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Carbonite to Acquire Webroot

I’m excited to share that Webroot has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Carbonite, a leader in cloud-based data protection for consumers and businesses. Why do I think this is such good news for customers, partners and our employees?   For customers and...

The Reality of Passphrase Token Attacks

In my blog, Password Constraints and Their Unintended Security Consequences, I advocate for the use of passphrases. Embedded in the comments section, one of our readers Ben makes a very astute observation: What happens when attackers start guessing by the word instead...

Common WordPress Vulnerabilities & How to Protect Against Them

The WordPress website platform is a vital part of the small business economy, dominating the content management system industry with a 60% market share. It gives businesses the ability to run easily-maintained and customizable websites, but that convenience comes at a...

A Miner Decline: The Slowdown of a Once-Surging Threat

This is the first of a three-part report on the state of three malware categories: miners, ransomware and information stealers. In Webroot’s 2018 mid-term threat report, we outlined how cryptomining, and particularly cryptojacking, had become popular criminal tactics...

Smart Wearables: Convenience vs. Security

Fitness trackers and other digital wearables have unlocked a new era of convenience and engagement in consumer health. Beyond general fitness trackers, you can find wearables for a variety of purposes; some help diabetics, some monitor for seizure activity, and some...

MSPs: Your Security Vendor Should Integrate with More Than Just Your RMM and PSA

For many MSPs, integrating their security solution with their remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional service automation (PSA) platforms is essential for doing business. Together, these platforms help lower the cost of keeping up with each client,...

Top 5 Things SMBs Should Consider When Evaluating a Cybersecurity Strategy

SMBs are overconfident about their cybersecurity posture. A survey of SMBs conducted by 451 Research found that in the preceding 24 months, 71% of respondents experienced a breach or attack that resulted in operational disruption, reputational damage, significant...

What’s Next? Webroot’s 2019 Cybersecurity Predictions

At Webroot, we stay ahead of cybersecurity trends in order to keep our customers up-to-date and secure. As the end of the year approaches, our team of experts has gathered their top cybersecurity predictions for 2019. What threats and changes should you brace for?...

Responding to Risk in an Evolving Threat Landscape

There’s a reason major industry players have been discussing cybersecurity more and more: the stakes are at an all-time high for virtually every business today. Cybersecurity is not a matter businesses can afford to push off or misunderstand—especially small and...

Carbonite to Acquire Webroot

Reading Time: ~2 min.

I’m excited to share that Webroot has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Carbonite, a leader in cloud-based data protection for consumers and businesses.

Why do I think this is such good news for customers, partners and our employees?  

For customers and partners, the combined Webroot and Carbonite will create an integrated solution for their top security needs today and a platform for us to build upon in the future. When surveyed, SMBs and MSPs consistently name endpoint security and backup and data recovery services among their top priorities.

For our threat intelligence partners, the addition of new data sources will make our threat intelligence services even more powerful.

We see great opportunities ahead building on the solutions you trust—endpoint and network protection, security awareness training and threat intelligence services—and extending them to backup and data recovery and beyond.

For employees, we see a great future of growth for a team with a shared culture. Both Webroot and Carbonite have tremendously talented team members who together will bring even more innovative solutions to market. But, just as important, both companies have a culture of customer focus, where customer success is the ultimate proof of company success. 

Until the transaction closes, we must operate as separate companies. After close, which we expect to happen in the first calendar quarter of 2019, I look forward to sharing more information about our plans.

In the meantime, customers and partners can expect:  

  • The same commitment to customer care and support. You will have access to your same account reps and award-winning customer support team.
  • Future solutions that combine Webroot’s threat intelligence driven portfolio with Carbonite’s data protection solutions.
  • Extended sales channels and partner ecosystems. Carbonite partners will provide additional channels for Webroot to reach new customers and partners worldwide.

The most important point I want to underline is that our commitment to you will not change, and we are just expanding the family of people dedicated to building great solutions to protect you and your customers. 

Mike Potts
President & CEO, Webroot

The Reality of Passphrase Token Attacks

Reading Time: ~4 min.

In my blog, Password Constraints and Their Unintended Security Consequences, I advocate for the use of passphrases. Embedded in the comments section, one of our readers Ben makes a very astute observation:

What happens when attackers start guessing by the word instead of by the letter? Then a four-word passphrase effectively becomes a four-character password.

What Ben is describing is called a “passphrase token attack,” and it’s real. With a good passphrase, the attack is not much of a threat though. First, a definition, then I’ll explain why.

What’s a token?

