Canadian banks look to in house hackers to improve and test cybersecurity

Hackers are targeting Toronto-Dominion Bank’s internal systems at all hours using cutting-edge techniques, but the bank’s head of cybersecurity isn’t losing sleep over them — they work for him, after all.

The bank established late last year an in-house “red team” of ethical hackers — cybersecurity professionals who attempt to hack a computer network to test or evaluate its security on the owners’ behalf — who conduct live attacks against its own networks continuously, said Alex Lovinger, TD Bank’s vice-president of cyber threat management.

“We’re doing it exactly how our adversaries would do it… So if we find a weakness or something like that, we can close it or address it before a real attacker,” he said.

Canada’s biggest banks are fortifying their defences by hiring their own ethical hackers to test their systems as the frequency and sophistication of cyberthreats increases.

A Senate report last month entitled “cyber.assault: It should keep you up at night” sounded the alarm about the potential consequences of major cyberattacks in Canada.

“While some progress has been made federally in the past year, there is much more that the federal government and Canadians must do to protect ourselves,” said the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. “We must take the appropriate steps now, or soon we will all be victims.”

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has also raised concerns about a cyberattack.

In 2017, 21 per cent of Canadian businesses reported that they were impacted by a cyber security incident which affected their operations, according to Statistics Canada. Banking institutions, not including investment banks, reported the highest level of incidents at 47 per cent, followed by universities and the pipeline transportation subsector, according to the agency.

New regulations that require Canadian businesses to alert their customers about privacy breaches or face hefty fines took effect at the beginning of this month.

In May, the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s Simplii Financial digital banking brand said thousands of their customers may have had their personal and financial data compromised.

BMO said hackers contacted the bank claiming to be in possession of the personal data of fewer than 50,000 customers, and that the attack originated outside of Canada. At the same time, Simplii also warned that “fraudsters” may have accessed certain personal and account information for about 40,000 clients.

BMO’s chief executive Darryl White said he could not comment on the details of the privacy breach, as an ongoing investigation is underway, but noted there was a “very immaterial impact from a fraud perspective” and no material financial fallout.

“We are a lot smarter as every event goes on. And there are events every day, there are events every hour of every day… It’s a continual improvement exercise,” White told reporters after the bank’s recent investor day.

Meanwhile, BMO is also turning to in-house ethical hackers to test their systems. According to a recent job posting, BMO is seeking a senior manager with a certification in ethical hacking and whose responsibilities include managing a team of “network penetration testing” specialists.

CIBC did not respond to questions about whether it utilizes ethical hackers.

“We leverage internal and external expertise, and work closely with industry and government to enhance cyber security resilience, threat intelligence and best practices,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Alberta-based bank ATB Financial in a recent job post said it was recruiting a “Senior Penetration Tester” with ethical hacking experience. An ATB spokeswoman said the posting is to fill a recently vacated role.

The Bank of Nova Scotia also established its own in-house “red team” of hackers to test its defences, said its chief information security officer Steve Hawkins.

“Scotiabank has used and continues to use third-parties to handle this penetration testing. However, because the volume of global cyber threats has significantly risen, the Bank wanted to have its own capabilities in-house and created its own red team this year,” he said.

With the string of data breaches in recent years, what does worry TD’s Lovinger is the cumulative amount of data that has been exposed.

“Hackers now sit on a wealth of information… That they can now leverage to do more targeted attacks,” he said.

Royal Bank of Canada has had in-house ethical hacking capabilities for a few years now, as part of its cybersecurity program, said Adam Evans, the bank’s vice-president of cyber operations and chief information officer.

“We want to make sure that we are testing our defences to make sure they stay relevant,” he said.

RBC has been upping its cybersecurity budget and adding to its team annually. It now has roughly 400 cybersecurity professionals, up 50 per cent from three years ago, but a talent gap looms, Evans said.

Demand for talent in Canada is climbing by seven per cent annually and there will be more than 5,000 roles to fill between 2018 and 2021, according to Deloitte. By 2022, the cybersecurity workforce gap is expected to reach 1.8 million, it said.

As of October, there were 1,024 cybersecurity vacancies for every million Canadian job postings, up five per cent over the past year, according to Indeed Canada. That’s up 73 per cent since the beginning of 2015, said Brendon Bernard, an economist for the job search platform.

Meanwhile, several Canadian banks have made recent investments in research or capabilities abroad or in universities at home to tap cybersecurity talent. For example, TD opened a cybersecurity-focused office in Tel Aviv, Scotiabank announced a partnership with an Israeli cybersecurity company and RBC made an investment in research at Ben-Gurion University.

