About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

Pandemic Planning Webinar Materials

John Davis and David Rose held a pandemic planning webinar on the 17th of March.

Here are the materials from the event, in case you were not able to attend.

PDF of slide deck: https://media.microsolved.com/Pandemic.pdf

MP4 recording of event: https://media.microsolved.com/2020-03-17%2010.00%20Pandemic%20Planning%20Update.mp4

Event Description:

MicroSolved’s John Davis and Dave Rose will explore pandemic plan updates in the age of the COVID-19 outbreak. They will discuss lessons learned, from  building a basic plan to updating existing plans. They will share the latest advice from our consulting practice, from State, Local and Federal resources and point out a variety of resources that are now available to assist organizations.

We hope this help folks and of course, if we can be of any assistance, please let us know. We are all in this together, and MSI is here to help wherever and whenever we can. Stay safe out there! 

Pandemic Planning Update Webinar Scheduled

WorldShieldWe are proud to announce a pandemic planning update webinar scheduled for Tuesday, March 17th at 10am Eastern.

MicroSolved’s John Davis and Dave Rose will explore pandemic plan updates in the age of the COVID-19 outbreak. They will discuss lessons learned, from  building a basic plan to updating existing plans. They will share the latest advice from our consulting practice, from State, Local and Federal resources and point out a variety of resources that are now available to assist organizations.

Click here to register. Recordings will be made available after the event. 

We want everyone to benefit from pandemic planning. Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance.

A vCISO Interview With Dave Rose

I had the pleasure to interview, Dave Rose, who does a lot of our virtual CISO engagements at MSI. I think you might enjoy some of his insights.

Q) In a few sentences, introduce yourself and describe your background that makes you a valuable virtual CISO. What are the keys to your success?

A) So my name is Dave Rose and I have been a CTO and in Technology for 25+ years. I started working daily with Risk as an Internal IT Auditor with the State of Ohio and expanded exponentially my knowledge and skills with JP Morgan Chase where I had day to day Risk responsibility for their Branch, ATM, Branch Innovation, Enterprise and Chase wealth Management applications. (548 to be exact!) What makes me a valuable CISO? In technology I have been audited by the best of them, SEC OCC,FINRA,Internal Audit, and been responsible for PCI and Basil compliance. I have had to review, implement and modify controls from NIST, ISO,SOX, GLBA, OWASP and CIS. In the financial industry I have worked with Agribusiness, Commercial Real Estate, Retail Banking, Investment Banking, Mutual Funds, Wealth Management, Credit Unions and 401K plans. As an IT/Operations manager/leader I have been responsible for Network Management, Finance, HR, Contract and Vendor Management, Help Desk, Development staff, Investment Operations, Sales, Cyber Engineers and Project Management, which I started my career performing. 

With the diversity that I listed above, there is a pretty good chance my past experience can help you to solve your current problems, now. A modicum of common sense, perseverance and a passion to do what right for the business while being responsible to the controls that make you successful has made me successful. 

Q) Speaking as a virtual CISO, what are some of the toughest challenges that your clients are facing this year?

A) I think that one of the biggest challenge that our clients are facing this year is Technology Deficit. I dont think this is anything new but with the deprecation of Win 7 and the threat of Ransomware, holding onto old technology with critical vulnerabilities is no longer an option. Whether is is hardware, software or code updates, companies cannot continue to mortgage technology debt to the future. Hate to be cliche but the time is now. 

Q) If you met with a board and they wanted to know what percentage of revenue they should be spending on information security, how would you answer that question?

A) I hate this question because it really does not have a good answer. A board asked me once “How much money would it cost me to get to a 3.5 on the NIST scale?” Money is only one facet of solving risk, there is culture, leadership, technology and business vision. Know and set the roadmap for all of those items for the next 5 years and your dollar investment will come naturally. So 6-7% (Rolls eyes)

Q) In terms of the NIST model, can you walk us through how you would prioritize the domains? If you came into a new organization, where would you start in the NIST model to bring the most value and what would the first 100 days look like?

A) There are two areas of the NIST model I would focus on, identify and protect. I would take a good hard look at access administration and all the components that make that up. Next I would look at log analysis and aggregation. I would spend the first hundred days doing a Risk Assessment of the entire environment but would also create a roadmap based on evaluation of current state for both Access Administration and Log Governance. Based on your results and determination of Risk and Reward (80/20 rule) map out the next 1-3 years. 

