Does Outsourcing Make You More Secure?

Outsourcing is good, since we cannot specialize in everything we can focus on sales or inventory instead of mundane tasks. So what is important and what is mundane? That depends on your business…  most businesses are not a software company, so obtaining software needs by outsourcing may be smart.  Then the question is should you buy software or just rent the software on a server(“the cloud”) on the Internet?

The answers to what is important depends on your business. Obviously if you are a restaurant, it is food. But what if it is not as obvious?  How about if you are selling services online and offline(with sales people)?

Every business has customers or patients, (whatever the industry term is). And every business has to get paid somehow. So the payment information and customer database has to be secured in all businesses(or for that matter non-profits as well).

Customers are important to the business since they keep the business afloat. Thus everything to do with our customers is important to us and our competitors. Of course employee data is also important to keep secure.

This methodology is the same line of thinking when you set up a risk management analysis.

Depending on the business some important information electronically may be how one creates a product.

For all businesses the financial transactions, accounting and anything to do with money has to be safeguarded. Overarching needs of Identity Access Management(IAM) is important.

The major business sectors:

  1. Sales of items not unique(commodities) retail, wholesale, restaurants etc.
  2. Manufacturing, Mining, and Farming industries that obtain stuffs from the earth, and might have IP (intellectual property)
  3. Health industry – any business that takes care of patients
  4. Consultant industry – bills hourly rate with labor
  5. Computer  systems are used to create technology

All of these businesses have some things in common, even if not all of them may have IP (Intellectual Property), Customer database, Computer Equipment, Financial Information (accounting).

The commonality of the computer systems, accounting,customers, and employees makes all businesses think what exactly do we outsource?   the experts say outsource the functions that are not central to your main business model.  So everyone except for accountants could outsource the financial applications by using online Internet apps in the cloud(someone else runs the computer).  Notice, I do not say the reason to outsource is to be more secure.  Security on the Internet is not predicated on whether you outsource to the cloud.

To outsource has to do with business reasons not security.  The bottom line in the year 2018 and beyond Cybersecurity must be in everything no matter what.  The key is even though we expect it(Cybersecurity) we do not want to overpay.  So this is where the next stage of our analysis comes into play.

RISK MANAGEMENT – is a direct result of what is important to the business, what is outsourced, and how to allocate resources.

Every business is different, and must make the choices to weigh the needs of the business.  If you have IP then that could be more important than customers, since the customers will come back to you if you have the IP.

But if there is no IP, the most important functions might be a close tie between customers and financial (Credit Card or bank information). Everyone has Computers that connect to the Internet, here is where the true outsourcing idea can come to fruition.  So we still have to secure our personal devices to connect to the cloud.

Social Engineering and scams can always take over and steal your hard earned resources even if you have good security.  So the reality is outsourcing or “the cloud” does not matter.

Secure your devices!!  Keep up to speed with changing cybersecurity landscape such as in our Security News Analyzed page.

Contact us to make this happen by using security policies, risk management analysis and more.

 

New Wi-Fi attack found on WPA2 using PMKID

This could make many “thought safe” Wi-Fi routers not so

Here is where paying attention to new attacks is important.

hashcat.net has the information:

This attack does not even need a full EAPOL 4-way handshake,  EAPOL stands for Extensible Authentication Protocol(EAP) over LAN. A simple 4-way handshake is shown pictorially below  (from hitchhikersguidetolearning.com)

This means that in the past an attack on Wi-Fi would would need EAPOL  4-way handshake to be captured. Capturing the 4-way handshake is sometimes difficult to achieve.

Instead in this attack: ” We receive all the data we need in the first EAPOL frame from the AP.”

First one captures a sample initial Message from the ‘Authenticator’ which includes a PMKID (run hcxdumptool)

Second (run hcxpcaptool) to convert captured data from pcapng format to a hash format accepted by hashcat

Third (run hashcat) to crack the string of data.

 

So now no 4-way handshake is needed, only expertise to run a couple of scripts and to know how to set up the Wi-Fi capture by using the Wi-Fi network card.

The comments on the hashcat webpage do mention that your Wi-Fi network card must have the capability to capture wlan traffic.

So this requires more review and investigations.

Contact us to try it on your network.

Unknown Risks: Possible to Gauge?

Does the definition of unknown make measuring  risk also unknown?

Let’s assume a cloud account has been created on Amazon Cloud(AWS – Amazon Web Services)  or elsewhere (Rackspace, Azure, or Google cloud)

This cloud account will always be the Achilles heel of your Internet presence.  I.e. if someone gets a hold of he main account instead of who is supposed to take care of it, the criminal hacker can modify and add users so as to make imperceptible changes to your website until it is too late.

Then let’s dissect an interesting interview with Bruce Schneier at Threatpost about “Going Dark”   

Specifically “people’s long tail of digital metadata.

A person’s metadata will include the phone’s gmail account, all the places you have been using Google’s map app, and many other apps that are on your phone and soon your car. How will it all look once everything in your house, car, and work is interconnected? Identity Access Management will be that much more important.

I.e. how you can access the phone and all the apps. Every time an app says you can reset your password by sending an email, that means the email is the one thing that has to be defended without fail.

So if the cloud account was set up with a specific email, that email account has to be defended without a hacker even remotely able to access it. Of course one has to keep operational intelligence about various company actions out of social media.  I.e. a new promotion in IT in charge of cloud accounts is not something to discuss in social media(in fact anywhere). You can say you have understanding in cloud architecture, but I would not get into details.  It is important to keep many details about your environment out of any site on the Internet.

