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Episode 15: Building Permanent Security Awareness

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RSA 2020 – Did Our Netskope Presentation Leave You Completely SASEfied?

Mar 06 2020

So, RSA 2020 has come, gone, and given us another year of memories. Catching up with friends, collecting t-shirts, cautious fist bumps, and – most importantly – time with fellow information security professionals. This year the cybersecurity themes ran wild – adoption of cloud security, analytics in the form of ML and AI, and the perennial threat management discussion, which was surprisingly not overshadowed by a named actor, such as APT #.

“Why everyone needs a cloud-first security program”

Netskope was lucky enough to have a number of speaking slots this year. We prepared and delivered a presentation in Moscone North Hall Briefing Center titled, “Why Everyone Needs a Cloud-first Security Program.” The abstract for this was:

“Keeping up with the evolving threat landscape has always been a challenge for security teams. Not only are attacks growing in complexity, but the cloud has made launching an attack even easier for malicious actors. Our traditional security stacks and capabilities are failing to keep pace with the changing threat landscape; both from external and internal threats.

In this session we will explore Gartner’s new SASE framework and how organizations can modernize their security stack by shifting to a cloud first security approach. Key elements of this shift include zero trust, visibility into cloud-based traffic, and cloud threat protection.” 

And while we did explore Gartner’s SASE framework, we also added in some very interesting items relating to the threat landscape and cloud security. That insight, some of which is featured below, is taken from the latest Netskope Cloud and Threat Report, and not something you will get from others.

Only Netskope has the visibility of cloud usage, and the focus on securing the cloud to perform this analysis…

The average number of cloud applications used by enterprises has skyrocketed to over 2,400 applications. This is up from last year’s figure of around 1,200 mostly because of the rapid adoption curve as enterprises continue to become comfortable with cloud. With this adoption we are also seeing some alarming threat trends, for the first time phishing attacks on SaaS (36%) have surpassed phishing attacks on payment systems (27%) and financial institutions (16%). This trend combined with the fact that in 2019, nearly 1 in 4 malicious URLs (24%) were found on trusted domains, would lead one to wonder – have hackers and nefarious actors adopted the cloud faster than we have? Yes!

We are seeing the cyber kill chain move to the cloud, and some interesting trends are emerging to support the fact that cybercriminals want your cloud identity more than your credit card number.

Here’s a simple cyber kill chain example:

Step 1. Setup a transparent phishing site to look like a trusted site on a trusted domain (for example, in a public cloud environment)

Step 2. Phish users to bring them to your new phishing site.

Step 3. When phished users visit, present them with the ability to login to their application – but through your malicious site

Step 4. Skim the user credentials, session token, and any other data 

…and you’re done!

This simple kill chain does not use complicated malware, there’s no command and control communications, only a little weaponization, no detectable payload, and it does not even require the user to be on the corporate computer or network, where perhaps traditional controls could have seen one step of this attack. These cloud-enabled kill chains continue to develop and proliferate, and they are something Netskope investigates and builds defenses for daily.

And the award for RSA buzzword 2020 goes to: SASE

The Secure Access Service Edge, as coined by Gartner in their 2019 report “The Future of Network Security is in the Cloud,” outlines a vision for building a converged enterprise network and security services architecture in the cloud. SASE is an approach, rather than something you can buy, but that doesn’t seem to stop certain vendors from claiming to be, or to have, a SASE solution.

As we talked about in our RSA presentation, SASE is a model that fits well with Netskope’s own vision of a cloud-first security program. The consolidation, and transformation to the cloud, of core security tools such as Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is happening, and rightly brings operational benefits and a lowering of cyber risk to organizations.

Here is a link to our presentation slides. 

Thanks for reading our blog, please feel free to connect with us, and if you came to our presentation at RSA, thank you! We hope you left completely SASEfied.

-Ross and James

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James Robinson
James is a seasoned professional with nearly 20 years of experience in security engineering, architecture and strategy. He develops and delivers a comprehensive suite of strategic services and solutions that help executives change their security strategies through innovation.