Q) If folks wanted to learn more about your insights or discuss having you work with them as a virtual CISO or security oversight manager, how can they reach you?

A) If you would like to talk further about these question, insights or would like to hear more about the MSI vCISO service, you can reach me at 614 372–6769, twitter @dmr0120 or e-mail at drose@microsolved.com!

3 Threats We Are Modeling for Clients These Days

Just a quick post today to discuss three threat scenarios we are modeling frequently with clients these days. #ThreatModeling

1) Ransomeware or other malware infection sourced from managed service providers – this scenario is become a very common issue, so common that DHS and several other organizations have released advisories. Attacker campaigns against managed services providers have been identified and many have yielded some high value breaches. The most common threat is spear phishing into a MSP, with the attackers eventually gaining access to the capability to push software to the clients. They then push a command and control malware or a ransomware infection down the pipe. Often, it is quite some time before the source of the event is traced back to the MSP. The defenses here are somewhat limited, but the scenario definitely should be practiced at the tabletop level. Often, these MSPs have successfully passed a SOC audit, but have very little security maturity beyond the baselines.

2) Successful credential stuffing attacks against Office 365 implementations leading to wire/ACH/AP fraud – This is another very common scenario, not just for banks and credit unions, but a lot of small and mid-size organizations have fallen victim to it as well via account payable attacks. In the scenario, either a user is phished into giving up credentials, or a leaked set of credentials is leveraged to gain access to the Office 365 mail and chat system. The attackers then leverage this capability to perform their fraud, appearing to come from internal email accounts and chats. They often make use of stored forms and phish their way to other internal users in the approval chain to get the money to actually move. Once they have their cash, they often use these email accounts to spread malware and ransomware to other victims inside the organization or in business partners – continuing the chain over and over again. The defenses here are to MFA, limited access to the O365 environment to require VPN or other IP-specifc filtering, hardening the O365 environment and enabling many of the detection and prevention controls that are off by default. 

3) Voicemail hacking and dial-system fraud – I know, I know, it’s 2020… But, this remains an incredibly impactful attack, especially against key management employees or employees who traffic in highly confidential data. Often this is accessed and then either used for profit via trading (think M&A info) or as ransom/blackmail types of social engineering. Just like above, the attackers often hack one account and then use social engineering to get other users to follow instructions around fraud or change their voicemail password to a given number, etc. Larger corporations where social familiarity of employees and management is low are a common attack target. Dial system fraud for outbound long distance remains pretty common, especially over long weekends and holidays. Basically, the attackers hack an account and use call forwarding to send calls to a foreign number – then sell access to the hacked voicemail line, changing the destination number for each caller. Outbound dial tone is also highly regarded here and quite valuable on the underground markets. Often the fraud goes undetected for 60-90 days until the audit process kicks in, leaving the victim several thousand dollars in debt from the illicit activity. The defenses here are voicemail and phone system auditing, configuration reviews, hardening and lowering lockout thresholds on password attempts. 

We can help with all of these issues and defenses, but we love to help organizations with threat scenario generation, threat modeling and attack surface mapping. If you need some insights into outside the box attacks and fraud potential, give us a call. Our engagements in this space are informative, useful and affordable.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe out there! 

3 Lessons From 30 Years of Penetration Testing

I’ve been doing penetration tests for 30 years and here are 3 things that have stuck with me.

I’ve been doing penetration testing for around 3 decades now. I started doing security testing back when the majority of the world was dial-up access to systems. I’ve worked on thousands of devices, systems, network and applications – from the most sensitive systems in the world to some of the dumbest and most inane mobile apps (you know who you are…) that still have in-game purchases. 

Over that time, these three lessons have stayed with me. They may not be the biggest lessons I’ve learned, or the most impactful, but they are the ones that have stuck with me in my career the longest. 

Lesson 1: The small things make or break a penetration test. The devil loves to hide in the details.

