The Principles of a Safe Secure & Intelligent (S2I) Communications System

And that’s it. That is the entire basis for developing these principles, the rules of the road, these guiding lights, so that we can protect these systems we so dearly rely on.

What is a principle? The “know all” (aka, Google) tells us a principle is: “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

What is a communication system? The other “know all” (aka, Wikipedia) tells us a communication system is: “In telecommunication, a communications system is a collection of individual communications networks, transmission systems, relay stations, tributary stations, and data terminal equipment usually capable of interconnection and interoperation to form an integrated whole.” Continue reading “The Principles of a Safe Secure & Intelligent (S2I) Communications System”

Local LinkedIn pick as cybersecurity guru talks trends

I think government is traditionally been way behind on procurement issues and recently, enactment of legislation for modernization has taken place. They’re trying to replace a lot of legacy systems.

Our guest today was recently named by LinkedIn as one of the top five people to follow in cybersecurity issues among their 500 million members. He was also just selected as LinkedIn to be an advisor on cybersecurity and emerging technology issues, and we’re lucky enough to have him here in the studio– Chuck Brooks of Chuck Brooks Consulting. Chuck, thanks for joining us. Continue reading “Local LinkedIn pick as cybersecurity guru talks trends”

Attacks to Critical Infrastructure Are Real, & They Can be Incredibly Easy

If you’re unsure an email is legitimate, take the 30 seconds to call your colleague, friend, or family member and say, “did you really send me this?” That call could save you millions of dollars, your job, and avoid an avalanche of bad PR.

In our previous article, we started to lay out some important social engineering terms, such as phishing, spear-phishing and pretexting. We even introduced to you what we call “Potentially Unwanted Leaks” (PUL) as tidbits of information that, when out in the wild, become valuable nuggets to be used against you in a social engineering attack.

This last installment in our ICS/SCADA series shows how social engineering was used to cause a blackout, the first known case of a cyberattack being directly responsible for a power outage.

On December 23, 2015, at 3:35 pm local time, in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (a southwestern region of the Ukraine that borders Romania and is in close proximity to the borders of Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland), seven 110 kV and twenty-three 35kV substations were disconnected for three hours.

The power outage, which took out 30 substations, could have impacted up to three different energy distribution companies, causing 225,000 customers to lose power. Shortly thereafter, Ukraine’s SBU state security service responded by blaming Russia, not an unreasonable assertion given that plenty of lead time was required to conduct this operation.

How was this allowed to happen? Continue reading “Attacks to Critical Infrastructure Are Real, & They Can be Incredibly Easy”

Emerging Technologies and the Cyber Threat Landscape

Nothing is completely un-hackable, but there is a myriad of emerging technologies that can help us navigate the increasingly malicious cyber threat landscape.

Cybersecurity is at a tipping point, the sheer volume of breaches, attacks, and threats has become overwhelming.  Juniper Research, suggests that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019. About 1.9 billion data records got exposed in the 918 data breaches that occurred in the first half of 2017—up 164 percent from the last half of 2016. According to a recent AT&T Cybersecurity Insights report, some 80 percent of the IT and security executives surveyed said their organizations came under attack during the previous 12 months.

This rising threat trend, coupled with the rapid growth of sophistication in malware, ransomware, DDoS, and social engineering attacks has created a conundrum. How do we protect ourselves in an increasingly connected world? Continue reading “Emerging Technologies and the Cyber Threat Landscape”

2018 & Beyond – Cybersecurity’s Future

Market forces are at play here, and with a global market, it’s tough to control what gets built, to what specifications, and then find an appropriate way to share that information with potential buyers.

Perspectives From 3 Of The Top SMEs In Information Security

As we approach the new year, I, Chuck Brooks, am very pleased to have a discussion with four of the most prominent technical SMEs in the world of cybersecurity; Kenneth Holley, George Platsis,  and Christophe Veltsos.  Their answers that follow offer practitioner perspectives and advice on some of the key issues and technologies that encompass the future of information security. It is worthwhile keeping their comments as a source reference for the C-Suite and anyone concerned about protecting their identities and data. Continue reading “2018 & Beyond – Cybersecurity’s Future”

60 Cybersecurity Predictions For 2018

And one from the #CyberAvengers all on Forbes

Attacks on the US government and critical infrastructure

A nation-state sponsored group will commence a 5-day long DDoS attack against a critical US government (non-DoD) agency, shutting it down in order to show their strength—The Cyber Avengers

Read the entire list on Forbes

Potentially Unwanted Leaks: Social Engineering, Small Missteps, and Big Mistakes

Therefore, you are faced with a situation where you not only have to protect your information but also ensure a third-party is protecting your information. By no means is this an easy task. And if you cannot do that, you need to ensure that you are equipped with the necessary tools to protect against what we’ve been calling “potentially unwanted leaks” (PUL).