In the context of a passphrase token attack, a token is a grouping of letters, AKA a word. The passphrase made famous by the comic xkcd, “correct horse battery staple,” is 28 characters long. But, in a passphrase token attack, I wouldn’t try to guess all possible combinations of 28 letters. I would guess combinations of entire words, or tokens, each representing a group of characters.

The math behind passphrases

One might assume, as Ben did, that a four-word password is the same as a four-character password. But that’s a math error. Specifically, 95≠1,000,000. 

Here’s why: There are 95 letters, numbers, and symbols that can be used for each character in a password. However, there are over a million words in the English language. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call it an even million words. If I’m thinking of a single character, then at most you have to try 95 characters to guess it. But if I ask you to guess which word I am thinking of, then you may need to guess a million words before you have guessed the word that I am thinking of. 

So while there are 95^4 possible combinations of characters for a four-character password, there are over 1,000,000^4 combinations of words for a four-word password. 

You might be thinking “But nobody knows a million words,” and you are correct. According to some research, the average person uses no more than 10,000. So, as an attacker, I’d try combinations of only the most common words. Actually, I may be able to get by with a dictionary as small as 5,000 words. But 5,000^4 is still a whole lot more combinations than 95^4.

Here is one list of 5,000 of the most commonly used words in the English language, and another of the 10,000 most commonly used words. Choosing an uncommon word is great, but even words in the top 5,000 are still far better than a complex nine-character password.

Why and how to use a passphrase

There are two major strengths of passphrases: 

  1. Passphrases allow for longer, more secure passwords. It’s length that makes a passphrase a killer password. A password/passphrase that’s 20 lowercase characters long is stronger than a 14 character password that uses uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 
  2. Passphrases can be easy to remember, making creating and using passwords a lot less painful. “Aardvarks eat at the diner” is easy to remember and, at 26 characters long and including uppercase and lowercase letters, is more than 9 trillion times stronger than the password “eR$48tx!53&(oPZe”, or any other complex, 16-character password, and potentially uncrackable.

Why potentially uncrackable? Because “aardvark” is not one of the 10,000 most frequently used words and, if a word is not in the attacker’s dictionary, then you win. This is why it helps to use foreign-language words. Even common foreign words require an attacker to increase the size of their dictionary, the very factor that makes passphrase token attacks impractical. Learning a word in an obscure foreign language can be fun and pretty much assures a passphrase won’t be cracked.

As we’ve seen, cracking a passphrase can be far more difficult than cracking a password, unless you make one of two common mistakes. The first is choosing a combination of words without enough characters. “I am a cat,” for example. Although it’s four words, it’s only 10 characters long and an attacker can use a conventional brute force attack, even for a passphrase. Spaces between words can be used to increase the length and complexity of passphrases.

The second most common mistake is using a common phrase as a passphrase. I can create a dictionary of the top 1,000,000 common phrases and, if you’re using one, then it only takes at most 1,000,000 guesses to crack (about the same as a complex three-character password). 

So create your own unique passphrases and you’re all set. Most experts recommend passphrases be at least 20 characters long. But if you only go from eight characters to 16 upper and lower case letters, you’ll already be 430 trillion times better off. And if you’re creating a passphrase for a site requiring a number or symbol, it’s fine to add the same number and symbol to the end of your phrase, provided the passphrase is long to begin with.

As a side note, according to math, a five word passphrase is generally stronger than a four word passphrase, but don’t get too hung up on that.

So Ben, you are 100% right about the reality of passphrase token attacks. But, with a strong passphrase, the math says it doesn’t matter. Note: If this stuff fascinates you, or you suffer from insomnia, you might enjoy “Linguistic Cracking of Passphrases using Markov Chains.” You can download the PDF or watch this riveting thriller on YouTube. Sweet dreams.

Common WordPress Vulnerabilities & How to Protect Against Them

Reading Time: ~3 min.

The WordPress website platform is a vital part of the small business economy, dominating the content management system industry with a 60% market share. It gives businesses the ability to run easily-maintained and customizable websites, but that convenience comes at a price. The easy-to-use interface has given even users who are not particularly cybersecurity-savvy a presence on the web, drawing cyber-criminals out of the woodwork to look for easy prey through WordPress vulnerabilities in the process.

Here are some of these common vulnerabilities, and how can you prepare your website to protect against them.

WordPress Plugins 

The WordPress Plugin Directory is a treasure trove of helpful website widgets that unlock a variety of convenient functions. The breadth of its offerings is thanks to an open submission policy, meaning anyone with the skill to develop a plugin can submit it to the directory. WordPress reviews every plugin before listing it, but clever hackers have been known to exploit flaws in approved widgets.

