Touchdown Task for August – Change Management Audit

This month, we urge all infosec teams to engage in a quick 30 minute audit of your change management processes.

Here are some quick win questions to ask of the change management team:

  • How often does the change management team meet & what is the time frame for turning around a change order?
  • What percentage of actual changes to the environment went through the change process in the last 12 months?
  • Where can we locate the documents that specifically describe the change management process and when were they last revised?
  • Please describe how exceptions to the change management process are handled.
  • How are changes to the environment audited against what was provided to the change management team?
  • What happens if a change is identified that did NOT go through the change management process?

There are plenty of online guidance sources for additional questions and audit processes, but these quick wins will get you started. As always, thanks for reading and keep working on your monthly touchdown tasks. Be sure to touch base with us on Twitter (@microsolved) should you have any questions about the work plans.

Touchdown Task for June: Document Cleanup

With the beginning of a new fiscal year on the immediate horizon for many, it reminds us that it’s time to clean up our books and our filing. And by that we mean both our digital and physical files! If you don’t already have a written document retention policy, one needs to be drafted. It should be tailored to your business needs and meet the requirements identified in local, state or federal laws and regulations that apply to your particular industry. 

As a part of your document retention plan, you will establish a document retention schedule of what to keep and for how long. Once you have this identified, it’s time to dive into the files, both paper and electronic, to see what should be properly destructed. 

It is critical that paper documents are either incinerated or shredded. Electronic files must be properly sanitized and purged. Purging can be accomplished a variety of secure erasing tools. A quick Google will turn up several free or low cost solutions. Clearing electronic data is often accomplished by overwriting existing data using software that incorporates a fixed sequence of characters. 
Whatever the processes are that you elect to perform, it is imperative that you stick to the schedule and destroy your documents per your written guidelines in your document retention policy.

Thanks to Teresa West for this post.

Touchdown Task for Feb: Table Top an Incident


This month, the touchdown task that we recommend is for you to scramble your incident response team and have a pizza lunch with them. Once you get them fed, role play a table top version of a security incident. Does everyone know what to do? Does everyone know who does what and how to report their findings?

Think of this as adult Dungeons and Dragons. Make a game of it. But, be sure to use it as a teaching moment. A bit of light hearted practice now will pay off big in the event of a real incident.

Give it a shot. Even if they hate the game, just about everyone loves pizza! 🙂

If you would like help with a more formal table top exercise, or want to have us validate it or run it for you, get in touch with your account executive. We can do these events live or over webex and clients seem to love the approach and the insights they get from them. 

As always, thanks for reading. Have a great month and stay safe out there! 

Touchdown Task for January: Audit Your News Feeds

This month, our suggested Touchdown Task is for the security team to do an “audit” of their news/RSS feeds and the other mechanisms by which you get advisories, patch and upgrade alerts, breakout information and details about emerging threats.

Since RSS feeds and account names and such can change, it’s a good idea to review these sources occasionally. Are the feeds you depend on timely and accurate? Have you added new technology to your organization since you last reviewed your advisory feeds? Maybe you might need to add a vendor or regulator feed.

Have a discussion with all of your team members and understand who monitors what. Make sure you have good cross communication, but aren’t struggling with a lot of duplicated efforts.

Once you get your news and threat feeds in order, trace how the information is shared and make sure it is getting to the system and network admins who might need it. Do you have the right people getting the right information? If not, adjust. 

Most teams can do this review in less than an hour. So focus, communicate and create a robust way to handle the flow of information.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there! 

Touchdown Task: Gear Up for Holiday Coverage

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Just a quick note to remind you that it’s a good time to check your coverage schedule for the holidays. With so many events and vacations, make sure you know who is available to cover important tasks and who can handle security incidents during this busy time.

Many incidents occur during the holiday period, so make sure you have a plan for handing them when you are rushed, short staffed and on the run.

We hope you have a safe and joyous holiday season. MicroSolved is here if you need us, so never hesitate to give us a call or drop us a line.

Touchdown Task for November- Network Segmentation Review

Whether it is budget preparation or annual project planning, the end of the year always leads us to think of the “big picture”. The touchdown task for this month is to review your network architecture maps and diagrams. First of all, make sure they are up-to-date. But secondly, look for indications that your network might be too flat. That is, do you have proper network segmentation between all of your information resources? Are your firewalls placed properly throughout your environment? 


