed experiment. We can’t wait to have everybody back in the office. But the reality, though, is the workforce has moved on. So if you as an employer think you can go back to the old ways, you’re going to lose a lot of your team members because they’re not moving back. In fact, the place they’re moving to might be outside of where they live right now, in a place where they can have a much better lifestyle.  Frankly, I think the workforce is going to be voting with their feet. If you don’t allow people to work more flexibly post COVID. There’s a lot of employers who will and they’ll attract the best talent. TS: That’s a really interesting way of looking at it, which actually, it’s the overall market for employment and flexibility. As you say, as soon as it’s there with one set of employers, it’s going to become something that people prioritise.  So there you have it. Remote work has its benefits for employers, employees and society. And, so, in Stephane’s opinion, we’ve accelerated the future by a decade. And it’s time for businesses to consider what the long term strategy for a hybrid or remote way of working will be. Whatever their decision, securing people and empowering them to work both productively and safely has to be a priority as employees can now work from anywhere.  If you want to learn more about securing your hybrid workforce, we have plenty of great content and actionable advice on the Tessian blog. And if you enjoyed our show, please rate and review it on Apple, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. Remember, you can find all of the RE:Human Layer Security podcast episodes here.
Human Layer Security Podcast
Podcast Episode 1: Why Culture Trumps Strategy, With Howard Schultz
By Laura Brooks
27 December 2020
Welcome to the RE:Human Layer Security podcast. This is the show that flips the script on cybersecurity and in each episode, Tim Sadler, Tessian’s CEO and co-founder, will be speaking world-class business, tech and security leaders about why businesses need to protect people – not just data and machines – to stop breaches and make businesses thrive. Tim Sadler: For our first episode, we’re kicking things off by talking about the importance of culture to build a resilient business. I think we can all agree 2020 has been a turbulent time, a year of many firsts. And like many other leaders, managing a suddenly remote company has forced me to adapt my ways of working and think deeply about how this huge change would affect the people within Tessian.  How would it impact their mental wellbeing? Do they have the tools in place to work both productively and securely? And how do you build and maintain a culture when everybody is working in isolation? So when I had the chance to speak to the brilliant Howard Schultz, the former chairman and CEO Starbucks earlier in the year, I wanted to ask for his advice on how to lead during times of extreme difficulty. With stories from his days leading Starbucks, how to explain why managers mislead with humanity to help keep people motivated and inspired. And if you want to hear more Human Layer Security insights, all podcast episodes can be found here.  TS: Howard, it is a great honor to have you with us here today. Howard Schultz: Honored to be with you, Tim.  TS: Howard, like so many others, I’ve been really lucky to learn from your leadership lessons as the CEO of Starbucks. And for anybody who does an ounce of research on that company, they will hear that it was all about the people. Why do you think it’s so important that leaders invest in their people? HS: Well I think, regardless of what business you’re in, whether you’re in the consumer business, the tech business, or the security business, it’s always all about the people and the culture and values and guiding principles of an organization. When we began at Starbucks, in 1987, when we had 11 stores and 100 employees, we actually framed a unique way to look at the business. And that was to try and achieve the fragile balance between the fiduciary responsibility of building shareholder value in the conscience and the benevolence necessary to share success with our people.  I think in the environment that we’re living in today, perhaps more than any other time, certainly in my lifetime, you can’t build a company or attract and retain great people, unless people recognize that they are part of something larger than themselves, and that they believe 100% with great trust and confidence in the management team, their leaders, their managers and the mission of the enterprise. And so this is a time when leaders must recognize the importance of truth, transparency, being vulnerable in the moment, and bringing your people along with you.
TS: And for you, I know that you’ve said this a number of times, and it’s something I picked up on. It’s not just about being good enough, though, I think you have this saying, which is you’ve got to exceed the expectations of your people. How do you go about achieving that as a leader? HS: Well, actually, we took it a step further than that. We said, if you want to exceed the expectations of your customers, you have to first exceed the expectations of your people. And in the environment, again, that we’re living in today. It’s not only exceeding the expectations of your people in terms of compensation, but also their values and value of the enterprise.  And I think any environment that we are all trying to navigate through today, people are coming to work with a tremendous level of anxiety and uncertainty, because there are, in my view, three pandemics going on at once. Not only the pandemic of COVID, but the pandemic of our political system here in America, where we’ve lost trust and confidence in our institutions. And third, the third pandemic is the unbelievable level. I think there’s a lack of understanding of racial inequality, racism, and in terms of our election here in America, the possibility of voter oppression. And so those three pandemics are colliding at once. And so if you are building a business or managing people, it’s not just managing and leading your business, because that isn’t the only thing your people and your employees are dealing with. They are living and dealing with many other aspects of their life and their life experience and their personal situation. They are bringing that to work, whether they are on Zoom calls at home or not. And as a manager and a leader, you must understand with great sensitivity and compassion. Then if we want to exceed the expectations of our people, then as managers and leaders, we need to walk in the shoes of our people. And that is what I mean by exceeding expectations of our people at a time like this.