The problem is so prevalent that, of the known 3,010 unique WordPress vulnerabilities, 1,691 are from WordPress plugins. You can do a few things to impede your site from being exploited through a plugin. Only download plugins from reputable sources, and be sure to clean out any extraneous plugins you are no longer using. It’s also important to keep your WordPress plugins up-to-date, as outdated code is the best way for a hacker to inject malware into your site.

Phishing Attacks 

Phishing remains a favored attack form for hackers across all platforms, and WordPress is no exception. Keep your eyes out for phishing attacks in the comments section, and only click on links from trusted sources. In particular, WordPress admins need to be on alert for attackers looking to gain administrative access to the site. These phishing attacks may appear to be legitimate emails from WordPress prompting you to click a link, as was seen with a recent attack targeting admins to update their WordPress database. If you receive an email prompting you to update your WordPress version, do a quick Google search to check that the update is legitimate. Even then, it’s best to use the update link from the WordPress website itself, not an email.

Weak Administrative Practices 

An often overlooked fact about WordPress security: Your account is only as secure as your administrator’s. In the hubbub of getting a website started, it can be easy to create an account and immediately get busy populating content. But hastily creating administrator credentials are a weak link in your cybersecurity, and something an opportunistic hacker will seize upon quickly. Implementing administrative best practices is the best way to increase your WordPress security.

WordPress automatically creates an administrator with the username of “admin” whenever a new account is created. Never leave this default in place; it’s the equivalent of using “password” as your password. Instead, create a new account and grant it administrative privileges before deleting the default administrator account. You’ll also need to change the easily-located and often-targeted administrator url from the default of “wp-admin” to something more ambiguous of your own choosing.

One of the most important practices for any WordPress administrator is keeping the WordPress version up-to-date. An ignored version update can easily become a weak point for hackers to exploit. The more out-of-date your version, the more likely you are to be targeted by an attack. According to WordPress, 42.6% of users are using outdated versions. Don’t be one of them.

Additional Security Practices 

The use of reputable security plugins like WordFence or Sucuri Security can add an additional layer of protection to your site, especially against SQL injections and malware attacks. Research any security plugins before you install them, as we’ve previously seen malware masquerading as WordPress security plugins. If your security plugin doesn’t offer two-factor authentication, you’ll still need to install a secure two-factor authentication plugin to stop brute force attacks. Keeping your data safe and encrypted behind a trusted VPN is also key to WordPress security, especially for those who find themselves working on their WordPress site from public WiFi networks.

WordPress is a powerful platform, but it’s only as secure as you keep it. Keep your website and your users secure with these tips on enhancing WordPress security, and check back here often for updates on all things cybersecurity.

A Miner Decline: The Slowdown of a Once-Surging Threat

Reading Time: ~4 min.

This is the first of a three-part report on the state of three malware categories: miners, ransomware and information stealers.

In Webroot’s 2018 mid-term threat report, we outlined how cryptomining, and particularly cryptojacking, had become popular criminal tactics over the first six months of last year. This relatively novel method of cybercrime gained favour for being less resource-intensive and overtly criminal when compared to tactics involving ransomware. But mining cases and instances of mining malware seem to have dropped off significantly in the six months since this report, both anecdotally and in terms of calls to our support queue. 

The crytpo world has gone through significant turmoil in this time, so it’s possible the reduced use of malicious cryptojacking scripts is the result of tanking cryptocurrency values. It’s also possible users are benefitting from heightened awareness of the threat and taking measures to prevent their use, such as browser extensions purpose-built to stop these scripts from running. 

Setting aside the question of why for a moment, let’s take a look at some stats illustrating that decline during that time period.

Cryptojacking URLs seen by Webroot over six months beginning 1 July through 31 December, 2018, Webroot SecureAnywhere client data. 

Webroot endpoints detected URLs associated with over 17,000 cryptojacking instances over the last year.


New miner malware seen by Webroot 

Data from six months beginning 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, Webroot data, units logarithmic.

Portable executable mining malware seen by Webroot threat intelligence. Data from hundreds of millions of Webroot sensors.


Monero mining profitability ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July – 9 Jan, 2019, Bit Info Charts, units logarithmic

We chose Monero as the currency to analyse here because of its popularity among crooks operating miners or cryptojacking sites. However, results for Bitcoin over the same time period are similar.


Monero price ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, World Coin Index

Interpreting the data

None of the graphs are identical, but without too much statistical comparison, I think a broad trend can be seen: malicious mining is on the decline alongside a general decline in coin value and coin mining profitability. 

Profitability affecting criminal tactics is of course not surprising. The flexibility of exploit kits and modern malware campaigns like Emotet mean that cybercriminals can change tactics and payloads quickly when they feel their malware isn’t netting as much as it should.

