Fridge With A Mind Of Its Own

Well not exactly. Let’s just say the refrigerator may not always be focused on keeping your lettuce crisp.

In a recent Express post, Harvey Gavin reports that hackers could seize control of your Samsung refrigerator and use it to mine bitcoin. And it’s not just the fridge. (more…)

The Real Deal

In a recent television interview, FBI Director Chris Wray reflected on Russian hacking into the American power grid and other vital infrastructure. The breach occurred in early March, and Wray didn’t mince words, calling the invasion “the real deal.” First the elections and now the grid? Wait. (more…)

Monetizing Uncle Larry’s Politics

Facebook, and social media in general, opened the floodgates of torrential conversation. As has been said of the technology, “The good news is, everybody has a voice. The bad news is everybody has a voice.” For many, Facebook has been slipping into a realm of political rants separated only by friend requests from high school sweethearts and pop-up ads. (more…)

The Dark Side Of Breach Victims

As a part of reconciling interests following a highly publicized breach, victim organizations often apologize with an offer to induce customers to remain or return to the fold. Retailers may reduce prices or offer subscription memberships, while banks may offer credit reporting or monitoring for a year or enhanced rates on accounts. (more…)

Stuxnet: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Remember that time when the Iranian nuclear program was flummoxed by the speeding up or slowing down of their centrifuges? Though the actors have never been formally identified, the special sauce to that enterprise was Stuxnet, and the secret ingredient of that sauce was counterfeit cryptographic certificates from known companies that greased the skids for the malware. Ars Technica is reporting that the secret ingredients are now commonly available for all of your over-the-counter malware needs, if you know who to call. (more…)

This Is Only A Test

Imagine a scenario in which one of your employees — Madge in accounting, or Skip in sales, for instance — selects an incorrect option from a drop-down menu and opens your network and data to the world. Working with that set of menu options is part of his daily routine, but for some reason the mouse clicks on the “organizational armageddon” option instead of the “test network security” option. (more…)

Got Your Head In The Clouds?

A recent cloud security report, as you might expect, had some good news and some bad. Somewhere in the middle is the news that’s just that: news. The cases you hear the most about, like the ransomware attacks, make up only about 2% of the overall picture, while web applications represent about 75% of the vulnerability. As for cloud storage and cloud services, the report found that public clouds are more than 50% safer than private or onsite storage. A recent article by Security Intelligence summed it up nicely, and we commend that to your reading list. That’s good to know, especially if you are scaling up or outgrowing your current storage arrangement. But it’s not a perfect system. (more…)

The Most Interesting IT Guy In The World

You’ve seen him at conferences, sporting an ascot and a pocket protector and making it look good. He works the vendor pit like he owns the place, collecting cards and envy from everyone he meets, and connecting demand with supply in subtle but glamorous ways. He walks into a seminar like he was walking onto a yacht, his credentials strung unassumingly around his neck like a lift ticket from Davos. The panel surrenders a seat at the table and he holds forth on contemporaneous cyber issues. He is undoubtedly the most interesting IT guy in the world. (more…)

The Cure For What Ails You

History is rife with examples of enterprising salesmen rushing into lucrative markets to fill a void, real or perceived. Contractors and roofers who work the hurricane and tornado circuits, lawyers pitching the massive settlements they’ve secured for their clients, and even gameshow hosts selling reverse mortgages and arthritis balms. Like the Wizard in Oz, when you pull the curtain back, it’s a simple snake oil salesman with a good story. And the cybersecurity world has been a growth industry for those who overpromise but underdeliver. (more…)

And They Said Print Was Dead

You are the King of IT, the ruler of all things digital, and your organization offers you unconditional love and admiration for the many hours you put in. You monitor the network, manage passwords, fortify firewalls, educate the staff, and even help their Cousin Joey find an internship with a small security startup. You are the man and the woman. They sing your praises from the rooftop, and even wrote a song in your honor. (more…)

A Cross To Bare

Ever been on a cross-town bus? Ever sit criss-cross applesauce? Ever sing along to Christopher Cross as he went sailing? Ever cross a line in the sand, or a red line, or just a line you shouldn’t cross? Ever been to a CrossFit gym, where the patrons flip tractor tires and climb ropes to the sky for the fun of it? (more…)

Retailers And Fraud

It’s the classic plot detail from movies and television shows since the 1980s. A credit card is offered to the waitress or clerk and it is refused by the credit card company. The inverse scenario is now playing out, where credit card companies send a text or email to alert you to a suspicious transaction, asking you to respond and authorize the transaction. (more…)

A Complete Meltdown Would Be Quite A Spectre

Please pardon the spelling above, in what is an unapologetic play for SEO. If you haven’t heard about Meltdown or Spectre yet, you will. They are tragic flaws embedded in microchips that have powered most computers and devices for way too long. (more…)

