PwC’s CIO Roundtable 2017 – Master Data and other challenges

Thursday, 22.06.2017
18:00 – 19:00 hours
PwC Zurich
Birchstrasse 160, 8050 Zurich

About the event

Effective master data management is a key factor to success. Most companies are going through substantial transformation projects – either to become more effective or to open new business fields. What do have all these transformation projects in common? The difficulty of handling master data effectively and efficiently – knowing that master data is representing one of the basic pillars in companies’ information landscape. The way you build the governance, processes, tools and skills around this data is crucial and can speed up your transformation projects, or kill them instantly.

Do you want to find out more about challenges, issues and best practices ideas? Come and join us when we dive into the most relevant implications of master data management.

Registration Link

Contact Us

Alexej Freund
Senior Manager – Advisory Consulting
PwC Switzerland
Tel. +41 58 792 2754
alexej.freund@ch.pwc.com

Rejhan Fazlic
Manager – CIO Advisory
PwC Switzerland
Tel. +41 58 792 1148
rejhan.fazlic@ch.pwc.com

SWIFT Customer Security Programme – mandatory specifications to protect your local SWIFT infrastructures

The growing number of cyber-attacks, including those on the local infrastructures of SWIFT participants, has prompted SWIFT to create a security programme for its participants in order to fight together against cyber threats.

SWIFT published its Customer Security Programme in April 2017. It defines specific requirements to be met by all connected participants. The programme aims to improve the exchange of information within the SWIFT community, to ensure a high level of security for the local SWIFT infrastructure of participants, and to put in place an assurance framework to counter the ever growing number of cyber threats and strengthen the ability of SWIFT participants to combat cyber-attacks.

SWIFT Customer Security Programme

The programme calls upon all SWIFT participants to implement a control and assurance framework. The control framework consists of a set of 16 mandatory and 11 advisory security controls. The controls are based on existing SWIFT security guidelines, and are in line with good practice standards such as NIST, ISO/IEC 27002 and PCI-DSS. The mandatory controls establish a security baseline for the entire SWIFT community. SWIFT also recommends implementing the advisory controls to provide optimal protection for local SWIFT infrastructures.

Demands placed on SWIFT participants

The SWIFT Customer Security Programme will come into force on 1 January 2018. As well as applying to financial service providers, it is also valid for all companies that participate in the SWIFT network. Before the introduction of the programme, each SWIFT participant must conduct a self-assessment and notify SWIFT of its status regarding compliance with the controls (by the end of 2017). From 2018, all participants must confirm their compliance with controls on an annual basis. This confirmation can be provided via a self-assessment (self-attestation), internal audit (self-inspection) or external audit (third-party inspection). Participants are free to choose the type of confirmation they wish to submit. SWIFT will however also carry out regular spot checks of confirmations via internal or external audits for quality assurance purposes.

SWIFT participants must consider the following points in particular:

  • Should only the mandatory controls be implemented, or also the advisory ones?
  • How should the assurance framework be structured? Is self-assessment sufficient, or should an internal or external audit be conducted on a regular basis?
  • Should the status regarding compliance with controls be made public to other SWIFT participants?
  • How can it be ensured that controls continue to be adhered to in the future?

The support we offer you

SWIFT Readiness Assessment

We can help make sure you comply with the SWIFT requirements by 1 January 2018 by assessing your current status and highlighting any gaps.

SWIFT control support

We can provide support for the implementation of controls by means of a post-implementation review.

SWIFT compliance confirmation

We can assist you with your annual confirmation of compliance with SWIFT requirements.

Please feel free to contact our experts if you are interested in the topic.

More information

Contacts

Jens Probst
Director, Systems & Process
Assurance
+41 58 792 29 59
jens.probst@ch.pwc.com

Claudia Hösli
Senior Manager, Specialist Cyber Security
+41 58 792 14 85
claudia.hoesli@ch.pwc.com

Marco Schurtenberger
Senior Manager, Specialist Cyber Security
+41 58 792 22 33
marco.schurtenberger@ch.pwc.com

The ransomware that made the world cry

The last few days of the cybersecurity community have been heated up by a vast-scale ransomware attack rippling across the world. On Friday 12 May came the first announcements of victims infected with a ransomware dubbed WannaCry (also known as WCry or Wanna Decryptor). It soon became clear that the scale of this wave was bigger than usual. According to the last estimates, the malware infected more than 250,000 systems in as many as one hundred countries. The list of victims is long and includes notorious names across all sectors. In some cases, the malware had unfortunate consequences. For instance, a few hospitals in the United Kingdom had to cancel their scheduled surgeries and some students in China lost their graduation thesis.

