Interview on MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments

Recently, Brent Huston, our CEO and Security Evangelist, was interviewed about MachineTruth™ Global Configuration Assessments and the platform in general. Here is part of that interview:

Q1: Could you explain what MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments are and their importance in cybersecurity?

Brent: MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments are part of a broader approach to enhancing cybersecurity through in-depth analysis and management of network configurations. They involve the passive, zero-deployment offline analysis of configuration files to model logical network architectures, changes, segmentation options, and trust/authentication patterns and provide hardening guidance. This process is crucial for identifying vulnerabilities within a network’s configuration that could be exploited by cyber threats, thus playing a pivotal role in strengthening an organization’s overall security posture.

Q2: How does the MachineTruth approach differ from traditional network security assessments?

Brent: MachineTruth takes a unique approach by focusing on passive analysis, meaning it doesn’t interfere with the network’s normal operations or pose additional risks during the assessment. Unlike traditional assessments that may require active scanning and potentially disrupt network activities, MachineTruth leverages existing configuration files and network data, minimizing operational disruptions. This methodology allows for a comprehensive understanding of the network’s current state without introducing the potential for network issues during the assessment process.

It also allows us to perform holistic assessments and mitigations across networks that can be as large as global in scale. You can ensure that standards, vulnerability mitigations, and misconfiguration issues are managed on every relevant device and application across the network, cloud infrastructure, and other exposures simultaneously. Since you get back reporting that includes root cause analysis, your executive and management team can use that data to fund projects, purchase tools, or increase vigilance. The technical details have identified issues and detailed mitigations for every single issue, allowing you to rapidly prioritize, distribute, and mitigate any shortcomings in the environment. Overall, clients find it a uniquely powerful tool to harden their security posture, regardless of the size and complexity of their network architectures.

Q3: In what way do Global Configuration Assessments contribute to an organization’s risk management efforts?

Brent: Global Configuration Assessments contribute significantly to risk management by providing detailed insights into the network’s configuration and architecture. This information enables organizations to identify misconfigurations, unnecessary services, and other vulnerabilities that could be leveraged by attackers. By addressing these issues, organizations can reduce their attack surface and mitigate risks associated with cyber threats, enhancing their overall risk management strategy.

Q4: Can MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments be integrated into an existing security framework or compliance requirements?

Brent: MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments can seamlessly integrate into security frameworks and compliance requirements such as ISO 27001, PCI DSS, NERC CIP, HIPAA, CIS CSC, etc. The insights and recommendations derived from these assessments can support compliance with various standards and regulations by ensuring that network configurations align with best practices for data protection and cybersecurity. This integration not only helps organizations maintain compliance but also strengthens their security measures in alignment with industry standards.

Q5: What is the future direction for MachineTruth in the evolving cybersecurity landscape?

Brent: The future direction for MachineTruth in the cybersecurity landscape involves continuous innovation and adaptation to address emerging threats and technological advancements. As networks become more complex and cyber threats more sophisticated, MachineTruth will evolve to offer more advanced analytics, AI-driven insights, and integration with cutting-edge security technologies. This ongoing development will ensure that MachineTruth remains at the forefront of cybersecurity, providing organizations with the tools they need to protect their networks in an ever-changing digital environment. MachineTruth has been in constant development and leveraged to perform security services for more than six years to date, and we feel confident that we are just getting started!

To learn more about MachineTruth, configuration assessments or the various compliance capabilities of MSI, just drop us a line to We look forward to working with you!

Securing Patient Data: The Essential Role of Firewall and Router Reviews in HIPAA Compliance

Firewall and router configuration reviews are pivotal in maintaining HIPAA compliance, safeguarding sensitive healthcare information from unauthorized access and potential cyber threats. Regular assessments of network infrastructure help organizations identify vulnerabilities, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patient data. In this realm, leveraging advanced solutions like MachineTruth™ Global Configuration Assessment can significantly streamline and enhance this process.







MachineTruth, developed by MSI, employs proprietary analytics and machine learning to review device and application configurations on a global scale. It compares device configurations against industry-standard best practices, known vulnerabilities, and common misconfigurations, allowing for a comprehensive assessment of an organization’s network security posture. This methodology ensures not just the identification of potential security gaps but also promotes control homogeneity across the enterprise, a critical factor in adhering to HIPAA’s stringent requirements.

