There is a well known threat that has been talked about with the Board of Directors behind closed doors for years. This threat is not new to most Operational Risk Management (ORM) professionals and yet executive management is still in denial that it could happen to us. Have you or someone in your C-Suite ever awakened one morning and wondered how the companies new plans for a merger are now in the published press? What about that new research and development breakthrough that ends up with another company with a similar process being patented a week or a month ahead of you?
What is the threat? Call it competitive intelligence, economic espionage, press leaks, loose lips or advanced persistent threat (APT), it does not really matter. The threat remains from all those people, rivals, industry peers, countries, states, allies and enemies that are working 24 x 7 x 365 to copy your valuable information and use it for their own advantage. What advantage depends on who obtains the valuable information and how they will eventually use it or sell it.
What is even more fascinating to most subject matter experts, is the amount of information that is still created and allowed to be compromised in some way that is false, fake and designed to confuse the adversary. So what is it, that much of executive management still does not understand about all of this?
The "source" of the vulnerability that is leaking or allowing the secret or confidential information to be compromised. They still to this day are naive to the potential source. This source is not even inside their own company or organization in many cases. It is within the organizations data supply chain somewhere, but where is it exactly?
The answer is only possible to narrow down, if you absolutely know where your data and secret or confidential information is collected, transported and stored, in the hands of trusted third parties, outside the four walls of your business. That is the remedial first step. Creating a definitive map of who has custody of your data through some kind of third party agreement. The agreement could be with any number of key business partners in your data supply chain:
- Venture Capitalist
- Internet Service Provider
- Data Telecom Provider
- Wireless Telecom Provider
- Payments Processor
- Document Custodian or Shredder
Even more important may be the question of which one of your data supply chain business partners, has the least amount of resources, people and state-of-the-art detection systems for the APT, Zeus, and other mechanisms that are ex-filtrating your data to another country. When was the last time you asked any of your business partners to walk you into their IT department for a look around with your CIO or CTO?
Believe us when we say that if you get that "Deer in the Headlights" look on your business partners face, you are in trouble. You can bet that the attackers are not attacking you, as much as they are attacking your data supply chain. As an example, if you say in public or on your public filings that you have your primary outside counsel firm as "Red, White and Blue," you can be assured that your adversaries will take notice.
You see, just because your organization has spent millions or billions on new data centers with the most sophisticated technologies available to counter your cyber adversaries, how can you be sure that your business data supply chain has done the same? There is only one way to do that and it is in person and on site. You may consider this level of due diligence before handing over your business for the merger and acquisition project or the development of a vital new component for your new patented product. A model "Request for Information" (RFI) on the business partners controls and capabilities for securing your sensitive, confidential and secret information shall be a first step requirement.
The second step shall be to get an inventory of what systems your data supply chain partner has in place to mitigate the risk of a data breach. At the top of that list, should be the management system that governs all the other hardware and software systems. So even if your business partner says they are using RSA NetWitness or ScoutVision on their corporate networks and Good MDM for their mobile devices, that is not going to be enough. More from Europol:The overarching "Management System" is not about technology. It is not about your favorite eDiscovery or computer forensics guru. It is about the way your business partner trains and educates it's people. It is about how those people use relevant business controls to secure your secrets, confidential data and records. Look at their behavior around this topic of "Achieving A Defensible Standard of Care" and you will soon discover whether you have found the most ideal banker, accountant or attorney to entrust to your digital supply chain.
A decline of traditional hierarchical criminal groups and networks will be accompanied
by the expansion of a virtual criminal underground made up of individual criminal entrepreneurs, which come together on a project-basis and lend their knowledge, expe- rience and expertise as part of a crime-as-a- service business model.