What we know

The malware encrypts and adds the extension “.WCRY” to all files that match a list of 176 specific extensions including documents, database and backup files. The victim is requested to pay between USD 300 and 600 in Bitcoins to get its files back. So far, there is no evidence that a payment will effectively provide the key for decrypting the files. In their message, the authors threaten to delete the file forever if their request is not met within eight days. The international ambitions of this campaign are made clear by the fact that the ransom message is translated in 28 languages.

Once the initial host has been infected, the ransomware dropper makes use of the MS17-010 vulnerability of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol to spread laterally through the network. The exploit using this vulnerability has been made public by the group Shadow Broker on 14 April 2017 in a leak of hacking tools allegedly crafted by a state actor. Microsoft had released a patch a month before.

Switzerland has not been spared. The Swiss GovCERT declared that until Sunday evening there were roughly 200 potential victims. The number of victims could steeply increase, as there are more than 5,000 systems directly connected to the Internet over a SMB protocol.

What is still unclear

Despite the overwhelming information, some points still remain unclear. First, it is not yet known how the dropper is initially delivered to the victims. According to one hypothesis a spear phishing e-mail should have spread the malicious attachment. However, no such e-mails have surfaced yet. In its alert, the US-CERT claimed that hackers gained access to the victims’ network either through Remote Desktop Protocol or through the exploitation of the critical Windows SMB vulnerability mentioned above. Second, the identity of the authors is wrapped in mystery. Given the financial nature of the attack, the dominant hypothesis states that the attack has been launched by a criminal group. However, it should not be forgotten that in the past even state actors were involved in spectacular heists. Fresh discoveries suggest that the malware might be linked to Lazarus, a state actor group believed to be involved in the infamous SWIFT attack against the Bangladesh Central Bank of February 2016. So far, the authors have neither spent nor transferred the Bitcoins they obtained. At this stage, it is difficult to make further assertions on the attribution of the attack.

Main takeaways

As previously mentioned, the exploit used in this attack was leaked in April this year. By that time, the vendor had already released a patch to correct the flaws. Unfortunately, many users ignored this threat and were not much eager to install the patch. This episode should serve as a reminder that threat actors will reuse leaked tools and that without a proper prophylaxis an incident is just around the corner.

As reported by the media, a young IT-security researcher could temporarily curb the attack by registering a “kill-switch” domain that told the ransomware to stop spreading itself. Unfortunately, new versions of the malware without this feature have already been spotted in the wild. Furthermore, the threat intelligence community generously shared a lot of indicators and advices helping organisations to identify, prevent and dwarf the impact of infections. These common efforts have to be praised and should continue in the future.

Recommendations

If not done yet, apply the MS17-010 patches immediately. As short-term actions, your IT team should consider to:

  • disable all external SMB access (blocking ports 137, 139 and 445 to/from the internet);
  • disable the use of the SMBv1 network file sharing protocol;
  • ensure two-factor authentication is in place for all necessary external accesses to systems (e.g. VPN and RDP);
  • update the antivirus signatures;
  • rapidly isolate the infected system from your corporate network to curb the spreading of the infection;
  • backup the encrypted files in case a decryption tool become available, if you have already fallen victim to the ransomware.

On a more long-term approach, consider to plan and exercise a business continuity programme, adopt and test an incident response strategy, a consistent patch and vulnerability management, as well as a regular backup policy and security awareness raising trainings.

PwC can provide you with the necessary assistance and counsel to address these issues and improve your overall security posture. PwC strongly believes in a holistic approach to cyber security by offering a wide variety of services covering all the phases of the cyber lifecycle: from strategy and policy development to its implementation and review.

Why is the latest attack different and what is its relevance for boards? Read more.

In case of questions, please contact us at
cyberinvestigation@ch.pwc.com

 

Switzerland targeted in sustained global cyber campaign

PwC and BAE Systems have recently concluded an intensive investigation into an espionage network dubbed APT10. Our Advanced Cyber Defense team in Switzerland has been involved in the detection, response and remediation of the attack in multiple sectors where Swiss based clients have fallen victim to this campaign.