The process begins with the collection of textual configurations from relevant devices, which can be facilitated by MSI’s secure file transfer methods. Utilizing tools and the assistance of partners can make this step a breeze, eliminating the complexities often associated with gathering and preparing data for analysis. The configurations then undergo rigorous analysis via the MachineTruth platform, alongside manual reviews by security engineers. This dual-layered approach ensures a thorough assessment, highlighting significant issues or evidence of compromise. The outcome is a detailed report comprising executive summaries, technical findings, and actionable mitigation strategies for identified vulnerabilities and configuration findings.

For healthcare organizations, incorporating MachineTruth into their security assessment protocols not only aids in HIPAA compliance but also significantly enhances their overall security posture. By identifying and mitigating risks proactively, these entities can safeguard patient privacy more effectively while avoiding the severe penalties associated with non-compliance.

In conclusion, firewall and router configuration reviews are indispensable for HIPAA compliance. Incorporating MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessment into these reviews can offer organizations a comprehensive, scalable solution to enhance their security measures. For those interested in leveraging this cutting-edge technology to fortify their network security and ensure compliance, reaching out to MSI at is the next step. Engage with MSI today and ensure your organization’s network infrastructure is not only compliant with HIPAA regulations but is also secure against evolving cyber threats.


* AI tools were used in the research and creation of this content.

Is Your Organization Following Best Practices for Vendor Risk Management?

One of the very hottest topics in information security recently has been supply chain risk. For the purposes of this paper, I will be discussing a particular type of supply chain risk: cyber supply chain risk. Cyber supply chain risk is defined as a lack of visibility into, understanding of, and control over many of the processes and decisions involved in the development and delivery of cyber products and services. The way to address this risk is through the proper implementation of vendor and third-party service provider risk management.

The most comprehensive and current guidance on this subject can be found in the NIST special publication 800-161r1, Cybersecurity Supply Chain Risk Management Practices for Systems and Organizations (C-SCRM). In this latest update, NIST has implemented their guidance in accordance with Executive Order 14028, Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity, resulting in a massive body of guidance that is 315 pages long. Employing this guidance relies on users to examine their own systems and organizations minutely, and to custom-tailor the application of controls to fit their particular needs. This guidance is being constantly updated and users are urged to visit the NIST website to obtain the latest guidance for constructing their supply chain security program.

In the family supply chain risk management, 800-161r1 currently contains 13 sections of supplemental guidance for use in implementing a supply chain risk management program. I will outline vendor risk management strategies below, but I urge you to go through 800-161r1 yourself to get the full picture of supply chain risk management.

  • Inventory of service providers.
    • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all service providers, categorizing them based on the level of access to sensitive data and the criticality of the services provided.
    • Assess the financial stability of vendors to ensure long-term viability and performance stability.
  • Due Diligence and risk assessment.
    • Perform initial and periodic risk assessments of service providers, documenting their ability to meet security and performance requirements.
    • Manage vendor concentration risk to prevent over-reliance on a single provider for critical services.
  • Contract management.
    • All contracts with service providers should include explicit security requirements, data protection clauses, and the right to audit compliance with the contract terms.
    • Contracts should address the responsibilities for both parties in the case of a breach or data protection incident.
  • Oversight and monitoring.
    • Regularly monitor service providers to ensure compliance with security requirements and contractual obligations.
    • Establish a process for reviewing service provider controls and performance, including the right to conduct audits or request third-party certifications of compliance.
  • Contingency planning.
    • Require service providers to have adequate business continuity and disaster recovery plans that align with the organization’s own resilience strategies.
  • Consumer protection and data privacy.
    • Require service providers to have adequate business continuity and disaster recovery plans that align with the organization’s own resilience strategies.
  • Compliance with laws and regulations.
    • Service providers must comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
  • Third-party relationship management.
    • Define clear roles and responsibilities for managing third-party relationships, including the process for ongoing due diligence and risk assessment.
  • Vendor offboarding.
    • Develop secure and documented processes for vendor offboarding, ensuring the safe return or certified destruction of organizational data, and revocation of system access upon termination of services.
    • Performance metrics and continuous improvement processes should be established to measure the effectiveness of the vendor risk management program.

Undertaking these steps will help ensure that your organization is handling supply chain risk management competently.

