Forensics Session Takeaways from Day 2

September 10, 2014, Michael Pyle,

Day two of the PCI Community Meeting presented an array of security topics ranging from best practices, EMV, security awareness, and more. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a forensics presentation, which leveraged information from a variety of industry leaders and provided valuable insight into cybercriminal organizations.

Below are some of the key takeaways from the session:

  • Cybercriminal organizations predominantly can be broken down into two groups: They are either highly organized cybercriminal organizations motivated solely by financial gain or, well-funded nation-state organizations whose international cyber warfare is fueled by political or social reasoning.
  • In 2013, 67% of all U.S. companies that experienced a security breach were infiltrated by techniques considered to be of low technical expertise.
  • The two most common attack surfaces cyber criminals used in 2013 were through web applications and the merchant’s POS machine. Together these two vectors were responsible for 50% of all merchant breaches in the U.S.
  • Ensuring the people behind the technology are properly trained is often overlooked when it comes to IT security. Social engineering attacks, which prey on unknowing employees who are misled into divulging sensitive information (passwords, usernames etc.) are estimated to successfully infiltrate an organization one out of every 40 attempts.

I was especially surprised by the second bullet point, which notes that the majority of security breaches last year used techniques that don’t leverage considerable technical expertise. In my opinion, this is actually good news! So to me, that sounds like 67% of U.S. companies could have had preventable security breaches in 2013; ethical white hat hackers could have exposed these vulnerabilities early using the same techniques that the bad guys deployed.

Michael Pyle

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