Thanks to the dark web, criminal code has never been easier to buy or rent than in recent years, and cryptocurrencies themselves make it easy to swap infection tactics while keeping the cash flowing. Buying or renting malicious code and malware delivery services online is easy, so the next time the threat landscape changes, expect criminals to quickly change with it. 

Should I still care about miners?

Yes, absolutely. 

Cryptocurrency, cryptomining, and malicious cryptomining aren’t disappearing. Even with this dip, 2018 was definitely a year of overall cryptocrime growth. Our advanced malware removals teams often spot miner malware on machines infected by other malware, and it can be an indication of security holes in need of patching. And any illegal mining is still capable of constantly driving up power bills and frustrating users.

Where are cybercriminals focused now?

Information theftis the current criminal undertaking of choice, a scary development with potentially long-lasting consequences for its victims that are sometimes unpredictable even to thieves. The theft, trade, and use for extortion of personal data will be the focus of our next report.

What can I do?

Cryptojacking may only be on the decline because defences against them have improved. To up your chances of turning aside this particular threat, consider doing the following:

  • Update everything. Even routers can be affected by cryptojacking, so patch/update everything you can.
  • Is your browser using up lots of processor? Even after a reset/reinstall? This could be a sign of cryptojacking.
  • Are you seeing weird spikes in your processor? You may want to scan for miner infections.
  • Don’t ignore repeated miner detections. Get onto your antivirus’ support team for assistance. This could be only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Secure your RDP.

What can Webroot do?

Webroot SecureAnywhere®antivirus products detect and remove miner infections, and the web threat shield blocks malicious cryptojacking sites from springing their code on home office users. For businesses, however, the single best way to stop cryptojacking, is with DNS-level protection. DNS is particularly good at blocking cryptojacking services, no matter how many sites they try to hide behind.

Persistent mining detections might point to other security issues, such as out-of-date software or advanced persistence methods, that will need extra work to fix. Webroot’s support is quick and easy to reach.

In the end, cryptomining and cryptojacking aren’t making the same stir in the cybersecurity community they were some months ago. But they’ve far from disappeared. More users than ever are aware of the threat they pose, and developers are reacting. Fluctuations in cryptocurrency value have perhaps aided the decline, but as long as these currencies have any value cryprojackers will be worth the limited effort they require from criminals.

Watch for the use of cryptominers to be closely related to the value of various cryptocurrencies and remain on the lookout for suspicious or inexplicable CPU usage, as these may be signs that you’re being targeted by these threats. 

And of course, stay tuned to the Webroot blog for information on the latest threat trends.

Smart Wearables: Convenience vs. Security

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Fitness trackers and other digital wearables have unlocked a new era of convenience and engagement in consumer health. Beyond general fitness trackers, you can find wearables for a variety of purposes; some help diabetics, some monitor for seizure activity, and some can aid in senior citizens’ health and quality of life. But the convenience of an interconnected lifestyle may be a double-edged sword. Fitness trackers and wearables are notoriously unsecured. Wearables record and store some of our most sensitive health data—which is often 10x more valuable than a stolen credit card— making them a particularly attractive target for hackers.

So what types of data does your fitness tracker store? For a start, it holds the identifying information required to set up your account, such as your email, username, and password. But other fitness tracking specifics can make a user easier to identify, including as gender, birthdate, geographical location, height, and weight. Health and activity data provides an in-depth look at the user’s daily habits through the power of GPS monitoring. If your device is paired inside of a network, other personal device information will also be stored, such as your Unique Device IDs or MAC addresses. Depending on the device, your wearables may also store your credit card information or bank account information.

New vulnerabilities

Because of their versatility, wearables and fitness trackers leave us vulnerable in many ways. In last year’s MyFitnessPal hack, which affected 150 million users, attackers hoped to access credit card information but came away with only usernames and passwords. But what about the information that is more specific to wearables, like GPS tracking? After the fitness tracker Strava revealed hidden army bases through heatmap tracking, the Pentagon began to restrict the use of wearables by military personnel due to the potential security threat. And the recently uncovered MiSafe vulnerability left thousands of children unsecured, allowing hackers to track their movements, listen in on conversations, and actually call children on their smart watches. 

Even with these concerns, the wearables market continues to grow, with the prevalence of such devices predicted to double by 2021. Large healthcare organizations and insurance carriers are also starting to use insights from fitness trackers to influence both patient care and insurance rates. We’re even beginning to see the introduction of wearables for employee tracking, although this has met with mixed response. With this increased exposure to potentially insecure technologies, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure your family’s security.