Over the last year we have seen sustained targeted attacks against major organisations in Switzerland. The attacks have specifically targeted managed IT service providers (MSPs) and used these networks to reach MSPs customers. This potentially gave unprecedented global access to the intellectual property and sensitive data of those MSPs and their clients.
As part of the investigations carried out by our Swiss, UK and global teams, we have linked these activities to similar attacks in more than 14 countries. PwC has gone public with this because although we have already seen several companies compromised, there may be many other organisations affected. We recommend performing a cybersecurity breach assessment to detect whether your organisation has been previously compromised, and to use tailored threat intelligence to manage risk effectively.

World-wide, the campaign has targeted many Japanese state entities, and in the US, defence-related as well as telecommunication companies. The construction, retail and consumer, energy and mining, technology, professional services, metals, industrial manufacturing, and public sector were also targeted.

What is APT10?

APT10 has targeted “managed IT service providers” and has used them as a springboard to crawl through networks. The group behind the campaign has been using a wide variety of malware which has evolved over time. This has included: RedLeaves, PlugX, Poison Ivy, EvilGrab, and mimikatz. These tools used as part of the campaign have been around for quite some while and passed around within criminal circles.

The campaign uses an impressive network of command-and-control servers. PwC assesses the energy and resources invested into the campaign as high and sustained.

Attribution

PwC was successful in attributing the attack to the campaign by seeking analytical conclusions from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, all pointing to the same conclusion. Reverse engineering of the malware revealed a command-and-control infrastructure as well as recognisable characteristics. Additional folders and file conventions and paths further shed light on associated techniques, tools, and procedures (TTPs). Robust intelligence corroborated with similar indicators and activities across related victims. Lastly, the modus operandi, targeted information and temporal analysis of activities when compared to similar activities at the time and in the industry reinforced PwC’s conclusions.

Several indicators point to the instigators being located in East Asia. Most strikingly, the timestamps of registration of domains for the important network of command-and-control servers as well as the compilation time would appear to make sense for an actor based within this region. Many of these indicators could be faked to induce investigators to draw the wrong conclusions. However, to do so consistently across several types of evidence, and without hinting at another geographical location would be rather exceptional.

Further investigations are still being carried out to try to determine more exactly who could be behind the attacks. Attribution is a lengthy investigative process, but we believe that the report needed to come out quickly to help organisations protect their networks as much as possible.

What to do

The report includes a long list of Indicators-of-Compromise. It is advisable to upload these into your systems to protect against future possible attacks. Furthermore, for organisations in targeted sectors with high value intellectual property we recommend conducting a threat hunt into your network to identify whether you have been targeted by the attacks.

PwC also recommends at a minimum two factor authentication for jump posts where managed service providers (MSP) enter client networks. The compromise and data exfiltration is done via system and MSP administrator accounts so having stronger controls around these entry points are key. Additionally, increasing visibility across the enterprise through a holistic logging policy would further assist.

Should you need any help to conduct such assessment, PwC would gladly assist you in any way we can. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us: PwC Swiss Breach Aid Team

The report and the technical indicators can be found here
 

Reto Häni
Cyber Security Leader
+41 79 345 01 24
reto.haeni@ch.pwc.com

Lessons from a hack

What links spies, hackers, cookies and a grey Aston Martin DBS? The answer can be found in the indictment against four suspects that the U.S. Department of Justice published last week. The four individuals are accused of breaching into the networks of a large telecommunication company in 2014 and of stealing large amounts of client data. Despite the legal jargon (albeit with a few sparks of technical details), the reading of the document reveals some interesting aspects in regard to cyber security.

The blurring line between cyber crime and cyber espionage

Cyber security experts have repeatedly pointed out that intelligence services are keen on taking advantage of the abilities of cyber criminals by hiring and mandating them for penetrating into their targets’ networks and siphon out sensitive data. The indictment confirms this practice. Two of the defendants are allegedly officers of a foreign intelligence service and have been accused of “[directing] criminal hackers, […], to gain unauthorized access to computers of companies”.

The increasingly blurring line between cyber crime and cyber espionage makes the attribution of cyber incidents more complex. As cyber criminals offer their services and tools on underground markets of the dark web, a same tool can be used in several campaigns and by different threat actors, even intelligence agencies. Hence, the approach for declaring the instigators of a cyber attack needs to go beyond the mere technical details (i.e., the so-called indicator of compromise [IOC], such as the signature of malware used or the IP addresses of command and control servers). The attribution process must take into account nontechnical aspects such as the nature of the target and the type of the information stolen. These elements are then to be interpreted within a geopolitical framework.

