FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2020
Contact: Elise Silagy
VirtualArmour Wins $595k Managed SIEM, Endpoint Detection & Response Contract with High-tech Manufacturing Client
Denver, CO, October 2020: VirtualArmour International Inc. (CSE:VAI) (OTCQB:VTLR), cybersecurity managed services provider, has won the contract to manage a new manufacturing client’s SIEM and Endpoint Detection & Response. This contract will include managed cybersecurity services and a major QRadar Cloud & Crowdstrike hardware/software refresh to the manufacturing client’s network. The total contract value is $595,000 over a 1-year period.
Tianyi Lu, VirtualArmour VP of Product, is excited to announce, “We are greatly looking forward to this new partnership with a client in the high-tech manufacturing industry. As 2020 comes to a close, we continue to see new business and a need for our services across many growing industries.”
VirtualArmour CEO, Russ Armbrust explains, “Remote work has forever changed how IT departments and cybersecurity teams need to approach endpoints, with consideration of how organizations are allowing employees to use their own personal devices. Securing these endpoints is critical, especially when they have access to sensitive customer or company data. In the high-tech manufacturing industry, it is more important than ever to protect data, we feel that this new client came to us because our team of expert cybersecurity engineers can ensure a safe online environment and the protection they need.” Managed service contracts to be covered include:
Endpoint Detection & Response
Our next-generation endpoint protection solutions provide continuous breach protection. We provide constant prevention, detection, visibility, and intelligence, so our clients can be protected before, during and even after a breach.
Creation and management of all rules and policies in the SIEM environment based on the needs of our client. Full incident detection and remediation/recommendations will be provided, as well as asset detection and monitoring as assets enter and leave the network.
VirtualArmour offers end-to-end project management and support for the duration of these projects led by professionals with experience in Managed SIEM and Endpoint Detection & Response projects of equal or greater size. VirtualArmour also ensures a consistent review, knowledge transfer, handover and operational success of the new network architecture to the client.
VirtualArmour is a global Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) that delivers custom security services tailored to meet the needs of our clients. VirtualArmour manages the entire security lifecycle, from initial alerting to the investigation phase to resolution. Visit us at www.virtualarmour.com
Hacking, the act of gaining unauthorized access to or otherwise compromising digital devices and networks, is an evolving and ongoing threat. When many of us imagine a hacker, we think of a lone mischievous teenager writing malicious code in a dark basement, but the modern reality is much more diverse and sophisticated.
The Cost of Hacking
Hacking is a billion-dollar growth business. According to Forbes, hackers stole $4 billion from victims in the first half of 2019 alone, making hacking incredibly tempting for individuals with few scruples. We discussed the most costly cyber attacks of 2019 in our blog post The 8 Most Expensive Cyberattacks of 2019.
Who is the Modern Hacker?
While there are still loners breaking into secure systems from their basements, hacking is becoming much more professional and organized.
State Sponsored Hacking
Modern hackers are state-sponsored actors; unlikely soldiers conscripted in wars between nations. Russia, in particular, has been accused of using state-sponsored hacking in many instances, including allegations that they interfered in America’s 2016 federal election. However, governments aren’t the only targets: state-sponsored hackers are increasingly targeting private businesses as well. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and the owner of the Washington Post, was targeted by the Saudi Arabian government in 2018 in an attempt to influence how the newspaper covered the kingdom in an attempt to limit or prevent criticism and cast the country in a more flattering light.
And state-sponsored hacking may be on the rise. Only last July, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom announced that hackers associated with Russian intelligence had attempted to hack government systems in order to steal information related to COVID-19 vaccine development. That same month, the United Kingdom also accused Russia of interfering in their general elections.
Non-State Groups of Hackers
Hacking is becoming a team sport both within government and outside of it, with hundreds or even thousands of individual hackers banding together to pull off Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and other widespread attacks.
The most notable groups of non-government sponsored hackers are currently Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and LulzSec, who use their hacking skills for activism purposes.
The Tools of the Modern Hacker
More than Just Writing Code
While there is a technical aspect of hacking (such as creating malware or breaking into networks), psychology also plays a role in this illegal activity. Social engineering, where hackers use psychology to trick unsuspecting victims into complying with their requests, plays a vital role in many cybersecurity attacks. This use of psychology takes many forms, from using phishing to trick users into revealing their usernames, passwords, or other sensitive information or using spam to scare them into handing over money or sensitive information.
