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GDPR Compliance: Manage Procedural Risk Assessments with New GDPR Templates

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect  today, imposing strict security requirements on any company worldwide that handles the personal data of EU residents. Qualys Security Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) – a Qualys app that helps you with this type of procedural risk assessment — has been enhanced with new GDPR-specific templates.

Assessing  procedural controls can be challenging. However, a huge amount of time and money can be saved if you have out-of-the-box questionnaire templates that you can distribute as-is or slightly modify as necessary, instead of having to craft questionnaires from scratch.  

This is one of the ways in which Qualys SAQ can help you carry out holistic assessments of GDPR procedural compliance and generate reports based on responses.

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Qualys Policy Compliance Notification: Policy Library Update

Qualys’ library of built-in policies makes it easy to comply with the security standards and regulations that are most commonly used and adhered to. Qualys provides a wide range of policies, including many that have been certified by CIS as well as the ones based on security guidelines from OS and application vendors and other industry best practices.

In order to keep up with the latest changes in security control requirements and new technologies, Qualys publishes new content to the Policy Library every month.

This release includes the following new policy and updates:

  • CID 3777 and 3781 will be removed in 30 days and have newer replacement controls.
  • CIS Benchmark coverage for Network Devices including Cisco Firewall ASA, Palo Alto Firewall, Cisco NX-OS, JunOS 12/13
  • CIS for Oracle 11gR2, 12c, and Microsoft Windows 10 r1607/r1703
  • Adobe Common Controls Framework for Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Refresh of several DISA STIG and CIS Benchmarks to latest versions
  • Updated control settings in mandate-based policies

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GDPR Is Here: Manage Vulnerabilities and Prioritize Threat Remediation

To provide the level of data protection required by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), your organization must continuously detect vulnerabilities, and prioritize their remediation.

Why? An InfoSec team that’s chronically overwhelmed by its IT environment’s vulnerabilities and unable to pinpoint the critical ones that must be remediated immediately is at a high risk for data breaches, and, consequently, for GDPR non-compliance.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) ranks “Continuous Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation” as the fourth most important practice in its 20 Critical Security Controls. “Organizations that do not scan for vulnerabilities and proactively address discovered flaws face a significant likelihood of having their computer systems compromised,” CIS states.

In fact, hackers constantly exploit common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) for which patches have been available for weeks, months and even years. The reason: Many organizations fail to detect and remediate critical bugs on a timely basis, leaving them like low-hanging fruit for cyber data thieves to feast on.

In this second installment of our GDPR compliance blog series, we’ll explain the importance of vulnerability management and threat prioritization, and how Qualys can help you solidify these practices so you can slash your risk of data breaches.

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GDPR Is Here: Achieve Superior Data Breach Prevention and Detection with Qualys

Turned into law in 2016, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) finally goes into effect this week, slapping strict requirements on millions of businesses and subjecting violators to severe penalties. The complex regulation applies to any organization worldwide — not just in Europe — that controls and processes personal data of EU residents, whose security and privacy GDPR fiercely protects.

GDPR calls this data’s protection a “fundamental right” essential for “freedom, security and justice” and for creating the “trust” needed for the “digital economy” to flourish. Its requirements amount to what some have called zero-tolerance on mishandling EU residents’ personal data.

A PwC survey found that more than half of U.S. multinationals say GDPR is their main data-protection priority, with 77% planning to spend $1 million or more on GDPR readiness. “Data protection has been a thing organizations know about, but GDPR has brought it all to the forefront,” Richard Sisson, Senior Policy Officer at the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said during a recent GDPR roundtable.

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DevSecOps: Practical Steps to Seamlessly Integrate Security into DevOps

To properly and effectively protect DevOps pipelines, organizations can’t blindly apply conventional security processes they’ve used for traditional network perimeters. Since DevOps’ value is the speed and frequency with which code is created, updated and deployed, security must be re-thought so that it’s not a last step that slows down this process.

Hampering the agility of DevOps teams has terrible consequences. These teams produce the code that digitally transforms business tasks and makes them more innovative and efficient. Thus, it’s imperative for security to be built into — not bolted onto — the entire DevOps lifecycle, from planning, coding, testing, release and packaging, to deploying, operating and monitoring.

If security teams take existing processes and tools, and try to jam them into the DevOps pipeline, they’ll break the automation, agility and flexibility that DevOps brings. 

“This doesn’t work,” Qualys Vice President of Product Management Chris Carlson said during a recent webcast, in which he explained how security teams can seamlessly integrate security into DevOps using Qualys products.

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Securing the Hybrid Cloud: A Guide to Using Security Controls, Tools and Automation

When a bank recently created a consumer mobile wallet, it built the entire project — from development to deployment — in the cloud, an increasingly common decision among enterprises.

A less common step taken by this multinational bank and Qualys customer was incorporating the security team from day one. It recognized that the safety of the application was as critical for its success as its feature functionality.

In doing so, this bank tackled a challenge that organizations face as they move workloads to public cloud platforms: Protecting these new cloud workloads as effectively as their on-premises systems, but with processes and tools that are effective in both environments.