ISO/IEC 27001 Firewall Review Compliance With MachineTruth

Enhancing Information Security with MachineTruth™ Global Configuration Assessment

In the landscape of information security, ISO/IEC 27001 compliance is a cornerstone for safeguarding an organization’s digital assets. A critical aspect of adhering to these standards is the meticulous review of firewall configurations. The introduction of MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessment revolutionizes this vital process through a technologically advanced solution.



Understanding the Importance of Firewall Configuration Reviews

To align with ISO/IEC 27001, it’s essential for organizations to implement a robust process for reviewing and approving firewall configurations. MachineTruth enhances this process by employing proprietary analytics and machine learning algorithms to analyze device and application configurations globally, ensuring they meet industry standards while identifying potential vulnerabilities.

Features of MachineTruth Methodology

MachineTruth offers a systematic approach that includes:
– Gathering and analyzing configurations across devices and applications.
– Validating configurations against best practices and known vulnerabilities.
– Maintaining a comprehensive audit trail for accountability and compliance.
– Ensuring regular reviews and updates to stay in line with security policies.

This approach not only streamlines the review process but also significantly enhances an organization’s security posture through data-driven insights and recommendations.

Benefits of Integrating MachineTruth

MachineTruth provides detailed reports and suggested changes by security experts, enabling organizations to:
– Effectively address and remediate identified vulnerabilities.
– Stay updated with the latest firewall technology developments and threats.
– Enhance their information security framework with evidence-based strategies.

Getting Started with MachineTruth

To leverage the full potential of MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessment in your firewall configuration review process, consider the following steps:
1. Contact MSI at for an initial consultation.
2. Discuss your organization’s specific needs and requirements to tailor the assessment.
3. Integrate MachineTruth into your security processes with support from our experts.

Embracing MachineTruth not only optimizes the configuration review process but also empowers your organization with cutting-edge security enhancements. Start your journey towards robust information security by reaching out to us today.


* AI tools were used in the research and creation of this content.

Meeting PCI-DSS 1.1.7 with MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments

Explanation of PCI-DSS requirement 1.1.7

The process for reviewing firewall, router, and network device configurations and rule sets every six months involves several steps to ensure compliance with PCI DSS Requirement 1.1.7 and maintain network security controls and router configuration standards.

Organizations can effectively conduct these reviews by utilizing services such as MachineTruth™ Global Configuration Assessments to analyze the configuration settings of firewalls, switches, routers, applications, and other network devices. By conducting regular audits and involving key personnel from the IT and security teams in the review of the results, organizations can ensure that their network device configurations and rule sets comply with PCI DSS Requirement 1.1.7 and maintain strong network security controls.


Conequences for failing to meet PCI-DSS 1.1.7

Compliance with PCI-DSS is crucial for maintaining the security and integrity of sensitive payment card information. Failing to meet the requirements of PCI-DSS can have significant implications for a company, including legal and financial consequences.

One specific requirement of PCI-DSS is 1.1.7, which addresses the need to test security systems and processes regularly. Failing to comply with this specific requirement can result in severe penalties, including hefty fines and potential legal action. Companies may also face damage to their reputation and loss of customer trust. In some cases, non-compliance with PCI-DSS requirements may lead to the inability to process payment card transactions, causing significant operational disruptions. Ultimately, the consequences of failing to meet PCI-DSS 1.1.7 can have far-reaching impacts on a company’s bottom line and long-term viability. Therefore, businesses must prioritize and invest in maintaining compliance with PCI-DSS to avoid these detrimental consequences.

Importance of securing inbound traffic

Securing inbound traffic is critical for maintaining the cardholder data environment’s security and integrity, as PCI DSS Requirement 1.2.1 mandates. Organizations can effectively prevent unauthorized access and potential security breaches by limiting inbound and outbound traffic to only what is necessary for the cardholder data environment. Traffic restrictions are crucial in controlling and monitoring data flow into the network, ensuring that only authorized and necessary sources and protocols are allowed entry. This helps to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and potential security breaches, as any unnecessary or unauthorized traffic is blocked from entering the network. By implementing and enforcing these traffic restrictions, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of data breaches and maintain compliance with PCI DSS standards. Therefore, organizations must prioritize and effectively secure their inbound traffic to safeguard their cardholder data environment.

Importance of securing outbound traffic

Securing outbound traffic is paramount for protecting an organization’s sensitive information and preventing potential risks such as data breaches, exposure to malware, and unauthorized access to critical data. Unsecured outbound traffic can lead to data leaks, theft of intellectual property, and compromise of confidential information, causing significant financial and reputational damage to the organization.

