What is Threat Monitoring

SecurityStudio recently announced adding a new feature to S2Me and S2Team called “Threat Monitoring”. It’s wrong to assume that everyone knows what threat monitoring is, so we put together a short article to explain. A threat, and the definition of “threat”, is best understood when they are put into context, and this is where we’ll start.

S2Me and S2Team are both risk management tools. S2Me is for personal risk management and S2Team is for employee personal risk management.

The key to managing risk is understanding risk.

The understanding of “risk” is critical to understanding the concept of information security, privacy, and personal safety. The meaning of risk is also very important to the meaning of threat(s) because they’re interrelated.

Risk is the likelihood of something bad happening combined with the impact of something bad happening.

The “something bad happening” is derived from threats and vulnerabilities. A threat is “a person or thing likely to cause damage or danger” and a vulnerability is a weakness (in protection). Threats, when applied to vulnerabilities, result in risks.

Do you see the relationship? It might be a little clearer when we substitute “something bad happening” in our risk definition. When we do, the definition of risk looks like this:

Risk is the likelihood of a (threat acting upon a vulnerability) combined with the impact of the (threat acting upon a vulnerability). Risks are difficult to predict, but there are many examples:

  • The risk of a compromised bank account.
  • The risk of ransomware.
  • The risk of lost personal information.
  • The risk of lost privacy.

The number of risks we face each day can be great, depending on many factors.

SecurityStudio’s threat monitoring is our method of monitoring threats (“person or thing”) that are likely to cause you damage or danger.

How SecurityStudio’s Threat Monitoring Works

Threat monitoring is an evolving science. Threats are always evolving, techniques to discover threats are always evolving, and SecurityStudio’s solutions are always evolving too.

This first version of our threat monitoring solution is simple and focused. We’re identifying data breaches and incidents where your account or personally identifiable information may have been compromised, then notifying you to take some action in response. We follow a simple four-step process:

  1. Discovery – SecurityStudio systems are constantly scouring multiple reputable online sources for data breach and incident-related information.
  2. Collection – We collect all the breach and incident information we find, compile it, and store it in our own localized data warehouse.
  3. Identification – Multiple times a day, we mine our data warehouse, searching for indicators of compromise related to you (and all other S2Me subscribers).
  4. Notification – If indicators of compromise related to you are discovered, we notify you immediately by email (if you’ve got the feature turned on) and post the information into your secure S2Me portal.
threat monitoring

Display of Threat Monitoring in the S2Me Portal.

For S2Team, the same process is followed with one additional step: compilation of the information in the organization’s management dashboard for ease of management and response.

threat monitoring dashbooard

Display of Threat Monitoring in S2Team.

Everyone (but the bad guys) Benefits from Threat Monitoring

Everyone, except for members of remote tribes, has a digital identity. With a digital identity comes opportunity for an attacker to profit and risk for you to lose something of value. This applies to business leaders, employees, grandparents, parents, kids, and everything in between.

S2Me Threat Monitoring is just one solution you should consider. There is no single source of all threat information.

Benefits for S2Me subscribers:

  • Your digital identity is monitored constantly, so you can rest a little easier knowing that SecurityStudio’s team of cybersecurity experts is keeping an eye out for you.
  • The data we compile is data you can trust; it comes from reputable sources and it’s validated before it ever reaches your inbox or portal.
  • Your identity information is mathematically validated, reducing the chances of false alerts and cluttered inboxes.
  • S2Me is free and always will be. There’s no catch, and you won’t be sold something you don’t need.
  • Checklists keep track of whether you’ve read the threat information, and whether you’ve responded appropriately to the threat.

Benefits for S2Team subscribers:

Employees enjoy all the S2Me benefits (above), in addition to having trusted advisors (the organization’s information security team) to help, and the confidence in knowing nobody else sees their individual S2Me results.

Employers benefit from S2Team by:

  • Knowing which employee accounts may have been compromised quickly enough to respond before damage is done.
  • Receiving immediate notifications of relevant data breaches and incidents.
  • Being able to use relevant data breach and incident information in more effective information security awareness and education campaigns.
  • Fostering a closer partnership with the organization’s user community by showing goodwill and care about employee personal protection (at home including family).

When You’re Notified of a New Threat

Don’t panic. You received a threat notification because we detected your personal information was probably involved in a data breach or incident, but NOT that your personal information was used (yet). In most cases, you have time to respond before damage is done.