Often people love to hear about the huge security issues. They thrill or gasp at the times when you find that breathtaking hole that causes the whole thing to collapse. But, for me, the vulnerabilities that I’m most proud of, looking back across my career are the more nuanced ones. The ones where I noticed something small and seemingly deeply detailed. You know the issues like this, you talk about them to the developer and they respond with “So what?” and then you show them that small mistake opens a window that allows you to causally step inside to steal their most critical data…

Time and time again, I’ve seen nuance vulnerabilities hidden in encoded strings or hex values. Bad assumptions disguised in application session management or poorly engineered work flows. I’ve seen developers and engineers make mistakes that are so deeply hidden in the protocol exchanges or packet stream that anyone just running automated tools would have missed it. Those are my favorites. So, my penetration testing friend, pay attention to the deep details. Lots of devils hide there, and a few of those can often lead to the promised land. Do the hard work. Test every attack surface and threat vector, even if the other surfaces resisted, sometimes you can find a subtle, almost hidden attack surface that no one else noticed and make use of it.

Lesson 2: A penetration test is usually judged by the report. Master report writing to become a better penetration tester. 

This is one of the hardest things for my mentees to grasp. You can geek out with other testers and security nerds about your latest uber stack smash or the elegant way you optimized the memory space of your exploit – but customers won’t care. Save yourself the heartbreak and disappointment, and save them the glazed eyes look that comes about when you present it to them. They ONLY CARE about the report.

The report has to be well written. It has to be clear. It has to be concise. It has to have make them understand what you did, what you found and what they need to do about it. The more pictures, screen shots, graphs and middle-school-level language, the better. They aren’t dumb, or ignorant, they just have other work to do and need the information they need to action against in the cleanest, clearest and fastest way possible. They don’t want to Google technical terms and they have no patience for jargon. So, say it clear and say it in the shortest way possible if you want to be the best penetration tester they’ve seen. 

That’s hard to swallow. I know. But, you can always jump on Twitter or Slack and tell us all about your L33T skillz and the newest SQL technique you just discovered. Even better, document it and share it with other testers so that we all get better.

Lesson 3: Penetration tests aren’t always useful. They can be harmful.

Lastly, penetration tests aren’t always a help. They can cause some damage, to weak infrastructures, or to careers. Breaking things usually comes with a cost, and delivering critical failure news to upper management is not without its risks. I’ve seen CIOs and CISOs lose their jobs due to a penetration test report. I’ve seen upper management and boards respond in entirely unkind and often undeserved ways. In fact, if you don’t know what assets your organization has to protect, what controls you have and/or haven’t done some level of basic blocking and tackling – forget pen-testing altogether and skip to an inventory, vulnerability assessment, risk assessment or mapping engagement. Save the pen-testing cost and dangerous results for when you have more situational awareness. 

Penetration testing is often good at finding the low water mark. It often reveals least resistant paths and common areas of failure. Unfortunately, these are often left open by a lack of basic blocking and tackling. While it’s good news that basics go a long way to protecting us and our data, the bad news is that real-world attackers are capable of much more. Finding those edge cases, the things that go beyond the basics, the attack vectors less traveled, the bad assumptions, the short cut and/or the thing you missed when you’re doing the basics well – that’s when penetration tests have their biggest payoffs.

Want to talk more about penetration testing, these lessons or finding the right vulnerability management engagement for your organization? No problem, get in touch and I’ll be happy to discuss how MicroSolved can help. We can do it safely, make sure it is the best type of engagement for your maturity level and help you drive your security program forward. Our reports will be clean, concise and well written. And, we’ll pay attention to the details, I promise you that. 🙂 

To get in touch, give me a call at (614) 351-1237, drop me a line via this webform or reach out on Twitter (@lbhuston). I love to talk about infosec and penetration testing. It’s not just my career, but also my passion.

A Quick Expert Conversation About Gap Assessment

Gap Assessment Interview with John Davis

What follows is a quick interview session with John Davis, who leads the risk assessment/policy/process team at MicroSolved. We completed the interview in January of 2020, and below are the relevant parts of our conversation.

Brent Huston: “Thanks for joining me today, John. Let’s start with what a gap assessment is in terms of HIPAA or other regulatory guidance.”

John Davis: “Thanks for the chance to talk about gap assessment. I have run into several HIPAA concerns such as hospitals and health systems who do HIPAA gap analysis / gap assessment in lieu of HIPAA risk assessment. Admittedly, gap assessment is the bulk of risk assessment, however, a gap assessment does not go to the point of assigning a risk rating to the gaps found. It also doesn’t go to the extent of addressing other risks to PHI that aren’t covered in HIPAA/HITECH guidance.”

BH: “So, in some ways, the gap assessment is more of an exploratory exercise – certainly providing guidance on existing gaps, but faster and more affordable than a full risk assessment? Like the 80/20 approach to a risk assessment?”

