Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Magna Carta anniversary serves as a timely reminder for the modern threat landscape

June 15, 2015

Today marks the 800-year anniversary since King John signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede.

In 1215, the English barons were unhappy that the King could imprison them and confiscate their property if they refused to pay his extremely punitive taxes. Angered, the barons captured London, forcing the King to the negotiating table. The King signed the famous parchment which would go on to be one of the founding cornerstones of modern democracy.

Fast forward eight hundred years later and the world is totally different place, but this brief history lesson is a timely reminder that our civil liberties are under attack once more, but from a very different corner.

It is not our freedom, or our property which are under threat; but something which is equally as valuable in today’s modern age. Our data. Cybersecurity is one of the single biggest risks to businesses and individuals today, in what is fast becoming a technological arms race.

The media sector, particularly, has been affected by this burgeoning trend.

We’ve seen some very high profile challenges and issues for a number of organisations here, whether that’s cyber-attacks on infrastructure or personnel. The advancement of technology has meant this threat is now prevalent and previously wouldn’t have existed at all.

On top of this, nation states, rogue factions and highly organised individuals, are using their cyber-attacks on the media sector as a way of amplifying their own message further.

The landscape is changing drastically, and media companies need to deal with increasing levels of sophistication from malicious forces.

If not mitigated, a data breach can result in the loss of high value intellectual property, as well as severe damage to their brand.

Last week we hosted a group of Cisco customers in a closed-door session on how the sector can rise to this growing threat.

A number of points spilled out of what was a lively discussion. First and foremost, organisations needs to make sure they are on top of the basics.

This is everything from having a robust security process in place, and strong governance, to ensuring passwords are changed regular and having a consistent approach to patching across the company.

Another way to stay ahead is by keeping your ear to the ground in online security forums, groups and discussions. This will help you stay on top of the latest threats and security trends, which you can then feed straight into your organisation.

We still see the biggest challenges and threats on cybersecurity coming from internally within an organisation. This is not necessarily through malpractice or ill-intent, but when people have a lack of awareness and understanding it can easily open up holes in your security protection.

This can include people storing highly confidential information on the cloud, which has the potential to fall into the wrong hands.

Watering holes is another phenomenon which is open to attack. People within certain industries will tend to visit the same websites, and have the same browsing tendencies. But an attacker can exploit this by embedding into an unprotected site, and redirect clicks elsewhere – and it leads to be people handing over information which they wouldn’t normally.

Shadow IT is also a risk, and again it’s normally never through any ill intent.  If a company has an IT department which is slow to respond, and people set-up their own services this can put their data at risk.

With the increased threat landscape, its vital organisations take cybersecurity seriously as an issue, or they are one high profile hack away from catastrophe.

In a situation with strong similarities to that experienced 800 years ago, we should never lower our guard and become complacent. The threats are real – and consequences wide-reaching across society.

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