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US probe prompts Russia-linked Pamplona to sell stake in cybersecurity firm Cofense

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Russian hackers step up information-collecting efforts
Researchers at FireEye say Kremlin-backed hacking operations are attempting to target governments, media and political parties as elections approach.

Pamplona Capital Management is seeking a buyer for its stake in cybersecurity firm Cofense following an investigation by US national security officials over national security.

Cofense said on Wednesday that Pamplona will sell its stake now that the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)’s probe has concluded, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. 

Once known as PhishMe, Cofense was acquired by an investment consortium in 2018 in a deal which valued the cybersecurity training firm at $400 million.

BlackRock and Pamplona inked the deal to acquire Cofense. The investment group owns a controlling stake, whereas Pamplona owns a minority stake. 

CFIUS conducted an investigation into the buyout in consideration of Pamplona’s ties to Russia, given the investment company has partial backing from Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman. However, it is important to note that CFIUS has not displayed any concerns related to Pamplona’s business activities or investment in itself, but rather, this backing tie alone.

CNET: Facebook steps up fight against fake news in groups and messaging 

The US has increased its scrutiny of foreign-backed ownership deals in the technology space within the past few years; a change in stance highlighted by President Trump personally stepping in and banning the aggressive takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom due to links with China. Trump cited “evidence” that the proposed acquisition would be a threat to national security and so squashed Broadcom’s plans.

The US has also banned Huawei equipment usage in government applications due to the same concerns of foreign influence.

While tensions continue to simmer between the US and China, Russia, too, has faced criticism for reportedly interfering in the US presidential elections.

TechRepublic: SQL injection attacks: A cheat sheet for business pros

According to Cofense, CFIUS contacted Pamplona a month after the ownership deal was secured and an investigation was performed over the course of a few months, leading to the investor’s voluntary decision to sell its stake.

An agreement between Pamplona and CFIUS has been reached to complete the sale by July 2019.

A source speaking to ZDNet said there has already been “strong interest” in the sale, with the first round of bids submitted earlier this week. The sale is being managed by investment banking advisory firm Evercore.

See also: Online security 101: How to protect your privacy from hackers, spies, and the government

“Cofense continues to cooperate with CFIUS and to comply with all prescribed actions as a result of this investigation,” Cofense told the WSJ.

Pamplona declined to comment.

Update 14.24 BST: Updated to clarify that Pamplona owns a minority stake. In addition, Rohyt Belani, CEO of Cofense told ZDNet:

“Fortunately, the impact has been minor and the fundamentals of our business haven’t changed. We are still focused on delivering the best possible products to the market to meet the needs of our global customers. 

Cofense’s last two quarters were the best in company history. Our innovation pipeline is rich and we have earned our customers’ trust by working hard and providing the support and technology they need to stop phishing attacks in their tracks. We look forward to closing this chapter out and continuing to grow the company while delivering outstanding services to our clients.”

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Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together

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Software development teams are increasingly focused on identifying and mitigating any issues as quickly and completely as possible. This relates not only to software quality but also software security. Different organizations are at different levels when it comes to having their development teams and security teams working in concert, but the simple fact remains that there are far more developers out there than security engineers.

Those factors are leading organizations to consider security tooling and automation to proactively discover and resolve any software security issues throughout the development process. In the recent report, “GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools,” Shea Stewart examines a roundup of security tools aimed at software development teams.

Stewart identified three critical criteria to bear in mind when evaluating developer security tools. These include:

  • Vendors providing tools to improve application security can and should also enhance an organization’s overall security posture.
  • The prevailing “shift-left” mindset doesn’t necessarily mean the responsibility for reducing risk should shift to development, but instead focusing on security earlier in the process and continuing to do so throughout the development process will reduce risk and the need for extensive rework.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical for any organization focused on reducing risk.

Figure 1. How Cybersecurity Applies Across Each Stage of the Software Development Lifecycle *Note: This report focuses only on the Developer Security Tooling area

Individual vendors have made varying levels of progress and innovation toward enhancing developer security. Following several acquisitions, Red Hat, Palo Alto Networks, and Rapid7 have all added tooling for developer security to their platforms. Stewart sees a couple of the smaller vendors like JFrog and Sonatype as continuing to innovate to remain ahead of the market.

Vendors delving into this category and moving deeper into “DevSecOps” all seem to be taking different approaches to their enhanced security tooling. While they are involving security in every aspect of the development process, some tend to be moving more quickly to match the pace of the SDLC. Others are trying to shore up existing platforms by adding functionality through acquisition. Both infrastructure and software developers are now sharing toolsets and processes, so these development security tools must account for the requirements of both groups.

While none of the 12 vendors evaluated in this report can provide comprehensive security throughout the entire SDLC, they all have their particular strengths and areas of focus. It is therefore incumbent upon the organization to fully and accurately assess its SDLC, involve the development and security teams, and match the unique requirements with the functionality provided by these tools. Even if it involves using more than one at different points throughout the process, focus on striking a balance between stringent security and simplifying the development process.

Read more: Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools, and the Gigaom Radar for Developer Security Tool Companies.

The post Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together appeared first on Gigaom.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

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Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary practice that not only grows in complexity annually but evolves nearly as quickly. A survey of the security landscape today would reveal concerns ranging from the classic compromised servers to the relatively new DevSecOps practices aimed at securing the rapid deployment of new code and infrastructure. However, some things remain constant no matter how much change is introduced. While technology evolves and complexity varies, there is almost always a human component in
risks presented to an organization.

User Behavior Analysis (UBA) was designed to analyze the actions of users in an organization and attempt to identify normal and abnormal behaviors. From this analysis, malicious or risky behaviors can be detected. UBA solutions identify events that are not detectable using other methods because, unlike classic security tools (an IDS or SIEM for example), UBA does not simply pattern match or apply rule sets to data to identify security events. Instead, it looks for any and all deviations from baseline user activity.

As technology advanced and evolved, and the scope of what is connected to the network grew, the need to analyze entities other than users emerged. In response, entity analysis has been added to UBA to create UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analysis. The strategy remains the same, but the scope of analysis has expanded to include entities involving things like daemons, processes, infrastructure, and so on.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools

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As we learned in the associated GigaOm report, “Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools,” the most cost-effective method for reducing risk in software development is to identify and fix issues as close to the developer as possible. As the number of software developers continues to vastly outnumber the number of security professionals allocated to any software project, organizations need to invest in security tooling and automation that can help software developers consider and mitigate security risks in a proactive manner.

Add to this situation an appreciation for how the role of the developer has changed vastly over the last few years: Developers aren’t just responsible for software components; they can write infrastructure components, security controls, automations/integrations, and so forth. This has blended the worlds of the traditional software developers and the infrastructure and operations teams responsible for the environments that software components are deployed to. A much wider range of job titles can be incorporated into the developer role now, which requires the same security tooling and process oversight as does traditional software development.

As we consider how to evaluate vendors for developer security tools, we need to take these points into account:

  • All vendors involved in improving application security can contribute to an organization’s overall enhanced security posture.
  • “Shift-left” mindsets do not imply that the work of reducing risk is simply shifted to the developer, but rather that adding a focus on security early in the process will reduce risk and rework as software moves through the delivery pipeline.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is key for any organization that is focused on reducing risk.

In this report we have identified a number of vendors that address the specific need to catch and remediate security issues earlier in the software development lifecycle, which we articulate in the report as table stakes, key criteria, and evaluation metrics. While we review 12 vendor solutions here, we ruled out many more, including several offering capabilities focused on runtime protection, which merit review in upcoming GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar Reports.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools appeared first on Gigaom.

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