John Davis: “I suppose so, yes. The price is likely less than a full blown risk assessment, given that there is less analysis and reporting work for the assessment team. It’s also a bit faster of an engagement, since the deep details of performing risk analysis aren’t a part of it.”

BH: “Should folks interested in a gap assessment consider adding any technical components to the work plan? Does that combination ever occur?”

JD: “I can envision a gap assessment that also includes vulnerability assessment of their networks / applications. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is immense value in this approach. I think that to be more effective, you can always add a vulnerability assessment to gauge how well the policies and processes they have in place are working in the context of the day-to-day real-world operations.”

BH: “Can you tie this back up with what a full risk assessment contains, in addition to the gap assessment portion of the work plan?”

JD: “Sure! Real risk assessment includes controls and vulnerability analysis as regular parts of the engagement. But more than that, a complete risk assessment also examines threats and possibilities of occurrence. So, in addition to the statement of the gaps and a roadmap for improvement, you also get a much more significant and accurate view of the data you need to prioritize and scope many of the changes and control improvements needed. In my mind, it also gets you a much greater view of potential issues and threats against PHI than what may be directly referenced in the guidance.” 

BH: “Thanks for clarifying that, John. As always, we appreciate your expert insights and experience.”

JD: “Anytime, always happy to help.”

If you’d like to learn more about a gap assessment, vulnerability assessment or a full blown risk assessment against HIPAA, HITECH or any other regulatory guidance or framework, please just give us a call at (614) 351-1237 or you can click here to contact us via a webform. We look forward to hearing from you. Get in touch today! 

Detecting Info Leaks with ClawBack

Clawback smallClawBack Is Purpose Built to Detect Info Leaks

ClawBack is MicroSolved’s cloud-based SaaS solution for performing info leak detection. We built the tool because we worked so many incidents and breaches related to three common types of info leaks:

  • Leaked Credentials – this is so common that it lies at the root of thousands of incidents over the last several years, attackers harvest stolen and leaked logins and passwords and use them anywhere they think they can gain access – this is so common, it is even categorized by OWASP as a specific form of attack: credential stuffing 
  • Leaked Configurations – attackers love to comb through leaked device and application configuration files for credentials, of course, but also for details about the network or app environment, sensitive data locations, cryptographic secrets and network management information they can use to gain control or access
  • Leaked Code – leaked source code is a huge boon for attackers; often leaking sensitive intellectual property that they can sell on the dark web to your competitors or parse for vulnerabilities in your environment or products

MicroSolved knows how damaging these info leaks can be to organizations, no matter the type. That’s exactly why we built ClawBack to provide ongoing monitoring for the info leak terms that matter most to you.

How to Get Started Detecting Info Leaks

Putting ClawBack to work for you is incredibly easy. Most customers are up and monitoring for info leaks within 5 minutes.

There is no hardware, software, appliance or agent to deploy. The browser-based interface is simple to use, yet flexible enough to meet the challenges of the modern web. 

First, get a feel for some terms that you would like to monitor that are unique to your organization. Good examples might be unique user names, application names, server names, internal code libraries, IP address ranges, SNMP community strings, the first few hex characters of certificates or encryption keys, etc. Anything that is unique to your organization or at the very least, uncommon. 

Next, register for a ClawBack account by clicking here.

Once your account is created, and you follow the steps to validate it, you can login to the ClawBack application. Here, you will be able to choose the level of subscription that you would like, picking from the three different service levels available. You will also be able to input your payment information and set up additional team members to use the application, if available at your subscription level. 

Next, click on Monitoring Terms and input the terms that you identified in the first step. ClawBack will immediately go and search for any info leaks related to your terms as you put them in. Additionally, ClawBack will continually monitor for the terms going forward and provide alerts for any info leaks that appear in the common locations around the web. 

How To View Any Info Leaks

Reviewing any info leaks found is easy, as well. Simply click on Alerts on the top menu. Here, your alerts will be displayed, in a sortable list. The list contains a summary of each identified leak, the term it matched and the location of the leak. You can click on the alert to view the identified page. Once reviewed, you can archive the alert, where it will remain in the system and is visible in your archive, or you can mark it as a false positive, and it will be removed from your dataset but ClawBack will remember the leak and won’t alert you again for that specific URL. 

If you have access to the export function, based on your subscription level, you can also so export alerts to a CSV file for uploading into SIEM/SOAR tools or ticketing systems. It’s that easy! 

