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June Monthly Special 2024

Canary Trap: Helping Organizations to Identify and Remediate Security Vulnerabilities that Could Result in Breaches

Canary Trap: Helping Organizations to Identify and Remediate Security Vulnerabilities that Could Result in Breaches

“Our name reflects our mission: Canary Trap helps organizations to safeguard against information leaks with unwavering vigilance.”

In the dynamic field of cybersecurity, Canary Trap stands out as an industry leader, renowned for its robust capability in delivering true adversarial offensive security and advisory services. Founded by ethical hackers and certified security experts, the company is driven by a shared mission: safeguarding organizations from the looming threat of cyber-attacks.

Harnessing a blend of human expertise and cutting-edge tools, Canary Trap offers a comprehensive approach to security testing and assessments. Each engagement is meticulously tailored, eschewing a one-size-fits-all mentality in favor of a bespoke strategy that addresses the unique needs of every client. At its core, Canary Trap is more than a security firm—it's a committed ally in strengthening defenses and preventing breaches. By using advanced tools and tapping into threat intelligence when needed, the company conducts a detailed assessment of security vulnerabilities, whether digital or physical.

Operating as a boutique agency, Canary Trap prides itself on its laser-focused approach to security services and advisory. With a commitment to proactive measures, the company empowers clients to identify and mitigate security gaps before they fall prey to malicious actors.

In an exclusive interview with CIO Bulletin, Daniel Pizon, President and CEO of Canary Trap, shed light on how his company remains steadfast in its mission to protect and safeguard its clients against the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks.

Interview Highlights

Q. What's the origin story of Canary Trap? Can you walk us through the exhilarating journey from its inception to becoming a recognized leader in security services?

Canary Trap was founded in 2017 by ethical hackers who share the common goal of reducing the potential risk and impact of security breaches. Unlike many of our competitors, Canary Trap's team of Subject Matter Experts undertake true adversarial offensive security testing on behalf of our customers. Our approach goes well beyond the use of open-source and commercially available tools that run automated scans. We aim to identify, assess, and enumerate security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by sophisticated threat actors. This is the level of assurance that our clients are looking for.

Initially focused on the Canadian marketplace, Canary Trap expanded its operations to the United States in 2019. Today, Canary Trap is recognized as a boutique and hyper-focused offensive security services firm with over 400 unique engagements undertaken in our FY23.

Q. The name 'Canary Trap' and its logo are intriguing. Can you share the story behind the choice of this name and how it resonates with the company's approach to cybersecurity?

Definition: An effective method for exposing an information leak.

No, it’s not a snare for catching yellow finches! A canary trap is a weapon of espionage! It’s a tool for detecting and plugging information leaks—a clever ploy to determine which canary is singing when under orders to remain silent. The term was first popularized and described by novelist Tom Clancy in the 1987 best-seller Patriot Games. Given the nature of the work assignments, we feel that the name Canary Trap is most appropriate as it directly connects to our areas of practice.

Q. Canary Trap offers a comprehensive suite of security services, from assessments to digital forensics. Could you elaborate on how each service plays a critical role in safeguarding clients against cybersecurity threats?

Canary Trap offers a diverse array of offensive security and advisory services, specializing in the following key areas:

  1. External Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Test: Identifies security vulnerabilities that can be exploited from outside of the corporate network.

  2. Internal (Network) Penetration Test: Identifies security vulnerabilities that exist inside of the corporate network.

  3. Web & Mobile Application Penetration Test: Identifies security vulnerabilities within the application(s). Can include custom applications, Tier I & Tier II cloud applications and mobile applications.

  4. Wireless Security Assessment: Tests for security gaps within your wireless network(s) that can enable unauthorized access. Our SMEs also test to see if they can manipulate employee network traffic from outside of the main office.

  5. Social Engineering Vulnerability Assessment: Simulation of real-world social engineering attacks to assess employee awareness and susceptibility.

  6. Physical Security Assessment: Evaluation of an organization's physical security measures and controls to mitigate risks of unauthorized access and breaches.

  7. Secure Code Review: Expert-led analysis of application source code to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities, ensuring robust software development practices.

  8. M365 Security Controls Review: Evaluates Microsoft 365 configurations, policies, and security settings to optimize security posture, data protection, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

  9. Cloud Security Configuration Review: Identifies misconfigurations and vulnerabilities within your cloud infrastructure that can present a potential cyber risk to your organization.

  10. Red Team Exercise: Emulates sophisticated attackers who are targeting your organization to find flaws or gaps in security defenses and operations.

  11. Purple Team Exercise: Combines both Red Team (offensive) and Blue Team (defensive) expertise. In addition to improving your organization’s security posture, a Purple Team exercise promotes cooperation and raising awareness.

  12. API Security Testing: Comprehensive security testing undertaken in a controlled environment with clear objectives in place, often initiated for compliance requirements or third-party vendor assessments.

