Companies failing to get security basics right

Many organisations are failing to secure their tech infrastructure at a very basic level, according to Tanium CSO, David Damato.

david damato CIO Australia
Tanium's David Damato: Cyber criminals not using particularly advanced techniques to attack networks

Many organisations are failing to secure their tech infrastructure at a very basic level, according to Tanium CSO, David Damato.

Speaking to CIO in Sydney yesterday, Damato said organisations are not doing the simple things right such as vulnerability and asset management, or what he describes as ‘security hygiene.’

Damato said tools and techniques available in the marketplace are very specialised and look for high-end sophisticated attacks but still fail to address basic security needs.

He said that of the more than 100 security breaches he has worked on in the past, cyber criminals were not using particularly advanced techniques to attack each organisation’s network.

“So in every breach that I ever worked on, maybe except for a few government agencies, they [cybercriminals] for the most part were taking advantage of how we function as security groups – taking advantage of blind points in a large environment,” he said.

He said organisations were struggling with making sense of telemetry data across up to hundreds of thousands of end points rather than implementing technology to protect against next-generation threats. These threats could include an advanced nation state attack where crooks embed malware in a piece of hardware.

“But that’s such a low risk. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked people how many systems they have in their environment? And they say, ‘well, between 40,000 and 50,000 systems.’ That’s a big discrepancy.

Read more: Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Services grapples with 500 per cent database growth

“It’s that visibility that organisations lack. My message is stop focusing on the big ticket items that are maybe a little bit too advanced and aren’t really solving the challenges that most organisations are dealing with now,” he said.

Damato added that in many breaches, local user accounts would be shared among a number of different computers.

“So basically, if I get a password from one system, I can then spread across to other systems very easily using that credential. It’s the equivalent of if you had a lock on your door and you lost that key and I could pick that key up and use it in a bunch of other locks elsewhere.

Read more: Melbourne Water pushes mobile out into the field

“It’s very difficult for organisations to determine where that account exists, who’s using it, when it’s used or if it’s even required,” he said.

Damato has worked with organisations to reduce the external fallout of a data breach. Earlier this year while managing director at Mandiant - which was bought by FireEye in early 2014 - Damato was hired to investigate the data breach at US health insurance giant, Anthem, which exposed 78.8 million customer records.

"A lot of those organisations that hired me in the past ... I've helped them provide crisis management and communications and all the things that surround making sure an incident is well managed from a communications and regulatory perspective.

Read more: IT asset management software: A CFO lifesaver?

"But a lot of data breaches remain silent and if there's no reason to report them, it's very rare that you actually see a breach in the news," he said.

Industries such as mining in Australia are heavily targeted by nation states or at least were for a number of years, he said.

"Those aren't things that are always reported in the news. Australia has a number of very high profile corporations that make really interesting things and there's definitely nation states out there not stealing personal information but intellectual property which we probably never hear about."

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter and Like us on Facebook… Twitter: @CIO_Australia, Facebook: CIO Australia, or take part in the CIO conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia

Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnolly

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about CSOFacebookFireEyeTwitter

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by By Byron Connolly

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place