TS: I think that’s so important. And again, that was another thing that that really stuck with me this, this, this notion that actually, the role of a company is, you know, it’s no longer just a place where people show up come to work, maybe they’re here 9-5, it is, it has to be so much more, especially given this this turbulent time where actually, people, you know, they can’t I think we spoke about it previously, Howard, where you said, if you can’t put your faith in the work that you’re doing, and you can’t be proud of that, then, there are so many other things that well, there are, there are so few other places where you can you can put that pride or you can find that pride right?  TS: Now, when you were building Starbucks, you were a young leader yourself, I think you were in your early 30s, when you bought the company, what guided you or what helped you in establishing this great culture for that company as you built it? HS: Well, I think all of us have a life experience and a personal story. Having grown up in public housing, where I saw firsthand the fracturing of the American dream with my parents, I understood at an early age, what can happen when you are your family and the resources of the family are left behind. And so in building Starbucks, I wanted to really create a company in which we were managing and leading the company through the lens of humanity. Now, it’s easy to say that it’s very hard to do. What do I mean by that?  Well, when you’re leading a company that’s growing at 50-100% a year, and you’ve got the wind at your back, it’s very easy to be humane. But the challenge for leaders in starting a company and dealing with adversity is what happens when the challenges are difficult. And the wind is in your face, are you going to compromise your values and your integrity and your ethics for a short term game?  And now, everyone who works in a company remembers the actions of what leaders do in good times and bad. And what you want to do as a leader is ensure the fact that you’re imprinting the organization with the values that people will remember during bad times. And so in terms of your question, I was trying to build the kind of company that my father and an uneducated blue collar worker who didn’t get respect in the workforce could work for, and in effect, trying to build the kind of company regardless of your station in life, that you would be valued and respected.  And that’s why we gave ownership to everybody, comprehensive health care to everybody, free college education, all of those things; we felt were important in terms of the company’s responsibility. And I think the question for all of us today is, what is the role and responsibility of a for profit company in today’s world? TS: I think there’s so much that to unpack when talking here, about leading through times of adversity. And one of the things you said there was, you know, when it’s easy to live up to your values when the winds, you know, the winds at your back. And I wanted to draw on a point of history at Starbucks, which is when you returned as a CEO, which I think was in January 2008. And the financial crisis was in full swing and from what I understand, Starbucks was in some financial difficulty at the time. And one of the first things that you wanted to do on your return. And to me, this really speaks to that notion of you know, you have to live your values in good times, and you have to live your values in bad times. One of the first things that you did was to take 11,000 store managers to New Orleans at a cost of $33 million. And share the news that your company was seven months away from insolvency. Why was it so important that you did this? HS: Tim, I have to commend you on your research. Well, the company was in dire straits. And I wanted to be in front of the most important person at Starbucks, which is the store manager. And I said we’ve got to get everybody in one room. And believe it or not, we went to New Orleans for three days. And this was not a getaway. This was not a retreat. This was a come to Jesus for the company. Now before we had one minute of our meeting, every single person who came to New Orleans devoted hours of work in the community in the 90s toward post Katrina, and we contributed 55,000 hours of community service – again, demonstrating the values of the company.  Now, the story you bring up is this, I had an opportunity on the third day to give a $30 million speech, the cost of the event. And before I gave the speech, my colleagues and a couple of board members asked me, what was I going to share with the people? What was the rallying cry? And I laid it out for them that I was going to tell them the dire condition that we were in. And in fact, if we went seven more months, like this.  Starbucks was going to be insolvent. That’s how bad it was. And the people around me were so afraid, basically saying, “You can’t tell them this, you will scare the crap out of them, they won’t be able to handle this kind of information.” And the question at that moment is, do you trust your people enough to have the same information that you have? And the answer has to be yes, you can’t leave people by hiding information. You can’t be a pentagon General, you’ve got to be in them on the battlefield in the mud with them. And they have to send the same information you did. So I stood up in front of 11,000 people. And I asked them two things: one as I laid out the problem, I asked them to join with me to lock arms, to all of us facing in the same direction to be aligned against what we have to do. And don’t do it for me. Do it for your, your people you work with and do it for your family. 
And the speech did not turn Starbucks around. But we wrote we roared out of New Orleans, like a tidal wave. And seven months passed, and we never looked back. And of course, today, Starbucks has 32,000 stores in 83 countries, and one of the most recognised brands in the world. But we have challenges just like everybody else.  But the HR issue in every company, the human condition, human behaviour, if you can unlock that. And I’ll let me say it this way, if you separate the culture from the strategy, i.e. you have a great strategy, but a bad culture, I think nine times out of 10, you are not going to achieve the aspiration of that strategy. The execution is going to be flawed. You have a world class culture, where there is a currency of trust throughout the organization where everyone believes in the mission of each other, and we’re going to take the hill together, you link that with an average strategy.  With a lot of competition, you give me that scenario. And I tell you, you are going to win. Because culture, and I hate to use this word, trumps strategy. TS: And I think that’s so important. When we think about also leading, leading teams, leading our people and protecting the company, something you told me how which was, you know, vulnerability can actually help you build stronger bonds with your people. Sharing vulnerability, being vulnerable with those around us actually allows us to get closer and people come closer when they see that, you know, where we will have the right world working on something.  HS: Yeah, and especially for men, you know. We’re not taught to be vulnerable. We’re not taught to be sensitive. And I think the more you can reveal to your people about who you are, and take the defenses off, and be real and be authentic, the better off we will be. TS: I want to go to something that he said over a year ago now, but I think it was January 2019. I’m quoting you, but it really struck me. When I heard this, you said that the elephant in the room of the country today is humanity. And it really resonated, I think with many of the challenges that we’re facing right now, you know, in society, but also, we see this in many companies. And I wanted to get your thoughts on how is that quote aged for you, given where we are today? HS: You know, as I said to you earlier, I really believe we’re living through three pandemics at once all colliding with one another. And I think, especially for young people. It’s very easy for young people today to lose trust and confidence in the future. And when I speak about humanity as the issue in the room, the elephant in the room, I just think people are living with tremendous anxiety and uncertainty and are so hungry to be lifted up by something that’s real. That’s something that’s truthful. And, and no integrity, if you’re trying to build a great enduring company, you’re trying to provide a much needed service to your customers. If you can do that, while at the same time, building an organization in which people are truly valued for who they are, and people are seen and understood, and really feel like they are part of an organization where they, they themselves feel as if they are not only contributors, but they are being valued in a way that’s so unusual.  If you can lift humanity, and integrate humanity into the core purpose and reason for being, and if everyone on the call, can integrate and lift up their people, and recognise the importance of humanity, in their business, every single business on this call will be better for it. Because we, as people, in the US and all over the world, we are hungry longing for humanity, for truth, and for people and organizations that we can believe. TS: And I think that’s something that’s so it’s such a powerful statement that something we can all take away into our practice, whether we’re leading a company, we’re leading a team, or we are serving our company. And again, I think something that’s so unique and special about the security community is that leadership is your, it’s your team, it’s the people who report to you, but you’re having to show leadership for the whole company, you know, there is a huge task ahead every single day, you’re tasked with the security and the protection of the whole company.  And one thing I wanted us to finish on Howard. There is often so much pressure in our day to day lives, or you know, we are tasked with really important initiatives and really important things. And I think the remarkable, or one of the remarkable moments that again, you’ve shared with us today and is, you know, for anyone who does any research they will see is those moments when faced with extreme difficulty or uncertainty, you are able to deeply not only live your values, but I think go back to your values and embrace your values.  And the question I have, or the advice that I would love to finish on is what can you offer? What advice would you share with people who are on the call today thinking, you know, this sounds great, but actually, I’ve got the pressure of my day to day job just to get through? How can I ensure that I am constantly living those values, the values I have for myself and the values that my company has to me? What advice would you give to them? HS: That’s a very big question, Tim. I try my best! TS: I’ve saved the best for last. HS: When each of us goes home at night, and we’re sitting with our wife or husband or partner or family. And we have an opportunity to talk about the company that we are part of, or the work we did today. The rhetorical question is, did you as a leader provide the people who work within for you an opportunity to speak about their work in the company with pride? And if the answer is yes, then you know that you can start your day tomorrow realising that what you did today was really, really good. The challenge we have as leaders, is we got to do it more often than not. And I think what we’ve always tried to do at Starbucks is answer the question in the affirmative. Are we making our customers and our people proud of the equity of our brand, the values of our company, and the guiding principles of what is our core purpose or core purpose and reason for being? And let me let me say in a week or two is the 50th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s famous essay about the role and responsibility of a company. Now, Milton Friedman was a god in terms of his economic acuity.  But I disagree with humility. That Milton Friedman’s theory, that a business his primary responsibility was to its shareholders and to make a profit. I don’t think that applies today. It goes back to what I said earlier. We all have to be in the business of improving the lives of our people, the communities we serve, and I bet you that your customers and the customers of theirs want to do business with companies and management teams who are values based.
