Building a Better Team

teamAs an IT professional and keen business observer, you’re always scouting talent. You like to recruit good people as you find them, not as you need them. Your savvy and swagger often assure the corner offices that you’ve got everything under control, even as they tell you about the seven new projects they’ve landed for next year. You’d like to celebrate, but you’ve got networks to manage, managers to network, and emails to return.

And you’re going to need more people. (more…)

Can’t Put Your Finger On It

fingerYou’re an IT professional, so the wonders of technology are not lost on you. If there’s an app for that, you want to know about it. And the emergence of biometric security features on phones and IoT devices is right in your wheelhouse. At first blush, you recognize the stellar, seemingly impenetrable fortress that is the fingerprint. And unlike passwords and social security numbers, we can’t change our fingerprints. That’s like the ultimate cryptology at your fingertips. But still, there is that nagging little voice that says even that can be hacked. (more…)

A Thousand-Year Flood

hurricaneColumbia, SC is a sleepy little town by most accounts, except when the Gamecocks win at home. The state capitol of South Carolina, Columbia has a vibrant business community and service-sector economy. Until about a week ago, it’s distance from the ocean insulated it from the seasonal hurricane fray. But that was last week. (more…)

A Cyber War on Women

houseU.S. House of Representatives Inspector General Theresa Grafenstine told Congress last week what every male IT professional has been saying for years: There are not enough women in this business. The larger context of her comments was the ongoing global cyberwar we seem to be fighting and the notion that arming ourselves with mostly men in this battle is, quite literally, a half-brained idea. Women, she suggests, bring unique skills and strengths to bear on these and other situations, and we should work toward a greater balance between men, women, and minorities. (more…)

Planning for Natural Chaos

Nature’s Good Side

disasterHow confident are you that that your network would survive a lightning strike or even a one-hour power outage? Let’s say you’re pretty sure you’ve got the right things in place to weather the storm. Have you tested your strategy in the last month? Year? At any point since the Reagan Administration? (more…)

Known Unknowns and State Dinners

whitehouseYou’re an IT expert, department head, and management guru. You eat complications for lunch and challenges for dessert, but have you ever really gotten that stellar mind of yours around budgeting? You know about the known knowns, and the known unknowns can be accounted for, but that last category of unknown unknowns stumped even Dick Cheney. And the unknowns in the IT space get more complex every day. (more…)

Katrina and the Waves

wavesIn 1985, when IT was an emerging career track and Steve Jobs was resigning from Apple, the British sent Katrina and the Waves across the big pond, walking on sunshine. Fast forward 20 years and we encountered a completely different Katrina and much bigger waves, leaving folks stranded on rooftops and walking on the Superdome. Who knew popular music could be so prescient? (more…)

Government Contractors and APTs

APTThe last several months have seen an increase in the reported breaches of government or related networks. The University of Virginia network was breached recently by Chinese hackers, mainly, it is thought, because of their connection to DoD, Intelligence, and other government contractors, programs, and facilities.

Government contractors seem especially vulnerable these days, particularly to APTs, so let’s take a look at this threat with fresh eyes. (more…)

An Affair to Remember

madisonImagine your life as a conservative, family values politician, or maybe even a minister, leading a flock of faithful men and women, your devoted wife at your side and pictures of the children on the desk behind you. That’s the “Before” picture, the one you see in your mind before the Ashley Madison hack and data dump, before the world connected your name and address and, in some cases, your most intimate details with the online presence designed to optimize invisibility. The “After” picture? Well, that one’s still in process, but the smiles evaporated quickly, and it’s an image that’s likely to stick with you for a long time. (more…)

Planning for DEFCON Twelve

Inevitably Incidental

redphoneIn response to the ever-increasing number of high-profile cybersecurity breaches, The White House has formed the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center to coordinate cyber threat data and assessments. Regardless of your position on government intervention, the move reflects a heightened national awareness of the pervasive nature of cyberthreats in our world.  (more…)

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Boys (and Girls) of Summer

bcpSummer’s almost over. The kids are making their way back to school, and the parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Time has flown over the last three months, leaving in its wake a sandy, chlorine-smelling, airplane-riding, summer-camping, barefooted, late-sleeping bundle of teenage angst. Good times, am I right? But while time has flown by, you may have noticed that none of the lawn furniture or street signs or mobile homes have. Flown by, that is. Because we have had a relatively mild hurricane season so far. Well, last winter was mild too, until January checked in. (more…)

Changing Hands or Changing Plans

 

networkdesignYour business has been rocking along, but the tide of change is rising. Maybe your stellar sales team has lined up a truckload of projects and you’ve got to expand your network. Maybe you’re facing an ownership change and need to make the upgrades the previous owners didn’t favor. Or maybe you’re starting a new venture, from the ground up with the sky as the limit, and you need network architecture that takes you to the moon. ICS can help with that. (more…)