Malware for Sale
In the modern world, hackers don’t need technical skills to wreak havoc, just a connection to the dark web. Criminal enterprises are increasingly offering malware for sale, so non-technical hackers (known as “script kiddies”) can carry out devastating and sophisticated attacks. This business of selling malware saw one group of hackers to sell backdoor access to PCs for as little as $10. In addition to selling the program necessary to hack these computers, the sellers also offered tips for how hackers could avoid detection. These groups are rarely concerned with who they are selling their product to, or what the buyers intend to do with their newfound malware.
Where Does the Modern Hacker Live?
Though hackers come from around the world, it isn’t easy to track down this elusive group that works hard to stick to the shadows and cover their tracks. However, recent research suggests that the majority of the world’s hackers are from within the United States, followed by China and finally Russia.
What Are Hackers After?
Hackers are a diverse group, and as such, are motivated by a variety of factors.
Criminal Financial Gain
One of the most common goals of hacking is financial gain through illegal means. This category includes credit card credential theft as well as defrauding banks.
Corporations are increasingly using hackers for corporate espionage. While some organizations rely on outside hackers to break into secure networks and steal corporate secrets and IP, these threats are increasingly originating from within organizations themselves.
Much like corporate espionage, governments are also turning to hackers to target other governments or private businesses, such as the Russian hack examples against the American, Canadian, and British governments mentioned above. Another famous example of governments using hackers to gain intelligence and sow chaos is Stutnex, which was developed jointly by the American and Israeli governments and used to wreak havoc on the Iranian nuclear facility Natanz.
The Rise of Hacktivism
Some hackers are socially or politically motivated. These hacker-activists (or hacktivists) use their skills to draw the public’s attention to social and political issues by shining an unflattering light on their targets, typically by making sensitive or damaging information public.
Some hackers are motivated by fame and the drive to gain the respect of their fellow hackers. In these cases, hackers often deface or otherwise leave identifying marks on the websites and systems they infiltrate as a way to show their skills off to other hackers.
For more information about hacking, and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your business, please consider reading more of our blog posts, including:
We do so many things on our smartphones: We stay in touch with friends and colleagues, we do our banking, we look for work, and so much more. Unfortunately, while phones have made it easier than ever to go about our everyday lives, they also offer another way hackers can reach us by gaining access to our money and private files. While hacking may look different than it did when home computers first became commonplace, some old school tactics are still in use alongside the new and insidious approaches hackers use to gain unauthorized access to our devices. Even if you are pretty tech-savvy, you may be inadvertently exposing yourself to risk.
Hackers target our phones for a wide variety of reasons, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. If you think you have been hacked, please read our blog post: Hacked? Here’s What to Know (& What to Do Next). To help safeguard your smartphone as well as any networks it connects to, you and your team should be reviewing your security practices regularly.
Why Hackers Target Phones
According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans use smartphones. This ubiquity partnered with the fact that many shopping apps (particularly Android apps) contain high-level security vulnerabilities. Many apps also transmit unencrypted user data, making smartphones easy targets for hackers.
To Steal Your Money or Financial Information
Ransomware attacks aren’t limited to desktops and laptops. A ransomware attack could paralyze your phone, keep you from accessing critical files, and allow unauthorized users to access sensitive personal data. The basic anatomy of a ransomware attack involves hackers tricking users into downloading malicious software (malware), which they use to take control of the device and lock users out. The hacker then threatens to delete critical files or release private information unless the user agrees to pay the ransom. While some users may be tempted, paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee you will regain control of your device or your data.
In one case, a third-party Android app promised users it would optimize their system, but instead stole money from their PayPal accounts. This wasn’t technically a phishing attack, since the login process was legitimate, but once users logged in malware initiated the automatic PayPal transfer. Other hackers target victims’ wallets by tricking them into downloading fake mobile payment apps. Once victims have entered their payment information, the hacker can do things like empty your bank account or charge purchases to your credit card.
To Eavesdrop on Your Phone Calls
While phone calls may seem old fashioned to some people, the truth is we talk about a lot on the phone. Even if you don’t use your phone to stay in touch with loved ones or discuss sensitive business information with colleagues or clients, you may have to call your bank or the government to access services. During calls with your bank, you will likely discuss your banking details, and calls to the government will inevitably require answering verification questions and confirming your social security number.
There is currently a flaw (called SS7) in the US cellular exchange that allows hackers who know a target’s phone numbers to listen to calls, read text messages, and view user’s locations. Even though US agencies have known about this issue for some time, they have yet to take action to address it, leaving American’s phone privacy at risk.
To Blackmail You
Blackmail is nothing new, but the tiny computers we carry around in our pockets contain more personal information than our desktops and laptops do, making them tempting targets for hackers.