Crash Test Hacking For Dummies

What if you could work really hard and reinvent the internal structure of your organization every two or three days? Okay, that seems unlikely or, at the very least, exhausting. But what if you could establish a system or protocol in your network and data infrastructure that reinvented itself in rapid and (more…)

Cyber Night At The Oscars

It’s been a big movie season, despite the ever-changing role of movie theaters, those large boxes of booming sound and melted butter. With awards season fully underway, it’s time to celebrate the cybersecurity variations of the famous movies and actors, the ones where costume directors get an award for best-placed pocket protector or best use of horn-rimmed eyeglasses in a romantic setting by an actor with an IQ above 125. You know the ones. (more…)

The Plot Thickens

If you got hacked, would it make you feel better or worse if the hacker left his fingerprints at the scene? What if you were a national political party? As it turns out, there is speculation that the hacker who breached the DNC — on behalf of Putin, he contends — left his passport and visa number buried in a file embedded in the code, so that he could later prove he did it and why.

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We’re With The Government, And We’re Here To Help

In mid-December, Jeanette Manfra, a top cyber official within the Department of Homeland Security, indicated that DHS would “move beyond” offering voluntary assistance to companies experiencing cyber attacks and take steps to become the “world leader in cyber risk assessment.” This is no doubt comforting to many who view government’s role as unique on the cyber landscape, but it seems unclear how such a progression of services might be extended to a broad expanse of companies when existing agencies are seeing their budgets slashed and their staffs decimated. (more…)

Reservation For A Nigerian Prince

Ever gotten one of those emails that lets you know your account has been hacked? Maybe it was your email account, and all of your contacts received a quirky email from you unawares, touting the benefits of a particular enhancement drug or the prospects of a Nigerian fortune. Those are pretty common. But how about something a little less ordinary. (more…)

Today’s Data Brought To You By…

Net Neutrality has been a big topic of late, and that is unlikely to change in the near term. There are probably good arguments on all sides of the debate, but no matter where your opinion shakes out on the spectrum, your business is likely to be affected in some way. (more…)

I Ship You Not

It’s a new year, and the time is right for thinking about how you might do things differently as your organization rides the tides and the stormy seas of commerce that lay ahead. This maritime metaphor is intentional and informative, so let’s see where it goes. To “strengthen the cybersecurity of federal networks and critical infrastructure,” the Trump Administration issued Executive Order 13800. (more…)

Resolve On New Year’s Eve

If you could ring in the new year with cyber certainty, would you do it? Yeah, we would too, but the only degree of certainty that seems to creep into the cyber conversation is the certainty that everyone is vulnerable. And the number and cost of threats seems to often outpace the good guys. We still see the glass as half-full, though, and if you’re reading this, you probably do as well. As you cultivate resolutions for 2018, what can you do to improve your odds? (more…)

Santa Claus, Cyber Savant

‘Tis the night before Christmas. You’ve hung the stockings with care and set out the cookies and carrots. Your organization’s year-end results suggest that you’ve been good, but you better not cry, better not pout, and here’s why: you’re hoping for even more growth in 2018 and Santa’s coming to town. (more…)

Budgeting For A Breach

There is a heightened national awareness of the pervasive nature of cyberthreats in our world. Just as important, though, is heightened awareness at the local level, in the minds and eyes of the small business and independent government contractor. The risk for them, for you, is just as real if not as heavily funded. (more…)

Everybody’s Home, But Nobody’s Knocking

As we roll into the holiday season, with Black Friday behind us and stockings soon to be hung from the chimney with care, all eyes are on retail. Santa works hard year-round, but the elves make most of their big-money between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Customers are hard won, and marketing dollars are stretched as far as they will go.

Even if you are not in the retail business, your organization only grows if you are able to attract and retain the customers. To keep customers, you have to earn their trust with each and every transaction, each and everyday. Once the trust is been violated, the road may no longer rise up to meet you. Just ask the friendly folks at Equifax.

In reporting their recent earnings and projecting for the next quarter, Equifax indicated that the economic impact of the recent breach may exceed $75 million. Among the more difficult tasks will be earning the trust of their customers. They also gave no indication that this will be the end of the revenue drain posed by the breach. The interim CEO described the process as a “Journey.” Have you got the right tools?

A Map And A Compass

Maybe your organization is bigger than a quick fax. Maybe it’s not. And maybe insurance would cover some of your exposure. Then again maybe not. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the questions you should be asking.

That’s the great thing about ICS. Not only do we have the right answers, we have the right questions. Why don’t you call today? See what I just did there?

No File Left Behind

When you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, it’s important to leave no trace. LNT has become a maxim of sorts among those who engage the outdoors, but over the last several months, the implications for cybersecurity have emerged. Or not. Maybe they haven’t emerged, and that’s the problem. (more…)

What Happened?