In a recent webcast, SANS Institute and Qualys experts addressed this issue in detail, offering insights and recommendations for security teams faced with protecting hybrid IT infrastructures’ assets on premises and in public clouds.

Cloud adoption triggers new security needs

In pursuit of digital transformation benefits, organizations are aggressively moving more workloads to public clouds, expanding from straightforward software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to more involved platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service (PaaS and IaaS) deployments.

As this happens, InfoSec teams find that safeguarding these environments can be complex. “Security teams have rallied around the idea that this is something they need to live with,” Dave Shackleford, a SANS analyst and instructor, said during the webcast.

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What we’ve got here is failure to communicate: OS vendors misread CPU docs, create flaw

In a memorable scene from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Whoopi Goldberg struggles to understand the lyrics of the eponymous song from the Rolling Stones, as she pleads: “Mick, Mick, Mick, speak English!”

It appears that multiple operating system vendors had similar trouble interpreting Intel and AMD debugging documentation, which led the OS vendors to independently create the same critical security flaw in their respective kernel software.

The issue came to light last week when US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) warned that under certain circumstances “some operating systems or hypervisors may not expect or properly handle an Intel architecture hardware debug exception.”

“The error appears to be due to developer interpretation of existing documentation for certain Intel architecture interrupt/exception instructions, namely MOV to SS and POP to SS,” the CERT alert reads.

The list of OS vendors affected reads like an industry “who’s who.” It includes Apple, Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware, Ubuntu, Xen and SUSE Linux. The problem was discovered by researcher Nick Peterson of Everdox Tech, who has detailed the flaw in a paper titled “POP SS/MOV SS Vulnerability.”

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May 2018 Patch Tuesday – Medium Weight, However One Active Exploit Needs Attention

Microsoft and Adobe LogosThis May’s Patch Tuesday has quite a few Microsoft fixes for both the OS and browsers.  In all, 67 unique CVEs are addressed in 17 KB articles, with 21 CVEs marked Critical.  32 of these CVEs reference Remote Code Execution, 19 of which are Critical. Those who use Hyper-V have some updates to pay attention to as well.

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Timely Password-Change Call from Twitter, as Bugs Hit WebEx and GPON routers

The cyber security news cycle is always active, so to help you stay in the loop here’s a selection of incidents that caught our attention over the past week or so involving, among others, Twitter, Cisco and GPON routers.

Twitter picks a good day for password-change call

As “change your password” calls from vendors go, the one from Twitter last week ranks right up there, and not just because of the scope of users involved. As Jon Swartz pointed out in Barron’s, Twitter’s alert went out on Thursday, which happened to be World Password Day.

The social media juggernaut reached out to all of its 330 million users and advised them to take a moment, go to their account settings page and enter a new password. Twitter also suggested they enable Twitter’s two-step verification feature, a move strongly endorsed by Forbes’ Thomas Fox-Brewster. In addition, Twitter recommended that users change their password on any other online services where they used their Twitter password. (It bears repeating: It’s a bad idea to re-use passwords.)

The reason for the brouhaha: An IT slip-up caused user passwords to be stored in plain text in an internal Twitter log. Twitter’s security policy is to instead mask passwords using the “bcrypt” hashing technique. That way, passwords are stored on Twitter systems as a string of random characters.

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How To Prioritize Vulnerabilities in a Modern IT Environment

Here’s a stat that shows the importance of prioritizing vulnerability remediation: Almost 30% of the CVEs disclosed in 2017 had a CVSS score of “High” or “Critical.” That works out to about 3,000 such vulnerabilities, or about 58 every week.

Given this large number of severe vulnerabilities, it’s critical for IT and security teams to make a deeper assessment of the risk they represent in the context of their organizations’ IT environment.

If they identify the vulnerabilities that pose the highest risk to their organization’s most critical assets, they’ll be able to prioritize remediation accordingly and eliminate the most serious and pressing threats to their IT environment.

However, as evidenced by the long list of major breaches caused by unpatched vulnerabilities, it’s hard for many businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations to prioritize remediation consistently and accurately.

“One of the big challenges that we have as security professionals is trying to stay on top of our vulnerability management,” Josh Zelonis, a Forrester Research analyst, said during a recent webcast.

Zelonis, who cited the CVE stat during the webcast, said that, according to a 2017 Forrester survey of global businesses, 58% of them experienced at least one breach in the previous 12 months. Among those, 41% of the breaches were carried out by exploiting a vulnerability.

“This is really representative of the problems we’re seeing in the industry with prioritization and getting patches deployed, and this is only increasing,” he said.

“In a post-Equifax world, VM is coming under increased scrutiny,” Zelonis added, alluding to the massive data breach suffered by the credit reporting agency in 2017 after hackers exploited the Apache Struts vulnerability (CVE-2017-5638), which had been disclosed about six months before.

Read on to learn valuable best practices for prioritizing remediation, and how Qualys can help your organization overcome this critical challenge.

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