Implementing egress filtering, encryption, data loss prevention, and threat detection measures can help mitigate and/or minimize these risks. Egress filtering is the single most powerful tool in preventing data exfiltration. By implementing best practices around all network traffic leaving the network or segments, most data exfiltration can be disrupted. Encryption ensures that data transmitted outside the organization’s network is securely ciphered, preventing unauthorized access and data breaches. Data loss prevention tools enable organizations to monitor and control the transfer of sensitive data, thereby reducing the risk of data leaks and unauthorized access. In addition, threat detection methods allow real-time visibility into outbound traffic, enabling prompt detection and response to unauthorized or malicious activities.

By securing outbound traffic through these measures, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of data breaches, exposure to malware, and unauthorized access to sensitive information, thus safeguarding their critical assets and maintaining the trust of the card brands and customers.

Description of MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessment capabilities

This assessment leverages MicroSolved’s proprietary analytics and machine learning platform, MachineTruth, to review device and application configurations in mass at a global scale. The assessment compares device configurations against industry standard best practices, known vulnerabilities, and common misconfigurations. It also allows organizations to ensure control homogeny across the enterprise, regardless of using different vendors, products, and versions.

Adopted security standards and security policies can be used as a baseline, and configurations can be compared holistically and globally against these universal security settings. Compensating controls can be identified and cataloged as a part of the assessment if desired.

Various analytics can also be performed as a part of the review, including trusted host hierarchies, reputational analysis of various sources for configured rules and access control lists, flagging of insecure services, identification of deprecated firmware, log management settings, protocols, encryption mechanisms, etc. MachineTruth can hunt down, flag, and provide specific mitigation and configuration advice to ensure these issues are fixed across the enterprise, architectures, and various vendor products.

If needed, the MachineTruth platform can verify network segmentation and serve as proof of these implementations to reduce the compliance scope to a subset of the network and data flows.

How MachineTruth helps organizations meet PCI requirements

MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessments help organizations simplify the process of meeting PCI-DSS 1.1.7 and other relevant regulatory requirements. By working across vendor platforms, and reviewing up to several thousand device configurations simultaneously, even the most complex networks can be reviewed holistically and quickly. Work that would have taken several man-years to perform with traditional methods can be accomplished quickly and with a minimum of resources.

Multi-level reporting also provides for an easy, prioritized path to mitigation of the assessments, and if you need assistance, MicroSolved’s extensive partner network stands ready to help you make the changes across the planet. The output of the assessment includes technical details with mitigations for each finding, a technical manager report with root causes, and suggestions for improvement across the enterprise, as well as an executive summary report that is designed to help upper-level management, boards of directors, auditors, and even business partners performing due diligence, understand the assessment outcome and the state of security throughout the organization’s networks. The reporting is excellent for establishing the true state of network compliance, even on a global scale.

This not only allows organizations to easily and rapidly meet PCI-DSS 1.1.7, but also allows them to quickly harden their networks and increase their security posture at a rate that was nearly impossible in the past. Leveraging the power of AI, machine learning, and analytics, even the most complex organizations can make solving this compliance problem easy.

How to Engage with MicroSolved, Inc.

To learn more about a MachineTruth Global Configuration Assessment or the 30+ years of security expertise of MicroSolved, Inc., just drop us a line at You can also reach us at +1.614.351.1237. Our team of experts will be more than happy to walk through how the platform works and discuss the workflow and costs involved with this unique option for meeting PCI requirements and other relevant regulatory guidance. While MicroSolved is a small firm with more than 30 years in business, some clients prefer to work through our larger partners who are likely already on established vendor lists. This is also possible, and the protocols and contractual arrangements are already in place with a number of globally recognized professional services firms. Whether you choose to work with MicroSolved directly, or through our partner network, you will receive the same excellent service, leading-edge insights and benefit from our proprietary MachineTruth platform.

Ransomware-Proof Your Credit Union: A Checklist of NCUA Guidance

In today’s digital landscape, credit unions face numerous cybersecurity threats, including the rising risk of ransomware attacks and vulnerabilities in their information and communications technology supply chain. To help credit unions protect themselves against these risks, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has compiled an FAQ. This checklist covers the essential steps to safeguard against ransomware attacks, additional resources for cybersecurity, understanding supply chain risk management, developing effective practices, mitigating risks associated with using a Managed Service Provider (MSP), and other insights based on their FAQ. By following this checklist, credit unions can enhance their overall security posture and minimize the potential impact of cyber threats.