A typical blackmailing hack may go something like this: The hacker obtains some personal information on the victim that is already available on the black market, likely as a result of a previous, unrelated breach. They use this information to trick the victim’s phone company into believing they are the user and convince the company to transfer the victim’s number to a new phone owned by the hacker. When phone companies transfer numbers, they often transfer all the information on the old phone as well, which hackers can then use to blackmail their victims. In order to regain access to their personal files, victims may feel pressured to give in to the hacker’s demands or pay a ransom.
To Mine Cryptocurrency
Any computing device, including smartphones, can be hijacked by hackers and used to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This attack is referred to as cryptojacking. For more information on cryptojacking, and what steps you can take to safeguard yourself, please read our blog post Cryptojacking: Because Every Currency Needs to Be Protected.
To Gain Access to Your Company
Even if hackers target your phone, you may not be their primary target. A large percentage of office workers are currently working from home, which means many of us may be using our personal smartphones for business purposes. While working in a BYOD (bring your own device) exposes companies to risk providing work laptops and work smartphones for every employee may be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, there are steps companies and workers can take to safeguard their devices and the company network. For more information, please read our blog post, Keeping Your Network Secure in a Bring Your Own Device World.
Just For Fun & Fame
While many hackers are motivated by financial gain, some hack others for entertainment or to gain fame in hacker circles.
Cybersecurity Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Stay Away From Third-Party App Stores
One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself is to avoid third-party app stores; only download apps from trusted sources such as the Apple app store or the Android app store. However, hackers and other malicious actors have been able to penetrate these platforms as well, and some rogue apps have slipped through, so while this rule will reduce your odds of downloading a malicious app, it doesn’t completely eliminate risk.
Keep an Eye on Your Settings
Checking your phone’s settings can help you spot suspicious behavior. If your phone seems to be chewing through its battery more quickly than usual or appears to be running more apps than you currently have open, it may indicate a hacker has downloaded and is running a malicious app on your device without your knowledge.
Wait Before You Download
While you may be tempted to download that shiny new app as soon as it launches, waiting can help you ensure that new apps are free of serious security flaws. Waiting also gives developers a chance to issue patches to address any issues that do come to light.
When in Doubt, Don’t Click
Whether you are using your smartphone, desktop, or laptop, if you:
- Encounter a suspicious site
- Are sent a suspicious link
- Stumble across a sketchy looking popup
- Notice that there are apps on your phone you don’t remember downloading
You should stop using your phone until you can get some answers. If you think you may have been hacked, you should contact your MSSP right away for advice and next steps.
Not every organization can afford to support a full team of IT experts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from expert knowledge and advice. By leveraging your Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), you can help keep your digital assets secure no matter how large or small your IT department is.
What Defines an IT Light Environment?
A company can be IT light in several ways: either light from a staffing perspective, light from a technology perspective, or both. Staffing IT light organizations have minimal internal IT staff, and may not even have a dedicated IT person on staff at all but may instead rely on one or more employees who split their time between IT tasks and their main job. This approach can be problematic as it often forces IT employees who wear several hats to focus on reacting to situations instead of addressing them proactively as the bulk of their attention must be allocated to non-IT tasks.
A technology IT light organization may have one or more dedicated IT personnel on staff, but may have small or limited IT needs or rely on IT solutions that are not sufficiently robust or comprehensive. This may be because their dedicated IT person is unsure of the best course of action or simply doesn’t know that there are better products and services available to meet your organization’s needs. Either type of IT light organization can benefit significantly from the expertise offered by an MSSP to both safeguard their digital assets and ensure their IT needs are met.
Leveraging Your MSSP
When most people think of MSSPs, their first thoughts turn to cybersecurity. While a robust cybersecurity posture is critical for any organization, a great MSSP can help supplement a skeleton crew of internal IT professionals or help you choose the right technology to suit your needs and fortify your IT infrastructure effectively. A great MSSP will help ensure your network remains secure and advise you on best IT practices to boost security and potentially even improve your network framework and performance.
A MSSP can help lessen the workload of your internal IT team and offer valuable advice. One of the biggest benefits of partnering with an MSSP is that you can access an entire team of IT and cybersecurity experts without having to hire and support a large internal team. Outsourcing your IT and cybersecurity means the cost to support that team is defrayed. Additionally, no one IT or cybersecurity expert can know everything, so relying on an entire team allows you to access more knowledge than even the most experienced internal IT or cybersecurity person can offer and doesn’t require you to hire, pay, and retain high-cost IT and cybersecurity employees.