The first step is to log into your S2Me account and go to the Threat Monitoring tab.

threat monitoring menu

Here you will find all the data breaches and incidents we know about that concern you. Listed at the top will be the data breach or incident you were most recently notified about, along with additional information. In the example below, we may have received a notification about a data breach related to “Wattpad”.

Wattpad

A short description of the incident is provided along with the data that was compromised and your checklist of actions you should take. The two most common suggested actions are to “Read” the information (and check off that you have) and to change your password (checking off “Password Changed” when you have).

That may be all you need to do, especially if you’re following the other guidance provided in the S2Me personal information security risk assessment.

Do This Now

If you haven’t subscribed to SecurityStudio’s S2Me, do it now. S2Me is the standard personal information security risk management tool used by thousands of people across the globe, and it’s the only tool endorsed by state and local governments in the U.S. The free S2Me guides subscribers through a simple information security risk assessment across ten important topics:

  1. Household Desktop and Laptop Use
  2. Safe Practices for Internet Usage
  3. Choosing and Protecting Authentication
  4. Securing Mobile Devices
  5. Securing WiFi
  6. Secure Gateway
  7. Backing up Data
  8. Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Other Devices
  9. Physical Security
  10. Breach and Incident Response

A completed assessment results in your personal S2Score for tracking your progress as you follow recommendations and build better information security habits.

s2score meter

By default, Threat Monitoring will be turned on when you create your S2Me account and you’ll enjoy all the benefits.

For Employers

Subscribe to SecurityStudio’s S2Team and deploy S2Me to all your employees and customers. Encouraging employees to protect themselves better at home is a welcome opportunity to foster information security collaboration by showing you care. The insights you gain into employee information security habits will become invaluable as you partner to make information security better for everyone.

There’s no better way to secure the remote workplace than by motivating employees to secure their homes and families better.

Loyal customers expect loyalty in return. Organizations, in growing numbers, are providing S2Me to customers and encouraging their customers to protect themselves better. The organization benefits by demonstrating loyalty, and depending upon the type of business, reduced loss.

The Future of S2Me and S2Team Threat Monitoring

This is just the beginning of what SecurityStudio has in mind to improve information security and threat monitoring for everyday people. This first version of Threat Monitoring uses technology and techniques that have been in the marketplace for a while, but now that we’ve establish a solid base to work from, we can truly innovate!

Ideas include:

  • Improving our current threat monitoring model to correlate detected attacker activities beyond the original incident.
  • Monitoring threats related to physical location.
  • Monitoring threats related to social media account usage and security.
  • Monitoring threats related to specific systems and devices in use.
  • Integration with other live Internet activity feeds for more relevance and focus.

Stay connected to SecurityStudio to learn about our latest news!

At SecurityStudio, we are 100% committed to our mission. Our mission is to fix the broken information security industry by focusing our efforts first on where they’re most needed. Our mission always comes first. #MissionBeforeMoney

Cybersecurity has never been more important than it is today. Not only is our information more at risk, but so is our privacy, and even our personal safety. Complexity and distraction have contributed to us “taking our eye” off the ball, and there’s no better time than now to act.

What is cybersecurity?

This is a confusing word for some people. Even cybersecurity experts have different explanations of what cybersecurity is.
Cybersecurity is Managing the risk of unauthorized disclosure, modification, and destruction of information through technical means.

The key is managing risk, not eliminating risk. Eliminating risk would require us to eliminate all our information and the electronics we leverage to create, transfer, access, and use it. No more laptops, no iPads, no mobile devices, no Internet, and no data. Obviously, this isn’t feasible, and neither is eliminating risk.

what is cybersecurity

Managing risk means we need to live with the fact that bad things can and will happen; therefore, detecting bad things early and having a prudent response are also important.

Why is cybersecurity more important than ever?

The simple answer is bad things are happening more often and the results are more impactful. We were riding a dangerous trend of increased incidents (ransomware, data breaches, etc.) prior to 2020:

  • Over the past 10 years, there were 300 data breaches involving the theft of 100,000 or more records.
  • There were 1,244 data breaches in 2018 and 446.5 million records were exposed.
  • There were 4.1 billion records exposed in the first six months of 2019 alone.
  • At the beginning of 2019, the World Economic Forum named cyber-attacks as one of the top five risks to global stability.

2020 has certainly been a year like no other, and things haven’t gotten better. The final numbers aren’t in for this year’s cybersecurity incidents, but we inherently know things have gotten worse. There are two primary reasons for higher risk in 2020; complexity and distraction.