1. Protect against ransomware attacks:
– Update software and operating systems regularly with the latest patches.
– Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails.
– Follow safe browsing practices.
– Replace equipment running older unsupported operating systems.
– Verify the security practices of vendors and third-party service providers.
– Maintain complete and tested backups of critical systems and data.

2. Additional resources for cybersecurity:
– Use the Ransomware Self-Assessment Tool (R-SAT) from the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.
– Read the Center for Internet Security white paper on ransomware.
– Visit the cybersecurity pages of the National Security Agency Central Security Service and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. (CISA)
– Refer to the Treasury Department’s advisory on potential sanctions risks for facilitating ransomware payments.

3. Understand Technology Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM):
– Recognize that technology supply chain vulnerabilities can pose risks to the entire institution.
– Consider the risks associated with third-party vendors and the entire technology supply chain.
– Identify vulnerabilities in all phases of the product life cycle.

4. Develop an effective Technology Supply Chain Risk Management Practice:
– Build a team with representatives from various roles and functions.
– Document policies and procedures based on industry standards and best practices.
– Create a list of technology components and understand their criticality and remote access capability.
– Identify suppliers and verify their security practices.
– Assess and evaluate the SCRM program regularly.

5. Risks associated with using a Managed Service Provider (MSP):
– APT actors actively attempt to infiltrate IT service provider networks.
– Conduct proper due diligence and ongoing monitoring of MSPs.
– Understand the risks of centralizing information with an MSP.
– Recognize that compromises in an MSP’s network can have cascading effects.

6. Mitigate the risk of using an MSP:
– Manage supply chain risk by working with the MSP to address security concerns.
– Implement architecture measures to restrict access and protect networks.
– Use dedicated VPNs for MSP connections and restrict VPN traffic.
– Ensure proper authentication, authorization, and accounting practices.
– Implement operational controls, such as continuous monitoring and software updates.

7. Additional references for Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain Risk Management:
– Refer to guidance from the NCUA, NIST, and CISA.
– Evaluate third-party relationships and outsourcing technology services.
– Learn about supply chain threats and cyber supply chain risk management.

Note: This checklist is a summary of the information provided. For more detailed guidance, refer to the full content on the NCUA website.


* We used some AI tools to gather the information for this article.

Is Your Organization Following Best Practices for Resisting Ransomware Attacks?

Every week I see more news about organizations that have fallen prey to ransomware attacks. It just illustrates the fact the ransomware is a lucrative tool for cybercriminals and is therefore going to be plaguing us for the foreseeable future. To be proactive in protecting your organization from this threat, you should ensure that you are following the latest best practices guidance available. So, in this paper I’m going to summarize the best practices recommendations found in the #StopRansomware Guide published by the CISA.

Ensure you have complete knowledge of all of your IT assets, and that you manage them securely.

  • You should maintain comprehensive inventories of all hardware, software, firmware, operating systems and data on your systems.
  • You should know where all of these IT assets are located at all times, including data.
  • You should know the relative value of these assets to your organization and protect them accordingly. This means conducting business impact analyses.
  • You should map trust relationships among systems, and you should also map how data flows into and out of these systems. These maps and diagrams should be comprehensive in scope, well protected and stored in multiple locations and forms.

Ensure that the principle of least privilege is strictly applied across your organization. This means that all users should have access to only those IT assets that are necessary to perform their job functions. Those with high-level access to systems such as system administrators should employ very strong access controls and should be highly monitored.

If you use virtual systems, you should ensure that all hypervisors and associated IT infrastructure, including network and storage components, are updated and hardened to the latest best practices recommendations.

Ensure security settings are enabled and applied in cloud environments. Ensure you understand which security responsibilities are yours and which security responsibilities belong to the service provider.

Ensure you have a firm grip on remote access and remote monitoring and management software used on your systems. These mechanisms must be highly monitored and restricted. Ensure secure configuration of these mechanisms is maintained.

Ensure that your network is properly segmented. Separation should be maintained between operational technology and IT. Business units and IT assets should be placed in network segments according to business need.