In our previous article, we laid the groundwork for what we believe to be a serious threat to ICS/SCADA devices: social engineering. We continue here with some definitions, some of which you may already know. 

Phishing

Phishing is a relatively broad term for any attempt to trick victims into sharing sensitive information, such as passwords, usernames and credit card details. The intent is almost always malicious. Another characteristic of phishing is that it tends to be random, usually exploratory in nature, as opposed to a targeted act. Instead of targeting a specific individual or group of individuals, phishing tends to target multiple victims from within the same organization. Think of phishing as the “throwing spaghetti on the wall and whatever sticks” approach. Continue reading “Potentially Unwanted Leaks: Social Engineering, Small Missteps, and Big Mistakes”

A National Cybersecurity Action Plan is a Serious Priority

We cannot allow this slow economic bleed of our economy to continue. It slows down and even reverses living standards. We simply cannot invest billions into research and development and have it siphoned from us with a few clicks. There is no justifiable reason to let this happen anymore. Smart and competent people have been sounding the alarm bells for some time, but they need more voices to back them.

Expectedly, our cybersecurity issues are growing.  We say expectedly for a variety of factors including, but not limited to: size and scope of breaches, increasing costs that cannot be accurately estimated or predicted, a proliferation of technologies and abilities, and geopolitical tensions. Given current conditions, we do not see a particularly bright future if our current cybersecurity strategy remains more or less constant.

What is our current strategy? In short, it is the accumulation of a lot of expensive toys to hold together decaying infrastructure, along with a healthy dose of the putting aside or worse, ignoring, the basics. In short, we look to more technological solutions, but we avoid the single greatest problem: our decisions. The growing track record of failures demonstrates that this “technology-heavy” approach is not working.

The underlying problem with this strategy is that it is simply untenable unless there is some revolutionary technology that completely changes the landscape. And while we do think artificial intelligence and quantum computing will be game-changing, we do not necessarily believe they will solve all our problems. Poor handling and implementation of these two technologies may, in fact, accelerate our demise. Therefore, we cannot continue to throw what limited resources we have at supposed technological wizardry, fixes, and repairs when the root of our deepest problems are inherently insecure systems, poor maintenance, and social engineering. Continue reading “A National Cybersecurity Action Plan is a Serious Priority”

Cybersecurity: A fiduciary duty

This plague has only increased and has prompted much research and writing on cybersecurity best practices (including by us) settling on, at the very least, one or more best practices designed to lessen (if not entirely mitigate) the effects of ransomware.

The recent WannaCry ransomware exploit brought into full view several factors that terrify many companies and their boards of directors. Why? Because these directors are charged with the fiduciary duty of overseeing the cyber risk preparations and defences of their companies for their shareholders.

In today’s environment, this presents quite a challenge for companies and boards alike. Security has always been a challenge because the defender must be right 100 per cent of the time and an attacker needs only one lucky shot. Effective cyberattacks can involve factors, such as:

1. A ‘zero-day’ or previously unknown software exploit (or vulnerability) that even advanced IT departments could not have reasonably planned for

2. An exploit that encrypts files when enabled or executed, and will not give the files back unless a ransom is paid

3. A public relations nightmare trying to explain to third parties, regulators (and in the case of WannaCry, hospital patients) why service levels dropped (i.e. evaporated) due to lack of properly segmented back-up recovery media and/or less than rigorous implementation of standard patches for older operating systems. Continue reading “Cybersecurity: A fiduciary duty”

ICS/SCADA Devices, The Threat to Critical Infrastructure, and Social Engineering

The threat which concerns us most is effectively preying on humans, our concern is warranted. And that is why we feel that the biggest problem the power grid faces today is phishing, spear-phishing, and pretexting, all of which we will define in this set of articles.

Do you go fishing? You may or may not, but we see far too much phishing going on in the Internet ocean, and it scares us. The risk of over-phishing is not necessarily our concern. Our concern rests in that phishing is so easy, and big fat phish of this Internet ocean are getting gobbled up. And that’s not good for us because many of us don’t really know what is in the ocean, like critical infrastructure (CI).

As the title suggests, our biggest concern as it relates to ICS/SCADA connected devices is us. We are an incredible vulnerability to CI, and seeing as though everything we depend on runs on some form of CI, its best we protect it.

Let’s start with some basics. Our CI is for the most part old. Devices are stuck with legacy software and cannot be updated or patched because they are simply too old and out-of-date are a potential problem, as these systems have vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of. Yes, there is a flip side to the argument here that some of these systems are so old they cannot be hacked or are extremely difficult to be hack, as is the case in the US nuclear system. (But don’t think for a moment that nobody is trying!)

Continue reading “ICS/SCADA Devices, The Threat to Critical Infrastructure, and Social Engineering”