Where to start

Always research any fitness trackers or wearable devices before you commit, and be sure to avoid devices with any known security flaws. Notable examples to avoid are Medion’s Life S2000 Activity Tracker and Moov’s Now tracker. The Life S2000 requires no authentication and sends data unencrypted, and the Now tracker can leave users vulnerable to attack via Bluetooth connectivity. Even larger brands like Lenovo struggle to maintain an adequate level of security in their fitness trackers; the Lenovo HW01 smart band sends both registration and login data to its servers unencrypted.

Although it’s tedious, we recommend you always read the privacy policy of any wearable device or fitness tracking app before you use it. If the data storage and security measures outlined in the policy aren’t up to snuff, request a refund and let the manufacturer know why. Periodically reviewing your app’s privacy settings on your phone is also a good practice—just to make sure you’re comfortable with the app’s level of access. Take common-sense cybersecurity measures to help keep your wearables as secure as possible. Never reuse passwords or use third party login services like Facebook Login, and consider using a password manager like LastPass® instead.

Wearables and fitness trackers are here to stay, and the Internet of Things (IOT) is only going to keep growing. We have to work together to protect ourselves as we integrate these technologies into our daily lives. After all, the price of convenience cannot match the value of our personal security.

As always, be sure to check back here to stay updated on the newest cybersecurity trends.

MSPs: Your Security Vendor Should Integrate with More Than Just Your RMM and PSA

Reading Time: ~2 min.

For many MSPs, integrating their security solution with their remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional service automation (PSA) platforms is essential for doing business. Together, these platforms help lower the cost of keeping up with each client, ensuring profitable margins for a healthy, growing business.

For true providers of IT services—MSPs that sell services rather than licenses and take a holistic approach to client IT health—RMM and PSA integrations are critical for keeping track of hundreds or even thousands of unique endpoints and automating recurring operations for numerous clients.

Like many of the other features of our security solutions, our RMM and PSA integrations are custom-built with the needs of MSPs in mind. They’re designed to help MSPs create the most efficient, well-oiled versions of their businesses possible so that service is prompt, solutions are effective, and profit is preserved.   

Here’s what you should expect from your RMM and PSA security integrations:

  1. Faster rollouts- One of the core benefits of RMM-assisted deployments, expect rollouts to new endpoints to be fast and hassle-free with well-designed integrations. New endpoints should be easy to set up with protection turned on in just a few clicks.
  2. Simplified management- Efficiency is key to profitability. So a centralized dashboard displaying what’s running, what’s broken and how, infection statuses, endpoints requiring attention, and more helps increase the number of endpoints a single technician can manage, boosting efficiency and, ultimately, profitability. 
  3. The data you need- The best RMM and PSA integrations make it possible to get the data you need to run a successful business. Whether it’s per-client data for calculating a client’s cost to you, information on policy settings for sites and endpoints, or additional reporting delivered to clients to promote peace-of-mind, having access to allof your data empowers decision-making. 

Integrations don’t have to end there

Integrating disparate products can be a laborious, time-intensive process. For that reason, many security vendors are reluctant to coordinate too closely with customers to automate functions unique to their businesses. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Advanced plugins and tools allow for complete customization of dashboards, reporting, and data tracking. Each can be customized to track the metrics most useful to the organization. Critical processes, like issuing periodic reports, can be fully automated. This can be extremely beneficial when it comes to communicating with customers. Weekly or monthly reports demonstrate that, despite a lack of any major security incidents, it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of cybercriminals. 

More than simply allowing different business platforms to talk to one another, integration plugins can be used for running commands and performing actions. This includes creating, modifying, or deleting licenses, removing duplicate endpoints, or quickly creating new console sites. 

Insist on better integrations

So when considering which cybersecurity vendor offers the most for your MSP, consider not only whether the solution allows you to communicate with your RMM and PSA platforms, but also how deeply. Does the vendor have a dedicated integrations team? Do they offer tools for the customization of business-specific reporting? Can essential, recurring business processes be automated?

The answers to the questions above will help you determine how much value RMM and PSA integrations add for your business. In a market where margins can be razor thin and built-in efficiencies can make or break the bottom line, the answers may make all the difference.

Top 5 Things SMBs Should Consider When Evaluating a Cybersecurity Strategy

Reading Time: ~3 min.

SMBs are overconfident about their cybersecurity posture.

A survey of SMBs conducted by 451 Research found that in the preceding 24 months, 71% of respondents experienced a breach or attack that resulted in operational disruption, reputational damage, significant financial losses or regulatory penalties. At the same time, 49% of the SMBs surveyed said that cybersecurity is a low priority for their business, and 90% believe they have the appropriate security technologies in place. Clearly, SMBs are not correctly evaluating cybersecurity risk.

