Building a secure framework around your business using available technology
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—anti-virus on any system that is connecting to the internet.
Why we still need it
And this is why we need it, because the viruses that are out there, and they are out there, there’s a lot of them, they need to find homes for themselves, and the only way they can do that is through the technology that we’re utilizing. And that anti-virus means that you’ve got a 99.9% chance of stopping that virus coming into you.
End point protection – AV, malware, spyware
Anti-virus goes to the next level as well, because anti-virus also needs things like endpoint protection. Anti-virus, malware, spyware. And that endpoint protection has two components. It’s actually on the system itself, whether that’s your tablet, your phone, your laptop, your computer, or your server, and it’s managed from somewhere, managed from a central location so that anytime anti-virus attaches to your network it gets pushed out, the newest versions to your system, the newest updates that are required.
But we also need to authenticate. We also need to, all of that technology and software that’s coming into our networks, we need to have some way of finding out who’s accessing it and how they’re accessing it. And that who’s accessing it and why it’s being accessed is part of the authentication protocols for your system.
Username and passwords
The most important part of authentication is your username and passwords, and we all know how complicated usernames and passwords are. I’ve just read an article recently about the difference between a professional person and a non-professional IT person on how they manage usernames and passwords.
So a professional, I have a complicated password. I use a password manager, mainly because I have access to 200-300 sites or reasons to have access to 200-300 sites, and I’m never going to be able to remember.
But there’s also other things you can use. You can use a password. You can actually create a base password that you add on different components of. The security, we’ll talk about cloud later on, is cloud is only secure as your usernames and passwords on your terrestrial systems. Because if you don’t have—if you use password and password, then the hackers are going to be able to hack that without a problem in the world.
The other thing about passwords, and especially when it comes to hardware and software installation, is some things come with a default password. They actually come with admin and password, or admin and admin. And this is what default passwords are known by. You can do a quick search on the internet. You can go default password for this model.
And then it will tell you admin/admin or admin/password, admin/blank. But that also then goes on. So you need to change those passwords, those default passwords, before you put something into production.
It’s probably better, as you’re setting it up, the first thing you do, it’s forced on you by some of the high-end security systems, things like Cisco and 40Net, they require you to change your password the first time you log onto the system, and that’s really important.
The next part of a technology is encryption. And we’re seeing encryption from a number of places that require information that needs to be encrypted for some reason. Now, we all use encryption when we go to buy something from EBay, or now everything on Facebook is encrypted.
And that’s because that information is there not only because nobody can intercept the communication between the device and the back end, and that back end is also encrypted to make sure that data is secure.
But why do we need encryption? Well, one of the main reasons we need encryption is so that people are no longer able to eavesdrop on the communication between device and back end. But on top of that, if someone actually does get into the back end, or gets into the front end, and steals the database, it’s all encrypted, then they’ve got another problem for themselves.
Normally it would be just in plain text, you know, Joe Bob has got this email address and this credit card number. All that sort of information is in the database. But if it’s all encrypted, then all they get is gobbledy-gook. And that gobbledy-gook is really good because you no longer have a problem with it.
Why we need to employ it in transit
So we need to have some level of encryption, and that level of encryption comes about because we’ve got information being transmitted between your device and the back end and that’s what’s called in transit. And that transmission that comes between you and back again, if it’s encrypted then people can’t read it. If people can’t read it, there’s no problems with it.
Why we need to employ it at rest
But we also need to encrypt our “at rest.” It needs to be encrypted so that when it is located on a hard drive, and even though you employ cloud computing, it’s still residential on some piece of hardware somewhere. It doesn’t matter where it is. It would be nice to know if you know where it is. But it doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it is at rest it is encrypted.
VPN – Virtual Private Network
We have a system called virtual private network, which is really a tunnel between a device and your system over the internet. So it’s literally a system where you can protect all of that information that you put past as intellectual property by making sure that the information is always unreadable. And that’s why we need virtual private networks. We used to have systems dial in, but now virtual private networks are so much easier to use and so much easier to set up.
And then we’ve got Wi-Fi. Who here has logged onto a Wi-Fi connection that didn’t require a username or a password? Do you know why it’s not a good idea? Because going back to the encryption component, that username and password, or just the password, the WPA passphrase, actually encrypts the information that you’re putting into the system.
And that passphrase, along with a few other components of your computer, gives you a unique encryption component that then can be used by them to make sure it’s more secure. And again, once again with Wi-Fi, if it’s got default usernames and passwords, change them, because you don’t want other people getting onto your Wi-Fi and using your system to attack other people.