A “flat” network architecture allows attackers who have gained a foothold on the internal (and sometimes even the external — you do have a layered DMZ, right?) network full visibility to internal systems and to move freely through workstation and server space. 


If you see some re-architecting that should be done, make note of it now. Depending on the complexity of the work, either schedule the re-architecture for a slow period at the end of this year or create a work plan for 2014. 

As always, thanks for reading and keep your eyes on the goal!

October Touchdown Task: Phone System Review

This month’s Touchdown Task is to take an hour and give your phone system security a quick review. PBX hacking, toll fraud and VoIP attacks remain fairly common and many organizations don’t often visit the security of their phone systems. Thus, a quick review might find some really interesting things and go a long way to avoiding waste, fraud and abuse.

If you have a traditional PBX/analog phone system, here are some ideas for you to check out.

If you have a VoIP-based system, here are some checks to consider. (Note that this is a STIG in a  zip file). 

Generally speaking, you want to check passwords on voice mail boxes, give a look over to make sure that the phone system has some general logging/alerting capability and that it is turned on. Pay attention to out going dialing rules and test a few to make sure arbitrary calls can’t be made remotely. On the personnel side, make sure someone is actively monitoring the phone system, auditing the bill against “normal” and adding/deleting entries in the system properly.

Give the phone system a bit of your time. You never know what you might learn, and you might avoid tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud and abuse.

Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying the season! 

September TouchDown Task: Policy Quick Review

This month’s touchdown task is to review your information security related policies and procedures. Whether you, your team, or human resources are responsible for updating and maintaining information security policies, we suggest you review these documents every quarter, or at least every six months to ensure your policies keep pace with legislation, pertinent guidance and ever-changing technology. Even if your organization utilizes a company wide revision process, we suggest you carve out a few hours this month to begin to review the infosec policies.

Start by reading all the policies related to information security. Note those that require significant updates.
Next, research changes in legislation or technology that might affect your policies. Note the pertinent changes.
Seek feedback from your colleagues and managers.
Using the information gained, revise the necessary policies or document your suggestions for the company-wide revision process.
Either obtain necessary approvals for your updates or provide your draft revisions to those responsible for maintaining updated policies and procedures.
Until next month, stay safe out there!

Special Thanks to Teresa West for the help on this one! — Brent

August Touchdown Task: Change Management Audit

This month’s touchdown task is to take a quick audit of your organization’s change management process. Give it a quick walkthrough.

  • Make sure that you are tracking when admins make changes to machine configurations or network device configs
  • Are proper peer review and approval processes being followed?
  • Check to make sure that the proper folks are in the loop for various kinds of communication, error handling and reporting
  • Review risk acceptance for changes and make sure it meets your expected processes
  • Examine a couple of changes and walk them through the entire process to see if things are falling through the cracks
  • Update any change management documentation to reflect new processes or technologies that may be in place now

Give this a quick review this month and you can rest assured for a while that change management is working strongly. With the coming fall and holiday rush ahead, you’ll know you have this base covered and can depend on it as a good foundation for the rest of your security initiatives. 

Until next time, as always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there! 

July’s Touchdown Task: Go Phish Yourself!

This month’s touchdown task is to spend about an hour doing some phishing. Phish your user base, executives and other likely targets. Use the process as a basis for ongoing awareness and security training.

Phishing is a LOT easier and more effective than you might think. We’ve made it easy for you to do, with a free tool called MSI SimplePhish. You can learn exactly how to do it by clicking here.

Pay special attention to this step:

PreCursor: Obtain permission from your security management to perform these activities and to do phishing testing. Make sure your management team supports this testing BEFORE you engage in it.

You might need a couple more ideas for some phishing templates, so here are a couple of the most simple examples from real phishing going on right now:

1. Simply send a non-sensical subject line and the entire body of the message is the phishing url. You might encode this to make it more fun using something like a URL shortener.

2. Copy one of those spam messages that go around where the target inherits 40 million dollars from an oil company exec in the Congo or somewhere. Check your spam folder for examples. Replace the URLs with your phish site URL and click send.

3.  Send a simple music trivia question, which is common knowledge, and tell them to click on the target URL to answer. Make it appear to be from a local radio station and if they answer correctly, they win a prize (movie tickets, concert tickets, etc.)

As a bonus, simply do what many testing vendors do ~ open your gmail spam folder and pick and choose any of the spam templates collected there. Lots to pick from. 

The exercise should be fun, easy and likely effective. If you need any help, drop us a line or give us a call. Until next month, stay safe out there!