Tools, techniques and procedures

The indictment gives an interesting insight into the techniques used by criminals to gain unauthorized access to a system. The methods listed by the Department of Justice include advanced techniques such as spear phishing and cookies minting. In the first case, the hackers had sent ad hoc tailored e-mails designed to resemble messages from a trustworthy source luring the recipients to either open an attachment carrying a malware or to click on a malicious link. In the latter, the suspects had forged session cookies to gain unauthorized access to the e-mail accounts of the victim. Furthermore, in order to make the task of the investigators more difficult and to “reduce the likelihood of detection”, the criminals had covered their tracks by leasing servers in different countries and using VPN. Once inside the system of the breached company, they also had run log cleaners to erase their traces.

The indictment does not report either the malware used or any IOC, it however highlights the high skills and versatility of cyber criminals these days. They are professionals able to use a large set of tools and to combine different techniques ranging from social engineering to the use of malware. When defending your company’s network, you have to be aware of this and consequently implement a comprehensive security infrastructure without neglecting employees’ awareness training.

Collateral damage

The victim of the breach is a well-known e-mail provider with millions of users and even more e-mail accounts. By breaching the company’s network, the hackers had gained access to thousands of e-mail accounts. According to the charges, the suspects had had access to accounts of journalists, politicians, government officials, sales managers and even to the ones belonging to a Chief Technology Officer. Among the victims there were also 14 employees of a Swiss Bitcoin wallet and banking firm.

The intelligence officers were more interested in personal information about specific political targets; on the other hand, the hackers rather sought financial data for their personal enrichment. Apparently, the business activity was somewhat lucrative as the list of the forfeited goods mentions a grey Aston Martin DBS.

As widely reported in the media, the breached company was in the process of being acquired. In the aftermath of this very disclosure and of another previous one, the price of the deal was reduced by $300 million. Also, taking responsibility for the breach, the company’s CEO decided to renounce her annual bonus. Yes, a security breach can have heavy and real repercussions for the company and its employees.

Recommendations

This breach showcases the importance of not having your personal and business data on a single webmail without protecting it. We strongly recommend using encrypted communication for any sensitive information. Moreover, the criminals reused the stolen passwords to log into other accounts belonging to the users. As a good security reflex, you should never reuse your password across different services.

PwC strongly believes in a holistic approach to cyber security by offering a wide variety of services covering all the phases of the cyber lifecycle: from strategy and policy development to its implementation and to incident response. PwC cyber security services can help your company improve its security posture to face old and new threats.

Contact us if you would like to discuss this topic.

Reto Haeni
Cyber Security Leader
+41 79 345 01 24
reto.haeni@ch.pwc.com

Mark Barwinski
Director, Cyber Security
+41 58 792 20 89
mark.barwinski@ch.pwc.com

The end of trust? Balancing privacy with profits in the digital world

Over the past 20 years, technology has penetrated our business and personal lives at a speed and on a scale that few would have predicted. Yet while technology creates enormous opportunities, it also exposes us to significant risks. We can now source goods and services from across the world with a couple of mouse clicks, but that convenience comes at a price. Many of us, myself included, worry that we’re unintentionally compromising our privacy and the security of our personal data by shopping online.

As our markets leader in Switzerland, I had the good fortune to be in Davos last month where we launched our 20th CEO survey to the global media. I can’t remember a time when trust has been more prominent than it is today. Although it wasn’t a focus area in the earlier years of our CEO research, it’s been steadily climbing up the agenda. And most, the financial crisis and the political focus on the tax affairs of multinationals have eroded both customers’ and other stakeholders’ trust in businesses. Our survey shows how heavily this erosion is weighing on CEOs. More than half (58%) were worried that a lack of trust in business would harm their business, a significant jump from 37% in 2013.

In some respects, technology has made us more trusting than before. This is best demonstrated by the sharing economy, where digital platforms connect strangers who are willing to share cars and homes. Overall, however, technology is acting as a drain on trust, especially where people believe they are dealing with ‘faceless corporations’ instead of someone like themselves. A never-ending stream of cyber attacks, system disruptions and phishing scams creates the impression – accurately, in many respects – that the internet is not a safe place. We increasingly have to differentiate ‘real news’ from ‘fake news’ and we fear that governments and companies are abusing our personal information. No wonder more than two-thirds (69%) of CEOs are firmly convinced that it’s getting harder for businesses to gain – and retain – people’s trust.