Ensure that the usage of PowerShell is restricted to specific users on a case-by-case basis by using Group Policy. Typically, only users or administrators who manage a network or Windows OS are permitted to use PowerShell.

Ensure that domain controllers are properly secured to help prevent the spread of ransomware network wide. Ensure that domain controllers receive prompt security maintenance and are include in vulnerability and penetration testing. Harden controllers to only include a minimum of software or agents needed for business purposes.

Ensure that logging from network devices, local hosts and cloud services is verbose, and that these logs are securely stored.

Establish a security baseline of normal network traffic and tune network appliances to detect anomalous behavior.

Ensure that you are conducting security testing, such as vulnerability and penetration studies, of networks and software applications.

Enable tracking prevention to limit the vectors that ad networks and trackers can use to track user information.

Enable website typo protection to limit the possibility of logging onto spoofed websites or other potentially malicious links that could compromise a browser.

Enable browser-based anti-virus for active scanning while browsing as an added layer of defense.

Block website notifications by default to limit a website’s ability to track user data that can be exploited.

Employing all of these best practices recommendations, and monitoring security and government websites for additions and updates to these best practices, will help your organization prevent ransomware attacks, and will also help you deal with them effectively if they occur.

Never Become Complacent About the Effectiveness of Security Controls

This is a new world since I first began in the information security business. In the early 1980s, information security had little to do with the vulnerability of the computers themselves – this is before personal computers, Windows-type operating systems and the Internet. Mainframes were a tough nut to crack, and the possibility of compromise was pretty much an internal threat. What information security focused on then was signals and physical security. How to keep your information from being lifted from hard wires, documents and radio signals? The answer was cryptographic techniques and security policies actually developed during WWII and the Cold War. These same methods were then, unfortunately, applied to networked computer systems constructed from personal computer technology and operating systems, across a different medium than those used before: the Internet protocols. This is a recipe for information security disaster! Functionality, not security, was the overwhelming focus of these original protocols and operating systems, and applying security methods after the fact was like applying a Band-Aid to a torn artery.

When hacking and later cyber-crime problems first started appearing in the mid-90s, the business world and the general public didn’t take the problem too seriously at all. Having to use passwords and other simple security measures was viewed as a pain in the keester by almost all of us at that time. But little by little, privacy and security breaches started getting more and more serious and damaging; people began to pay more attention to cybercrime and businesses began to become a little more open to increasing their information security budgets. Network perimeter security controls became stronger, and we started paying more attention to internal security controls. But by this time cybercrime was firmly in the hands of professional, financially and politically motivated cybercriminals. This highly motivated group started finding new and novel ways to overcome or circumvent information security controls, applications and services. Every time new and more restrictive security methods were put in place, some new attack method to overcome the latest and greatest soon followed. This, alas, is where we stand today.

The fight continues, and the good guys are making great strides, both in security methods and in public and business willingness to participate in information security. The CIS Critical Security Controls and all the new AI-driven security applications are examples of this willingness. But I have noticed something disturbing happening here of late. The security measures being employed by businesses are getting so good, that people are starting to trust in their effectiveness too much; complacency is rearing its ugly head! And since the very idea of security began thousands of years ago, complacency has proved itself to be a fatal error. No matter what, you can count on security controls to be overcome one way or another. So far, this has never failed to occur in the history of mankind.

It therefore behooves all of us, especially those of us tasked with the privacy and security of information, to be constantly vigilant and even more forward thinking than the attackers that would steel our information and privacy. It must constantly be kept in mind that the attacker always has an advantage over the defender: the defender must get it right every single time, the attacker only must get it right once.

Communications Control Vital During Incident Response

From the time an information security incident is first suspected at your organization until the end of the last “lessons learned” meeting, good communications are absolutely vital. Communications must rapidly and surely reach all interested parties in the proper order, but at the same time, they must be secure, authorized and only available to those with an immediate need to know. If your organization does not have a well thought out and practiced IR communications plan in place, you will not be able to reach these goals. And that could cost your organization both reputational damage and funds.

To build an IR communications plan, you need to consider all the various individuals and groups that are potentially going to play a part in the incident response. For example, all employees need to know how and who to communicate with if they notice a security problem. Help desk, supervisory and IT personnel also need to know how and who to communicate with if a security problem comes to their attention. And especially, IR team members need to know how, when and who to communicate with, not only among themselves and other members of the organization, but also with outside parties such as law enforcement, regulators and the media.

