What are Socially-Engineered Cyber Threats? How Can Security-as-a-Service Help?

Today companies of all sizes feel an increasing need to devote more time and resources to network security.  And, for a good reason. Everywhere we look, there are new security threats emerging and new attack surfaces to exploit. As businesses continue the shift to the cloud and embrace a mobile and remote workforce, the traditional idea of maintaining security ‘behind the firewall’ will also continue to fall. Look at the emergence of Business Email Compromise (BEC) threats, for example. Also called whaling, a vital characteristic of these threats is that criminals impersonate a legitimate business stakeholder to extract funds from individuals who believe they are carrying out a routine business transaction. These attacks are sometimes called ‘socially engineered’ because hackers play on our social norms to trick recipients. Instead of investing in fancy malware, spoofed messages look authentic, and they are evading traditional email security solutions to arrive at employees’ email boxes. 

Unfortunately, these tactics have been very effective at tricking employees. Trend Micro has reported that business email compromise attacks are projected to exceed $9 billion in 2018. Criminals research and prepare for the attack by searching social media accounts online to gather details from accounts like LinkedIn. Using these techniques, hackers stole $55 million from a Boeing supplier a couple of years ago. The airline Ryanair was also hacked, and criminals managed to steal almost $5 million after a fraudulent electronic transfer was made to a Chinese bank using socially-engineered BEC tactics. (Source: Tripwire). While these are hard lessons on their own, it’s important to note that the numbers representing stolen funds do not include the costs associated with rebuilding an IT infrastructure or damage to the company brand.

Security-as-a-Service – Outworking hackers

In addition to the increasing complexity of attacks, there are also several other elements at play. Data protection and compliance requirements are expanding rapidly, along with the number of security products organizations typically require to stay secure. Facing these security challenges, what can companies due to protect themselves? Enter Security-as-a-Service or SEaaS. 

Cloud-based security-as-a-service offers significant advantages concerning cost savings, simplicity, and access to the advanced security products and approaches that companies need, without requiring major reinvestment every time there’s a new security product or update introduced. Purchased as a subscription model for a monthly fee, security-as-a-service offers organizations an opportunity to obtain enterprise-grade security applications, even with limited resources. IT departments can take advantage of security-as-a-service while reducing capital expenses and giving more time and resources back to internal IT teams. Let’s look at some of the top reasons why your business needs security-as-a-service right now.

  • Keep security solutions up-to-date and acting as one unit – Because it’s still relatively easy to spoof the source of an email, weak sender identification techniques will continue to present opportunities for creative attacks like BEC threats.  With these developments, organizations need security solutions that are always up-to-date and a security team behind them that knows how to manage security tools and can also set up necessary email authentication protocols. By outsourcing security tasks to a trusted expert, teams can strengthen their security posture in both areas. Security experts can install, configure, deploy, and manage these security solutions as one unit. Partners can also make event data available through one reporting system to enable proactive monitor and reporting for protection against BEC-type attacks that attempt to mimic legitimate emails. Security partners should take steps to block fraudulent emails by deploying Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) capabilities.
  • Going mobile! Security beyond the corporate network – The emergence of BYOD has many IT security specialists concerned. Today workers require access to their data and tools from anywhere and from any device. Managing corporate-issued or BYOD devices is a growing problem for many departments. Organizations can now secure devices, apps, data, and identities more systematically and cost-effectively with cloud-based security options. Security-as-a-Service can also curb IT’s need to be at the frontlines of security on employee’s mobile devices to ensure that a company’s internal network is safe. Your security-as-a-service solution should include secure mobile access and VPN for Windows, Apple iOS, Android devices, and enable partners and contractors to use the network securely. 
  • Making cybersecurity more cost-effective – Businesses deploying a cloud-based security-as-a-service solution can avoid the financial and technological risks associated with investing in on-premise hardware and technology. Because it isn’t necessary to invest and reinvest in security hardware, cloud-based security models are less expensive and scalable. Businesses are also finding that while security as a service isn’t a one-size-fits-all model, significant customization is not a requirement. Instead, security providers take responsibility for integration and troubleshooting. With a security service model, teams pay a monthly, predictable fee instead of throwing money to customize and maintain security technologies.

Helping the good guys win

Enterprises need to protect their corporate assets, data, and devices, but they also need to be profitable and agile to stay in business. Finding the right balance between these imperatives is increasingly challenging, with the deluge of security attacks and hackers’ increasing creativity. Security-as-a-service offers the ability to level the playing field for businesses in every industry. Adding a second layer of protection to in-house security systems at a reduced cost, IT pros can reduce the number of potential breaches and spend more time looking at security concerns from a strategic perspective.


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