Customer data is a great asset to companies, which use it to influence purchasing behaviour. It will be an even greater asset still once the Internet of Things has expanded to include host of devices ranging from smart watches and heart monitors to refrigerators and cars. Understandably then, customer data is probably the most pressing trust issue for CEOs, with 91% saying that breaches of data privacy and ethics will have a negative impact on stakeholder trust in the next five years. Our research suggests they are right to hold this view since 84% of people we spoke to at the same time as we surveyed the CEOs confirmed that breaches do indeed undermine their trust in companies.

Of course, companies will want to use data generated by the Internet of Things to serve their customers better, but they must also avoid intruding on their customers’ privacy or allowing their customers’ data to fall into the wrong hands (and indeed new EU regulations in the form of the General Data Protection Regulation will come into force next year to help further protect individual’s personal data).

Another major challenge to businesses is cyber espionage, the modern-day equivalent of industrial espionage. This is the practice of using computers to gain access to confidential information held by another organisation. Furthermore, more than half (53%) of CEOs are afraid that trust will be undermined by global cyber warfare – where government-backed hackers target another nation’s crucial energy or security infrastructure, commercial assets or mass transport system.

CEOs recognise that trust is an opportunity as well as a risk. Significantly, 64% of those surveyed believe that how their firm manages data will be a differentiating factor in future. The businesses that flourish will balance getting and using data with the social consequences of those actions. They will actively engage with stakeholders and invest heavily in their IT security, risk and governance strategies. Ultimately, in an environment where the line of acceptability regarding data usage will be constantly moving, the ability to earn trust will be one of the greatest determinants of business success. Read more about what’s on the mind of the CEO in our 20th CEO Survey.

Cybersecurity: A peek into the nuts and bolts of a state cyber apparatus

WikiLeaks, the platform that has in the past released thousands of classified US diplomatic cables and, more recently, emails from the Democratic National Committee, has now published leaked documents which it claims came from the CIA. The documents detail tools the intelligence agency uses for surveillance. This includes notably kits to penetrate computers (from Windows to OS X), mobile phones (iOS, Android) and many other devices.

Why is this relevant?

It has been known for some years that intelligence services also launch cyber attacks. In so doing, they add new malware and create new “threats” to the security landscape. The secret way services operate has contributed to certain expectations, at times exaggerated, as to what their capabilities are. The leak offers us a peek into what a state intelligence service does and how it operates to breach systems. For cyber security specialists, this is in a way a boon to learn how they can make their network more resilient – provided that they are in measure to correctly digest the information.

Furthermore, because of their sometimes sizeable budget, a few intelligence services can set the tone as to what is the most sophisticated way to perform successful and stealthy attacks. The leaks provide, however, a slightly different perspective.

Should we be worried?

One of the stories to make the headlines concerned spying via Smart TV. It is, however, much less scary than it may sound. The TVs were not hacked remotely, but malware was introduced physically into them.

Many intelligence services go after specific targets. The way they operate means that they will seek to obtain further information about what a specific person is up to because the agency will already have received a hint from another source that the person is involved in terrorist activities, nuclear or chemical weapons proliferation, or organised crime for instance. The agency then works its way through to have surveillance in place – be it through remote cyber means or through human intelligence (HUMINT) and up-close support by a network of assets (recruits).

What the leaks show is that agencies, logically, can use their strongest assets to put such surveillance systems into place, humans: either they physically go in themselves or utilise these recruits to inject malware via up-close support. Regardless of an organisation’s cyber security, it is very likely that the agency will be able to circumvent it this way. For an intelligence service to use a Smart TV as a bugging device is in the end not so different than if they had installed their own in-house-developed listening device after breaking into a target’s home.

Therefore, if an organisation comes into the crosshair of an intelligence service, it may have bigger problems to worry about than only to know whether it is under surveillance.

Similarly and in addition, up-close physical contact is commonly utilised by such intelligence agencies in a broad set of countries to gain persistence into mobile devices. Such activities often take place in hotel rooms where unsuspecting users sometimes may leave telephones, iPads, and laptops unattended for a few hours at a time. It may only take a matter of seconds for a trained operative to equip a personal device with new software or hardware. If successful, these agencies may harvest a treasure trove of information, which could include all email communications, as well as the ability to monitor live sound and video, banking transactions, and geolocation coordinates and much more – essentially a complete pattern of life. (Patterns of life are akin to human fingerprints making it possible for intelligence agencies to maintain detail awareness of a target’s actions.) It is therefore wise to maintain awareness of the location of all personal devices during business trips to foreign destinations in order to minimise access to such devices by unauthorised individuals.