Never, it’s never been more important to me and to recognise the critical importance of business today to lead with his heart and with his conscience. TS: I think that’s a fantastic note to finish on. And again, Howard, thank you so much for your time today and sharing all of this insight and guidance with us.  TS: It was amazing speaking with Howard. I think one of the things that stuck out for me was if you have a great strategy, but a bad culture, it’s very likely you’re going to be unsuccessful.  A company’s culture is built on that currency of trust with values that inspire people to do great work. And also leaders shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable. As Howard points out, it can lead to stronger bonds with people and then foster that trust. Join the next episode of RE: Human Layer Security, where we talk with Stephane Kasriel, the former CEO of Upwork, and a future of work visionary. Stefan and I will be talking about the topic of remote work, and why it really isn’t something that’s going away anytime soon.  And that just leads me to say thank you very much for listening. We have more Human Layer Security insights in our next episode. But if you can’t wait that long, you can visit our blog, where you’ll find lots of amazing content, advice and tips. And if you enjoyed our show, please rate and review it on Apple, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts.
Human Layer Security
A Year in Review: 2020 Product Updates
By Harry Wetherald
15 December 2020
Throughout this year, we saw just how quickly the threat landscape can change.  We all transitioned from the office to our homes overnight. Employees relied on email and other communication and collaboration tools more than ever. And hackers took advantage of the general fear and uncertainty around the pandemic and impersonated health care providers and government organizations.  But, at the same time, Tessian rolled out a number of important product updates to help keep our customers safe, wherever they worked.  Here are the most important product updates to Tessian’s Human Layer Security platform for 2020. 1. Human error, visualized. The new Human Layer Security Intelligence platform gives customers unprecedented visibility into their users’ risk Tessian customers now have unprecedented visibility into their Human Layer risks. For example, breaking the rules, making mistakes, and being tricked. The new HLS Intelligence (HLSI) platform automatically surfaces insights about risky employee behavior and high-risk security events, allowing security leaders to know where to focus their efforts. Customers can also benchmark their risk levels against industry peers to help them identify how and where they can improve their security posture.  Investigation and remediation are also effortless. Security teams can take immediate action, from the platform. Finally, customers can use the Tessian API to receive real-time security events directly into their chosen SIEM or SOAR platform.  Want to learn more about HLSI? We outline all the key features of our new platform in this article.
2. Effortless insider threat detection. Automatically detect high-risk data exfiltration activities.  Thanks to new features within Tessian Enforcer, customers can now automatically detect users who suddenly exfiltrate an unusually high amount of data. This allows security and compliance teams to easily spot bad leavers and insider threats, without spending time viewing and investigating individual cases of data exfiltration.
Instead, Enforcer automatically analyzes patterns and spot trends that deviate from what’s considered “normal” for a particular employee.  For example, every month, an employee might send their paycheck to their personal email account. Enforcer tracks this behavior, but no action is needed. Why? Because this data isn’t sensitive. But, one day, the employee sends fifteen sensitive emails to his personal account. Enforcer recognizes that this is unusual for the user, and alerts the compliance team, who can take appropriate action.  No manual investigation required.
3. Easily identify and remediate attacks. Tessian Defender now provides extensive analysis and remediation tools to security teams Email attacks are becoming more and more advanced and it’s increasingly complicated for security teams to decide if a suspicious email is a real attack, or a legitimate business email.  Defender now surfaces insights like the geolocation of a suspicious email’s sender to help security teams identify more threats, faster.  Security teams can also speed up their workflows with advanced remediation and prevention capabilities. For example, customers can now delete malicious emails in employees’ mailboxes – directly from the Tessian portal – saving precious time and reducing risk.  And, with Defender Quarantine, customers can also use Defender to proactively prevent threats with a single-click before they enter an employee’s mailbox.
4. Leveling up Tessian’s machine learning. Tessian’s modules detect more risks than ever before, with record-low business interruptions Throughout 2020, Tessian Defender’s machine learning improved to detect an ever-broader spectrum of advanced email attacks that evade legacy security systems.  Defender now protects against threats like brand impersonations and attacks where threat actors exploit Sendgrid vulnerabilities to send spoofed emails.  Tessian Enforcer also received a major upgrade, using a new Natural Language Processing (NLP) model that accurately classifies sensitive content in emails and detects topics such as financial, health, or HR data without needing to manually configure keywords or rules.  This means that customers receive significantly better protection against sensitive data-exfiltration attempts with fewer interruptions to their workflow.
5. In-the-moment learning opportunities. Customers can raise security awareness in their company with contextual warnings Tessian doesn’t just prevent breaches in real-time. Our platform also educates users to improve their security reflexes and continually drive risk down.  Tessian customers can now educate, raise security awareness, and reinforce training and policies among their employees better than ever before, all while minimizing business interruptions.