Complexity is the greatest enemy of cybersecurity. Most business and home technology environments have gotten too complex to secure properly. Businesses and people struggle to know what things they’re securing, let alone how to secure them. At home the problem is getting worse with each new technology we add. In our lust for new technology and features, we’ve failed to slow down and think about the cybersecurity consequences of our choices. Technology complexity continues to explode with “smart” homes (Alexa, Google Home, Ring, etc.), “smart” cars, interconnected medical devices, and our 275 million “smart” phones.

In terms of impact, our lives have become so interconnected that we can no longer separate cybersecurity from privacy or physical safety.

2020 has been a debacle. We’ve never been more distracted. There are so many significant things going on, that many of us have taken our eye off the cybersecurity ball. COVID-19 flipped our world on its head. Offices closed, leading to an explosion of work-from-home. Schools closed, leading to an explosion in remote learning. Couple these events with health concerns, economic concerns, general uncertainty, and it’s understandable that cybersecurity becomes an afterthought.

If COVID-19 wasn’t a significant enough distraction, 2020 also brought real social justice issues, civil unrest, the presidential election, and disinformation campaigns that bombard our inboxes and social media feeds.

Complexity and life’s distractions in 2020 have made our digital lives a perfect attacker’s playground.

Why are cybercrimes on the rise? How did they evolve over time?

Cybercrimes are on the rise because the opportunities we give attackers are extensive and the return on the attacker’s investment has never been higher. It’s the perfect recipe for their success at our expense.

cybersecurity cybercrimes rise recipe for attacker success

We continue to increase opportunities for attackers through our incessant need for more technology, while at the same time, we’re distracted by life’s events. These things combine to make attacks easier and more successful, leading to increased profit and return for an attacker. The cycle repeats itself when attackers re-invest their profits into better and more frequent attacks.

In previous decades, attacks were less nefarious, and it wasn’t uncommon for an attacker to be motivated by bragging rights or showing off. Those days are long gone, and criminals are organized much like legitimate businesses. Businesses are in business to make money, and so are most attackers. 71% of all data breaches are financially motivated and 25% are motivated by espionage.

The attackers we should all be most concerned about are the ones who are motivated by money and power; these are often organized crime rings and nation-state attackers such as China, Russia, and Iran.

What is the impact of a cybercrime to your organization, team, and/or self?

The impact of cybercrime depends upon several factors; the nature of the incident, your ability to detect and respond to the incident, the intent of the attacker, and the attacker’s ability or skill to carry out their intent. The impact can range from a simple nuisance to bankruptcy, and in rare cases even death.

For small to mid-sized organizations (250-449) employees, the downtime from a data breach varies:

  • 43% reported 0-4 hours of downtime
  • 45% reported 5-16 hours of downtime
  • 12% reported 17-48 hours of downtime

Sadly, 56% of Americans don’t know what steps to take in the event of a data breach (including American businesses), an estimated 60% of small to mid-sized business fail within 12 months of experiencing a data breach, and in 2020 we read about the first (known) death related to ransomware.

The impact of cybercrime varies from low to severe. How low or how severe should not be left to chance because you can (and must) take steps to reduce your risk.

What can you do to protect your organization, your team, and yourself?

The most important thing for all of us is to understand and apply basic cybersecurity principles. The most basic principle starts with risk management. Cybersecurity is risk management. In order to manage risk, you and I must understand (assess) it. Find a good, fundamental risk assessment, and do it. You’ll need to assess risk personally (at home), in your third-party/vendor relationships (the people you share information with), and within your organization.

How can SecurityStudio help?

SecurityStudio is dedicated to our mission of fixing the broken cybersecurity industry by helping people with simple, inexpensive (even free), and effective information security risk management tools.

  • Organization risk management starts with the S2Org tool, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes across all industries.
  • Third-party/vendor risk management starts with our S2Vendor tool; integrated, organized, and automated (without taking shortcuts).
  • Personal risk management (at home) starts with our S2Me tool; 100% free and simplified for everyday people.
  • Work at home risk management starts with our S2Team tool; the most cost-effective insight into employees’ real information security habits.

If complexity is the worst enemy and if cybersecurity is risk management, then we all need simple and affordable risk management tools for everyone to build the best defense, detection, and response capabilities possible.

SecurityStudio is here to help, always dedicated to #MissionBeforeMoney.