“With the talent gap in cyber, it’s something that organizations are going to have to address,” said Evans. “Because there is just not enough qualified people out there.”

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Canada’s privacy commissioner is planning to issue guidance for buyers and sellers of legal cannabis amid ongoing concern about potential fallout, such as being barred from the United States, if transactions become known by third parties.

The concern has been heightened in provinces where anonymously paying cash in-store is not possible in light of a controversial Statistics Canada initiative to obtain detailed bank records from all Canadians.

“Our office recognizes the sensitive nature of cannabis-related transactions _ particularly if information about those transactions is processed in a jurisdiction where cannabis consumption is not legal,” said Tobi Cohen, a spokeswoman for the federal privacy commissioner. “Organizations need to make it plain to individuals that their information may be processed in a foreign country, and that it may be accessible to law enforcement and national security authorities of that jurisdiction.”

British Columbia has already issued its own guidance and privacy-protection tips. For example, it notes that online sellers collect personal information such as name, date of birth, home address, credit card number, purchase history and email address.

“Providing personal information, especially through online formats, creates additional security risks,” the document by B.C.’s privacy commissioner notes. “Cannabis is illegal in most jurisdictions outside of Canada; the personal information of cannabis users is therefore very sensitive.”

Legal online purchases across Canada show up on bank statements in a variety of ways, depending on the retailer.

In Manitoba, for example, an order from the outlet Delta 9 shows up as “D9-2 -8675309 Winnipeg MB,” while purchases in British Columbia appear as `”BCS Online Vancouver.” Those in Nova Scotia are recorded as coming from the provincial liquor corporation _ “NSLC #2098/e-commerce Halifax.” Similarly, in Newfoundland and Labrador, orders register as NLC #700 St. John’s N.L.

In Ontario, where the only way to buy marijuana legally is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store using a credit card, transactions show up as “OCS/SOC.”

Jesse, 39, of Toronto, who’s in marketing and who asked his last name not be used, said he has mixed feelings about “OCS/SOC” appearing on his credit-card statement.

“I’m not crazy about being potentially profiled at the U.S. border because of a purchase that’s thrown up in my credit history,” Jesse said. “At the same time, I’m not losing sleep over it because there’s no precedent (for that) yet.”

In the pre-legal era, online outlets usually masked credit-card purchases, perhaps by using a generic notation such as “Organics,” and some still do so now. However, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Cannabis Store said such an approach doesn’t fly.

“As a legal business operating in Ontario, it is required that we operate with transparency,” Amanda Winton said. “This includes using our registered business name for payment services.”

Ontario’s privacy commissioner, Brian Beamish, said his office recommends redacting sensitive information in a case where, for example, a landlord might ask a prospective tenant for a credit card statement. Beamish also said a generic name used to record cannabis transactions could become widely known.

“The key issue here is the protection of bank information, whether it’s related to legal cannabis transactions or any other personal banking decision,” Beamish said.

Troy Patterson, who works with a licensed cannabis producer in Kincardine, Ont., said pot is legal and he wasn’t particularly worried about purchases showing up on credit card or similar statements.

“Now, if that info were to be weaponized against people, say for insurance or other purposes, that would be a huge issue,” Patterson said.

DYK: Businesses spent $14B on cybersecurity in 2017, more than 20% hit by cyberattack

By Christopher Reynolds | The Canadian Press

More than one in five Canadian companies say they were hit by a cyberattack last year, with businesses spending $14 billion on cybersecurity as they confront greater risks in the digital world, according to a new Statistics Canada survey.

The most common suspected motive was an attempt to steal money or demand a ransom payment, according to the survey. Theft of personal or financial information was less typical  less than one-quarter of the cyberattacks  though it was the most cited reason for investing in cybersecurity, StatCan said.

“Canadian businesses continue to rapidly embrace the Internet and digital technologies, which expose them to greater cybersecurity risks and threats,” the agency said in a release Monday.

“However, the impact of these risks and threats on the investment and day-to-day decisions of businesses are not easily understood as cybersecurity incidents often go unreported.”

Only 10 per cent of businesses affected by a cyberattack reported it to law enforcement agencies last year, StatCan said.

That may change after Nov. 1, when key provisions of the three-year-old federal Digital Privacy Act come into effect, requiring companies to tell Canadian consumers when their personal information is breached.

