Publicly Available Information Heightens Need for Cybersecurity Vigilance

For any business, “ports” that allow for communication generally need to be open (for example, ports 80 and 443 for websites, and port 500 for VPN access). While most of these ports allow you to engage in critical functions, there are often ports that remain open despite being unneeded or unused. These available ports present an attack surface that can be exploited.

A scary development in cybersecurity is that specialized skill is no longer required to hack into firms; indeed, “how-to” videos found on YouTube can be easily followed to create a breach. The point of a penetration test is to try to find vulnerabilities on your network before the bad guys do.

If you have been hacked or breached, there are certain sites on the web, such as Pastebin, where hackers post your information.

Criminal hackers search for any information that will make their jobs easier, and often search publicly available web tools for any vulnerable network devices, Cyber 51 LLC’s Martin Voelk and Ascendant’s Adam DiPaolo recently told attendees at Ascendant’s “Compliance Disruptors: Seismic Shifts of the Regulatory Landscape” conference.

Shodan.io is a vulnerability search engine that allows anyone to see internet-connected devices. “Google dorking” is another way to search for specific documents like confidential documents relating to a certain company that may have been posted online, intentionally or inadvertently.

Once you identify what’s on the network, such as type of firewall and version number, then you can search vulnerability databases for vulnerabilities relating to that device and version.

Reporting of threats should be made using the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). Scores are calculated based on various metrics and measure from a 0 to 10 range, with 10 being the most severe. It is a great way for senior management to easily understand high, medium, and low risks.

You can have 999 non-critical vulnerabilities but if you find one critical vulnerability, that alone makes your overall risk profile critical.

Firms should engage in scanning as well as internal and external pen testing, with the testing process described in a report. Scanning is a passive enumeration of vulnerabilities and usually involves software tools that are designed to test for exposure to known vulnerabilities. A penetration test is more active in that it attempts to exploit those vulnerabilities. Using a combination of all these tests in an effort to identify vulnerabilities and their severity levels remain a key part of a vigilant cybersecurity program.


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CSS frequently publishes blog posts which are written by our team from their observations in the field, at conferences and through experiences with compliance professionals. These posts are designed to further knowledge and share industry best practices. Topics run the gamut, including Form ADV, cybersecurity, MiFID II, position limit monitoring, technology challenges and more. Complete and submit the brief form below to receive notifications when we publish new content.

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