Cyber security news roundup: April 2022

Published on: 3 May 2022

We're rounding up some of the biggest cyber security stories of the past few weeks. In April, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued an advisory highlighting commonly-exploited vulnerabilities, new research revealed the most in-demand cyber security roles for businesses, and Coca-Cola and the British Army were among the organisations reported to have fallen victim to hacking attacks.     

NCSC reveals most commonly-exploited vulnerabilities

A new advisory bulletin from the NCSC, published jointly with similar organisations in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, has revealed some of the most common IT vulnerabilities that hackers have been exploiting over the last 12 months.

It noted that criminals have been aggressively targeting newly disclosed critical software vulnerabilities such as a weakness in Apache's Log4j library. The advisory recommended mitigation steps such as applying timely patches, using centralised patch management systems and replacing outdated software  to guard against these issues:

Chief executive of the NCSC Lindy Cameron said: "This advisory places the power in the hands of network defenders to fix the most common cyber weaknesses in the public and private sector ecosystem."

Coca-Cola investigates claims of Russian-backed data breach

Hackers are continuing to target some of the world's largest and best-known brands with tools such as ransomware, with Coca-Cola reported to be among the latest to fall victim to such data breaches.

The firm has said it is investigating after a Russian-linked cyber crime group known as Stormous claimed to have stolen 161GB of data, which was being offered for sale on the dark web for more than $64,000.

Some commentators have suggested the firm may have been targeted in retaliation for its decision to pull out of the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine, as Stormous has publicly supported Russia's actions. However, the relatively small figure it is asking for allegedly stolen data may indicate it is not especially sensitive.

Nevertheless, it may serve as another warning of the dangers posed by state-backed hacking groups, particularly in the current political climate. 

Skills gaps 'responsible for data breaches at 80% of firms'

New research from Fortinet has suggested that poor cyber security skills is a major contributor to data breaches, with four out of five firms (80 per cent) experiencing at least one breach in the last 12 months that could be attributed to a lack of skills or awareness in this area.

The firm's 2022 Cybersecurity Skills Gap Global Research Report found 60 per cent of businesses are struggling to recruit cyber talent, while 52 per cent are finding it difficult to retain these professionals.

It noted the most in-demand cyber security roles among businesses are cloud security specialists (cited by 50 per cent of respondents), SOC analysts (42 per cent), security administrators (also 42 per cent) and security analysts (40 per cent).

Other key findings from the report included noting that organisations are increasingly  looking for individuals with certified skills, with 81% of leaders preferring to hire people with certifications, while increasing the diversity of cyber security teams is also a priority, with  89 per cent of global companies setting explicit diversity goals as part of their hiring plans.

Army recruitment system remains offline following data breach

The British Army's online recruitment portal has remained offline for much of April following a possible hack in March that compromised the data of more than a hundred new recruits.

It was reported by the Guardian that while sources at the Ministry of Defence have refused to speculate on whether Russian-backed actors were behind the breach, it has temporarily suspended online recruitment services pending an investigation. The breach has also been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office,

While the army's internal Defence Recruitment System has now been restored following a lengthy review, external online portals remain down. This has complicated army recruitment for more than five weeks at a time of conflict in Ukraine, which  would normally be expected to boost recruitment. Instead, emergency systems have been used to handle the processing of applications.