Remember the presidential election of 2016? With new books out and some cable talk shows unable to let it go, chances are pretty good you do. And you probably remember the little hack at the heart of much of the controversy, so let’s focus on that, without placing blame or extrapolating any political fodder in the process. Just the facts and what they mean for your cybersecurity posture. (more…)

When the CEO is also the CIO

We’ve dedicated some recent blog real estate to the threats faced by CEOs of big companies and directors of IT departments within larger companies. These threats abound, and ICS works with companies within those spaces to protect networks and data. But sometimes the boardroom table is also the kitchen table. (more…)

From Oslo With Love

Let’s say you’re in the widget business. You studied widgets in college, made Lego widgets as a child, even named your dog Widget. If there’s anything you know a thing or two about, it’s widgets. And you’ve built a great business building widgets. Those in the know call you the Widget King. You’ve put three kids through college on widgets and even bought yourself a little widget bungalow on a coastal island somewhere. You are the man, or the woman! (more…)

Not Enough Caffeine

You finally snag the quiet corner at the coffee shop, you local retreat when you really need to get work done. Something about the ambient noise and the fact that nobody around you works with, near, or for you. Just a collection of pilgrims on the road to revenue, beneficiaries of the gig economy hopped up on espresso and pumpkin spice. Take the guy next to you, the one sporting skinny jeans over Chucky T’s and a faux flannel shirt beneath an emerging beardlet. He’s got the right glasses, an open Moleskine notebook in front of him, and just the right number of stickers on the opened lid of his MacBook Pro. Probably working on a social capital start-up, right? (more…)

Nobel Prizes And Cybersecurity

What can well-intentioned Swedes tell us about improving global cybersecurity? Quite a bit, probably, but specifically we should consider the recent award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Richard Thaler, a professor at The University of Chicago. Thaler’s work in human behavior led to a bestseller titled “Nudge,” a book about helping people make better decisions. Among his findings was the reality that people didn’t voluntarily enroll in 401Ks until their employers made those decisions for them, essentially nudging the employees to be more proactive about the financial health. Once the companies made enrollment essentially mandatory, employees understood the benefit. (more…)

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

There are two types of electrical power. The first is AC, or alternating current. It’s what comes out of the plug in the wall. The second is DC, which is stored and distributed by batteries. The combination of the two would be, well, shocking, and it might even generate classic hits like “Back in Black” and “Hell’s Bells.” But those are not the relevant stories about ACDC these days. (more…)

The Connector

It’s called the connector. The section of highway where I-75 and I-85 join together to pass through the booming metropolis of Atlanta. It is almost always congested, and it carries a lot of information, not unlike the building that used to rise above the north end of the massive swath of concrete. That’s where the Equifax building used to be, and might still be. (more…)

The Safari of Cybersecurity


Sitting on a shady porch overlooking the river and savanna of Samburo in Northern Kenya. To the left, several elephants lounge in the water. To the right, baboons gather along the riverbank and the safety of the trees beyond. In the middle, just across the river from the shady porch, a leopard stretches lazily to shake off a midday nap and surveys the evening’s offerings at what might be considered his food court. Dissatisfied with the current menu, the leopard retires to the shade of the saltbush and acacia tree to give the chefs at the circle of life cafe a chance to prepare a fresh offering.
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Cousin Eddie And Hurricane Names

Clark Griswald’s cousin meant well, but every time he pulled the RV into the driveway, chaos ensued. All Clark seemed to get out of the visits was a pair of white patent leather loafers. Ain’t family grand, especially when you’re on vacation.

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Justice

Politico and others report that the Department of Justice has indicted a Chinese national accused of selling malware to hack a number of American and European companies. The general sense is that Yu Pingan and friends conspired to create the Sakula malware used effectively in the OPM breach and others. (more…)

The Semantics Of Passwords

One of the hallmarks of successful cybersecurity is an organization’s ability to protect its assets while making them fully available to staff. The right people accessing the right data and moving the human ball forward. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. A key ingredient to that stuff is a mechanism that encourages and requires robust passwords at the consumer level. Not the general consumer, of course, but the staff who consumes your data in order to help your business thrive.

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Beyond The Political

Politics is one of those topics best avoided among polite company, and this post in no way espouses particular views or partisan sentiments. It is difficult to talk about federal efforts to enhance cybersecurity without drawing attention to national politics, but that is what we hope to do. (more…)

Harvey The Unimaginable

Back in the day, there was an offbeat Broadway show about an imaginary rabbit that occupied the house and lives of good people. It just sort of seeped in, like a rising tide, from the basement. That rabbit’s name was Harvey, and he was seen only by those who really wanted or needed to see him. (more…)

Riding Along On Easy Street

Your organization is a well-oiled machine. It’s nimble, responsive, and ready to follow in any direction you lead. Or lean. In many ways, it’s like a Segway. You don’t want to get too far ahead of it, and if you stay behind it, the machine will simply stand still. You have to confidently lean in the direction you want it to go, and you have to trust it to respond accordingly. When you reach that level of synergy, you and your Segway — your organization — become one.