With Tessian Defender, organizations can now educate employees who receive unusual emails that meet specified conditions. For example, security teams might choose to alert employees who receive an email from a new sender that requests money.  Although these kinds of emails aren’t necessarily malicious, you may want to make your user aware of the fact that the sender is new.  With Tessian Enforcer, companies can also choose to show users a custom warning message whenever they try to exfiltrate data, whether done maliciously or accidentally. This allows businesses to easily educate employees or remind them of existing IT policies.
Protect your most valuable asset: your people Tessian has created the world’s first Human Layer Security platform and exciting developments lie ahead as we build out a holistic platform to protect people using email and, eventually, other interfaces frequently used in the workplace. Not yet a Tessian customer? Across four modules, Tessian protects the Human Layer by detecting and preventing both inbound and outbound threats. This includes advanced spear phishing attacks, accidental data loss, and data exfiltration.  Tessian is quickly and easily deployed to Office 365, Exchange, and G-Suite, product updates are seamlessly rolled out for users and administrators, and the technology – which doesn’t disrupt workflow – was built with security and productivity in mind. To understand how Tessian can fit into your existing security framework, check out our customer stories or request a demo now.
Human Layer Security
November Cybersecurity News Roundup
27 November 2020
We’re back with another roundup of the biggest stories in cybersecurity in November 2020.  With phishing, hacking, and ransomware continuing to surge worldwide, there was a lot of news to choose from. We’ve selected stories representing the latest trends in cyberattacks — and demonstrating the myriad ways that cybercrime impacts businesses and consumers. UK Hit By Record Number of Serious Cyberattacks The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) published its 2020 annual review on November 3. The report revealed that the NCSC had defended the UK against a record-breaking 723 cyber incidents in the past year. The data covers the period between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020 and reveals a 20.1% increase in cyber incidents compared to the previous three-year average (602 cyber incidents). So what explains this surge in cybercrime? The NCSC chalks the increase in numbers up to its proactive approach in identifying and mitigating threats, together with tips from its “extensive network of partners” and public reports. But there’s another reason: cybercriminals’ exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service received an incredible 2.3 million reports in its first four months of operation, leading to the removal of 166,710 phishing URLs. In fact, phishing takes up a lot of space in the NCSC’s report, which highlights:  A spate of spear phishing attacks targeting pharmaceutical companies An “explosion” in fake ads sent via phishing emails A rise in the percentage of businesses experiencing phishing attacks — from 72% in 2017 to 86% in 2020 Want to know more about how widespread phishing has become? Read our must-know phishing statistics. Amazon Customers Targeted By Vishing Attacks Our October roundup reported an increase in Amazon-related phishing scams around Prime Day. On November 7, the Guardian revealed another Amazon scam: Amazon Prime customers are being targeted in vishing (voice phishing) attacks. Victims received calls from scammers impersonating “Amazon Prime Security” employees, who advised them that their accounts had been used to make suspicious payments.  Consumer group Which? described how one Amazon Prime customer was persuaded during a vishing call to install remote-access software on her device. The scammers then accessed her bank account and stole £6,900 (over $9,200). UK cybercrime reporting agency Action Fraud said it had received 14,893 reports of similar “computer software service fraud” incidents over the past 12 months, resulting in losses of over £16 million ($21.3 million). Vishing attacks are a massive problem for businesses as well as consumers. Read our guidance to find out more about defending against vishing attacks. WhatsApp Hoax Spreads False Phishing Claim On November 11, Naked Security reported a smishing (SMS phishing) scam that is, sadly, pretty unremarkable in the current climate. Victims received a text alerting them to an “unpaid phone bill,” and redirecting them to a fake O2 network credential-phishing login page. What’s more unusual about this widespread smishing attack is the rumors surrounding it. According to Action Fraud, WhatsApp-based “fake news” proliferated in the days following the attack, spreading confusion among consumers. The WhatsApp message, which referenced the City of London Police Fraud agency, claimed that the smishing attack was an “extremely sophisticated scam,” whereby attackers could drain money from victims’ accounts as a result of them merely “touching” the fraudulent text message. This type of disinformation serves as another attack vector for cybercriminals. It can undermine the efforts of legitimate cybersecurity authorities. Repeated hoaxes of this kind could, ultimately, lead to reduced vigilance among the targets of cybercrime. Credential phishing is a serious issue in itself — there’s no need to exaggerate the threat via phony WhatsApp chain messages. Read more about credential phishing here. Fintech Platform Attacks Unwittingly Facilitated by GoDaddy Staff Cryptocurrency trading platform Liquid reported on November 13 that its domain registrar, GoDaddy, had “incorrectly transferred control of (Liquid’s) account and domain to a malicious actor,” allowing the attacker to take control of internal email accounts.  The attack resulted in the theft of users’ email addresses, names, physical addresses, and encrypted passwords. Worse still, ID cards, selfies, and proof of address documents — collected as part of the site’s “Know Your Customer” requirements — may also have been compromised. But GoDaddy’s problems don’t end there. Just five days later, crypto-mining service NiceHash revealed that its domain had been subject to “unauthorized access” owing to “technical issues” at GoDaddy. While NiceHash reported that user data was likely safe, its domain was unavailable for some time. GoDaddy didn’t disclose details of the attacks, but Krebs on Security revealed in March that GoDaddy staff had been subject to a vishing attack that had compromised fintech website Whatever the specifics, it seems GoDaddy has suffered multiple social engineering attacks in the past year. Read our six real-world examples of social engineering attacks to learn how to avoid such problems. Around 28 Million Texans’ Driver’s Licenses Compromised Fox 26 Houston reported on November 18 that hackers had stolen nearly 28 million driver’s licenses registered in Texas. Driver’s license details are highly valuable to cybercriminals, who can sell them on the dark web or use them to commit identity fraud. The attack has been blamed on weak security protocols, with data being “inadvertently” held in unsecured storage by service provider Vertafore. In addition to driver’s license numbers, names, birthdates, addresses, and vehicle registration details were also stolen.  