Many of us can relate – each day we ignore obvious signs that point to a reality that is in direct contrast to our beliefs. For example, as each year passes, most of us get a little slower, muscles ache that never ached before, we get a bit softer around the middle, and we hold our reading material farther away. Yet, we are convinced we could take on an NBA player in a game of one-on-one or complete the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course on the first try. 

While it’s unlikely that most of us can make the improvements needed to compete with elite athletes, the same can’t be said for enterprise cybersecurity. The journey is not an easy one given the security talent vacuum, a lack of domain understanding at the executive level, and the complexity of implementing a long-term, metric-based strategy. But, if you are an SMB struggling to run up and down the proverbial court, here are five things you should consider when building a better security practice:

1.   Experienced staff are valuable, but expensive, assets. 

Although enterprise cybersecurity is a 24/7/365 effort requiring a full roster of experienced professionals, many SMB cybersecurity teams are underequipped to handle the constant deluge of alert notifications, let alone the investigation or remediation processes. In fact, only 23% of survey respondents plan to add staff to their security teams in the coming year. For many SMBs, the security staffing struggles may get worse as 87% reported difficulties in retaining existing security professionals. To fill this gap, SMBs are increasingly turning to MSPs and MSSPs to provide the expertise and resources needed to protect their organizations around the clock.

2.   Executives understand what is at stake, but not what action to take. 

As the threat landscape becomes more treacherous, regulatory requirements multiply, and security incidents become more common, executives at SMBs have become more acutely aware of the business impact of security incidents – most are feeling an urgency to strengthen organizational cybersecurity. However, acknowledging the problem is only the first step of the process. Executives need to interface with their internal security teams, industry experts and MSPs in order to fully understand their organization’s risk portfolio and design a long-term cybersecurity strategy that integrates with business objectives.

3.   Security awareness training (SAT) is low-hanging fruit (if done right). 

According to the 451 Research Voice of the Enterprise: Information Security: Workloads and Key Projects survey, 62% of SMBs said they have a SAT program in place, but 50% are delivering SAT on their own using ‘homegrown’ methods and materials. It should be no surprise that many SMBs described their SAT efforts as ineffective. MSPs are increasingly offering high-quality, comprehensive SAT for a variety of compliance and regulatory frameworks such as PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOX, ISO, GDPR and GLBA. SMBs looking to strengthen their security posture should look to partner with these MSPs for security awareness training.

4.   Securing now means securing for the future. 

The future of IT architecture will span both private and public clouds. This hybrid- and multi-cloud infrastructure represents a significant challenge for SMBs that require a cybersecurity posture that is both layered and scalable. SMBs need to understand and consider long-term trends when evaluating their current cybersecurity strategy. With this aim in mind, SMBs can turn to MSPs and MSSPs with the experience and toolsets necessary for securing these types of complex environments. 

5.   A metrics-based security approach is needed for true accountability. 

In a rush to shore up organizational security, SMBs might make the all-too-common mistake of equating money spent with security gained. To be clear: spending not backed by strategy and measurement only enhances security posture on the margins, if at all. To get the most bang for each buck, SMBs need to build an accountable security system predicated on quantifiable metrics.Again, this is an area where SMBs can partner with MSPs and MSSPs. This serves as an opportunity to develop cybersecurity strategy with measurable KPIs to ensure security gains are maintained over time. MSPs can help SMBs define the most applicable variables for their IT architectures, whether it be incident response rate, time-to-response or other relevant metrics.

The strategic reevaluation of organizational security is a daunting task for any organization, but given the risks SMBs face and their tendency to be underprepared, it is a necessary challenge. These key points of consideration for SMBs embarking on this critical journey underscore the importance of building an accountable and forward-looking security system and highlight the ways in which SMBs can work alongside MSP or MSSP partners to implement the right cybersecurity system for their organizations. I hope this will be the wake-up call all SMBs need to unleash their inner cybersecurity all-star.

If you’re interested in learning more about how other SMBs are approaching cybersecurity, read my report Security Services Fueling Growth for MSPs.

What’s Next? Webroot’s 2019 Cybersecurity Predictions

Reading Time: ~5 min.At Webroot, we stay ahead of cybersecurity trends in order to keep our customers up-to-date and secure. As the end of the year approaches, our team of experts has gathered their top cybersecurity predictions for 2019. What threats and changes should you brace for?

