SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

CERT NZ issues critical security controls for 2019

By Sara Barker
Thu 24 Jan 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) has released its 2019 list of critical controls that it believes could help organisations fend off cyber attacks.

The annual list is designed to help businesses prioritise their security controls based on CERT NZ’s local and international threat intelligence.

This year CERT NZ has made two major changes since last year’s iteration: It has replaced sections on BYOD device management and legacy system removal with controls on cloud authentication management and network segmentation implementation.

The 10 critical controls for 2019 are:

  1. Enforce multi-factor authentication
  2. Patch software
  3. Disable unused services and protocols
  4. Change default credentials
  5. Implement and test backups
  6. Implement application whitelisting
  7. Enforce the principle of least privilege
  8. Configure centralised logging and analysis
  9. Implement network segmentation
  10. Manage cloud authentication

CERT NZ offers the following tips for dealing with each critical control:

Enforce multi-factor authentication

“Credential dumps and credential harvesting attacks are common. They give attackers access to large numbers of usernames and passwords.”

Businesses can enable multi-factor authentication on privileged and remote access systems including VPNs, administrative consoles, webmail, and applications such as Citrix.

“We saw several phishing campaigns focused on credential harvesting in 2018. One example was the Office365 campaign. In the cases we saw, enabling MFA would have prevented unauthorised access to the accounts with leaked credentials.”

Patch software

Keeping software, operating systems and applications up-to-date is one of the most effective steps to securing business environments. 

“We've seen many organisations attacked by malware that exploits known vulnerabilities. Applying patches would have helped them avoid these attacks.”

Disable unused services and protocols

Older services and protocols can have unique vulnerabilities that aren’t protected by patching. Those vulnerabilities provide opportunities for attackers to get into a network.

Businesses should scan their networks for services and protocols that are known to be vulnerable, and those that are no longer used. They should then remediate the issues.

“The recent WannaCry incident demonstrated what can happen when attackers exploit out-of-date protocols.”

Change default credentials

Businesses should immediately change all default credentials when any new application or device is introduced to a network. This will stop attackers from getting into a network with known usernames and passwords.

“We continue to see organisations compromised by attackers using unchanged default credentials.”

Implement and test backups

Backups make good business sense and are critical to recover from all kinds of incidents – whether ransomware or any disaster situation.

“We've seen organisations lose data and incur significant operational costs because they didn't have up-to-date, well-maintained backups.”

Implement application whitelisting

Email clients and web browsers are two common ways that attackers infect a user’s devices. To prevent infections from happening, businesses should identify and whitelist applications that are approved for use.

CERT NZ says most malware incidents it has seen may have come from malicious email attachments or ‘drive-by downloads’. 

“Whitelisting the approved applications will help protect the system from these attacks. It's a key security control for your network.”

Enforce the principle of least privilege

Users should only be able to access and control systems they need to do their jobs – this is the minimum level of access. Remove old user accounts when they are not needed anymore.  When a user needs administrative privileges, CERT NZ advises businesses to create a separate account.

“We're aware of incidents where users held unnecessary administrative privileges. Attackers were able to exploit their accounts to make unauthorised changes to the environment.”

Configure centralised logging and analysis

Without effective logging, it’s difficult to work out where an attack came from.

If all logs are secured and stored in one place, it can make alerts and log analysis easier to understand what happened during an incident. Alerts can flag abnormal behaviour and suggest what to investigate. 

“Logs weren't available for many of the incidents reported to CERT NZ. This meant it wasn't possible to do a complete post-incident investigation.”

Implement network segmentation

This control relies on how other controls such as the principle of least privilege and disabling unused services are implemented.

Network tools such as firewalls and keeping other critical controls in check can prevent attacks from spreading through a system.

“We've seen incidents where attackers used common management tools and protocols to gain control of other machines on a network. There are also tools scripted to get credentials. The credentials are then used to access other devices and applications in a network.”

Manage cloud authentication

As organisations move towards cloud-based services, it’s common to have multiple authentication systems. By using a centralised authentication policy, businesses have better control and visibility into who is accessing what.   It can also help to configure multi-factor authentication for applications that may not support it, and provides a unified experience.

“We're aware of incidents where cloud authentication misconfigurations let attackers bypass security controls. They do this by using legacy authentication protocols.”

CERT NZ also strongly recommends that organisations continue with their own best practices, such as managing effective password policies.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Fortinet introduces self-learning AI in latest offering
Fortinet is introducing self-learning AI capabilities in its new network detection and response offering, FortiNDR.
Story image
The ups and downs and runarounds of catching cybercriminals in NZ
We're becoming more and more aware of cybercrimes but how many criminals actually get caught? The New Zealand police explain why the answer is complicated.
Story image
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
APAC ranks third-highest region targeted by ransomware
Asia Pacific has ranked the third-highest region globally to be targeted by ransomware, according to cybersecurity firm Group-IB.
Story image
Vishing attacks reach all time high - Agari and PhishLabs
"Hybrid vishing campaigns continue to generate stunning numbers, representing 26.1% of total share in volume so far in 2022."
Story image
CERT NZ releases first Cyber Security Insights for 2022
CERT NZ has released Quarter One: Cyber Security Insights 2022, which offers an overview of reports about cybersecurity incidents affecting New Zealanders.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Asia Pacific plagued by sophisticated bad bots - report
The three most common bot attacks were account takeover, content or price scraping, and scalping to obtain limited-availability items.
Story image
'Alarming' rise in ransomware threats - Verizon report
As criminals look to leverage increasingly sophisticated forms of malware, it is ransomware that continues to prove particularly successful.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
BYOD / Bring Your Own Device
How zero trust can lead the battle against ransomware
SecOps teams champion a zero trust strategy to support the fight against the escalating risk of cybercrime and help monitor threat actors across a network.
Story image
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
WhatsApp and QR codes the next scam threat - report
KnowBe4 has warned it expects to see an increase in QR Codes and the WhatsApp chat platform being used for phishing and other scams. 
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Global cybersecurity insurance market worth $11.5b this year
Future Market Insights finds the cybersecurity insurance market is expected to reach USD$11.5 billion in 2022, growing to $61.2 billion in 10 years.