LEADING the June 29 panel discussion on building a security-minded culture at the Amcham Tech Hub Islands Summit, Bryan Kane, innovation director for Digicel Business, led with a provocative question.
Putting two links to a Digicel website up on a slide, he asked a room of experts which was the fake.
Kane was demonstrating a homoglyph domain used in phishing, which disguises the real URL by using a letter from another language in the domain name. The “L” in Digicel was a letter in another language that appeared identical to the Latin character set.
Microsoft analysed 1,700 homoglyph domains between January and July 2022 and discovered that 170 techniques were used to disguise URLs, but seven per cent of domains used just 14 techniques.
“Seventy per cent of attacks are the result of human error or misunderstanding,” Kane said. “People are the major culprits in cybersecurity lapses.
“I want you to remember that every single day within your organisations.
"Your people, your citizens, your employees, your users are having to deal with all these things, all the time. So they're receiving e-mails, Teams messages, SMS messages. How do they know what's real and what's not?”
The consequences can be dire. Vitra Gopee, moderator for the panel discussion, noted that according to IBM, it takes an average of 197 days to identify a security breach and 69 days to contain it. Factor in the months that can be lost trying to reconstruct lost business records and the cost of cybersecurity prevention begins to look much less expensive.
“I work with a lot of customers throughout the region and there is a gap between the board and CEO and cybersecurity,” said Stephen Juteram, VP for sales at Hitatchi.
“What we've seen happen is that organisations are taking strategic decisions for digital transformation and in many cases cybersecurity is an afterthought.”
“We’ve started to see more chief information security officers being hired to be that person in the C-Suite level and board level from a strategic perspective, making sure that the security is embedded security and privacy is embedded by design into the projects from day one.
“CEOs are responsible for cybersecurity,” agreed Kane.
“When a board of directors hires a CEO [cybersecurity] needs to be an interview question during that stage. Because when you think about it, CEOs can be fired for [the consequences of] a cyberattack. Now it’s a boardroom conversation.”
But Kane also advocates a company-wide response to the growing cybersecurity threat.
“To build a cyber security-minded culture, it's really all about education. Teach everybody everything. From the CEO all the way down to every individual user within the organisation. Everybody needs to understand why they're part of the problem and how they can be part of the solution. Don't leave any gaps. The CEO or the CIO is responsible for how this happens.”
The cybersecurity challenge is only going to grow as artificial intelligence begins to power tools. AI doesn’t need nap time or breaks or vacations, Kane warned.
“It just keeps going until it finds a way into the organisation, and then it passes that [access] on to a hacker.”
“AI can bring 24-7 visibility, it brings you to that point where you're able to collect information, analyse it in real time, you're able to isolate and you're able to repair and remediate.
“[Let’s say that] Brian logs on to his laptop in Trinidad and then 20 minutes later he logs on to his laptop in Poland. That sort of behaviour is not normal. AI can now detect this and help you to isolate Brian off the network, protect everybody else while we're dealing with Brian. Brian's a nuisance.”
The most important thing is to make a start and make it a good beginning.
“Stay vigilant.” Kane warned. “Don't allow them even an inch into your infrastructure. Do not give them any opportunity to get in. Always look for new ways to protect yourselves. Always be training your staff. Be vigilant when they're following the frameworks that you've laid out for them.”
“And it's simple things. You know the password policy? Nope? If you don't change a password, you're off the network. Be diligent about it. Be strict about it.”
“I believe in execution, I believe in beginning, I believe in starting something, even if it is just the basics, even if it's just the training and the endpoint protection with just those two things alone you can reduce your attack surface by up to 85 per cent.”
Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there