General Data Protection Regulation Penalties

“A large US-based tech company will get hammered by the new GDPR fines.” – Megan Shields, Webroot Associate General Counsel

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became law in the EU last May, many businesses scrambled to implement the required privacy protections. In anticipation of this challenge for businesses, it seemed as though the Data Protection Authorities (the governing organizations overseeing GDPR compliance) were giving them time to adjust to the new regulations. However, it appears that time has passed. European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli spoke with Reuters in October and said the time for issuing penalizations is near. With GDPR privacy protection responsibilities now incumbent upon large tech companies with millions—if not billions—of users, as well as small to medium-sized businesses, noncompliance could mean huge penalties.

GDPR fines will depend on the specifics of each infringement, but companies could face damages of up to 4% of their worldwide annual turnover, or up to 20 million Euros, whichever is greater. For example, if the GDPR had been in place during the 2013 Yahoo breach affecting 3 billion users, Yahoo could have faced anywhere from $80 million to $160 million in fines. It’s also important to note that Buttarelli specifically mentions the potential for bans on processing personal data, at Data Protection Authorities’ discretion, which would effectively suspend a company’s data flows inside the EU.

AI Disruption

“Further adoption of AI leading to automation of professions involving low social intelligence and creativity. It will also give birth to more advanced social engineering attacks.” – Paul Barnes, Webroot Sr. Director of Product Strategy

The Fouth Industrial Revolution is here and the markets are beginning to feel it. Machine learning algorithms and applied artificial intelligence programs are already infiltrating and disrupting top industries. Several of the largest financial institutions in the world have integrated artificial intelligence into aspects of their businesses. Often these programs use natural language processing—giving them the ability to handle customer-facing roles more easily—to boost productivity.

From a risk perspective, new voice manipulation techniques and face mapping technologies, in conjunction with other AI disciplines, will usher in a new dawn of social engineering that could be used in advanced spear-phishing attacks to influence political campaigns or even policy makers directly.

AI Will Be Crucial to the Survival of Small Businesses

“AI and machine learning will continue to be the best way to respond to velocity and volume of malware attacks aimed at SMBs and MSP partners.” – George Anderson, Product Marketing Director

Our threat researchers don’t anticipate a decline in threat volume for small businesses in the coming year. Precise attacks, like those targeting RDP tools, have been on the rise and show no signs of tapering. Beyond that, the sheer volume of data handled by businesses of all types of small businesses raises the probability and likely severity of a breach.

If small and medium-sized businesses want to keep their IT teams from being inundated and overrun with alerts, false positives, and remediation requests, they’ll be forced to work AI and machine learning into their security solutions. Only machine learning can automate security intelligence accurately and effectively enough to enable categorization and proactive threat detection in near real time. By taking advantage of cloud computing platforms like Amazon Web Services, machine learning has the capability to scale with the increasing volume and complexity modern attacks, while remaining within reach in terms of price.

Ransomware is Out, Cryptojacking is In

We’ll see a continued decline in commodity ransomware prevalence. While ransomware won’t disappear, endpoint solutions are better geared to defend against suspicious ransom-esque actions and, as such, malware authors will turn to either more targeted attacks or more subtle cryptocurrency mining alternatives.” – Eric Klonowski, Webroot Principal Threat Research Analyst

Although we’re unlikely to see the true death of ransomware, it does seem to be in decline. This is due in large part to the success of cryptocurrency and the overwhelming demand for the large amounts of computing power required for cryptomining. Hackers have seized upon this as a less risky alternative to ransomware, leading to the emergence of cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking is the now too-common practice of injecting software into an unsuspecting system and using its latent processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies. This resource theft drags systems down, but is often stealthy enough to go undetected. We are beginning to feel the pinch of cryptojacking in critical systems, with a cryptomining operation recently being discovered on the network of a water utility system in Europe. This trend is on track to continue into the New Year, with detected attacks increasing by 141% in the first half of 2018 alone.

Targeted Attacks

“Attacks will become more targeted. In 2018, ransomware took a back seat to cryptominers and banking Trojans to an extent, and we will continue see more targeted and calculated extortion of victims, as seen with the Dridex group. The balance between cryptominers and ransomware is dependent upon the price of cryptocurrency (most notably Bitcoin), but the money-making model of cryptominers favors its continued use.” – Jason Davison, Webroot Advanced Threat Research Analyst

The prominence of cryptojacking in cybercrime circles means that, when ransomware appears in the headlines, it will be for calculated, highly-targeted attacks. Cybercriminas are now researching systems ahead of time, often through backdoor access, enabling them to encrypt their ransomware against the specific antivirus applications put in place to detect it.

Government bodies and healthcare systems are prime candidates for targeted attacks, since they handle sensitive data from large swaths of the population. These attacks often have costs far beyond the ransom itself. The City of Atlanta is currently dealing with $17 million in post-breach costs. (Their perpetrators asked for $51,000 in Bitcoin, which the city refused to pay.)