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In Europe, a sweeping new privacy law introduced in May imposed strict rules around data security and personal privacy, affecting Canadian companies that offer products or services to European Union consumers — and that could face fines of up to 20 million euros for violations.

In 2017, Canadian businesses shelled out $8 billion on cybersecurity staff and contractors, $4 billion on related software and hardware and $2 billion on other prevention and recovery measures, the survey found. The total represented less than one per cent of their total revenues.

Large businesses those with 250 or more employees were more than twice as likely as small ones between 10 and 49 employees  to be apparent targets, according to the report. It said the attacks resulted in an average of 23 hours of “downtime” per company in 2017.

Data breaches have become a familiar feature on the corporate landscape. Last week, Facebook said an attack on its computer systems announced two weeks earlier had affected 30 million users.

In August, some 20,000 Air Canada customers learned their personal data may have been compromised following a breach in the airline’s mobile app.

The Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce both suffered data breaches last May. Equifax announced in 2017 that a massive data breach compromised the personal information and credit card details of 143 million Americans and 100,000 Canadians.

In the past three years, millions of consumers have been affected by hacks against a panoply of companies including British Airways, Uber, Deloitte, Ashley Madison and Walmart.

“There’s a lot more to come,” said Amir Belkhelladi, who runs cybersecurity for Deloitte in Eastern Canada. “Technology is becoming essential in our life, so cybercrime that leverages that technology is likely to increase.”

Belkhelladi welcomed the StatCan survey the first of its kind in the country as a basic metric to rank Canada against other countries, but stressed the less concrete consequences of cybercrime.

“The reality for many of the businesses and organizations out there, it’s an impact on their business reputation. That’s much less tangible, that’s much harder to quantify,” he said.

While many large companies now have sturdier safeguards such as cyber-liability insurance  soft points along the supply chain can still open the backdoor to a breach.

“Very often you’ll see instances where the attack came through a supplier of some sort, or someone who’s in their ecosystem who’s trusted,” said Belkhelladi.

Data for the survey  titled the Canadian Survey of Cyber Security and Cybercrime and conducted on behalf of Public Safety Canada were collected between January and April 2018, with a sample size of 12,597 businesses and a response rate of 86 per cent.

Does your small business need cyberattack insurance?

Front Row Insurance says small businesses in Canada are so poorly covered because the process is too complex and costly

For many small businesses, a fire that destroys all of their operations might be preferable to getting hacked. At least in the case of the fire, there’s a good chance the damages will be covered by insurance.

Cybersecurity protection for losses of data or network assets is in its infancy in Canada, at least as far as small and medium enterprises are concerned. Only about 7 per cent of small businesses – those with fewer than 50 employees – had cyberliability insurance in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.

Medium-sized businesses, or those with 50 to 249 employees, were slightly more prepared at 14 per cent, versus 24 per cent for large companies.

The costs are huge, meanwhile, with reports estimating that cybercrime costs the Canadian economy between $3-billion and $5-billion a year.

Figures from the United States suggest that nearly half of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, many of which never recover. About 60 per cent of companies go out of business within six months of an attack, according to U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance.

Part of the reason for why small businesses in Canada are so poorly covered might be because the process is too complex and costly.

“They were getting these applications that we were sending them [on behalf of] insurance carriers that were extremely complicated, asking very complex questions,” says Mike Groner, account executive for Front Row Insurance. “These were also clients who weren’t in a position to pay six, seven, even eight-hundred dollars a year for cyberliability insurance.”

To that end, Toronto-based Front Row has launched its own product, Hackinsure, which offers coverage for cybersecurity issues ranging from theft, fraud and ransomware to business interruption resulting from data loss.

Businesses can sign up online for the product, underwritten by Swiss insurer Chubb, without having to talk to a broker. Coverage ranges from $100,000 to $1-million, while annual premiums begin at $200.

Mr. Groner says Front Row was able to negotiate with Chubb to remove about 80 per cent of the standard cyberliability application that bigger enterprises typically must deal with.

Such applications generally ask companies to spell out corporate structures, including listing the names of various directors, executives and their responsibilities. Front Row boiled it down to only the most pertinent information.

“We removed any questions where it would have absolutely no bearing on the premium and quote itself,” Mr. Groner says. “They’re simple questions, like are they using Windows 7 or higher? Are they using an antivirus program? Are they using firewalls? Are they using backup-and-recover procedures? It doesn’t get invasive beyond that.”