The breach took place between March and August and affected drivers who had received their license before February 2019. Vertafore is offering victims one year of free credit monitoring. More and more US states are introducing tough new data breach notification and privacy laws. Read our guidance on US privacy laws for business leaders to find out more. Google Products “Weaponized” for Phishing Attacks Research from Armorblox, published November 19, revealed how popular Google products, including Docs, Forms, and Firebase, have been exploited by cybercriminals and used to “defraud individuals and organizations of money and sensitive data.” Why are hackers weaponizing Google products? Well, they’re typically open-source and easily-adapted. And because Google is ubiquitous and legitimate, Google-associated URLs are rarely blocked by firewalls or security software. Examples of Google-based phishing attacks uncovered by the investigation include: A Google Form used to impersonate an American Express account-recovery page A fake email login page hosted on mobile API Google Firebase A Google Doc used as a fake payslip for a payroll diversion scam Blocking your employees from accessing Google products and URLs would be undesirable and impractical. The only realistic way to avoid Google-exploit phishing scams is with effective email security software. Tessian Defender uses AI-driven technology to detect suspicious activity in your employees’ inboxes automatically. Click here to find out how Tessian helps defend against phishing and other social engineering attacks. Hedge Fund Forced to Close After $8 Million Phishing Attack On November 22, the Australian Financial Review revealed how hedge fund Levitas Capital was defrauded for nearly $8.7 million following a phishing attack. The attacker sent a fake Zoom invite link to one of the hedge fund’s co-founders. When they opened the Zoom link, malware was installed on their device. This allowed the attackers access to the fund’s corporate email account. Using Levitas Capital’s email account, the hacker launched a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack, sending fraudulent invoices to the fund’s administrators and trustees. The attack was discovered in late September after an examination of the fund’s online banking records. All but $800,000 of the $8.7 million stolen was recovered before payments cleared. But the damage was done — following the attack, the fund lost its biggest client and was forced to close. This case shows how devastating phishing attacks can be — even when the direct losses are mitigated. To find out more, read our articles on wire transfer phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. South Korean Retailer Closes 23 Stores After Ransomware Attack South Korean fashion conglomerate E-Land group announced that it was closing 23 of its 50 stores following a ransomware attack, according to a November 22 report from news agency Yonhap. E-Land reportedly had to temporarily shut down part of its corporate network to contain the attack, meaning that nearly half of its NC Department Store and NewCore Outlet branches could not operate. A company spokesperson confirmed that the attack had targeted E-Land’s headquarters. It is unclear whether E-Land group chose to pay the ransom or whether files or data were exfiltrated as part of the attack. Ransomware continues to ravage the global economy. Last month we reported that US businesses could be breaching international sanctions rules if they attempt to salvage their files by paying a ransom. To help defend your business against ransomware and other cyberattacks, read our guide to choosing the right email security software. That’s all for this month. If we missed anything, please email and stay tuned for the next roundup. Don’t forget: You can easily share this on social media via the buttons at the top right of this post.
Human Layer Security Compliance
10 Reasons Why CEOs Should Care About Cybersecurity
By Tim Sadler
25 November 2020
Cybersecurity is a team sport. And for strategies to be truly effective, security leaders and business leaders have to work together.  In fewer words: Cybersecurity should be on the CEO’s agenda. So, to help bridge the gap and to really highlight why privacy and data protection matter now, I put together this list of reasons why CEOs should care about cybersecurity. Here are 10 reasons why CEOs should care about cybersecurity.
1. Cybersecurity is a competitive differentiator Today, customers and clients don’t just care about privacy, they expect it. That means that a strong cybersecurity culture can actually enable businesses. At our first Human Layer Security Summit of 2020, Mark Parr, Global Director at HFW, summed it up nicely, saying “You’re only going to win more work if you’re reputable. And you’re only going to be reputable if you demonstrate you have a strong information security framework.” He’s not alone in thinking this. According to Cisco’s global survey of security professionals and business leaders, 41% of survey respondents said “competitive advantage” was a benefit of their privacy investment.  2. The biggest consequence of a data breach is lost customer trust Earlier this year, we asked security leaders what the biggest consequence of a data breach would be. The #1 answer? Not lost data. Not regulatory fines or revenue loss. Lost customer trust. Breaches damage your brand and it can be very hard to win back customers’, clients’, and even the public’s trust. That’s why organizations see (on average) 3.9% customer churn after a data breach.  3. You will inevitably empower your people to do their best work Prioritizing cybersecurity isn’t just good for the business. It’s great for your people.  Here’s why: 90% of breaches are caused by human error. But people aren’t intentionally making these errors, they’re moving fast to get their job done. Security just isn’t top of mind for them.  So, it’s our job to set them up for success and empower them to do their best work securely. How do you do that? By removing the sharp objects.  At Tessian’s second Human Layer Security Summit, Bobby Ford, Vice President and Global CISO at Unilever put this into perspective with an example from his own life.   When you’re a parent helping your son or daughter learn how to walk, what do you do? Child-proof the house and get outta the way! 4. Privacy investment can help reduce delays in sales processes and improve operational efficiency Remember that Cisco global survey I mentioned earlier? “Competitive advantage” wasn’t the only benefit security professionals and business leaders experienced as a result of their investment in privacy and cybersecurity. 41% achieved operational efficiency from having data organized and cataloged and 37% saw a reduction in sales delays due to privacy concerns from customers and prospects. It makes sense. Data protection, privacy, and cybersecurity force businesses to be more transparent. That transparency fosters customer loyalty and increases organizational alignment.  
5. The average data breach costs $3.86 million While most security leaders agree that the biggest consequence of a breach is lost customer trust and damaged reputation, we can’t ignore the financial implications. In IBM’s latest Cost of a Data Breach report, they found the average data breach costs $3.86 million. This figure includes costs associated with: Detection and Escalation Notification  Lost Business Ex-post response. And this doesn’t even account for the potential fines from regulators.  Why does this matter? If we’re talking about the ROI of cybersecurity, the cost of non-compliance is actually 2.71 times higher than the cost of compliance. Translation: Prevention is better than cure.  6. The investigation and remediation of breaches disrupts productivity On average, it takes companies 197 days to identify and 69 days to contain a breach. And this process of investigating and remediating requires time and resources from plenty of departments, teams, and people outside of IT. Legal, compliance, executive, marketing, HR, and people teams will get pulled in. Spokespeople will be appointed. External security/IT support will have to be hired and onboarded. The bottom line: you hired great people to do great things. Post-breach activities pull them away from their day-to-work, disrupt their flow and productivity, and distract them from the business’ larger mission. 7. Data protection laws are only going to get more strict  On the topic of compliance, it’s important to point out that data protection laws are only going to get more strict and enforcement agencies are only going to be given more resources to enforce data requirements. That means organizations around the world and across industries won’t just benefit from strong cybersecurity programs, but they’ll be obligated to have one.  Top tip: Industries like financial services tend to be 5+ years ahead in cybersecurity maturity. If you don’t operate in these industries, it’s worth taking note of what’s top-of-mind for the business and security leaders that do.  8. Security culture is built from the top down Just like company culture, the C-suite sets the tone for security culture and therefore must lead by example.  It’s especially important that the CEO plays an active role in not just creating the overall security strategy, but actually rolling it out. Why? The CEO can connect cybersecurity to business objectives and help employees understand what it’s such a critical component in enabling the company to achieve its mission.