The private sector won’t be spared from targeting, either. A recent Dharma Bip ransomware attack on a brewery involved attackers posting the brewery’s job listing on an international hiring website and submitting a resume attachment with a powerful ransomware payload.

Zero Day Vulnerabilities

“Because the cost of exploitation has risen so dramatically over the course of the last decade, we’ll continue to see a drop in the use of zero days in the wild (as well as associated private exploit leaks). Without a doubt, state actors will continue to hoard these for use on the highest-value targets, but expect to see a stop in Shadowbrokers-esqueoccurrences. Leaks probably served as a powerful wake-up call internally with regards to access to these utilities (or perhaps where they’re left behind). – Eric Klonowski, Webroot Principal Threat Research Analyst

Though the cost of effective, zero-day exploits is rising and demand for these exploits has never been higher, we predict a decrease in high-profile breaches. Invariably, as large software systems become more adept at preventing exploitation, the amount of expertise required to identify valuable software vulnerabilities increases with it. Between organizations like the Zero Day Initiative working to keep these flaws out of the hands of hackers and governmental bodies and intelligence agencies stockpiling security flaws for cyber warfare purposes, we are likely to see fewer zero day exploits in the coming year.

However, with the average time between the initial private discovery and the public disclosure of a zero day vulnerability being about 6.9 years, we may just need to wait before we hear about it.

The take-home? Pay attention, stay focused, and keep an eye on this space for up-to-the-minute information about cybersecurity issues as they arise.

Responding to Risk in an Evolving Threat Landscape

Reading Time: ~3 min.There’s a reason major industry players have been discussing cybersecurity more and more: the stakes are at an all-time high for virtually every business today. Cybersecurity is not a matter businesses can afford to push off or misunderstand—especially small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which have emerged as prime targets for cyberattacks. The risk level for this group in particular has increased exponentially, with 57% of SMBs reporting an increase in attack volume over the past 12 months, and the current reality—while serious—is actually quite straightforward for managed service providers (MSPs):

  • Your SMB clients will be attacked.
  • Basic security will not stop an attack.
  • The MSP will be held accountable.

While MSPs may have historically set up clients with “effective” security measures, the threat landscape is changing and the evolution of risk needs to be properly, and immediately, addressed. This means redefining how your clients think about risk and encouraging them to respond to the significant increase in attack volume with security measures that will actually prove effective in today’s threat environment.

Even if the security tools you’ve been leveraging are 99.99% effective, risk has evolved from minimal to material due simply to the fact that there are far more security events per year than ever before.

Again, the state of cybersecurity today is pretty straightforward: with advanced threats like rapidly evolving and hyper-targeted malware, ransomware, and user-enabled breaches, foundational security tools aren’t enough to keep SMB clients secure. Their data is valuable, and there is real risk of a breach if they remain vulnerable.Additional layers of security need to be added to the equation to provide holistic protection. Otherwise, your opportunity to fulfill the role as your clients’ managed security services providerwill be missed, and your SMB clients could be exposed to existential risk.

Steps for Responding to Heightened Risk as an MSP

Step 1: Understand Risk

Start by discussing “acceptable risk.” Your client should understand that there will always be some level of risk in today’s cyber landscape. Working together to define a businesses’ acceptable risk, and to determine what it will take to maintain an acceptable risk level, will solidify your partnership. Keep in mind that security needs to be both proactive and reactive in its capabilities for risk levels to remain in check.

Step 2: Establish Your Security Strategy

Once you’ve identified where the gaps in your client’s protection lie, map them to the type of security services that will keep those risks constantly managed. Providing regular visibility into security gaps, offering cybersecurity training,and leveraging more advanced and comprehensive security tools will ultimately get the client to their desired state of protection—and that should be clearly communicated upfront.

Step 3: Prepare for the Worst

At this point, it’s not a question of ifSMBs will experience a cyberattack, but when. That’s why it’s important to establish ongoing, communicative relationships with all clients. Assure clients that your security services will improve their risk level over time, and that you will maintain acceptable risk levels by consistently identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating gaps in coverage. This essentially justifies additional costs and opens you to upsell opportunities over the course of your relationship.

Step 4: Live up to Your Promises Through People, Processes, and Technology

Keeping your security solutions well-defined and client communication clear will help validate your offering. Through a combination of advanced software and services, you can build a framework that maps to your clients’ specific security needs so you’re providing the technologies that are now essential for securing their business from modern attacks.

Once you understand how to effectively respond to new and shifting risks, you’ll be in the best possible position to keep your clients secure and avoid potentially debilitating breaches.