Through delivering these comprehensive services, Canary Trap empowers organizations to proactively address cybersecurity challenges, enhance resilience against cyber threats, and maintain a secure digital and physical environment.

Q. Security testing and assessments often involve dealing with sensitive information. How does Canary Trap ensure the integrity and confidentiality of client data throughout the engagement process?

Ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of client data during offensive security testing is the foundation of every engagement undertaken by Canary Trap. This is achieved through various means, including, but not limited to:

Clear Engagement Contracts: Before initiating any penetration testing, Canary Trap establishes a clear and comprehensive engagement contract with our clients. These contracts explicitly outline the scope, limitations, and confidentiality expectations.

Certified Penetration Testers: Our Subject Matter Experts uphold the CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) in every engagement. They prioritize protecting sensitive information, maintaining data integrity, and minimizing disruptions to system availability.

Secure Tools and Infrastructure: Canary Trap ensures that the tools and infrastructure used during testing are secure.

Secure Data Handling: Pen testers handle confidential data responsibly, ensuring it remains confidential throughout the engagement.

Regular Updates: Canary Trap assigns a Customer Success Manager to every engagement, responsible for ensuring effective communication with clients throughout the engagement. Regular updates on progress, findings, and potential risks help build trust.

Risk Communication: Our SMEs help educate clients about the potential risks associated with penetration testing. This includes discussing potential vulnerabilities and their impact on the organization.

Secure Reporting: When delivering our Report of Findings, Canary Trap ensures that the reports are securely transmitted to only those individuals who are duly authorized to receive the data.

Q. The three P’s – People, Process, and Passion – are highlighted as key factors in Canary Trap’s success. Can you elaborate on how these elements contribute to maintaining the company's high standards of service?

Canary Trap’s success is deeply rooted in our people. We work with the best and the brightest—Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who are capable and driven to go the extra mile to meet or exceed our client expectations. To attract and retain top talent, Canary Trap has established a substantial training budget for staff. Instituting on-demand training ensures that our SMEs' knowledge, tactics, and techniques remain razor-sharp while serving as a powerful tool for retention. Every new project requires a comprehensive scoping exercise that results in a fully customized Statement of Work, which underpins the engagement. Our people are incentivized to go above and beyond in delivering comprehensive engagements. We are incredibly proud to have achieved a 100% Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) rating across more than 400 unique engagements in our FY23.

Q. Can you share a memorable success story or case study where Canary Trap’s services made a significant impact in preventing a security breach or mitigating its effects for a client?

In 2022 Canary Trap was approached by a large enterprise client, a well-known financial institution who had built a reputation for its sophisticated security measures. This client had been given the all-clear by several top-tier penetration testing firms, yet they wanted a fresh set of eyes to challenge their defenses. Canary Trap was brought in to offer that new perspective.

Our team began their work, meticulously combing through layers of security, code, and infrastructure. Days turned into nights, and nights into days, as we employed a variety of tactics from social engineering to advanced cryptanalysis. It was during a late-night session, fueled by pizza and determination that one of our SMEs stumbled upon an anomaly.

Hidden deep within the enterprise’s network was a series of irregularities that hinted at a possible backdoor. As the team began to investigate further, they unraveled a complex web of misconfigurations and overlooked security patches that led to a critical vulnerability. It was a zero-day exploit, a treasure trove for any hacker, and it had gone unnoticed by all who had come before.

The vulnerability lay in the very heart of the enterprise’s operations, within a subsystem that was deemed impenetrable. It stands as a testament to Canary Trap’s tenacity and skill that we were able to identify what others had missed. The discovery was not just a technical triumph but also a narrative of David versus Goliath, where the smaller, more agile firm outsmarted the giants of the industry.

Canary Trap presented its findings to the client, who was admittedly skeptical and grateful. The vulnerability was swiftly patched, and Canary Trap was awarded a multiyear contract which continues to this day. This serves as a reminder that in the world of cybersecurity, it’s not always the biggest that prevails, but the sharpest and most persistent.

The Collective Strength behind Canary Trap’s Success

Canary Trap’s success cannot be attributed to any one individual. From humble beginnings, we’ve grown to over thirty SMEs who are directly responsible for exceeding our customers’ expectations. This exceptional team comprises men and women who are passionate security professionals. Beyond certifications, each team member brings a wealth of skills and practical experience to the table. They leave no stone unturned when undertaking any assigned task in a clear effort to safeguard our clients against threats.

“Canary Trap’s success is deeply rooted in our people. We work with the best and the brightest—Subject Matter Experts who are capable and driven to go the extra mile to meet or exceed our client expectations.”

“Our people are incentivized to go above and beyond in delivering comprehensive engagements. We are incredibly proud to have achieved a 100% Customer Satisfaction rating across 400+ unique engagements in our FY23.”

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