Principles – Dos and don’ts
So we’ve now got some principles around what we’re doing as a business and an organization. Because we know that we need to have newer technology. It doesn’t have to be super new, but it needs to be newer technology. And as I said, with things like Wi-Fi, there are definitely dos and don’ts.
Use complicated passwords and passphrases. Use complicated usernames and passwords for VPNs. Make sure that your technology is doing exactly what you want it to do. And you want to make sure that along the lines of how you protect your business, these are things that you really need to do.
Now later on, we talk about management in our framework. But management of the technology actually has its own systems in place. Normally we have policies and procedures and processes that are managing the people who use the technology, but you need to have some level of system management to make sure that they systems are set up properly.
Setting up those systems, because it is very important about how you do it, you need to have a level of visibility. You need to be able to say, “If I set up a firewall, how do I go about doing it?” for instance. “If I’m installing anti-virus, where does it get installed? What does it get done by?” These are the systems that make your system, your organization, more secure.
But along with visibility, we also have accountability. We have an accountability component because we need to know who set that firewall up, who changed the rules of that firewall. Did they change the rules, or did they just make a rule up that they didn’t know was going to work and then didn’t worry about it? Who did that? Why did they need to do it?
And then we need to have some component of manageability. It’s no use having systems in place that nobody knows how to manage. And for small or medium businesses, understanding technology can be a huge burden because it means you are either not focusing on your core business, or you have someone else who’s not focusing on their core business.
Technology, I know everybody wants convenience and low cost and everything else, it doesn’t matter how convenient the system is, what you are seeing is 10% of what the system can do. Because that 10% is what makes our business work. That other 90%, we don’t even know about. And that’s what the bad guys really want you to do, is they want you to be unaware of where to go.
One of the things we come about with small or medium businesses is everything is in one place. Your database is on a server. Your exchange is on a server, and there’s no segregation or separation of that information. That separation of that information is really important. Small businesses usually, staff, with the account system, everybody has access to the account system.
But as you get bigger, you don’t want that so you need to start separating your data. The other thing about data separation is if you’ve got a Wi-Fi system that has a guest component, or someone has even a Wi-Fi system that doesn’t have a guest component, the best thing you can do is—
Yes, they can log onto your Wi-F and use your Wi-Fi as long as they’ve got the proper passphrase, but you don’t want them inside your network. Because if they’re inside your network, they can do so much damage without even knowing what they’re doing. So data separation means that you make sure that if someone on the Wi-Fi needs to access your network, then they can VPN in, and that separation is critical to protecting your organization.
And because we don’t want a flat network, if you’ve got people who want and need access to specific IP or patents, for instance, then you don’t want everybody having access to it because you’ll lose that intellectual property and trade secrets. And if you’ve got information about how you tender, or how you bill on a tender, or what your cost is for a tender, then you don’t want someone else, your competition for instance, knowing that’s how you work. This is why you don’t want a flat network. You want to make sure that flat network is a tiered access so that people, only specific people, can get to specific information.
Another thing about technology is we worry about how we manage patches. Patch management is really important across the board. Because patch management literally tells you which component you’re patching and which component you’re not patching. Patch management is again, going back to the difference between a professional and an everyday user, a professional would sit down and to, “It doesn’t matter what those patches are, I’m going to apply them all. Most people just get selected by, “I’ll just click the button and go here and score the lot.” That’s what you need to do to make sure. Because you never know when that compromised system, or that system that can be compromised, even though it was a benign compromise, couldn’t do anything you couldn’t get out of, might turn into a cancerous attack. And you need to be able to manage those updates as well.
Finally, we’re looking at best practice. All hardware and software comes with “This is how you should install it. This is the best place to put it. This is how you should set up your firewall. This is how you should then take the next step to go to the next level.”
That best practice is designed by the people who made this hardware and software, so the best practice is coming from literally the horse’s mouth. They are telling you to set up x machine, you need to do x, and if you don’t do x, it’s not going to work to the best capacity that it can.
Why we need them
But also, when it comes to that level of expertise, you need to have the expert advice, because they have created a machine, for instance, that connects your Wi-Fi to the rest of the network. So you need to know what is the best way of doing it, and how you are you are going to do it, and why you need that device in the first place because it does a specific role and protects your business from a specific thing that makes it harder.
So, in conclusion, we’ve looked at the technology. And the technology component of my framework has a number of systems.
- Hardware – So we have hardware, which is literally the hardware components of what we use to do our business.
- Software – On top of the hardware, then we have software.
- Anti-virus – And protecting that software is anti-virus. That’s only a first-level defense, because all of the other things that we’re doing should be making that defense around your organization a lot more secure.