But business leaders will soon have no choice but to actively contribute to their organization’s security culture…. 9. By 2024, CEOs could be held personally liable for data breaches As I’ve said, cybersecurity is mission critical. But, for now, it’s security and IT teams who shoulder the responsibility. In a few years, this could change.  According to Gartner, CEO’s will be held personally liable for data breaches by 2024. 10. You owe it to your customers We mentioned earlier that strong cybersecurity can help businesses win new customers. But it’s not just about winning new customers. It’s also about supporting the ones you have.  This is one of Tessian’s core values: Customer-Centricity. Your customers entrust you with their data, their intellectual property, their secrets. You have to keep it safe. That’s why we believe that – as a cybersecurity vendor – it’s our mission to protect every other business’ mission. If you’re looking for more insights into how security and business leaders can work together, check out our latest eBook: CEO’s Guide to Data Protection and Compliance. 
Human Layer Security
What Does 2021 Hold for Cybersecurity? Here Are Tessian’s Predictions
By Ed Bishop
25 November 2020
This time last year, no one predicted the events that have unfolded in 2020. We didn’t anticipate the world plunging into lockdown, economies collapsing, businesses closing their offices, and employees working from home.  It’s been a year of huge change and – I’ll say it – uncertainty.  It might, then, seem odd that we’re thinking about predictions once again.  But predictions are important. They help us focus on the areas that will bring the biggest opportunities and challenges for our businesses and, from that, build strategies. Of course, there’s also the fact that the events of 2020 have undeniably impacted the ways we work and how organizations are run – particularly from a security perspective.  So, what do we think will be top-of-mind for IT and security teams as we approach the new year? Here are Tessian’s top four predictions. 
1. The corporate network (as you probably guessed) will disappear Remote work – or hybrid work – will stay. Businesses simply can’t go back to the “old” ways of working. Why? Because employees expect to work both from home and in the office. In fact, 89% of employees said they no longer want to work exclusively from the office every day of the week. This shift will completely transform the concept of a network, at least as we’ve come to know it in the traditional workplace. Today, company security is very much in the hands of the employees.  That’s why CISOs need to consider how their 2021 security strategies will protect and secure their people – not just endpoints and networks. This is especially important because people make mistakes, break the rules, and can be tricked or deceived by cybercriminals.  To put it simply: Not protecting people means that company data and systems are at risk. But it’s important that security doesn’t impede employee productivity or interrupt their daily workflow.  According to Tessian research, 54% of employees say they’ll find a workaround if security software or policies prevent them from doing their job and 51% say security tools and software impede their productivity.  So, what can you do to protect your people, without getting in their way? Remove the sharp objects, protect them wherever (and however) they work, and make sure your security solutions stop threats and not business.  This is what we call Human Layer Security.  2. Account takeover attacks will spike Account takeover (ATO) – a type of attack where a hacker gains access to the email account of a trusted person or organization and impersonates them to conduct fraudulent activities – will surge in 2021 as cybercriminals look for more ways to bypass secure email gateways (SEGs) and deceive people with phishing and spear phishing attacks.  Not sure what the difference between phishing and spear phishing is? Read this article: Phishing vs. Spear Phishing: Differences and Defense Strategies.  The problem is, despite training employees on how to spot phishing attacks, targets of ATO attacks will have no idea that the person in their trusted network has been compromised. Why? Because the emails appear genuine; the domain name and display name appear as usual. There are no “red flags” which means even the most tech-savvy employee wouldn’t question its legitimacy.  ATO attacks will erode people’s trust in email in 2021, rendering IT teams powerless in stopping people from falling for the scams. This is why we predict that more businesses will adopt a zero-trust model of email security and look for solutions that address threats from their extended network.  IT teams should be looking for advanced inbound email security solutions that use behavioral analysis, natural language processing, and machine learning to: Understand communication patterns  Spot anomalous email sending patterns  Accurately detect incidents of account takeover, before they turn into breaches.  3. The supply chain will become an even weaker link in security No company has control over the security behaviors of its vendors, partners, or suppliers, nor do they have visibility into breaches that happened outside of their organization and across their network.  Cybercriminals use this to their advantage.  By infiltrating smaller companies connected to a company network — either with malware, phishing attacks, or account takeover — they can impersonate the third-party, target a larger company’s employees, and access valuable systems and data. And, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will only heighten the risks associated with third-parties.  First, people will continue to work remotely which, according to various reports this year which not only makes them more vulnerable to phishing attacks, but also makes it more difficult for them to verify requests. For example, a wire transfer.  Second, financial uncertainty in 2021 may mean IT budgets are cut. CISOs have no way of knowing whether this is the case with their company’s own suppliers or partners and whether or not they are prioritizing security.  Once again, addressing the threats from your company’s extended network will need to be a priority in 2021, as will securing the entire email ecosystem.  4. We’ll get real when it comes to AI The AI hype cycle has left some companies burned by the false promise of AI and ML.  In 2021, however, we predict that the hype will die down. We’ll see less marketing claims and industry conversations around the technology. This is great news for true AI and ML innovators. It will allow the real AI and ML use cases to shine through and companies will start to see how the technology can benefit their business.  But, we should also consider how AI will be used for malicious purposes. We think that we’ll continue to see cybercriminals leveraging AI to make their deceptions and impersonations – either on email or in the form of deepfakes – more convincing and believable.  Likewise, advancements in NLP will lead to more sophisticated attacks that closely mirror the language and tone of the person being impersonated. This will make it more difficult for people to determine what’s real and what’s fake.  This is where automated security solutions will prove invaluable to security teams. Elvis M Chan, Supervisory Special Agent at the FBI and Nina Schick, Author of “Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse: What You Urgently Need to Know”,  took a deep dive into deepfakes at Tessian Human Layer Security Summit in September. And, according to Nina, “This is not an emerging threat. This threat is here. Now.”   Learn more about this type of threat and how AI is being used both in the creation of and defense against deepfakes by watching the full session on-demand.