You can find a more specific walkthrough for finding code leaks here, along with some screen shots of the product in action.

You can learn more about ClawBack and view some use case videos and demo videos at the ClawBack homepage.

Give ClawBack a try today and you can put your worries to rest that unknown info leaks might be out there doing damage to your organization. It’s so easy, so affordable and so powerful that it makes worries about info leaks obsolete.

After Nearly 30 Years in CyberSecurity, I Still Learn Something Every Day

Cybersecurity Playtime Today:

Today, while searching through some web logs and reviewing some of the data from our HoneyPoint deployments, I found an interesting scan. The payload was pretty common, something we see, nearly every day – but the source, a pretty mature organization with a reputation for being tightly managed and capable, was what caught my eye. The scans went on for several days across a couple of weeks – sourced from a web server that clearly was not as securely managed as their reputation might insist. So, I notified them, of course, and played in the data a while, fascinated by some of the nuances of it. 

Good Days Versus Bad Days:

This is pretty much a daily occurrence for me – on the good days, at least. I get to play with data, learn something new, experiment, hypothesize and test myself. Those are the good days of being an infosec entrepreneur, CEO and researcher. The bad days are the ones when I have to struggle with sales efforts, manage difficult resources/projects or solve the same security problems as I tackled in the 90s. Those are the days when I am less happy about what I do. But, fortunately, those days are pretty few and far between. 

Fighting the Cybersecurity Good Fight:

After 30+ years in technology and “cybersecurity”, I still find a wealth of things to learn and play with. I never seem to get to the point where I feel like I know stuff. I try and remain intellectually curious and mentally humble at all times. I also try to believe in the magic of technology and fight the cynicism of doing infosec for 30 years. That keeps me making new things, and investing in new solutions, like our new ClawBack data leak detection tool

I try to keep fighting the good fight, so to speak. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about attackers – what motivates them, how they operate and how tools evolve. I’ve learned a lot about the economics of cyber-crime and the information security industry, as well. I’ve grown my understanding and world view around the day to day of infosec. I try to add value to someone every single day. Those things keep me going and keep me engaged. They help minimize the burnout and maximize my patience with the often challenging task of being an infosec person and an entrepreneur. Sometimes, living to fight another day is all you can ask for, and some days it seems like you can’t wait to jump back into the fray. Such is the infosec (“cybersecurity”) life.

Advice for New Cybersecurity Practitioners:

If you’re new to cybersecurity or considering joining us, my advice to you is simple and a gut check. Be sure that you are ready for a career that requires life long learning and life long change. If you want to have a repeatable, 9-5 job that you can master and forget when you walk out the door, this probably isn’t for you. Attackers are amazingly dynamic, and thus, infosec must be just as dynamic as well. This isn’t an industry built for mastery – it’s an industry built for being a life long student. While that’s not always easy, it can be fun and rewarding. Got what it takes? I sure hope so – because we need help and we need it for today and the years to come…

MicroSolved vCISO for Credit Unions

I recently asked MicroSolved COO, Dave Rose, to share his thoughts with all of us about the vCISO program. He has been leading the effort this last year across several credit unions and regional banks around the US. I asked him for the 3 biggest benefits an organization can expect and here is what he said:

“MicroSolved has been providing vCISO services to Credit Unions for over 20 years. Whether you are a corporate or a natural person CU, hiring MSI for vCISO Services will allow you to:

  • Obtain CISO expertise without having to incur the expense of finding and hiring a CISO. This is an affordable solution that will help keep the risk budget under control.
  • MSI vCISO program comes with the benefit of a focus towards financial expertise and compliance. MSI has had extensive experience working with banks and credit unions on their risk programs, and have spent time educating regulators on risk events and controls.
  • MSI is in the business of mitigating risk. We live it everyday and our clients benefit from that experience. Our clients get to pick the risk work they want resolved and the issues they want remediated. 

You will be hard pressed to find a more efficient and cost effective way to address risk issues and move the regulatory needle. Don’t bear the burden of mitigating risk alone, let MSI be a partner to help you solve your risk needs!”

—Dave Rose

For more information, give us a call at 614-351-1237 or email us at info@microsolved.com. 

ClawBack Insights :: A Conversation with MicroSolved, CEO, Brent Huston

I recently got interviewed over email by one of my mentees. I thought their questions were pretty interesting and worth sharing with the community. This session focused on ClawBack™ and was done for a college media class assignment. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did giving it. 

