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”

Science of Cybersecurity Interview with Chuck Brooks

Frank Abagnale, one of the world’s most respected authorities on the subjects of forgery, embezzlement, cybercrime, and secure documents succinctly states the troubling environment. “The police can’t protect consumers. People need to be more aware and educated about identity theft. You need to be a little bit wiser, a little bit smarter and there’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. We live in a time when if you make it easy for someone to steal from you, someone will.” There are many malicious actors out in the digital landscape and it will be increasingly important to stay ever vigilant.

Email interview held on 30th September 2017 – as follows between Alan Radley (questioner) and Chuck Brooks (relator):

  1. What are your thoughts on the current state of cybersecurity, both for organizations and for consumers?

The current state is a scary one. Constant breaches have demonstrated that as consumers we are becoming more and more dependent upon digital commerce. Our banking accounts, credit cards, and financial daily activities are interconnected. We are all increasingly vulnerable from hackers, phishers, and malware proliferating across all commercial verticals.

In the past year, the employment of ransomware has become a method of cyber-attack choice by hackers. This is because many networks (especially hospitals, utilities, universities, and small businesses) are comprised of different systems, devices and often lack required patching and updating necessary to thwart attacks. The recent Wannacry, and Petya attacks were certainly wake up calls to the disruptive implications of ransomware.  We can expect to see more such attacks because of the ease of infection and because the vulnerabilities to networks still remain. Continue reading “Science of Cybersecurity Interview with Chuck Brooks”

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”

Rising Tides and Higher Stakes – High Performance Counsel Interview with Chuck Brooks

The specifics of a security approach may vary according to circumstances, but the mesh that connects the elements is situational awareness combined with systematic abilities for critical communications in cases of emergency.

What are the new Cybersecurity Stakes – What are vulnerabilities and risks?

We live in world of algorithms; x’s and o’s. Our digital world is ripe for access and compromise by those who want do harm from just a laptop and server. A myriad of recent breaches have demonstrated that as consumers we are becoming more and more dependent upon digital commerce. Our banking accounts, credit cards, and financial daily activities are interconnected. We are all increasingly vulnerable from hackers, phishers, and malware proliferating across all commercial verticals.

In the past year, the employment of ransomware has become a method of cyber-attack choice by hackers. This is because many networks (especially hospitals, utilities, universities, and small businesses) are comprised of different systems, devices and often lack required patching and updating necessary to thwart attacks. The recent Wannacry, and Petya attacks were certainly wake up calls to the disruptive implications of ransomware. We can expect to see more such attacks because of the ease of infection and because the vulnerabilities to networks still remain. Continue reading “Rising Tides and Higher Stakes – High Performance Counsel Interview with Chuck Brooks”

A Quick Summary of Recent Trends & Developments That Businesses and Law Firms Should Know

“Nearly 60 percent of small businesses have to close shop after a data breach, which costs, on average, about $32,000 per attack.”

Cybersecurity Spending Soaring:

According to market research firm Gartner, global spending on information security is expected to reach nearly $87 billion in 2017 — an increase of around 7 per cent over 2016 – and is expected to top $113 billion by 2020.  Also according to Gartner, by 2020, 40 percent of all managed security service (MSS) contracts will be bundled with other security services and broader IT outsourcing (ITO) projects, up from 20 percent today. Continue reading “A Quick Summary of Recent Trends & Developments That Businesses and Law Firms Should Know”

Ransomware Heists are Only Part of the Board’s Problems

Your job isn’t done by completing vulnerability assessment. You actually have to do something about those vulnerabilities you have found.

It’s 10:00 am Monday morning and management is in the hot seat. The stock has lost 15 points since the opening bell and is going in a downward spiral. The company is being maligned on the news and trolled on social media. Shareholders are demanding to know how the company allowed a breach to happen over the long weekend, exposing 100 million pieces of personally identifiable information. An emergency meeting with all available board members is called for 1:00 pm to discuss the state of affairs and the question, “What do we do now?”

Ready to present, management and IT hastily put together a presentation of what happened. As soon as the presentation starts, the unthinkable occurs: ransomware takes control. Its demands are simple: $50 million in Bitcoins within one hour, or at 2:00 pm the hacker group dumps corporate R&D and emails from the last year into the public domain. There is no way for the company to recover once this information goes public. Continue reading “Ransomware Heists are Only Part of the Board’s Problems”

Independence Day from Hacking

Unfortunately, professionals in industry and government still think they are not a target. And what is worse is that many of them are still convinced that the means they used to protect their networks five years ago still apply today.

Watching the news and the debates during the past week felt pretty deflating. You must have heard about the entire who knew what when regarding the attempted Russian interference during the election. Much of what was said was fairly well known but with the new drips and drabs of information coming out into the open the past few days, political opportunism was bound to happen.

Despite this expected response, finger-pointing provides no true help to anybody in the world (and if we are being candid, not even within the Beltway). Sure, it is all interesting. And all of this chatter even provides a good spectacle. We even agree there are some serious questions that need to be answered, like who did know what when and why did they do (or not do) something about it. Continue reading “Independence Day from Hacking”

Explaining Cybersecurity through Cars: Get Yours Inspected or Get It Off the Road

The #CyberAvengers want to make cybersecurity unintimidating. Isn’t it a liberating feeling to know when your mechanic is running a fast one on you? It is. And you do that because you build up your knowledge and are unafraid to say, “why are you trying to get me replace my entire axle when all I need is a control arm?”

We are pointing out the obvious, but the obvious needs to be pointed out these days: How you view the world impacts your decision-making. And equally as important is how you view yourself. Therefore, if you see the world as a relatively benign place and feel for the most part you are well prepared for whatever challenge you will face, it is quite likely you will do little to change your behavior.

But if you view the world as a more hostile place and think of yourself and us as unprepared, chances are you will either wither away into a corner, frightening yourself into hysterical paranoia, or you will do something rational to prepare yourself for whatever challenge comes your way.

Let us start with this basic premise: The internet is inherently vulnerable. It was designed that way because the debate—about 40 plus years ago—focused on open access and free flow of information versus security. The former won, but we are paying the price today. So, if the information highway (the internet) is all banged up and falling apart, it does not matter how safe your car is because the road is still a mess. Continue reading “Explaining Cybersecurity through Cars: Get Yours Inspected or Get It Off the Road”

Is WannaCry Ransomware Just the Warm-Up Act?

Companies and government also need to share data. Because of exponential connectivity, further being promulgated via the Internet of Things, future global public/private cooperation will be critical in maintaining a knowledge base to track and counter emerging cyber threats.

Ironically Warren Buffet recently stated that “I don’t know that much about cyber, but I do think that’s the number one problem with mankind.” He is right. Cybersecurity is a preeminent threat.

What is being called the largest ransomware attack is being described as a real wakeup call y many cybersecurity experts and government officials. The ransomware disrupted hospital , organizational and company networks that were not well protected and up to date. Low hanging fruit for hackers. It did not turn out to be as lethal as originally feared, but it certainly demonstrated the global vulnerabilities associated with inter-connected networks and devices. Continue reading “Is WannaCry Ransomware Just the Warm-Up Act?”