My phone’s been ringing this morning from people wanting to talk about the massive Marriott breach — the revelation that private data associated with up to 500 million people may have been compromised. I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn from the details, but in the meantime, I’ll take a quick minute to jot down some initial thoughts:
In 2004, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) became a fact of life for organizations that accept payment via credit or debit cards. In that year, the leading card issuers rolled out the first iteration of its security standard, designed to improve protection of payment systems as credit card data became a prime target for cyberattackers. Today, even as organizations have entire teams dedicated to PCI compliance, one consumer business after another—including Macy’s, Adidas, Panera Bread and Chili’s—have been breached, resulting in exposure of cardholder data.
Moody's Cyber Risk Group: “Cyber becomes more and more important.”
On November 12, Moody’s announced its intent to start incorporating in its credit rating method the degree to which an organization faces risk of major impact from a cyberattack. This follows the news, back in February 2018, that the Securities and Exchange Commission issued additional guidance on its requirement that public companies must “inform investors about material cybersecurity risks and incidents,” even if they have not yet been the target of a cyberattack.
More than $2.5 trillion in mergers were announced in the first half of 2018—a new record. Ranked by value of the deal, energy and power deals led, followed by media and entertainment, with healthcare and industrials close behind. Industries are converging and organizations are using acquisitions, divestitures, and other forms of asset remix to reposition their businesses. For example, there are numerous mergers among pharmaceutical, life sciences, and biotech companies as they seek to gain traction in a highly fragmented market. EY predicts that the total value of life sciences M&A will surpass $200 billion in 2018. According to Deloitte, technology acquisition is the primary driver of M&A pursuits, ahead of expanding customer bases in existing markets, and adding products or services.
At a recent industry event, I got to chatting with the CISO of a major children’s hospital. Over a beer, he shared with me the challenges he faces daily. Our far-reaching conversation covered nation-state actors enticing students to exfiltrate clinical trial test results, to his search for a secure USB port cover for patient-facing devices. Maybe it was the beer, but as he described his tribulations, each to me worse than the next, his enthusiasm and energy grew. Every so often he stopped to shake his head in disbelief at his own story as if to say, “Even I can’t believe how bad this is…”
With cyber risk an executive- and board-level concern, it's not enough to try to prevent attackers from gaining entry to your network. Advanced, persistent attackers can still get through even the most advanced defenses. Once they're in, they have the arduous task of moving from their initial point of entry to their ultimate target. This is the time when attackers are most vulnerable—and where we, as defenders, have an opportunity to tip the balance in our favor.