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Cybersecurity in New Zealand’s Cloud-Based Landscape

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In New Zealand, the emphasis on cloud-based infrastructure is substantial, with a plethora of initiatives and partnerships aimed at propelling digital transformation and enriching cloud services for businesses and organisations. This strategic shift towards cloud-based infrastructure is being harnessed across diverse sectors to bolster operational efficiency, fortify cybersecurity measures, and augment accessibility to digital resources.

As organisations in New Zealand continue to modernise their systems and migrate to cloud-based infrastructure, cybersecurity emerges as a paramount concern. One of the critical aspects of cybersecurity in this context is ensuring the protection of data stored and transmitted through cloud services.

The recent advisory issued by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC UK) concerning APT29, underscores cyber threats’ dynamic and ever-evolving landscape. This advisory serves as a poignant reminder of the criticality of remaining vigilant, informed, and prepared in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber adversaries.

NCSC UK and international partners have assessed APT29 as a cyber espionage group. This attribution is supported by agencies such as the US National Security Agency (NSA), the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the US Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASD’s ACSC), the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), and NCSC NZ. These organisations agree with the details in the advisory, emphasising the need for a coordinated international response to cyber threats.

One of the critical aspects highlighted in the advisory is the adaptation of APT29 to target organisations transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure. This highlights the importance of understanding threat actors’ specific tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) in the cloud environment. One tactic observed is the exploitation of service and dormant accounts.

APT29 has used brute force and password-spraying techniques to access these accounts, which are often highly privileged and used to manage applications and services. Organisations can mitigate this risk by enforcing strong password policies, implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), and regularly auditing and deactivating dormant accounts.

Another tactic employed by APT29 is the use of cloud-based token authentication. Threat actors can bypass traditional authentication methods by using tokens to access accounts without needing a password.

Organisations can protect against this by adjusting token validity times and implementing strong MFA policies. Enrolling new devices on the cloud is another avenue exploited by APT29. By registering their device as a new device on the cloud tenant, threat actors can gain unauthorised access to the network. Organisations can defend against this by configuring network policies to validate devices before granting access.

To evade detection, APT29 has also utilised residential proxies to hide their true IP addresses. This underscores the importance of comprehensive logging and monitoring to detect and respond to suspicious activity. Implementing network defences that consider a variety of information sources can help mitigate this risk.

The guidance in the advisory serves as a reminder of the importance of a strong cybersecurity posture, mainly as organisations increasingly rely on cloud infrastructure. Remaining informed about the latest cybersecurity trends and threats is imperative for organisations to identify and address vulnerabilities in their systems proactively. This knowledge empowers them to implement necessary security measures and mitigations effectively.

Moreover, collaboration with cybersecurity experts and sharing information with other organisations can significantly enhance overall cybersecurity posture, as collective insights and experiences can inform better defence strategies. By staying vigilant and implementing the recommended mitigations, organisations can substantially improve their ability to protect their networks and data from cyber threats. This approach is crucial in the face of evolving cyber risks and threats.

It is critical that New Zealand, like any other country, continuously adapts and improves its cybersecurity practices to protect its data and systems in the digital age effectively. Only through ongoing efforts and collaboration can organisations and countries effectively mitigate cyber risks and ensure a secure digital environment.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.