If there is a point on which to rejoice is that in this latest apparent tool release, a few commonly known communication applications, which use encryption to keep people’s conversations private, seem to be genuinely safe to use. As the leaks appear to indicate, state intelligence services utilise Trojans to penetrate targets’ cell phones, highlighting that they probably have not been able to crack the encryption algorithms. Users may find comfort in that their private sphere may very well remain protected in some circumstance and for some mobile device models.

What are the largest takeaways?

The toolkit exposed is less sophisticated and impressive than others, which would stem from a signal intelligence agency. This is probably because certain agencies can use other “human” means to gain an entry point into a network.

All intelligence agencies are not alike and many within the same countries operate under different mandates, authorities, and areas of specialisation. Such is the case for this most recent release of tools associated with an agency focused on the collection of foreign intelligence through highly targeted activities and sometimes via up-close tactical operations – mass surveillance is generally not considered associated with the operating principles of an agency not focussing on signal intelligence, in other words.

As a consequence, the released information does not contain zero-days, and shows that intelligence services can reuse portion of codes garnered on the internet or already deployed by criminals and other intelligence services. Albeit from being practical, this also adds to the confusion for whoever tries to attribute the attacks honouring the principles of deception and plausible deniability.

A second point which follows is that many of the leaks showcase that the agency merely makes good use of unpatched systems. Some of the released information may well be quite old – such as a document concerning the rapid copying of 3.5 inches disk – but it seems in accordance with PwC’s views that many unpatched systems still leave the door open as much to criminals as to intelligence services.

Open questions

The US intelligence community has been very much in the spotlight for the past couple of months – and the timing for the release of the leaks could not be more awkward. It comes at a time when intelligence agencies have likely been tasked to take action against those responsible for influencing the democratic electoral process in the country. The timing hence raises the question whether there are motives behind the leaks other than the obvious ones. If we are to accept recent reports of such activities, then such a release of tools may signal a pre-emptive action designed to hinder retaliation. This should incite us to be cautious as to how we interpret them and not to take information at face value, especially as some of it may also not be genuine.

Once more, the leaks appear to seek to damage the organisation at least in two ways: it will have to rebuild tools to ensure that it can continue its surveillance of terrorists and others; and it will have to double its efforts to ensure to its international partners that information they give to the agency will remain confidential.

Threat intelligence?

Now that this information about a state’s capabilities lies in the open, it makes sense to integrate it into an organisation’s security posture: professional criminals are likely to seek to reuse what they can perceive as top-notched hacking tips. To do so requires understanding the context of the information (of the leaks but also of the functioning agencies behind the leaks) and having appropriate technical systems in place.

PwC is a global leader in security services and has multiple threat intelligence teams globally including in Switzerland. Furthermore, PwC built one of the world leading threat detection and intelligence platforms “Secure Terrain”. The platform is based upon the most advanced analytics technology to pull information out of large amounts of data that traditional methods would not be able to digest. Combined with our threat intelligence, PwC can provide the tools, methods and (if needed) people to detect, and respond to, advanced attacks in an intelligence-driven way.

Contact us if you would like to discuss this topic.

Reto Haeni
Cyber Security Leader
+41 79 345 01 24
reto.haeni@ch.pwc.com

Mark Barwinski
Director, Cyber Security
+41 58 792 20 89
mark.barwinski@ch.pwc.com

Gozi’s Activity in Switzerland

Recent media reports have highlighted once again that a large number of organisations are vulnerable to cyber threats and at risk of significant losses, and this in Switzerland as well.

Last week, it emerged that two medium sized Swiss companies have fallen victim to a theft perpetrated via cyber attacks totalling almost CHF1.6 million; CHF338,000 could still not be retrieved to this day. In both cases, the malicious transfers did not occur because of stolen e-banking credentials – the more common way – but rather through a third party payment processing software. The software works as a one-password manager and makes life easier for companies to send payments to and receive such from contractors. Yet, it also opens new ways for criminals to steal money. A well-known malware also played a role in the heists: Gozi.

What is Gozi?

Gozi is an old acquaintance for cyber security experts. It first appeared in 2007 with the main feature of stealthily stealing online banking credentials through web injection attacks. In a nutshell, e-banking malwares function as follow: after infecting the user’s systems, they modify the content of the webpages of e-banking sessions. They record the user’s activity as well as all its inputs and communicate them to the crooks. With the stolen information, the criminals are able to connect to the user’s banking account and make illicit payments.