Q: What is ClawBack?

ClawBack is a platform for helping organizations detect data leaks. It’s a cloud-based engine focused on three specific kinds of leaked data – source code, device and application configurations and credentials. It systematizes many of the manual efforts which mature organizations had been doing either partially, or in an ad hoc fashion, and makes them ongoing, dependable and available to organizations of any size and technical capability.

The engine lets the customer pick monitoring terms, and yes, we have a very nice guide available in the online help to guide them. Once the terms are chosen, the engine goes to work and begins to scour the sites most commonly associated with these types of leaks. At first, it does historical searches to catch the client up to the moment, and then, periodically, it provides ongoing searching for signs of leaked data.

Once a leaked dataset is found, the user is alerted and can view the findings in the web portal. They can take immediate action from the takedown advice we provide in online help, or they can choose to archive the alert or mark it as a false positive to be ignored in the future. Email alerts, team accounts and alert exports for SEIM/SOAR integration are also available to customers at the advanced levels.

Basically, ClawBack is a tool to help developers find code that accidentally slipped to the Internet, network admins and security teams find configurations and credentials that have escaped into the wild. We wanted to make this easy, and raise the maturity level of data leak detection for all organizations. We think we hit the mark with ClawBack, and we hope you do too.

Q: Why did your team create ClawBack and why now?

This is a great question! For many years now, we have been working a variety of security incidents that all tie back to attackers exploiting leaked data. They routinely comb the Internet looking in these common repositories and posting locations for code, configs and credentials. Once they find them, they are pretty quick to take advantage.

Take for example, a leaked device configuration from a router. The global paste bins, code repositories and forums are full of these kinds of leaks. In many cases, these leaked files contain not just the insights the attacker can gain from the configuration, but often, logins and passwords that they can use to compromise the device. Many also give up cryptographic secrets, network management credentials and other significantly dangerous information. The attackers just harvest it, use it and then spread into other parts of the network – stealing as they go.

At MSI, we just got tired of seeing organizations compromised the same way, over and over again. Time after time, the clients would say they had no idea the data had been exposed. Some had ad hoc processes they ran to search for them, and others had tools that just weren’t getting the job done. We knew we had to make something that could help everyone solve this problem and it had to be easy to use, flexible and affordable. Nothing like that was on the market, so we built it instead.

Q: How does ClawBack address the issues of leaked critical data?

As you read above, we wanted to focus on the things that hurt the most – leaked code, configs and credentials. These three types of leaks are at the core of more than 90% of the leak-related incidents we’ve worked over the last several years. We didn’t try to solve every problem with this new tool – or make it a swiss army knife. We focused only on those 3 kinds of leaks.

Today, ClawBack monitors the most common sites where these leaks often occur. It monitors many of the global pastebins associated with leaks, forums and support sites where folks often accidentally expose data while getting or giving help and work repositories where many of these items often end up from inadvertent user errors or via misconfigured tools.

ClawBack provides the dependable process and ongoing vigilance that the most mature firms have access to – and it brings that capability to everyone for less than a fancy cup of coffee a day.

Q: How is it different than DLP solutions?

For starters, there’s no hardware, software or agents to deploy and manage. The cloud-based platform is so simple to use that most customers are up and monitoring in less than 5 minutes. You simply register, select your subscription, input monitoring terms and ClawBack is off and running. It’s literally that easy!

Now, DLP is a great tool. When it’s properly configured and managed, it’s very capable. Most of our ClawBack clients have DLP solutions of some sort in place. The problem is, most of these data leaks occur in ways that render the DLP unable to assist. In most cases, the data leaks in the incidents we have worked have occurred outside of the corporate network that the DLP is monitoring. When we traced back the root of the incident, most of them came from workers who were not using the corporate network when they made their grave mistake.

Additionally, of those that did use the corporate network, often the DLP was either misconfigured, the alert was missed or the transaction was protected by cryptography that circumvented the DLP solution. A few of the incidents came from users who routinely handle code and configuration files, so the anomaly-based DLP tools assumed the leak was normal, usual traffic.

Sadly, the last group of incidents that had DLP in place went undetected, simply because the DLP solution was configured to meet some regulatory baseline like HIPAA, PCI or the like and was only searching for leaked PII that matched those specific kinds of patterns. In those cases, source code, configurations and even dumped credentials were far outside of the protection provided by the DLP.

