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Hey Google: What we search for most in cybersecurity .. cyber security?

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A scanner app with 100 million downloads starts to deliver malware
An Android Google play app, available since 2010, has recently started installing malware.

In recent years, cybersecurity — or cyber security, depending on your preferred usage — has become a frequent topic. 

Escalating cases of fraud, cybercrime, and data breaches have ensured that terms relating to cybersecurity, whether it be phishing or account compromise, have entered the consumer space and are no longer just known by professionals in the industry. 

Google, as the provider of one of the most popular search engines in the world, can provide an interesting resource to find out what areas of cybersecurity we are interested in, how threats are evolving — alongside our knowledge of them — and which vulnerabilities and attacks have gained the most widespread attention. 

This week, incident response platform Redscan published the results of research (.PDF) into Google cybersecurity-related search trends and their popularity based on Google Trends data from 2004 – 2019.

The most-searched-for public figure in the industry is Robert Herjavec, investor and CEO of IT security firm Herjavec Group. Searches for Herjavec take place four times as often as those for Kevin Mitnick, dubbed the “world’s most famous hacker” and now an active security consultant. 

In addition to Herjavec and Mitnick, John McAfee, Bruce Schneier, and Troy Hunt are in the top five most searched-for security professionals. 

The cybersecurity companies that most commonly feature on general Google searches are Norton, Avast, AVG, Kaspersky, and ESET. When it comes to enterprise-related queries, Symantec, Fortinet, Akamai, Mimecast, and FireEye are the most popular, according to Redscan. 

See also: Google discloses vulnerability in Chrome OS ‘built-in security key’ feature

If you receive a strange call from an unknown number, you may take to a search engine to see if the number has been connected to scams by other people. In the same manner, phishing emails pretending to be legitimate brands are also continually searched for, and the report shows that Apple is a name continually abused by fraudsters.  

The iPad and iPhone maker snagged the top spot as the most-searched-for brand in relation to phishing scams, followed by PayPal, HMRC, Amazon, and NatWest.

To date, Equifax has the dubious honor of being the company most commonly connected to searches related to data breaches. The credit monitoring agency was compromised in 2017, leading to the exposure of sensitive data belonging to almost 150 million people. 

Given the mammoth data breach’s reach and impact, it is not surprising that Equifax is the most-searched-for data breach. While the majority of queries were made at the time of disclosure, there has been a recent uptick likely owing to a settlement reached between the company and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

“The fact that Equifax disclosed the breach late and communicated details poorly may also have had an impact on search behavior, driving people to find out whether their details had been stolen,” Redscan says. “Indeed, interest in the Equifax data breach is so high that it skews all historical searches for the term ‘data breach.’”

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Redscan

CNET: Spotify wants to know where you live, and will be checking in

Other data breaches of note that have been commonly searched for are Ashley Maddison, TalkTalk, the Sony PlayStation Network, Yahoo, and Anthem. 

The vulnerabilities sometimes responsible for high-impact data breaches or those that may invade the nightmares of IT professionals are also searched for on a regular basis. Over the last decade, Heartbleed — a  security flaw disclosed in 2014 which impacted servers making use of OpenSSL’s 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta release — remains the most-searched-for security threat. 

TechRepublic: How to enable DNS-over-HTTPS in Firefox

Indeed, despite the worldwide disruption caused by the WannaCry ransomware outbreak and another severe hardware-based vulnerability called Meltdown also reaching global news, neither is as popular as search queries. 

It also seems that traditional security terms are on the decline, with searches for terms including ‘keylogger’ and ‘antivirus’ reducing in popularity. Instead, Google Trends data suggests that endpoint and cloud-based security is on the up, with a gradual increase in the search for terms such as cloud security, SIEM, Mobile Device Management (MDM), bring your own device (BYOD), and IoT security.

As a final point of interest, it seems we are yet to decide on whether we prefer cybersecurity or cyber security. Cyber security is more popular in worldwide searches, but in the US, cybersecurity remains the preferred option. 

Previous and related coverage


Have a tip? Get in touch securely via WhatsApp | Signal at +447713 025 499, or over at Keybase: charlie0




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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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