After a two-year hiatus, I was pleased to attend CYBERUK in-person for the first time since the pandemic started. Held in Wales, this was the fifth annual cybersecurity conference hosted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and I wasn’t going to miss it. However, I understand I’m one of the lucky ones, so I’ll summarize the highlights for those unable to attend.
To give a quick overview, there were over 2,000 attendees and 100 exhibitors at the May event, and the speaking roster included Hon Damian Hinds, Minister of State, Hon Steve Barclay, Downing Street Chief of Staff and Duchy of Lancaster, Simon Hepburn CEO at UK Cyber Security Council and Ami Alenka, Director of Security at MOJ, and more. The NCSC used the event to announce new tools within its Active Cyber Defence program to help combat online scams. Still in its inception, the program took down nearly 3 million scams last year alone.
Now that we’ve set the stage, here are some of my takeaways from the conference.
Ransomware Remains A National Threat
During his speech, Steve Barclay said the biggest cyber threat facing the UK and its national security is ransomware, and we must all be prepared to negate it. Rob Joyce, NSA Director of Cybersecurity, added that due to Russian sanctions making it difficult to move money, ransomware attacks have decreased in the last two months. Over the next few months, it will be an especially interesting time when it comes to analyzing new ransomware gangs, strains, and methods of attack.
Globally, the cost and threat to society remains very high, with the average cost of ransomware payments globally at $20 billion in 2021. As a result, a joint cybersecurity advisory authored by the FBI, NSA, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), The Australian Cyber Security Centre and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was released warning that last year’s security trends show a concerning increase in ransomware threats worldwide.
It’s clear to see that the industry recognizes that offensive capabilities will improve our defensive positioning against ransomware. It’s now more important than ever that the cybersecurity industry comes together to help thwart the rise of ransomware.
Cybersecurity – A Shared Responsibility
One key theme that was threaded throughout the conference was the ethos that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility – not just in businesses, but in homes and education too. Education should start at the grassroots level and the whole of society needs to be empowered with knowledge and tools to avoid a cybersecurity divide. An all-society approach makes us stronger.
As data breaches continue to make headline news, it’s important that organizations understand cybersecurity is everyone’s job. Security leaders need to help bolster defenses by not only ensuring that security training is accessible to all, but it’s also engaging and memorable. Those with little insight or concern towards personal online security, need to better understand why actions like implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) should be important to them. This training shouldn’t be exclusive for large organizations, but something feasible that small businesses can implement too. Having resources such as Cyber Essentials really help businesses to understand what they should be focusing their limited resources on, and updates to compliance regulations like PCI DSS 4.0 will help ensure that security isn’t an afterthought.
Protecting Supply Chain Security
There is concern that nation states are targeting Managed Service Providers (MSPs) looking for the weakest link to enter supply chains. Supply chain attacks exploit trust and if successful can be devastating. Log4J is a prime example of deeply embedded services in the supply chain. Customers need to be educated on how to manage MSPs and what to ask for as part of the service. Five Eyes issued a joint advisory setting out practical steps that MSPs and their customers can put in place to protect themselves. Some key recommendations included elements such as enabling/improving monitoring and logging process, enforcing MFA and applying the principle of least privilege.
There was also much discussion about the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the fact that cyber is now very much part of the arsenal of war. Online is the new frontline, so to speak. There was a concern that the rise in cyber vigilantism seen against Russia could spill over into general cybercriminal activities. On a positive note, the conflict has led to allies sharing intelligence to combat Russian cyber warfare. This kind of collaboration will be key to helping fight global adversaries now and in the future.
HelpSystems at CYBERUK
While at the HelpSystems booth, it was great to welcome customers and talk about their data security requirements. And, I’ll add, it was nice to see everyone in person again. In the fight against global ransomware, nation-state attacks and supply chain infiltration, it certainly is a positive step to get out to tradeshows and be reminded that you’re part of a community of elite, like-minded professionals who are asking the same questions and searching for the same security answers you are.
For all those that missed it – I hope to see you at our CYBERUK booth next year, or you can catch us on booth K60 at Infosecurity Europe in June.
After learning more about some of the key threats from CYBERUK 2022, are you wondering if your security posture can stand up to today’s threats? If so, you can talk to a cybersecurity expert at HelpSystems to learn more.