Content-borne threats spread to IM, collaboration tools

Traditional anti-virus and mail scanner solutions still miss myriad threats, many of them entering the organisation through legitimate email addresses and – increasingly – through collaboration tools and instant messaging platforms, says Maor Hizkiev, CTO and co-founder of content-borne threat security specialists BitDam. 
BitDam notes that the average office worker now spends up to 80% of their time collaborating with their managers and colleagues using collaboration tools such as instant messaging, Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, but that many collaboration tools lack adequate security. Email, shared URLs, file attachments, cloud drives and new digital communications are the most accessible entry point for advanced content-borne cyber attacks, with 95% of cyber attacks ‘launched with a click’, says the company. Email remains the most commonly used channel for both opportunistic and targeted attacks, reports Gartner, but new collaboration tools present a growing risk, says BitDam.
“Ensuring that every new collaboration tool is secure is a challenge for CIOs and CISOs,” says South African GECI representative Mike Bergen. He says information security professionals are increasingly concerned about content-borne threats penetrating the network even with anti-virus and email scanning tools in place, and are looking to reduce the risk and costs involved in remediation once a threat has actually reached the network.
Hizkiev says malware embedded in legitimate applications like Word documents and Excel spreadsheets has traditionally been difficult to detect, particularly if the content is sent through known and approved email addresses or through cloud-based collaboration channels. 
“The challenge is compounded by the growing trend for attackers to hijack an inbox or spoof a partner or vendor email address and send a mail that looks legitimate – with a known sender and record of prior correspondence, with an appropriate subject line, and possibly even in reply to an email sent by the victim – but which now contains malware in an attachment,” he says.
Addressing this threat demands a new approach to perimeter protection in which content is interrogated before being delivered, with tools to proactively assess whether the application execution flow is in line with its original design, or if it runs with alien code. “With this model, it does not matter if attackers develop new attack techniques; any content in a commonly-used business application deemed suspicious will be quarantined,” he says.  
BitDam, an Israeli firm with its roots in the Israeli defence world, monitors content from a cloud-based platform, proactively stopping exploits contained in any type of attachment or URL by extracting the execution flow and eliminating risks with latency as low as 15 - 20 seconds. Hosted on Microsoft Azure, BitDam integrates with most commonly used collaboration channels via APIs and is designed for quick and easy deployment in the organisation. The BitDam solution is ‘attack agnostic’ and detached from the attack world, focusing only on the performance of content, which allows it to detect any malicious payload – whether known or unknown.
BitDam, found to have the highest detection rate of any solution, is being implemented both on top of existing solutions – where it integrates seamlessly with existing security infrastructure – or as a complete solution during an enterprise digitisation or cloud move.
Israel-based BitDam, now in South Africa through industrial and enterprise security specialists GECI, makes enterprise communications safe to click. BitDam cyber security solutions protect enterprise communications from advanced content-borne threats. BitDam’s goal is to prevent cyber-attacks including hardware and logical exploits, N-Day and Zero-Day attacks from within the communication stream.
GECI International offers highly innovative and unique cybersecurity solutions for both administrative (IT) & industrial (OT) environments. GECI has provided global solutions to manufacturers and consumers in the fields of aerospace, transportation, energy, petrochemicals, infrastructure, IT & Telecommunications for over 40 years. The Group has evolved to focus on digital technologies and has branched into IT/OT cybersecurity on the back of several acquisitions and partnerships.
After Europe, GECI has chosen to expand its platform of innovative solutions in Africa, starting with South Africa where the need is clearly identified.  In South Africa, GECI has partnered with Sinac Group, a 100% black-woman owned company led by Nokuthula Mgwebile, to offer its cybersecurity solutions to local companies.