Securing Digital Channels (and Executives)

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When computer security was invented fifty years ago, there were no guideposts to assist technologists in their attempts to protect data and systems. Everything was new and confusing, which allowed time for the offense to build an advantage over the defense. Luckily, early visionaries like James Anderson and Peter Neumann eventually emerged to help to define the ground rules for what we now refer to as cyber security.

A parallel exists today for protection of brands, individuals, reputation, and other assets. As we saw half a century ago, no guideposts exist to help teams avoid the challenges of social media, and other digital channels for communication and sharing. Instead, we see one-after-another incidents where an executive or an organization experiences serious damage to their brand or reputation as a result of malicious action.

The TAG Cyber analyst team spent time recently with executives from Charlottesville-based SafeGuard Cyber to learn more about this important area of the cyber security industry. SafeGuard shared with us their experiences protecting the digital communication channels of customers since 2014 via their commercial platform. Below is a brief summary of what I learned during the discussion:

“At SafeGuard, we provide security solutions for the digital economy,” explained George Kamide, Head of Marketing. “We focus our efforts on addressing the growing risks across social media and other digital platforms. We provide enterprise teams with the assurance that customer-facing channels, such as LinkedIn or Facebook or even WhatsApp, and the service platforms they rely on, like Salesforce or Slack, are protected from malicious targeting by bad actors.”

In one case cited during our discussion, a business approached SafeGuard because an employee had his personal Facebook account breached – which is not terribly difficult to do. Unfortunately, the account was an admin on the company’s Ads Manager account. The hackers created a false ad campaign, resulting in over $200K of expenditures over a weekend by the account thief. 

The SafeGuard platform deals with these situations by ingesting information directly from these modern digital channels of interest. Connections can be established with social media (like Facebook), mobile chat, digital collaboration, enterprise apps, surface web sites, and the dark web. Connectivity into these digital channels is achieved without the use of agents, and offers both visibility into the channels of interest to the customer, but importantly, the ability to take defensive action in real time.

The company’s risk engine, called Threat Cortex, performs machine learning-based risk analytics on the ingested data. The analysis results are provided to users through a unified management console. “The design of our console was guided by our customers’ need to achieve visibility into digital channel security issues,” Kamide explained, “with the hope of detecting issues in real-time or responding to problems not detected during exploitation.”

Various utilities and applications are provided by SafeGuard to help enterprise security teams make full use of the available analytics and data. SafeGuard offers support for endpoint protection, brand protection, and executive or employee-level protection through the use of its SafeGuardMe app, as well as through the customer-facing management console and associated security compliance tools.

From an analyst’s perspective, the SafeGuard platform effectively identifies and reduces social media-based risks. Their solution is especially well-suited to address the immense challenges of assuring executive reputations, including C-suite managers and board members. False postings about these individuals, for example, can cause serious problems with stock prices, staff recruiting, and other public relations issues.

SafeGuard also emphasizes the compliance support their solution provides for enterprise security teams. This makes perfect sense, even though compliance and audit teams have yet to fully embrace the need to enforce protections for social media. In the long term, as regulatory and other assurance frameworks increase attention to brand security, SafeGuard will likely see increased focus and accelerated sales.

Boards and executives, in particular, should take note of this important area – and should take the time to learn more about SafeGuard. Where many senior leaders and managers struggle to understand the intricacies of modern cyber security, they can easily understand the risks of social media manipulation. (Perhaps they might even get some instruction on the topic from their children or grandchildren.)

So, perhaps you might give the team from SafeGuard Cyber a call. Let us know what you learn after your briefing on the promises of securing modern digital channels from the risks that come with malicious action. We look forward to hearing from you.

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