Looking ahead to 2021 The uncertainty from 2020 won’t disappear come January. There’s still a lot for businesses to figure out, and IT leaders will be under pressure to deliver a seamless and secure working environment for employees, despite budget cuts and under-resourced teams.  But it’s worth noting that at the heart of the challenges businesses and security teams have faced over the past year – and will continue to face as we head into 2021 – is people.  Businesses must prioritize people’s wellbeing and their security to succeed.  Greater visibility into the human layer of an organization gives IT teams insight into their riskiest and most at-risk employees, allowing them to focus and address the areas in which their company is most vulnerable.  Automated security alerts ensure that every employee is made aware of threats in their inbox – no matter where they choose to work – and real-time alerts can help people make smarter security decisions. That’s why we predict that 2021 will be the year that businesses realize the power of Human Layer Security.
Human Layer Security
Tessian Webinar Recap: Cybersecurity Insights to Influence Your 2021 Strategy
By Monica Nio
20 November 2020
As the year comes to a close (and, for many of us, 2020 is a year we want to close the book on…fast) it’s a good time to reflect back on the lessons learned and set a plan to improve in the future. Let’s look at cybersecurity specifically. What should we look out for in 2021 after all that has happened?  We answered the following two questions in our latest webinar, which you can view on-demand here. What do industry experts think the biggest learning of the year has been?  What do they think should be top-of-mind for security leaders next year?  Tessian’s VP of Information Security, Trevor Luker, led a fireside chat with two industry experts, Jesse Starks, CTO at Breckinridge Capital Advisors, and Lena Smart, CISO at MongoDB, to capture their thoughts on the matter. Curious on what insights they shared? Read our notes below for key takeaways and quotes from the panelists.  Or, if you want to learn more about our guest speakers and their companies, skip down to the bottom of the page. And, if you want to be the first to know about future virtual events, subscribe to your newsletter.  3 takeaways from 2020 1. Hackers take advantage of key calendar moments and times of general uncertainty. We saw this happen throughout 2020, with phishing scams around COVID-19, the 2020 census, stimulus checks, and even the US presidential election.  Next up: retail scams in time for the holidays.  2. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Both panelists pivoted quickly and easily during the transition from office to home because they already had well-thought-out contingency plans in place. When was the last time you updated your emergency action plan? To learn  more about Jesse and Lena’s contingency plans and what you should consider when making one, watch the full webinar. 
3. Hackers have power in numbers. Today, organizations are being hit by increasingly advanced threats. That’s because an entire industry has been created out of phishing and social engineering, and adversaries operate in groups. They’re experts at their craft. That means security leaders have to level-up their inbound protection.  3 insights for 2021 1. Every employee should be a security champion. Why? Because your cybersecurity is only as strong as your most vulnerable or at-risk employee. After all, it’s people who control your most sensitive systems and data. But, employees can actually be your biggest defense against threats. That’s why education, policies, and security tools are all important. 
2. Expect more data protection regulations in the future. The cost of a breach (including fines for non-compliance) is definitely a concern for security and business leaders. But it’s actually the lost customer trust and damaged reputation that’s top-of-mind. Our panelists tips? Put security controls in place to ensure compliance and make sure you have a process in place for reporting incidents if they do happen.  If you want to learn more about compliance standards like GDPR, CCPA, and HIPPA why good cybersecurity is good for business, download our CEO’s Guide to Data Protection and Compliance. 3. Email security is a long-game strategy. Email is open by default, which means it’s the attack vector of choice for hackers. Looking forward to 2021, security leaders have to have a plan for inbound, advanced impersonation attacks.  
Bonus Insight from Jesse: “You can use technology to close all your gaps, but once you have that, then how can people outside manipulate your organization? Your people – the highest success rate for an attacker. People are always joining organizations, changing teams, changing roles, and learning. The technology changes, but it’s often fixed. The Human Layer is always moving so it makes it very challenging to secure and that’s why it’s so important.” For more tips and personal anecdotes, watch the full video now.  About Jesse Jesse Starks, CISSP, is the Chief Technology Officer at Breckinridge Capital Advisors. Jesse is Breckinridge’s Chief Technology Officer, and is also a member of the firm’s Risk Committee, Information Security Committee, and Business Continuity Committee. In his role, Jesse directs the strategic integration of technology across the firm.  He has over 17 years of experience designing and managing large-scale distributed systems. About Lena Lena Smart is the Chief Information Security Officer at MongoDB. Lena joined MongoDB with more than 20 years of cybersecurity experience. Before joining, she led cybersecurity at large organizations like Tradeweb, New York Power Authority, and InfraGard. She is also a  founding partner of Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan – formerly the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity – which helps security leaders in academia and the private sector collaborate and tackle the most challenging security issues. About Breckinridge Capital Advisors Breckinridge Capital Advisors is a Boston-based, independently owned investment advisor specializing in investment grade fixed income portfolio management. Working through a network of investment consultants and advisors, they serve a wide variety of clients ranging from high net worth individuals to large institutions. Breckinridge’s assets under management totaled more than #42 billion as of September 30, 2020 Reflecting their commitment to ESG and sustainability, Breckinridge is a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation and a certified B Corp. They believe these designations help them in their goals to create positive, long-term impact for their clients, employees and the communities in which they live, work and invest. About MongoDB MongoDB is the leading modern, general purpose database platform, designed to unleash the power of software and data for developers and the applications they build.  Headquartered in New York, MongoDB has more than 20,200 customers in over 100 countries. The MongoDB database platform has been downloaded over 125 million times and there have been more than one million MongoDB University registrations.
