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.

Ask The Security Experts: Holiday Coverage

This time around on Ask The Security Experts, we have a question about holiday coverage for the security team:

Q: “With the upcoming summer holidays and heavy vacation schedules, what are some things I need to pay attention to in order to make sure attackers don’t catch us off guard while we are short on staff?”

Jim Klun weighed in with:

1. Make sure all staff have been reminded of the reality of phishing attacks and what they need to watch out for.
   Use real-world examples like this one: ( courtesy of Adam Hostetler )
   Its important that staff understand the potential severity of a successful phishing attack.
   Such attacks are more likely over holiday periods when attackers can rely on short-staffing.

2. Make sure all systems( both network/OS/application ) are logging and that you are reviewing those logs for anomalies
   Make it a particular point to review those logs after the holidays.
   Log review can be automated but should not be reduced to a formality.  Staff with familiarity with what is normal should be reviewing daily log reports and periodically
   examining the raw logs themselves.

3. Consider internal alerting systems such as Microsolved’s “Honeypoint” solution.  They can act as tripwires in your network, alerting you to the presence of an intruder.

Bill Hagestad added:

To prevent surprise cyber attacks the number one focus should be proactive cyber threat intelligence specifically related to your company based upon the following Essential Elements of Information (EEI):

– What are your priorities for intelligence?
– Competitor’s needs/focuses?
– External vendors interests on behalf of competitor?
– Foreign economic interests
– Commercial cyber espionage
– Foreign cyber espionage?
– Potential insider threats?

Once you have prioritized what you consider the information security threats are to your organization MicroSolved can help develop a information a security/assurance strategy.
First step determine a quick list of cyber intelligence targeting baed upon the EEI above;
Second – from the priorities determine your internal High Value Targets that the prioritized list of adversaries might focus on;
Third – install or fine tune your HoneyPoint Security Server to capture attacker and threat vector information; and,
Fourth – focus holiday staffing levels and efforts to mitigate list of potential cyber threats based upon both the EEI and steps 1 -3 above.

John Davis stated:

One of the things to pay particular attention to during vacation season is the security of returning portable devices. Employees will probably be traveling all over the place on their vacations, include foreign countries. And while traveling, people like to let their hair down and take it easy. They also like to keep abreast of their emails or surf the Internet looking for restaurants and places of interest.
Hotel networks and public hot spots are usually open networks and liable to sniffing by enterprising cyber criminals. Because of this, it is relatively easy for these attackers to implant Malware on laptops or other portable devices used by traveling employees. And, as we know, lots of enterprises these days have bring your own device policies in place or tolerate the casual use of company laptops for non-business purposes. To protect the network from this scenario, run anti-virus and other Malware detecting software on these devices, and/or boot them up in a stand alone test environment and look for problems before allowing them onto the production network.

There’s a LOT of good advice here. Hopefully, some of it helps you. Until next time, thanks for reading and have a safe holiday!

** Reminder ** – New Systems Should Be Patched Before Use

Please remind teens, kids and adults who might receive computers for the holidays this year to patch them before general use. They should ensure that software and network firewalls are in place before connecting them to ANY network.

They should also ensure that they have anti-malware software that is up to date for any and all operating systems (even Linux and OS X) and that they follow other general guidelines of safe computing.

Remember, fight the urge to save the safety speech for another time. If the system gets compromised while they are using it for a test drive – being safe later will likely not help them be protected against bots, identity theft and other illicit computing dangers. It only takes one moment of exposure to compromise the system on an irreparable scale.

Happy and safe holidays to everyone. Have a joyous, peaceful and wonderful holiday season!