Get a Heads Up on Potential Issues & Cybersecurity Attacks
MSSPs are also well connected, making them an excellent tool to have in your toolbox. They typically serve many customers and develop close relationships with vendors. As such, they are often able to spot potential issues before their clients can and formulate a plan to address potential problems before they can manifest. Their close relationship with vendors and expert cybersecurity and IT knowledge also mean they are often in the know regarding potential vulnerabilities and issues before the wider cybersecurity and IT community is, giving you a head start on fortifying your defenses against potential issues and attacks.
Focus on What You Do Best; Leave the Rest to Your MSSP
You aren’t in the IT business, so it doesn’t make financial sense to support a large internal IT or cybersecurity team. By outsourcing your IT and cybersecurity to the experts, you can focus on what you do best and leave the rest to your MSSP. MSSPs can be a strategic asset, identifying gaps and creating roadmaps as well as driving those roadmaps to completion. By relying on an MSSP to do the heavy cybersecurity and IT lifting (such as handling investigations, following up on alerts, and triaging problems), you can free up your staff to focus on your core business. Your MSSP will alert your internal IT or management team when necessary or simply provide notifications of problems that have arisen and already been dealt with.
The entire job of an MSSP is to handle cybersecurity and IT issues. A great MSSP has an entire team of experts working 24/7/365 to keep organizations like yours safe from malicious cyberattacks and disruptive IT issues. Since your MSSP handles all of the IT and cybersecurity staffing, you never need to worry about being left vulnerable by staff turnover or team members taking leave (such as maternity leave). You get seamless, 24/7/365 service at a fraction of the cost it would take to support an internal team of the same size and staffed by the same number of experts. A great MSSP also understands the unique considerations and requirements of your industry, whether you:
Ensuring your IT and cybersecurity needs are met is vital for supporting your daily operations and safeguarding your digital assets. If your organization isn’t large enough to justify supporting a large internal team of IT and cybersecurity experts, you may want to consider partnering with an MSSP. Your MSSP can handle the majority of your IT and cybersecurity tasks, consult with internal IT or management teams as necessary, and free up your staff to focus on your core business.
COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way many companies conduct business, and not all organizations have handled the jarring transition to remote work smoothly. Daily operations and working conditions can be disrupted in an instant, so your organization needs to be able to adapt quickly and effectively to any situation.
Though no situations are exactly alike, there are a few tools and guidelines you can follow to help ensure the next time a sudden pivot in your workforce is needed it’s as smooth as possible.
By being agile, your organization is set up for success in any situation.
What Makes a Workplace Agile?
Agility in the workplace typically focuses on quickly adapting to the changing needs of customers, workers, and the overall marketplace. The current global health crisis has brought with it a renewed urgency for flexible, agile, and adaptable workplaces as many traditional office-setting workplaces transform into distributed workplaces. Though some organizations may be able to return to the office soon, the fact is that work as we know it has been disrupted, and those disruptions will be felt for quite a while.
What Steps Can I Take to Increase My Organization’s Agility?
While seasoned remote workers already have the skills to ensure their work gets done no matter where they are, an organization that has to suddenly pivot to remote work faces a unique set of challenges. Even if your individual workers are set up for success, can stay productive, and are able to easily meet their deadlines, you need to ensure that your entire workforce is able to continue to work together effectively.
Communication is Key
Frequent, open, and transparent communication is always important, but when your workers are no longer working out of a centralized location, effective communication becomes even more vital for maintaining productivity. Those spontaneous brainstorming sessions over lunch, impromptu meetings, and watercooler chatter may not always appear to be productive, but they play a huge role in developing and maintaining group cohesion and encouraging the flow of ideas.
To help retain some of that impromptu team building and idea generation, you might want to encourage managers to regularly host scheduled coffee meetings or happy hours with their teams. If your organization doesn’t use an instant messaging product like Slack or Microsoft Teams already, now is a great time to adopt that technology. Instant messaging apps can be leveraged for both more serious business discussions and the lighthearted workplace chatter that used to happen over coffee or lunch or around the water cooler.
Adapt Your Communication Style to Suit Your Workers
To help empower your newly configured workforce, you will need to be able to communicate with different categories of workers effectively. This may include your regular remote workers, your newly remote workers, workers who are currently unable to work, and any essential workers you may have that must be physically present in your workplace to complete their tasks.
How you communicate with each group may differ, but you might want to consider using internal messaging apps (like those mentioned above) in conjunction with email campaigns to reinforce key messages and text messages for urgent matters. Try out several different communication styles and see which ones are most effective for which groups and reassess your approach to communication as necessary to promote collaboration and ensure critical messages are being received.
Any good manager knows that it’s best to tackle potential problems before they become actual problems. By communicating effectively with your workers you can learn about potential problems or sticking points before they become major issues. While it may seem costly to act proactively, investing a bit of time, people power, and funds to address potential issues as soon as they come to light can save your organization more in the long run.