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The Swede Smell Of Cyber

Checking into the hotel in Stockholm, visiting Scandinavia with the family, I couldn’t help notice the local papers. On the cover, above the fold, was the face of a man frustrated with a recent turn of events. Even though I couldn’t read the words — I don’t know Swedish — I could tell the man was a politician. It was that kind of picture. Given the current state of American politics, it was almost refreshing to see another country swimming in scandal. Imagine my surprise, though, when I discovered the punchline. There were no prostitutes or drunken junkets. There was only cyber. But it was just as messy.

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Cat Stevens: Cybersecurity Hero

Though he now performs under a different name, Cat Stevens once had his finger on the hippy, singer-songwriter pulse in America. Naturally, this made him something of a cyber savant as well. Naturally. It was his early encouragement of software and firmware updates and the direct correlation between those and network security. And he worked all of this early magic into his lyrics. Specifically one line, which suggested that, “The patches make the goodbyes harder still.” Many assumed he was only referring to the blue jeans of our passing youth, faded blue into the sky. But give that joint a rest and read between the lines.

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You Have The Power, Mostly

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Russian hacking resurfaces in waters beyond the political. Sure, it was devastating when we realized that Russia had wormed its way into our electoral and democratic process, but that was apparently just the beginning of the story. (more…)

The Future of Cyber- Part Two

During a recent talk at The Chautauqua Institution, Denise Zheng held forth on the nature of cyber conflict: past, present, and future. A Senior Fellow and the Director of Technology Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zheng has some interesting perspectives on the nature of cyber threats going forward. The concept of deterrence, for example is complicated, at least on a national or global scale. “Deterrence requires attribution supported by evidence, further supported by classified information and practices,” Zheng suggests, and governments know that for every action there is a reaction, often deploying the same technology. So global resolution of cyber threat potential seems problematic.

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The Future of Cyber- Part One

During a recent talk at The Chautauqua Institution, Denise Zheng held forth on the nature of cyber conflict: past, present, and future. A Senior Fellow and the Director of Technology Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zheng has also worked as a senate staffer on the Homeland Security Committee, in the Computer Associates software engineering process, and, most recently, on cyber moonshots at DARPA. So her perspective on cyber reflects and informs those of consumers, governments, and leading edge developers. (more…)

Marsha Marsha Marsha!

You would think it would’ve been Jan Brady who wreaked havoc on the world this summer, trying anything to get the attention that always goes to Marsha. But, alas, it was Cindy, a tropical storm that stormed off the gulf coast like a teenager scorned, leaving a trail of devastation that even Gladys couldn’t fix. Homes were destroyed, businesses damaged, and lives lost, reminding us of the serious punch that Mother Nature can pack when she wants to. If you’re reading this, you’re among the lucky.

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The Smaller They Are, The Harder They Fall

While the media streams constantly with news of big-name breaches that threaten the global economy to the core, an even more significant story grows on the outer banks of public awareness. Sure, the big banks and retailers have lots of data to steal, but they also have the resources to protect their networks. The same is not always true of smaller enterprises. Perhaps in recognition of this, ransomware attacks on small businesses are increasing in greater numbers than their Goliath counterparts, according to Small Business Trends.

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No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

As remarkable as adware can be, both from the marketing side and the consumer side, the fact that banner ads and other promotions stem directly from your search habits is really the least of your worries. Imagine if the ads began to deploy code that controlled your computer, changed your default browser, and tracked your search habits for a Chinese marketing firm? (more…)

It’s A Family Affair

If you grew up in a large family, you know the sensation. Lots of aunts and uncles and thousands of cousins you saw on a limited basis, like every other year or so at a family reunion somewhere. Some of those kids were really weird, and they seem to come by it pretty naturally, since Uncle Fred and Aunt Eunice popped out of the RV with a gin and tonic in one hand and a fistful of political conspiracy theories in the other. Who knew Tolstoy was the second gun on the grassy knoll?

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Hacking Up Your Tex-Mex

Some breaches are just tough to stomach, and earlier this year that was especially true at Chipotle Mexican Grill stores across the country. Drawing details from a recent story on The Verge, every state in the Chipotle Nation, it seems, was affected by a credit card POS breach that garnered the hackers sensitive account information. No word yet on whether they wanted black beans or pinto beans with that data.

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Camp Songs For IT Professionals

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high. If you’re lucky, the old memories from summer camp return to the fore, as nostalgia delivers you from the daily stress of network security and constant threats.

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