Throughout the years, the Gozi malware family has grown so much that many major financial institutions around the world have fallen to it. Even if its authors were arrested and sentenced in the US, the malware’s activity would not cease. Its source code was leaked on two occasions, allowing other cyber criminals to reuse it. The charges against the authors reveal that Gozi was sold online on underground forums with a professional cybercrime-as-a service business model. The authors sold a customised version of the malware meeting the customer’s needs and they provided the necessary infrastructure for running it.

Last year, cyber security researchers spotted a new variant of the malware targeting the users of the web browser “Edge” in Windows 10. Furthermore, several worldwide campaigns against banks in Spain, Poland, Japan, Canada, Italy and Austria were brought to light. These findings were aligned with the ones of another security vendor. During the last year, this vendor observed a resurgence in attacks related to banking Trojans and especially the spreading of the Gozi malwares making them a worrisome threat for e-banking customers.

Recommendations

A few third party payment processing software solutions already implement a 4-to-6 eyes principle depending on the amounts to be transferred. However, issues arise when this principle can be circumvented with the help of a malware such as Gozi, or more generally, when the whole Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is bypassed. In other words, fraudulent payment instructions can then be processed directly into the banking software.

Hence, a reasonable advice against this is to put such software within systems which malware could not easily reach. The security perimeter around such third party payment processing software should be strengthened in comparison with the rest of the network. This means:

  • enforcing high encryption standards with credible authentication;
  • if supported, minimum two-factor authentication within the bank application before payments are executed;
  • multifactor authentication for access to the bank application;
  • implementing role based controls based on individual staff roles and responsibilities;
  • if possible, implementing application white listing on those most sensitive systems hosting payment software;
  • reviewing the security of all systems that are involved in the banking process as one weak link could enable a successful compromise;
  • securing the endpoints as they are one of the most easily reachable entry points for attackers: this implies protecting endpoints by restricting access rights and prevent executables and scripts from being invoked as well as carrying out awareness training to foil phishing attacks;
  • assuming that the network is already compromised and not reusing passwords for the banking systems. Taking network hygiene seriously by segregating the network is also a must-do.

In addition, it would be prudent for businesses and their corresponding banks to discuss and establish procedural safeguards, such as restricting transactions or increased scrutiny around transactions destined to individuals or to organisations in high-risk countries. For example, if your business does not transact internationally, fund transfers to organisations in suspicious countries should be immediately flagged. Therefore, controls can include:

  • restrictions on payments to certain countries (or “white listing” of allowed countries if that is possible);
  • limit payment amounts to specific groups of suppliers and payees (that is to say, specific “white listing” of specific payees where higher value payments are allowed);
  • manually validate large amounts;
  • manually check especially first new payees;
  • limit individual’s competencies;
  • segregation of duties (creating the invoices separated from executing the very payment);
  • and lastly, additional validation of SWIFT payment codes against an independently held master file copy of authorised payees.

A caveat would still remain: many of these aforementioned recommendations can still be overridden to some extent if the attackers have inside knowledge, or if they manage to obtain credentials to the system which would allow them to read internal documents describing processes. Therefore, mitigating actions should be handled with the sensitivity they deserve. Limited dissemination of the information and “need to know” practices would further safeguard the integrity of the payment systems.

Download this blog post in PDF-format.

Contact us if you would like to discuss this topic.

Reto Haeni
Cyber Security Leader
+41 79 345 01 24
reto.haeni@ch.pwc.com

Mark Barwinski
Director, Cyber Security
+41 58 792 20 89
mark.barwinski@ch.pwc.com

The Chinese Cybersecurity Law has been finalised – what is it about?

China’s Cybersecurity Law enforces the cybersecurity rights and obligations of the government, network operators and users.

Compliance with the new law is ushering in a range of new challenges for both government and business. In order to protect the rights of all stakeholders, it will be essential to ensure appropriate network operations, encourage network innovation, identify security risks and comply with regulatory requirements.

Highlights

  • China’s top legislature adopted its cybersecurity Law on Nov 7, 2016. After a third reading at the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, it is now set to take effect on June 1, 2017.
  • The law defines the scope of critical infrastructure, and sets the foundations for enforcing penalties on overseas organisations and individuals who attack or break the nation’s critical infrastructure.
  • The law puts more emphasis on personal information security, cybercrime, network product and service security, obligations of network operators, and sovereignty rights over cyberspace.