ClawBack takes a different approach. It lets users know when this type of data turns up and lets them respond. It’s easy, plain language monitoring term management makes it trivial to define proper terms to tackle the 3 critical types of leaks. We provide a very detailed set of suggested terms for customers in our online help, which most folks master in moments.

Q: If an organization doesn’t have any in-house development or code, what can ClawBack do for them? Same question for organizations that outsource their device management – how can they get help from ClawBack?

Organizations that don’t do any development or have any source code are few and far between, but they still gain immense capability from ClawBack. Nearly every organization has device and application configurations and credentials that they need to monitor for exposure. Even if you outsource network management, you should still use ClawBack as a sanity check to watch for data leaks. We’ve seen significant numbers of leak-related security breaches from networks managed by third parties.

Requesting the key device configurations from your vendor and inputting identifying data into ClawBack is easy and makes sure that those configurations don’t end up somewhere they shouldn’t – causing you pain. Identifying unique account names and such, and using those as ClawBack monitoring terms can give you early warning when attackers dump credentials, hashes or other secrets that could cause you harm. Being able to change those passwords, kill accounts, increase monitoring and claw back those files through takedown efforts can mean the difference between a simple security incident and a complete data breach with full legal, regulatory and reputational impacts.

Q: Several people have said you are leaving money on the table with your pricing model – why is the pricing so affordable?

The main reason that the product costs under $200 per month at the highest level, currently, is that I wanted not-for-profit firms to be able to afford to protect themselves. Credit unions, charities, co-op utilities and the like have been huge supporters of MicroSolved for the last 30 years, and I wanted to build a solution that didn’t leave them out – simply because they have limited funds. Sure, we could charge larger fees and only target the Fortune 500 or the like, and make a lot of money doing it. The problem is, the security incidents we built this to help eliminate happen to small, mid-size and less than Fortune 500 companies too and there are a LOT MORE of those firms than 500. They need help, and they need to be able to afford the help they require.

Secondly, we were able to get to such an affordable price point by really focusing on the specific problem. We didn’t build a bunch of unneeded features or spend years coding capabilities to address other security problems. ClawBack detects leaks of critical data. That’s it. It provides basic alerting and reporting. We based the monitoring technology off our existing machine learning platform and re-used much of the know how we have developing past products and services like TigerTrax™ and SilentTiger™. What saves us money and resources, saves our clients money and resources.

Lastly, at MSI, we believe in making more value than we harvest. We want to provide significant levels of value to our clients that way over scales what they pay for it. We can do that using technology, our expertise and by building solutions that focus on significant problems that many feel are untenable. We’ve been doing it for almost 30 years now, so we must be getting something right…

Q: What’s next for ClawBack? Is there a road map?

We are talking about adding some forms of risk determination to the findings. We are currently in discussion with clients and experts about how best to do that and communicate it. We are discussing using some additional machine learning techniques that we developed for our social media monitoring and threat intelligence platforms. That’s the next step for us, that we can see.

We’re also looking at user feedback and curating what folks are asking about and thinking about when using the product. That feedback is being ranked and added to the road map as we create it. We’ve got some ideas of where we want to go with ClawBack, but honestly, the tool addresses the problem we built it to help with. That’s the core mission, and anything outside of that is likely to fall out of the mix.

Q: You have a history of designing interesting products – what is on the horizon or what are you playing with in the lab these days?

I wish I could tell you about the things we are playing with, because it is fascinating. We are exploring a lot of new capabilities in TigerTrax with different machine learning models and predictive techniques. We’re working on updates to HoneyPoint™ and SilentTiger that will bring some very cool new features to those capabilities.

We’re also continuing to gather, analyze and deliver specific types of threat intelligence and data analytics of hostile data sets. We’re studying adversarial use of machine learning techniques, attacks against different AI, IoT and cloud platforms and we’re diving deep into cyber-economics and other factors related to breaches. I’m also working on a pretty interesting project with some of my mentees, where we are studying the evolution, use and capability growth of various phishing kits in use today. The mentees are learning a lot and I’m getting to apply significant amounts of machine learning techniques to new data and in new ways that I haven’t explored before. All in all, pretty cool stuff!

I’ll let you know what we come up with. Thanks for interviewing me, and thanks to the readers for checking this out. Give me a shout out on Twitter – @lbhuston and let me know if you have questions or feedback on ClawBack. I’d love to hear your thoughts!