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The Cowbell Factors Podcast, Ep. 14: Fighting cybercrime with founder and CEO of Blackpoint, Jon Murchison

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Cowbell enjoys inviting external guests to our podcast. They can shed light on different aspects of cyber, such as the closed-loop approach to cyber risk that businesses need to follow in order to stay safe online. Cybersecurity is of course a vital part. This is why we created a partner ecosystem of cybersecurity vendors that can assist Cowbell policyholders in improving their cyber risk posture. We call our partner ecosystem “Cowbell Connect.”

During last week’s episode, Cowbell invited none other than Jon Murchison, the founder, and CEO of our Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) partner Blackpoint, to discuss how cyber insurance and cybersecurity work together in order to keep businesses secure online. 

Blackpoint offers life breach detection and response to Managed Service Providers (MSPs), which is wrapped in their “managed detection response” service. They offer cloud security products, monitor customers’ computers, servers, and networks 24/7, and fight cybercriminals that infiltrate their customers’ systems.

Companies like Blackpoint understand the struggles of businesses and carriers in this quickly evolving market. “There is a reduction in capacity and a hesitance to insure IT companies in the cyber insurance industry. Blackpoint wants to de-risk the insurance carriers, as well as address the pain point of our MSP partners, and create a marriage between natural de-risking, which also benefits the carrier.”

The focus on MSPs is not without reason: They often run into difficulties when trying to obtain cyber insurance.
“MSPs are an extremely attractive target for cybercriminals, since getting access to one of them usually means also gaining access to all of their customers. Additionally, it is difficult to run your own network well, let alone the network of forty other companies, which creates concerns on the cyber hygiene side.”

Once an MSP becomes a customer of Blackpoint, a team of experts goes to work, lowering their cyber risk.

“We like to utilize an adapted version of Sounil Yu’s Cyber Defense Matrix. Firstly, we assess the end user’s capability to identify all their assets that need to be protected.” 

“The second step includes reducing the tech surface through vulnerability scans, as well as improving cybersecurity hygiene. For that, Blackpoint offers free vulnerability scanners.”

“Next is the detection of cybercrime. This includes malware detection and tradecraft behavior.”

Then comes real-time response. This answers questions like ‘Do you have the ability to activate your alerts in order to nullify the threat.’ This is what Blackpoint does at the core.”

“The last stage would come after a successful attack, which is where cyber insurance comes into play. Cowbell has great API integrations with other products and vendors that enable a good view into a business’s risk profile.”

Staying on top of trends and educating yourself on the types of attacks out there is an important step in protecting your company against cybercrime. 

“Phishing links are still the #1-way cybercriminals manage to infiltrate systems. In our experience, when running our 24/7 response services, we do see a lot of phishing-based access. But while this leads to the most malware detection, which can skew stats, it does not lead to most ransom attacks. Instead, bad actors often gain access when employees leave remote desktop protocol open to the internet and do not have multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled.”

If you don’t have a standalone cyber insurance policy, this can have drastic consequences. “Cyber insurance is an absolute necessity if you choose to do business over the internet, and rely on IT. Many victims without a cyber policy can’t fully recover without striking a check to the bad guys. However, making sure that you have data-backups, as well as immediately contacting a forensics team and sending them all the (potentially) infected hard drives can improve the situation.”

According to Jon, both cyber insurance as well as cybersecurity are a must-have for every business.

“I look at the two as corporate risk management. They are required in 2022 and if done right, it doesn’t have to be this overly complicated, big-data endeavor. It can be quick and efficient.”

“Cyber insurance is an absolute necessity if you choose to do business over the internet.”

Unfortunately, we still see some common misconceptions around cyber insurance that need to be debunked through education around the matter.
“Many people still think that cyber insurance companies don’t pay. Also, small businesses believe that they have no risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. In reality, the vast majority of ransomware victims are just targets of opportunity. Criminals are looking for a vulnerability and they found your company as one of those vulnerable targets on a list on the dark web. To cyber criminals, it’s like an unlocked car door: It might not be the most paying victim, but it is easy, so they will go for it.”

For his closing thoughts, Jon shared his opinion on the most important measures businesses have to take in order to improve their cybersecurity. 

“Businesses need to focus on reducing their tech surface. This includes external vulnerability scanning and some basic safety measures like deploying MFA with app-based authentication instead of SMS-based authentication in every account.”

Incident response is the next, important step. “Lastly, you need to have the right cyber insurance policy in place, do regular data back-ups, and set up speed dials for the companies you need to call if something happens. Cybersecurity and cyber insurance really go hand in hand and will save you a lot of pain down the road.”

If you want to learn more about the fight against cybercrime, how MSPs can improve their cyber risk posture with Blackpoint and Cowbell, and what role the government plays in this undertaking, listen to the full podcast episode.

You can also visit the Cowbell Factor Podcast library to listen to previous episodes and stay up to date on upcoming ones. It is available on most podcast platforms (iHeart, Spotify, Google podcast, Apple podcast, Anchor, Breaker, and Radio Public). 

 

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