2019 Recap: A Year to Remember

By on Dec 18, 2019

Working Even Harder To End the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

The term “skills gap” is all too familiar to those in the cybersecurity industry. A recent ISACA survey found only 18% of respondents said they believed the cybersecurity skills gap will be mostly or entirely filled during the upcoming decade, while 81% said companies aren’t investing enough in the people skills needed to navigate technological change. The talent shortage, coupled with the increasing volume of threats and the changing cybercrime landscape, presents a problem which is only getting worse. One initiative that McAfee is investing heavily in is education, and in September of this year, we expanded our work as a founding partner of the new Master of Cybersecurity and Threat Intelligence at the University of Guelph.

A Strong Presence at RSA

During this year’s RSA conference, VP and Chief Technology Officer Steve Grobman and Chief Data Scientist Dr. Celeste Fralick took the main stage to discuss how the industry needs to think about artificial intelligence, its power, and the possible ways it can be used against us. Despite its tremendous potential, Fralick explained, “Most people don’t realize how fragile AI and machine learning can really be.” In closing, Grobman told RSA attendees, “We must embrace AI but never ignore its limitations. It’s just math. It’s fragile. And there is a cost to both false positives and false negatives.”

Uncovering Ransomware Resurgence

As detailed in our August Threat Report, our Advanced Threat Research discovered that new ransomware samples had increased 118% from Q1 to Q2. The most active ransomware families of the quarter appeared to be Dharma (also known as Crysis), GandCrab and Ryuk. Other notable ransomware families of the quarter include Anatova, which was exposed by our ATR team before it had the opportunity to spread broadly, and Scarab, a persistent and prevalent ransomware family with regularly discovered new variants.

We’ve also seen an increase in the number of victims that have given in to the extortion demands of attackers, often paying ransom demands of hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to restore their systems.

The Release of The Cybersecurity Playbook

In September, McAfee Chief Marketing Officer Allison Cerra released her latest book, The Cybersecurity Playbook, which draws from her experiences as CMO and incorporates straightforward assessments, adaptable action plans, and many current examples to provide practical recommendations for cybersecurity policies. The Cybersecurity Playbook is an invaluable guide to identifying security gaps, getting buy-in from the top, promoting effective daily security routines, and safeguarding vital resources. Strong cybersecurity is no longer the sole responsibility of IT departments, but that of every executive, manager, and employee—so Cerra’s book provides practical to-dos for those at every level.

ATR Findings Announced at Black Hat and DEFCON

At Black Hat and DEFCON, we announced the discovery of two major vulnerabilities in commonly deployed industrial and enterprise devices. The first is a zero-day vulnerability in a Delta building controller that would allow malicious actors to manipulate access control systems, boiler rooms, temperature control for critical systems and more. The second vulnerability we announced was a 10-year-old bug within an innocuous Avaya desk phone. These findings prove that backdoors for bad actors to enter sensitive industrial and corporate environments are both wide-ranging and easy to miss. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, businesses, manufacturers and end users must be increasingly vigilant.

12th Annual MPOWER Cybersecurity Summit

This year, we hosted MPOWER at the Aria in Las Vegas, where fellow security experts strategized, networked, and discovered the newest and most innovative ways to ward off advanced cyberattacks. In addition to the announcement of several new innovations, MPOWER also featured a number of key speakers, including Madeleine Albright, Colin Powel, and McAfee CEO Chris Young, who stressed the importance of time. Missed this year’s event? Take a look at our top 5 highlights.

Announcing MVISION Insights

Live from the MPOWER main stage, we announced MVISION Insights, which will help organizations move to an action-oriented, proactive security posture by pinpointing threats that matter, offering insights into the effectiveness of their defenses, and providing the ability to respond quickly and accurately to these threats. Security teams will soon be able to utilize the data gathered by McAfee from more than one billion sensors worldwide and correlate it with their own threat data. This will allow them to obtain the information needed to battle threats targeting their systems and data, while also preemptively preparing defenses against threats even before they are seen in their environments.

First Cybersecurity Company to Achieve Global Gender Pay Parity

In April, we announced that we had become the first cybersecurity company to achieve global gender pay parity. “By achieving gender pay parity at McAfee, we continue to live our values, build an inclusive culture, create better workplaces, and develop stronger communities. I’m honored to join companies beyond the world of cyber already striving towards pay parity, and I hope more will join us in reaching this milestone in equality,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Chatelle Lynch. Reinforcing our company’s commitment to building an inclusive workplace, we also released our first Inclusion and Diversity Report, highlighting our strategy and results to support and increase its diverse workforce.

Introducing Unified Cloud Edge

Also at MPOWER, we introduced Unified Cloud Edge, an industry first initiative to address the security concerns of the cloud. By converging the capabilities of our award-winning MVISION Cloud, McAfee Web Gateway, and McAfee Data Loss Prevention offerings—all to be available through the MVISION ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) platform—McAfee Unified Cloud Edge will enable a borderless IT environment. “The convergence of security solutions that traditionally have functioned independently will improve an organization’s security posture by creating security defenses that work cohesively to defend against attacks,” Rob Westervelt, research director at IDC, said. “But even more importantly, this convergence will help ease the burden of managing security and compliance across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, which is one of the most significant challenges enterprises face today.”

Threat Predictions for the Year Ahead

It’s been yet another eventful year for cyberattacks. Although there is still some time left for 2019, it’s time to look towards the new year and speculate what may be in store for the threatscape. Here are the top five threat predictions for 2020.

  1. Broader Deepfakes Capabilities for Less-Skilled Threat Actors
  2. Adversaries to Generate Deepfakes to Bypass Facial Recognition
  3. Ransomware Attacks to Morph into Two-Stage Extortion Campaigns
  4. Application Programming Interfaces (API) Will be Exposed as the Weakest Link Leading to Cloud-Native Threats
  5. DevSecOps Will Rise to Prominence as Growth in Containerized Workloads Causes Security Controls to ‘Shift Left’

For more details on our 2020 Threat Predictions, click here.

About the Author

Melissa Gaffney

Melissa Gaffney is a member of the digital marketing team at McAfee. She has six years of experience in a variety of enterprise technologies, three of which have been focused on security.

Read more posts from Melissa Gaffney

  1. this all sounds scary, but I’m an elder who uses my computer for banking, streaming, learning, family updates, etc. I’m never sure what to use for protection, what I need.
    my son has a laptop, and does a few games. Not sure about password safety??

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