Notice how a Facebook “friend” can send you phishing requests via SMS (text or messages via Facebook) and try to get access to your computer that way.  if you click on link then it goes to a website that looks like Facebook but is really a scam. notice the URL:  facebook.ssbh.edu.bd (a Bulgarian university server)   This example is from today’s post in Internet Storm Center: Facebook Phishing via SMS

There are many ways somebody can get access to your credentials, including if you just give them away.

My policy is to never follow a link if they are asking for my credentials I just do not enter them.  Answering a bunch of questions about some quiz on Facebook, on whether you are Italian or not… is generally a bad idea as Kirstin Fawcett wrote in mentalfloss.com :“taking Facebook Quizzes Could Put You at Risk For Identity Theft”

Or maybe they are called ‘surveys’ , either way  they constitute a risk that may not be worth taking.   Every action on the Internet  increases your risk of a potential attacker gaining more insight into your environment / personal life/ or other facet that advances an attacker.

Spam email is a perfect phishing attack by hackers to gain information or credentials from you. – never click on a link that then asks for credentials to be entered.   Are there exceptions to this rule? unfortunately yes, as some reset procedures require you to click and reset your credentials in some environments.  So how does one get past this?  Not every user is going to be well versed in Domain name methods of hackers. And to some degree there will never be a 100% foolproof way to differentiate good sites from bad.

So do your social engineering training and keep up with attacks, and you have to accept some risk.

Back to my original question are unknown risk possible to gauge?  I think that some risk is impossible to put a number on it. But we can mitigate and accept some unknown risk, and keep vigilance.   Knowing as much as we can about potential unknowns is the est we can do – Some Unknown  unknowns are inevitable, but no point fretting on those.

contact Us to discuss this.

Is There Cyber Risk? How to Assess Risk?

An interesting video from RSA Conference 2018: “There’s no such Thing as a Cyber-risk”

So if you look at possible risk domains  Computer Security (or Cybersecurity is not on there.

  1. Operations: errors – fraud – talent – employee engagement – safety
  2. Service Availability: capacity, resiliency, data integrity, intentional disruption
  3. Product delivery: pre-executions – release executions
  4. Compliance: regulatory, contractual obligations, privacy lane, employment law, other laws

Of course data integrity is there – so if there is a cybersecurity problem data integrity may become an issue.

The definition of “Operational risk” is the prospect of loss resulting from inadequate or failed procedures, systems or policies. Employee errors. System failures. fraud or other criminal activity. Any event that disrupts business processes

The problem with Cyber risk is that it can affect operations but is not always obvious how bad it can get until it happens.  Can you operate without computers? Can it get that bad? What if it does? Just like one may have electricity backup in an area which has frequent power outages, one has to consider what to do if there are no computers to run credit card transactions.

To properly assess operational risk, what is it one must ask in regards to computer assets with regard to cybersecurity? What if I cannot use this device? i.e. it has been hijacked by hackers or otherwise incapacitated.

If credit card processing is stolen, what could be worse is now your reputation can take a hit. Since the news will be filled with stories of Credit card fraud originating at your business.

Consider reputation in assessing operational risk. And reputation does not always mean systems fail or money is lost due to no electronic access.

It all depends on who you claim to be in the public space. Is your business marketing claim to be up-to-date? Then  reputation may have to have a higher impact. Make sure you are spending enough resources in relation to your REAL level of risk.

 

If you need help in assessing risk contact us.

NIST 800-171 rev1 (Updated 6/7/2018)

This document was updated and created to protect CUI – Controlled Unclassified Information for all government entities. So if you want to have a contract with the government you better have a plan in place. Due to Executive order 13556 (Nov 4, 2010), Controlled Unclassified Information program to standardize unclassified information and designated the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration).

Interesting to note all this standardization comes from a long list of departments in charge of classifying information. But the reality is there are many things similar to standards like PCI, COBIT 5, and others.

Notice that in 800-171 requires a Security Assessment:

  1. Assess security controls in the organization- are they effective?
  2. Develop and implement plans of action to fix deficiencies and reduce or eliminate vulnerabilities.
  3. Monitor security controls on an ongoing basis
  4. Develop, document, and periodically update system security plans that describe system environments as changes occur, system environments, how they are implemented, and relationships to other systems.

So essentially common sense security functions.

Anytime a change occurs (new device, moving, adding, subtracting) one has to re-evaluate security posture.

How about Risk assessment:

  1. Periodically assess risk to organizational operations(mission, functions, image, or reputation), organizational assets, and individuals, resulting from the operation of organizational systems and the associated processing, storage, or transmission of CUI.
  2. Scan for vulnerabilities in organizational systems and applications periodically and when new vulnerabilities affecting those systems and applications are identified.
  3. Remediate vulnerabilities  in accordance with risk assessments.

 

So if you look at the document – it just means what all respectable requirements have.

  1. Document and inventory your stuff.
  2. create risk assessments and impact assessments
  3. set up vulnerability scans
  4. remediate vulnerabilities!

 

 

 

Talk about change, the document 800-171 has recently been revised and updated, Both in February and June 2018:

  1. February: 16 editorial changes and 42 substantive
  2. June: 27 editorial changes and 5 substantive.

Most of the changes were deletions and some clarifications.

There is a change in authentication, now MFA(Multi Factor Authentication) is required instead of two-factor or regular password authentication.

Above is the section (Identification and Authentication) where MFA is shown.

If you need help in performing risk and security assessments Contact Us.