Human Layer Security Customer Stories
Recap: Tessian Webinar, How to Build a Security Culture in Today’s Working World
By Monica Nio
04 November 2020
In our most recent research report, Securing the Future of Hybrid Working, we revealed that 75% of IT decisions makers believe the future of work will be “remote” or hybrid” – where employees could work wherever and however they’d like. So, we wanted to find out: How that might affect an organization’s security culture Why a positive security culture is even more important when employees are remote  How automation can help ease the burden on thinly-stretched IT teams while empowering employees to make smarter security decisions We explored these topics with Rachel Beard, Principal Security Technical Architect at Salesforce, and Ray Chery, SVP and Co-Head of Security Softwares at Jefferies. The discussion was led by Trevor Luker, Tessian’s VP of Information Technology.  Want to watch the full video? You can view it on-demand here. Otherwise, read our notes below for key takeaways and quotes from the panelists.  Want to learn more about our guest speakers and their companies? Skip down to the bottom of the page. And, if you want to be the first to know about future virtual events, subscribe to our newsletter.  5 key takeaways from the Tessian webinar We have to re-learn how to communicate in a hybrid work structure. Gone are the days of just walking up to our colleagues and asking if they sent that suspicious email or tapping someone in IT on the shoulder to clarify a new security policy.  That means security and business leaders need to arm their teams with tools to collaborate and frequently check-in to make sure each and every employee feels comfortable with their new remote set-up. The key to a positive security culture is making employees feel like they play an active role in protecting the organization’s systems and data. But how? Instill the value of privacy and security from the outset with training and other programs and initiatives. Watch the full webinar for more insights into exactly what Rachel and Ray do at Salesforce and Jefferies.   There are benefits and drawbacks to hybrid work. According to Rachel and Ray, productivity is on the rise, which is great news. Teams are aligning on shared goals and initiatives, despite being physically distant. But people are missing the “human” interaction and camaraderie of an in-person office and many are finding it difficult to separate their personal and professional lives. It’s essential you tackle this problem head on and prioritize employee wellbeing.  Automated tools can make security accessible for everyone. This also contributes to a positive security culture by reducing IT teams’ workload. More on this in the summarized Q&A below. Jefferies uses Tessian to prevent misdirected emails. Ray’s team loves Tessian for its “noise-to-value ratio”. So, what makes Tessian so easy to use? Our technology is powered by machine learning, which means our solutions automatically detect and prevent threats like data exfiltration, misdirected emails, and spear phishing with accuracy and ease.  To find out more about how Rachel and Ray think about security culture, Trevor asked them both several questions about their perspective on automation and how to make employees a part of the solution.  We summarized their answers below. Remember, you can watch the full interview here. Q. Prior to COVID, Jefferies went from 5% to 99% of their employees working remote. Will this change be permanent? Ray: “We’re all more comfortable with getting things done from home; we’ve had to grow accustomed to it over the course of the last couple months. [However], our IT team is planning on going back to being in the office 2 or 3 of the 5 days every week. And part of that is driven by the fact that the interaction with the team is different virtually. Teams that really do interact more collaboratively feel the need to still be in the office. I definitely think hybrid work is here to stay.”  Q. Would you say that increased employee workload makes your organization more vulnerable? Ray: “We’re all doing a million things at once. When you’re stretched that thin all the time, folks tend to make mistakes, are more likely to click on an email that they’re not supposed to, or may not be reading things as thoroughly as they need to. The risks are definitely enhanced given that everyone is working from home now.”  Looking for more insights into why people make mistakes and how businesses can prevent errors before they turn into breaches? Check out our research, The Psychology of Human Error. Q. How can automation save your IT team’s time? Rachel: “At Salesforce, we’ve always had a lot of self-service mechanisms. We have Concierge as our service where you can go searching for the information that you need and open a ticket only if you need advanced help. But now, we’re looking at other ways that our customers can do the same. That way, IT can be more available for the highly specialized activities, and some of the more routine ones can be addressed by the employees themselves.”  Ray: “Ultimately, there’s no patch for human error. Humans are going to make mistakes. I think as much automation as we can incorporate into our security stack is really for the better. It removes repetitive errors, streamlines incident management, and reduces the boring stuff that our security analysts need to do. Instead of formally writing tickets and reaching out to me as an employee every time I violate an email rule, we can set it up as such so there’s a pop-up instead.” 
Q. Can tools add to an organization’s security culture in a positive way? Rachel: “Yes, when you have the guidelines and boundaries in a really transparent way. It makes everything more safe for everybody. You just have to think about how to implement that so that you allow your users to be able to do their work effectively and not get in their way too much or become an obstacle while protecting your sensitive data.”  Q. How has Tessian’s Guardian helped with Jefferies’ security culture in today’s working world? Ray: “We’re doing so many things now at home. And at home, we’re more exposed and more likely to make mistakes. We love Tessian because it’s very low-impact [on obstructing employees’ work]. It is a product that delivers with accuracy. Our IT team likes the noise-to-value ratio. When I think about the misaddressed email capabilities alone – we’re all sending a million emails a day – it’s very easy for us to send an email to the wrong person. The way that Tessian handles it in a seamless way is really great.”  Learn how Guardian can help your organization prevent accidental data loss. View Guardian’s page now. For more insights and personal anecdotes, watch the full video now.  About Rachel Rachel Beard is the Principal Security Technical Architect at Salesforce. Rachel joined Salesforce in 2014 and is a Principal Security Technical Architect.  Rachel’s areas of expertise are Salesforce security, data privacy, and compliance. She has over 14 years experience at Salesforce, spanning everything from System Administrator to Developer and even Product Marketing. Rachel is also the volunteer coordinator for Wet Nose Rescue, a leader of a Pride ERG at Salesforce, and a chair on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at her local public school.  About Ray Ray Chery is the SVP and Co-Head of Security Software at Jefferies. Ray Chery is Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Security Software in Jefferies’ Technology Investment Banking Division. Based in San Francisco, Ray focuses primarily on enterprise security software. He has advised on more than $50B in transaction value over his 14-year career as a technology banker and has worked with and advised companies such as Bomgar, Carbonite, CrowdStrike, DigiCert, Forcepoint, Gigamon, Imperva, Plexxi, Sailpoint and Tufin.  He has also served on the Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC) and continues to volunteer with Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. About Jefferies Jefferies, the global investment banking firm, has served companies and investors for over 55 years. Headquartered in New York, with offices in over 30 cities around the world, the firm provides clients with capital markets and financial advisory services, institutional brokerage and securities research, as well as asset and wealth management. About Salesforce Salesforce is a customer relationship management solution that brings companies and customers together. It’s one integrated CRM platform that gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service — a single, shared view of every customer.