- Authentication – We need to make sure that the right people are getting at the right information in the right way, and they cannot run away with that information or make it very hard for us to make sure that information is secure. This is where authentication comes in, so the right usernames and passwords have access to the right information.
- Encryption – And all of that information that we’re downloading or moving around our network is all encrypted, so nobody can pick it up and store it somewhere else unencrypted so they can steal that information.
- System Management – We need to manage the systems that we put in place. We need to incorporate management policies and procedures so that when the systems are installed, this is how you do it. We do a lot of installation of things like servers, for instance. We have a checklist. That checklist includes what is installed, how it’s installed, where it’s installed, and how the system is set up.
We know that there’s not going to an administrator, an account called administrator because that is part of our system management. We know that the passwords are going to be more than eight characters long. They’re going to adhere to a specific setting that we’ve got in our system. That is why we need to manage the systems properly.
- Data Separation – We need to separate our data from public to private to super private to secret. And that data separation is really important for that business. It might mean that you only keep your really important information on a USB stick that you keep in your pocket, hopefully with a backup.
But you know that the only person who has access to that information is you, unless of course you lose it, and then you’d better hope that it’s encrypted. Because if it’s unencrypted, then you have a problem.
But going back to USB sticks for instance, alright? USB sticks are like a ubiquitous part of our business at the moment. Everybody has USB sticks. Everybody has USB hard drives. And there’s two problems. One is how do you make sure that information on that system, if I plug it into my computer I can read it?
You don’t want that to happen. You want to be able to go plug it in, yes, there’s data there but it needs to be unencrypted to be able to access it. Because it’s your data, you usually have the key for that problem. But if you lose that hardware, you lose that USB stick, then you have got a level of protection that is there just in case you lose it.
But the other one about USB sticks is the bad guys have found a way of using them to their systems. What they’ll do is they’ll actually seek car parks with old USB sticks. A friend of mine got caught in Las Vegas with this. Crossing the car park, she picked up a USB stick, looked at it. It has Boeing on it. Boeing Airlines. A legitimate company, rather large.
Obviously someone from Boeing had dropped it, so she took it home. Took it into her hotel room. Instead of handing it into the reception area, she just took it upstairs and plugged it into her laptop, and she was quite happily looking at all the information on it. What it was, was a slideshow.
To make the slideshow work, you could just click on a slide element and it would come up as a product. But if you wanted the slideshow to work, there was a little thing that said slideshow.exe, and she clicked on that. She wasn’t able to use her laptop until she got home because nothing worked after this. That’s one of the reasons why you’ve got to be very careful with what’s happening.
- Best Practice – In addition, we have the last thing, which is best practice. Best practices are the way—is professional advice on how you do things. Installing a firewall from Cisco? Then you use the best practices from Cisco. Installing a Wi-Fi system from Linksys? How do they recommend you set it up? That is best practice
Where does this all fit into the framework?
As I said, we’re looking at the framework which is technology, management, adaptability and compliance.
How do you know if it is all in the right place?
We need to know that all of this information is in the right place and all of that technology is working to our benefit in making our business so much more secure. So we don’t need those legacy systems, and if we do need the legacy systems, let’s go and find another system that works the same way to a level we can then utilize for our business.
Where to from here?
So, where to from here? As the little man in the maze said, “What now?” What you need to do is upgrade your systems. You need to make sure you are using the best systems that are available, the newest systems available. That includes, and I’m not really delighting in Windows 10 at the moment, but it is important that you use that type of system.
If you’re using Windows 8.1, great. But if you’re using XP, get rid of it, because it is a huge problem. If you’re using an old iPhone 5 for instance, or an iPhone 4, I use an iPhone 4 for recording, but that’s the only thing I use it for. It hasn’t got anything else on it apart from it plugs into my computer and I can download the movies onto it. That’s really important going forward on how we do it.
So, if you want more information, I have two books out. One you have to buy, the other one is free. If you want to get in contact with me, then I am on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn. Just drop us a line.
Seminar and Webinars
We do run these webinars and seminars regularly. We’ve got another webinar tomorrow at 12:00, on a Lunch and Learn series. But we run seminars as well, and we do Google Hangouts just to make sure that we are getting in contact with as many people as we can.
So thank you very much. Are there any questions? If there’s no questions, thank you very much for your time. It has been very nice talking to you.
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Roger Smith is the CEO of R & I ICT Consulting Services, Amazon #1 selling author on Cybercrime, author of the Digital Security Toolbox and author of the SME Digital Security Framework. Rapid Restart Appliance Creator. He is a Speaker, Author, Teacher and Educator on cybercrime and how to protect yourself from the digital world.