Insurance industry experts say the problem with poor coverage may also stem from a lack of education and regulatory involvement. About 19 per cent of small and medium enterprises in the United States and 15 per cent in Britain are estimated to have standalone cyber coverage.

“Canadian companies are very bad with data,” says Mary Hardy, professor of actuarial science at the University of Waterloo. “There’s not so much oversight and requirement to produce data like there is [elsewhere].”

The federal government has taken notice of the problem, which was the impetus for a renewal of the National Cyber Security Strategy this past June. The plan is devoting $500-million over the next five years to help educate the public on cybersecurity and to develop expertise in the field.

Jeremy Depow, vice-president of policy and research for the Information and Communications Technology Council, says products such as Front Row’s HackInsure are positive steps toward spreading awareness. Companies getting hacked is no longer a question of if, but rather when, he says.

“Hopefully it starts to force businesses to live up to some kind of standard,” he says. “Insurance could be a way where you build in those standards to at least get small businesses up to the basics.”

The cybersecurity insurance market is expected to balloon over the next few years, hitting US$17.55-billion by 2023 from US$4- billion in 2017, according to a Reuters report.

Until recently, Front Row has focused mainly on providing insurance products to the entertainment industry, but the company has moved to the cybersecurity market by customer demand.

Beware! Your Insurance Program needs Cyber Liability insurance now more than ever!

Read more

Cyber Losses: A Serious Organizational Risk In The Modern World

Article by Brian Vail, QC

September 19, 2018, 2:21 PM EDT — Losses and costs relating to cyber liability incidents have escalated exponentially given that the world has become much more computer-dependent and technology is rapidly advancing. The losses suffered by organizations for cyber incidents that interrupt their operations as well as liability to third parties (customers, patients or others) have become commonplace. The question facing organizations today is not if they will suffer a cyberattack but when.

The world began rapidly changing with the Internet age. People and organizations are becoming increasingly involved and dependent on computers and electronic data and data transmission. An increasing number of companies operate e-businesses and many organizations are moving toward a paperless workplace. An entire economy has grown up whereby individual consumers access various online services, disclosing their personal information in the process. That information may be shared across connected multiple platforms.

The Allianz Risk Barometer for 2018 indicates that the number of cyber incidents is increasing at an “almost breathtaking pace.” It ranks cyber risk to be the second most serious business risk for 2018, after business interruption. The number of incidents of cybercrime is growing at an alarming rate.

This includes the introduction of malware to an organization’s computer systems to disrupt computer- controlled operations and corrupt data. The use of ransomware, whereby an organization’s data is encrypted subject to it providing a ransom (monetary or otherwise) to the hacker, has become big business. AON notes that “driven by widespread use of mobile technologies, cloud computing, corporate bring-your-own-device policies, big data analytics and 3D printing, cyber has emerged as one of the fastest growing risks for governments and companies across the globe” and is “in some instances more pervasive than traditional exposures.”[

In the United Kingdom alone, in 2016 46 per cent of all businesses reported at least one cybersecurity breach, including 66 per cent of medium-sized businesses and 68 per cent of large businesses.

Many small and mid-sized businesses have a false sense of security that they are not big enough or do not possess information that would attract the interest to cyber criminals. However the insurance industry suggests that 50 per cent of businesses report having been the victim of attack and 60 per cent of those struck are small and medium-sized businesses.

In Canada the average organizational cost of a data breach in 2016 was $6.03 million, up from $5.32 million in 2015, with an average cost of $278 per stolen record. Average notification costs rose from $120,000 in 2015 to $180,000 in 2016. The average costs of lost business rose from $1.99 million in 2015 to $2.24 million in 2016. These losses were caused 54 per cent by criminal/malicious attacks, 21 per cent by system glitches and 25 per cent by human error.

Thus, cyber claims are having and will continue to have a growing negative impact on the global economy. All organizations should be adopting strategies to protect themselves and minimize losses and planning to respond to such claims. Businesses should be reviewing their computer systems, training and monitoring staff and developing an incident response plan to prevent cyber incidents. They should also be reviewing and updating their insurance coverage to address the risks involved. Both prevention and response are not simply an IT problem. They require a team approach involving multiple departments and vendors (IT, management, human resources, public relations, an insurance broker and legal counsel).

It is a mistake for smaller or medium size business to ignore this issue as much as for large organizations as a cyber incident may seriously impact or even bankrupt an unprepared organization.

They are becoming the most sought-after target by cyber criminals.

Originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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