A recent report about the worst passwords revealed that "password" was toward the top of the list for many consumers. But it turns out that "password" is also a popular password for government employees, which weakens the nation's cybersecurity.
That's one of the conclusions of the Senate cybersecurity report, which reveals that government agency systems are open to attack because they don't update with the latest security patches, have old anti-virus programs, or because employees don't choose solid passwords.
"While politicians like to propose complex new regulations, massive new programs, and billions in new spending to improve cybersecurity," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the committee, "there are very basic -- and critically important -- precautions that could protect our and our citizens' private information that we simply aren't doing."
Systemic Change Needed
We turned to Matthew Standart, manager of Threat Intelligence at HBGary, a technology security firm. He told us the findings are not surprising.
"They reflect the overall state of security in most, if not all, organizations. Attackers are motivated to get in and they will do so by following the path of least resistance," Standart said. "These paths, or vulnerabilities, are the result of poor policy and planning, lack of resources and integration, insufficient technology and execution, or overall plain human error and negligence."
As he sees it, government agencies should lead, because technology alone won't fix the problem. Systemic change may be needed from the top down to foster a culture that is security-minded and aware, he said.
"Actions carry risk, but risk is usually ignored or discredited due to convenience or complacency. Leaders convey a message that IT and IT Security are both cost centers and an inconvenience, when their strategic alignment should be perceived as a necessary and powerful means to do business," Standart said.
"Auditors are always the laggards behind the adversaries, and leaders need to be in the right place to raise the bar and hold people accountable to be well above the bar. Organizations need to be proactive about security rather than reactive."
It's Your Problem
TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope, said the problem was that cybersecurity was an "everyone and everything problem," not just this computer or that because it was deemed "critical infrastructure."
"Yes, it is important to call these out and label them as such but in this hyper-connected world, malicious intruders have hundreds of ways to go about their campaign, and only one needs to work. My point is that our daily lives, personal and at work, are blurring when it comes to information systems," Keanini told us.
"We cannot just think about the targets attractive to the adversaries and protect just those; because as our world becomes more and more connected, the security of a tiny component someone overlooked, or some combinatory set of minor weaknesses when combined create a major weakness, gives attackers the strategy they need for compromise.
"There can no longer be any blindspots created by complex political systems where systems A feels that is systems B's problem: Cybersecurity is everyone's problem."
Security Isn't Convenient
Aaron Titus, chief privacy officer and general counsel at Identity Finder, a sensitive data management solution provider, told us the federal government -- like all corporate and private bureaucracies -- is filled with middle managers and employees who just want to do their jobs in the easiest way possible.
"Security isn't convenient, it doesn't make money, and it is only ancillary to an agency's primary mission. When data security compliance competes with core mission objectives, it isn't hard to understand why a bureaucrat may not spend time or money on data security," he told us.
"But sensitive data management, done right, will enhance mission objectives. Sensitive data management requires engagement and creativity to analyze and respond to context-specific risks, while listening to employees who must implement data management policies without impeding their jobs. The first step to sensitive data management is to inventory all of the locations where sensitive data is stored, or has leaked."
Posted: 2014-03-06 @ 8:08am PT
Here are a few suggested best practices for Global Governance, Risk & Compliance:
- Be aware of the data that is being sent out of your control, either to an employee's cloud, the organizations own cloud, an employee's flash drive or via any of the 65,000+ available channels. It only takes a few seconds for a trusted employee or untrusted entity (e.g. malware) to send data such as PII or PCI to the cloud or "phone home", violating compliance regulations &/ or policy. You need to understand and know what data was sent, from where and to where it's going.
- Know what data you can send out of the network and where to. When data travels cross borders, as it does so often, the risk increases on an exponential basis for the data owner.
- Detection accuracy ensures you protect the correct data with the proper control and be alerted to irregular activity. Some data needs to be blocked, some just encrypted while other information can leave without any issue. Many "DLP" solutions cannot accurately provide both the content & context awareness to respond.
above quoted from www.gtbtechnologies.com
David C. Brown:
Posted: 2014-02-05 @ 7:35pm PT
Passwords can be a very difficult security issue. Too short and simple ones are easy to remember AND easy to guess and crack. Too long and people write them down and keep IT support tied up resetting passwords.
Here’s some password help.
I regularly use complex 22-character passwords that are
unique to each site and system that I use.
Using my method I do not have to write them down to remember them.
If you would like to learn how to use my method, visit the Resources page on my website and you can try it out for yourself.
Look for the free
“How to Create Secure and Easy2Remember Long Passwords” poster.
Check it out at https://www.businesscompletesolutions.com
I hope this makes life a little easier for my fellow IT and InfoSec people.
I wish you the very best.
David C. Brown, PMP, CISSP, CIP
S.M.A.R.T - Business Improvement Specialist
Business Complete Solutions