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Your brand is under siege

Jun 30, 20174 mins

CMOs must prepare to defend their brand and company with tools and strategies to combat almost inevitable cybersecurity events.

security 2016 cybercrime
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Anthem, Yahoo, Ashley Madison and Target have all been victimized by cybercriminals. These brands have experienced some of the most notable cyber intrusions. This week Anthem is to pay a record $115 million to settle lawsuits over her cyber intrusion.

This illustrates the stark reality that the half-life of the breach continues to wreak havoc on the reputation of a company, draining brand value, customer perception, and inevitably profits. Collateral damage associated with cyberattacks in 2017 will surpass the loss of customer data. The new face of cybercrime directly impacts a corporations reputation. Major breaches over the past decade have forced consensus that compliance with security standards does not equate to cybersecurity. Security awareness within the C-suite is required to mitigate cyber-risk. Responsibility to protect brands from cyber threats extend beyond CISOs. CMOs must prepare to defend their brand and company with dynamic tools and strategies to combat almost inevitable cybersecurity events. Avoiding a network breach is a corporations ultimate measure of success, though the supposition that an adversary is already on one’s network is foundational for mitigating cybercrime. When a breach occurs, the exfiltration process is not immediate—a hacker must maneuver, explore, collect information before she has found that which is valuable. Gone are the days of smash and grab cyber burglaries.  In today’s increasing punitive cyberspace, cybercriminals have transitioned from burglary to home invasion. Victim organizations are experiencing multiple criminal schemes of monetization. Data is stolen and subsequently the brand is used against her constituency via watering hole attacks and business email compromise campaigns.

According to the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Report “Breach timelines continue
to paint a rather dismal picture—with time-to-compromise being only seconds, time-to-exfiltration taking days, and times to discovery and containment staying firmly in the months camp. Not surprisingly, fraud detection was the most prominent discovery method, accounting for 85% of all breaches, followed by law enforcement which was seen in 4% of cases.” Given the reality that the cybercriminal has a footprint within ones’ network for an extended period one must alter their security posture accordingly.  The metric by which we can assess the potency of a cyber-countermeasure, is how effective it decreases an adversary’s dwell time. Decreasing dwell time is the measurable metric by which we can value a return on investment for an enterprise.

Diving down into what decreasing dwell time affords the enterprise requires an examination of what the costs are to the enterprise when exfiltration of their data occurs. The Ponemon Institute diagnosed the relationship between dwell time and the ROI associated with brand protection. The study calculated for 419 U.S. organizations showed that costs of a data breach are in excess of $3.62 million. The average cost for each lost or stolen record is $141. The cost breakdown takes into consideration customer turnover, amplified customer acquisition efforts, and general “reputation losses and diminished goodwill.” The number one factor that impacts the cost is the time it takes to identify and contain a data breach. According to Ponemon, “the relationship between how quickly an organization can identify and contain data breach incidents and financial consequences.”

We must realize that there is a significant unquantified loss associated with brand degradation. The more dwell time the adversary has in the environment, the longer it takes to detect and contain a data breach, the more costly it becomes to resolve, and the harder a brand’s reputation is hit.  In our ever more connected world, reputational risk has metastasized in 2017. Reputational risk management requires investing in a cybersecurity architecture that maximizes brand protection. On October 26, 2017, Zero Day Con is bringing together global experts to discuss security architectures and strategies for protecting brand reputation. I would challenge us to begin the conversation about safeguarding our brands here today.



Tom Kellermann is a cyber-intelligence expert, author, professor and leader in the field of cybersecurity. Tom is the co-founder of Strategic Cyber Ventures and serves as a Global Fellow for the Wilson Center.

Having held a seat on the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th President of the United States and serving as an advisor to the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA), he has worked in the highest levels of cybersecurity. He has applied his expertise in the corporate world, as Chief Cybersecurity Officer for Trend Micro Inc. where Tom was responsible for analysis of emerging cybersecurity threats and relevant defensive technologies.

Prior to Trend Micro, Tom served as the Vice President of Security for Core Security. Tom began his career as Senior Data Risk Management Specialist for the World Bank Treasury Security Team, where he was responsible for cyber-intelligence and security policy as he advised central banks around the world about their cyber-risk posture.

In addition to his professional work, Tom believes in sharing his knowledge to benefit others in order to combat cybercrime. Tom was a Professor at American University’s School of International Service and the Kogod School of Business, and he co-authored the book “E-safety and Soundness: Securing Finance in a New Age.” He regularly presents at global cybersecurity conferences and is a contributor on cyber analysis for major networks. Tom is a Certified Information Security Manager and is a Certified Ethical Hacker.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Tom Kellermann and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.