How you choose to keep an ear to the ground is up to you and your organization, but regular check-ins between workers and their managers, between managers and their department heads, and between department heads and the executive team can help prevent information silos from forming and ensure that potential issues are escalated appropriately so they can be addressed.
Focus on Retaining Workers
There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, so holding onto experienced workers (and their vital skillsets) is more important than ever. When a critical worker leaves, it can cause a frenzy of uncertainty as workers try to bridge the gap until a replacement worker can be found, causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Even once a replacement is found, it can take months for them to fully settle in and come up to speed, disrupting your everyday workflow.
Have mechanisms in place so that departing workers can train their replacements before they go on maternity leave, retire, or switch to another organization. You may want to record training sessions so they can be reviewed as necessary or used to train other workers down the line. By setting up the replacement worker for success, you not only minimize disruption but also reduce worker stress and anxiety during transitions.
The Importance of a Good Attitude
However, skills aren’t everything. If you are able to expand your team and choose to do so, make sure you weigh intangible skills (effective communication, positive attitude, proactivity, etc.) as well as looking at the tangible skills required to do the job.
Having workers that are flexible, proactive, and positive can help you weather tough times and reduce friction in the workplace. Skills can be taught, but the right attitude is a lot harder to cultivate if workers don’t have the right mindset to begin with.
Empower Your Workers
How do you feel when you delegate tasks to your team? Are you relieved knowing that they have the right skills and attitude for the job, or anxious that you won’t be there to oversee everything and double-check their work?
Someone who works for an organization that empowers their workers is more likely to feel the former: confident that their team has the skills to handle things on their own.
Empowering people is about more than just giving them unfamiliar tasks; it is about encouraging your workers to challenge themselves and letting them know that you believe they can achieve their goals by periodically taking people out of their comfort zones.
You can encourage your workers to take appropriate risks by:
- Delegating a variety of tasks, such as having a junior member run a meeting or letting your second in command take the lead on the next big project
- Rotating roles so that employees can cross-train, building their skillset, and deepening their understanding of their co-workers’ roles
- Giving your workers the autonomy they need to perform tasks on their own. Training wheels are fine, but they eventually need to come off
- Encouraging your workers to behave like team leaders
- Creating room for independent decision making
- Allowing workers to experiment and try new things without the fear of failure
Don’t Forget the Human Factor
Businesses are run on more than technology and processes; the human element plays a critical role in any business or organization. By encouraging teamwork, escalating conversations when necessary, and creating organic opportunities for knowledge transfer, you can teach your workers to collaborate more effectively and give them a chance to develop a deeper respect for their co-workers and their contributions to the organization. This not only promotes social cohesion, but encourages cross training so that employees can remain flexible and, in a pinch, take on new tasks when emergencies and other unexpected changes occur.
Promote Collaboration & Autonomy
A strict hierarchy can be restrictive, delaying ad hoc projects and creating frustration, particularly for workers at the bottom. Establishing horizontal communication channels as well as vertical ones, can increase collaboration and reduce delays.
Another way to make your workforce more agile is to allow teams to work on their own without requiring management to constantly steer the ship. Create a team and invite one of its members to temporarily adopt the role of team leader. Give the team tangible objectives and a reasonable timeline for a project and see what they create. By creating self-managing teams, you can drive collaboration and enhance learning, making your organization more agile overall.
Feel Free to Experiment
A driving principle for many highly agile organizations is that experimentation drives innovation, which leads to change. It’s important to not only be able to respond to change (or adversity) effectively but approach it proactively and be a driving force for change.
Being able to adapt to change can help keep your business afloat, but having the ability to propel change can help ensure you stay ahead of the competition.
However, it is one thing to pay lip service to some vague idea of change and another thing entirely to put your money where your mouth is. Don’t just focus on the executive suite or department managers and ask everyone else to follow their lead, but instead encourage every employee, from the summer intern up to the CEO to get involved.
Many organizations encourage this by giving employees time on the clock to dedicate to their alternative musings. This not only encourages experimentation but gives workers the chance to fail (and fail fast) before moving onto their next idea.
You can encourage experimentation at all levels of your organization by:
- Having regularly scheduled brainstorming sessions
- Encouraging team members to discuss their interests beyond work
- Actively encouraging workers to work on ideas that resonate with them
- Offering personal support and help if and when required
- Eliminating or reducing constraints when possible
Being agile is not only important for weathering the COVID-19 storm, but also for weathering future storms and remaining at the forefront of your industry. By taking the time and energy needed to help promote agility at all levels of your organization, you can help future-proof your company and create a great place for workers to work, learn, and grow.