But the “who,” is only one step in the process. The other steps are the “what,” “how” and “when” to communicate parts of the puzzle. These tasks are easy on an individual basis, but quickly become complex. IR team members should meet and discuss these issues and make sure to document their decisions on how to handle them. Fortunately, the team will not have come up with all of this on their own. There is plenty of advice available on the Internet from private and government organizations that is available to all. I also recommend contacting similar organizations and user groups to see what advice they can give you from their own experiences with handling communications during an incident.

Here is some advice on IR communications that has proven beneficial to the organizations that we have worked with in the past:

  • Some one person (usually the head of the IR team) should be in charge of communications during an incident response. This individual should be aware of and approve all important communications during the incident response.
  • Ensure that there are multiple means of communication available. Phones, email, Slack channels, web-based communications, etc. can all be utilized.
  • Ensure that all communications are secure and only available to their intended audience. A lack of proper secrecy during an incident response can be disastrous.
  • Create communications templates of all kinds for use during the incident response, such as communications to be released to the media, to employees, to customers, to service providers, to regulators, etc. Having such templates saves a lot of time and effort among personnel whose attention could be better directed elsewhere. It can also help ensure that mistakes are not made on what is being communicated.
  • Practice how communications will be handled during incident response exercises such as table tops. These exercises expose many gaps in IR communications techniques that you don’t want to discover during an actual incident.
  • Ensure that all individuals and groups that may be involved in an incident response are made aware of how and who to communicate with during an incident. Documented communications policies and procedures should be included in information security training, policy documents, service agreements, contracts, etc.

Decoding the Digital Dilemma: Is a vCISO the Right Move for Your Business?

In today’s fast-paced digital environment, ensuring robust cybersecurity is crucial for every business. A virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) may be the strategic addition your company needs. Let’s delve into why a vCISO could be a vital component in strengthening your business’s cyber defenses.

  1. Responding to Increasing Cyber Threats: If your business is witnessing an increase in cyber attacks, both in frequency and complexity, it’s a clear sign that the strategic insight of a vCISO is needed. They bring the necessary expertise to enhance your cybersecurity measures.
  2. Filling the Cybersecurity Expertise Gap: For businesses lacking in-house cybersecurity skills, a vCISO acts as an expert ally. They provide essential knowledge and guidance to strengthen your cyber defenses.
  3. Meeting Compliance and Regulatory Demands: Adhering to industry compliance standards and regulations is critical. A vCISO ensures that your business not only meets these requirements but does so efficiently, avoiding potential legal and financial repercussions.
  4. Economical Cybersecurity Leadership and Flexible Budgeting: If hiring a full-time CISO is not financially viable, a vCISO is a cost-effective solution. They offer top-level cybersecurity leadership and support tailored to your budget. This scalable model means you get expert cybersecurity services without the financial burden of a permanent executive role.
  5. Foundational Cybersecurity Development: A vCISO is key in establishing a solid cybersecurity framework. They are adept at creating policies and strategies customized to your organization’s specific needs, ensuring a robust cybersecurity infrastructure.
  6. Enhancing IT Team Capabilities: A vCISO brings strategic direction to your IT team, providing leadership, training, and mentorship. This enhances their capabilities in managing cyber threats and aligns their efforts with broader business objectives.
  7. Expertise for Specialized Requirements: In scenarios like mergers and acquisitions, a vCISO with specialized experience is invaluable. They skillfully manage the integration of diverse cybersecurity processes, ensuring a unified and secure organizational framework.
  8. Expert Assistance in Cybersecurity Compliance: Our services extend to comprehensive cybersecurity compliance support. With expertise in various industry regulations, we ensure your business adheres to necessary standards, safeguarding against emerging threats and regulatory changes.
  9. MicroSolved vCISO Services – Customized for Your Business: MicroSolved’s vCISO services are designed for Small and Midsized Businesses (SMBs), providing expert cybersecurity guidance. Our team offers effective, cost-efficient solutions, eliminating the need for a full-time CISO.

Given the dynamic nature of cyber threats today, having a vCISO can be a strategic move for your business. To learn more about how MicroSolved’s vCISO services can enhance your cybersecurity posture, we invite you to contact us for a detailed consultation ( or by phone (614.351.1237).


* Just to let you know, we used AI tools to gather the information for this article.