All organisations collecting “personal information” and “critical data” in China could be impacted, including:

  1. Network operators. The law enforces the security obligations of network operators, which are widely defined to include owners, administrators and network service providers. This includes, but is not limited to, telecommunication operators, network information service providers, and important information system operators.
  2. Network product and service provider. Organisations which provide information through networks or provide services for the purpose of obtaining information, including users, network service providers and non-profit organisations which provide network tools, devices, information, media, access, etc.
  3. Critical infrastructure. The law specifies requirements related to the operational security of critical infrastructure, and stresses the importance of protecting the critical infrastructure for public communication, media, energy, transportation, water conservation, financial services, public services and e-government industries.
  4. Overseas organisations and individuals. Includes, but is not limited to, foreign trade enterprises, organisations, groups and individuals.

What is the impact for other countries?

  • With the new cybersecurity law taking effect on 1st June 2017, transferring/storing of personal data outside China, and using network and password equipment not certified by the government will be prohibited.
  • More stringent regulations and requirements will be applied; for instance, the requirement of security assessment prior to the cross-border transfer of personal, sensitive data by enterprises.
  • Foreign organisations and individuals found guilty of attacking China’s critical infrastructure are subject to punishment specified by the law.

What penalties might be incurred?

Organisations found violating the law will be liable to fines, with the responsible managers subject to imprisonment and banned from taking network security and operation management positions in the future.

How PwC can help

As a multidisciplinary company, we are the ideal partner to help you adapt to the new regulatory environment. Our regulatory team includes cross-border initiatives and compliance specialists, IT auditors, lawyers and strategy consultants. They are globally oriented and have local expertise.

If you are interested in this topic or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Management of cyber risks for hospitals

Context

The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) is a network of security expertise. It provides assistance to member states of the Union European both in the private and public sectors to increase infrastructure security resilience and compliance with EU legislation.

ENISA has just released a study about the shift for hospitals from the “traditional hospital” model towards a “smart hospital” one. A hospital becomes “smart” when more and more Internet of things (IoT) devices are used and connected to the network in the hospital.

While this new way of working offers undeniable benefits, it also brings new security challenges. As such dependency on IT is increasing ant the risks need to be managed appropriately as do cybersecurity and resilience considerations.

Goal and methodology

The study aims at reviewing the threats and vulnerabilities associated with smart hospitals and upcoming digitalisation. It takes a separate look at the technical and organisational measures that must be set up to reduce these risks to an acceptable level.

To get a global understanding, the process involved the participation of more than 30 security professionals in senior positions from either the hospitals, the health industry, or policy-making agencies. The study summarizes nine main gaps that need to be addressed by hospitals in order to be ready to adapt to IoT devices and move forward in the digital transformation.

 Highlights

 The following conclusions were reached by ENISA:

  1.  The top two threats perceived by respondents are caused by human errors (first) and malicious activities (second). These threats can also cause maximum damage to hospitals (77% for malicious actions and 70% for human errors)
  2. Respondents clearly identified infrastructure as the most critical asset for small hospitals (please refer to chart 1)
  3. Respondents considered that among deployed measures, only few are actually effective and most of these are technical (please refer to chart 2).

hospital study

hospital study2

Conclusion of the ENISA study

Hospitals are not ready for the digital future and smart devices because

  • IT assets are not managed in a central inventory – the study offers a categorisation schema to do so
  • Threats and risks are not assessed and consequently managed – the study offers a taxonomy of threats applicable to smart hospitals
  • Identification of good practice and the gaps in good practice in a hospital are not identified and closed in a timely manner – the study identified nine major gaps which are seen in most hospitals

How PwC can help

The question is no longer whether a hospital can be the target of a cyberattack but when.

Based on our experience, both as auditors and cybersecurity consultants, we have developed an approach which helps to enhance the security stance of hospitals. Our approach comprises the assessment of three aspects: people, processes and technology.

An appropriate level of cybersecurity, compliance and privacy requires a structured approach balancing governance, processes and technology. It includes:

  1. A strategy for how to address cyberthreats, manage risks and establish governance
  2. Identifying the IT assets, the risks and responsible roles in and for the organisation
  3. Protecting IT assets and data appropriately
  4. Detecting cyberattacks, data exfiltration and human errors early and efficiently
  5. Responding effectively to IT security incidents and
  6. Recovering according to defined time objectives to minimize business impact

By the end of the assessment, you will be aware of any gaps with respect to regulatory requirements and of how your security programme lies compared to industry good practices.

strategy hospital

bild health

If you have any questions or remarks, please do not hesitate to contact me.