Authentic8 Blog Author: Gerd Meissner

Gerd writes, produces, edits, and manages content at Authentic8. Before, he covered information technology and data security as a journalist and book author in the US and in Europe.

Showdown: VPN vs. Cloud Browser

In many companies, VPN has become a staple of the traditional IT security stack. Annually, mid-sized organizations (<5,000 employees) spend an average of $60 per user on VPN technology and maintenance. Not much longer though, it seems.

While VPN has been around for more than 20 years, it now looks as if its promises of secure and private web access have worn off - many of them unfulfilled. In the words of Patrick Sullivan, Global Director of Security at Akamai, we are witnessing The death of VPN.

In his article for SC Magazine, Sullivan proclaimed: “It’s time to say goodbye.”

Sullivan’s farewell to VPN sounds timely, and he is not alone. Organizations large and small have found a way to cut their VPN costs or eliminated them altogether. In the same step, they attained a level of secure and private web access that VPN has never been able to deliver. What happened?

How Companies Cut VPN Costs

They

85% of Infected Websites Are NOT Blacklisted

Website attacks increased by 59% in 2018, according to the 2019 Website Security Report [PDF] recently published by Scottsdale, AZ-based SiteLock, a provider of business website security solutions. Most of the attacks were automated, the company reports, with 330 bots staging on average 62 attacks per day.

So far, so not surprising - just wait, there’s more. Let’s look next at a significant aspect of the SiteLock findings. It illustrates how much the attackers behind such malware campaigns can rely on the inherent vulnerability of traditional browsers.

When someone visits an infected site, the regular browser dutifully executes the malicious code from the web on the local machine. From there, ransomware, spyware or cryptojackers can spread through the user’s corporate or home network. Game over.

“Not so fast,” you may object. “Our IT security team has many ways to prevent such exploits. AV/EPP/ATP, CASB, VPN, SWG/URL Filters…” Which brings up that other finding in the report

81% of CIOs and CISOs Defer Critical Updates or Patches

New research indicates that eight out of ten CIOs and CISOs refrain from adopting an important security update or patch, due to concerns about the impact it might have on business operations.

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More than half (52%) said they have done so on more than one occasion. What about in your organization?

The Global Resilience Gap study, commissioned by security software firm Tanium, polled 500 CIOs and CISOs in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan, in companies with 1,000+ employees. Its goal was to explore the challenges and trade-offs that IT operations and security leaders face in protecting their business from a growing number of cyber threats and disruptions.

Infographic: CIOs/CISOs Holding Off on Patches and Updates (Source: Tanium Report)

Source: Tanium

The Problem: “Lack of Visibility and Control”

The report identifies “[l]ack of visibility and control across networks” as the main cause behind such missed or delayed updates.

80% of respondents reported they found out that a critical update or patch they thought had been deployed had not

Meet Frankie Keyes, the Most Trusted Expert in Cybersecurity

Frankie… who? No April Fool’s joke: Francis (“Frankie”) Archibald Keyes, Esquire, a fictitious figure you likely have never heard of, enjoys significantly higher trust among IT professionals than most real-life cybersecurity vendors or experts, according to new survey results from this year’s RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Of those surveyed in our Cybersecurity Approval Poll at RSA, a total of 88% stated that they trusted the made-up Mr. Keyes “much more”, “slightly more” or “about the same” as “other cybersecurity vendors and experts.”

If these results don’t instill much confidence in the industry’s ability to protect its customers from data breaches, malware attacks, and online election meddling, that is the whole point.

Frankie Keyes, a self-proclaimed Mr. Fix-it played by a professional actor, served as the face of F.A.K.E. Security, a make-believe company (website, Twitter handle and all) made up by Authentic8.

Fake Security, Real Survey

F.A.K.E. Security had its own booth

VPN: A Big Misunderstanding?

Most VPN services fail to provide a level of data protection and anonymity that would pass professional-level muster. Part 3 of our VPN miniseries shows how confusion about this 20+ years old technology and its complexities has added new risks and threats.

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In the first two posts, we focused on the “online privacy” promise of VPN, and on how misconceptions about VPN impact IT security and productivity in the enterprise in general.

In this post, we’ll address the most common misunderstandings about VPN and their ramifications one by one.

A VPN service creates a secure connection (often described as a “tunnel”) between two computers, say between an executive’s laptop at home or on the road and a company server.

This can provide protection, for example when going online via public WiFi networks or consumer-grade home broadband connections. Many services encrypt much of the data transmitted from point to point within the VPN. Others - and that’s the bad news