The First Time It Crosses Your Mind

 

hackerSomeone asked a reputed “Captain of Industry” when it was appropriate to fire somebody. His response was simple. “The first time is crosses your mind,” he said. If you supervise people, lead a team, herd vendors, or manage customer relationships, you’ve probably asked yourself the same question, and maybe you came up with a better answer. It is more likely that you made an effort to avoid conflict and hoped for the best. Human nature. (more…)

Stagefright

The Golden Age of Yesterday

stagefrightRemember way back, when flip phones roamed the earth and the threat of trojans could be quarantined in the CPUs and laptops in your life? The innocence dissipated with the dawn of smartphones in 2007. Then the deluge of apps ushered in all manner of new threats, but at least you could, in theory, control your exposure by limiting the apps you used and practicing robust password security. Good times, gone the way of the brick and the bag phone. (more…)

Ghost in the Machine

machineYou’re probably recalling where you were the first time you heard Sting and The Police, or what the funky red graphics were on the cover of that album. That’s what most folks recall. We are, after all, Spirits in the Material World. The expression was actually coined by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book The Concept of Mind, an examination of Rene Descartes’ dualistic separation of mind and body. At the core of this philosophical marvel is the notion that the mind and body work independently of one another, and their connection is speculative at best. This concept takes on new relevance in the digital world.

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A Swing and a Miss!

baseballJune is usually a big month for baseball, but sometimes the biggest news is found beyond the box scores. This year the boys of summer, or at least their front office representatives, took a swing at a slider and hit a really foul ball, making the statistics-obsessed management of America’s game seem like child’s play.

Allegedly, the St. Louis Cardinals hacked the Houston Astros, breaching interior databases that housed trade speculations, scouting reports, and other sensitive, proprietary information about the team. The breach is still under investigation, so the reasons behind the attack remain as elusive as a knuckle ball. It seems likely, though, that the Cardinals were mining Astro data in hopes of building a better team. Or maybe a senseless jab by disgruntled former colleagues.

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Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Joey, Have You Ever Been in a Turkish Prison?

planeThe 1980s comedy franchise Airplane does a great job of spoofing the more dramatic Airport and, to a lesser extent, The Poseidon Adventure. At a time when truly global travel was emerging for the general public, there remained in the hearts of many a fear of the complexity of travel, a fear that has almost completely evaporated in the travel world we take for granted these days. Airplane turned chaos into comedy, exploiting the potential for danger and the human love of a train wreck. (more…)

Welcome to Fergus Falls!

usbThe thumb drive sits on the edge of the table, carefully wrapped in cellophane and surrounded by the other promotional materials from the SWAG bag left by the Chamber of Commerce. It was a very nice gesture, and you’re giving serious thought to the guided tour of local brewpubs pictured in one of the brochures, but you eye the thumb drive with suspicion. And rightfully so. (more…)

Internet of Things

SOC it to You!

IoTImagine a small chip with an oddly configured pin out footprint, originally designed to connect serial to USB. Now tweak the ROM on that chip, infuse it with a dash of RAM and a sprinkle of flash memory, and you have just actuated SOC, or system on a chip. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. You can buy the chips for about $5 and use them to connect devices to the old interwebs. That’s right. A $5 chip is now a gateway to the holy grail of network security. (more…)

If It Ends in Y, It Could Be A Monday

calendarThink of today as Monday. Maybe you’re just back from a long holiday weekend. You’ve celebrated the birth of a nation, perhaps, and the chili dogs are still waging war, keeping the spirit of rest and relaxation alive and well. Now the battle takes a twist as you rattle down the list. These are the projects you face today, the fires that demand your immediate attention, like the chili dogs.
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Follow the Money

moneyLooking for a good business model with a market poised to explode in the next five years? No, it’s not the latest social media platform or even a cryptocurrency. It’s cybercrime, and your business is rapidly becoming their business. (more…)

Hacking the IRS History

April 15th lurks in the shadows of every year, as inescapable as the Grim Reaper and only slightly less popular. The IRS has conflict in its DNA, as our nation’s first revenue commission was established in 1862 to pay for the Civil War. Repealed ten years later and even ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895, the IRS began collecting income taxes in 1913, after the 16th Amendment was ratified, and the steady gathering of data began.

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Internet of Wings

Ever feel like somebody else is in control of your life, flying the airplane that is your body through the friendly skies of your daily routine? Well, if you’re on the same plane with Chris Roberts, you might just be living beyond the metaphor. Chris likes to fly big airplanes, with real people on them. But Chris Roberts is not a pilot.

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Like It Never Even Existed

Joplin, Missouri is like a barbell. Downtown retains an interesting mix of history and mid-rise offices while, several miles to the south, the medical complex and commercial corridor almost glistens with new construction. In the middle, a once-vibrant residential area known as South Joplin, is a mix of random new commercial buildings and tract homes, with its former glory wiped away, along with any hint of vegetation, by a Category Five tornado in 2011. All the infrastructure is new, but any visitor would know immediately that the previous iteration of this neighborhood had been stricken from the record. (more…)

Rolling Like a Rockefeller

First Quarter results are in the books, and the contracts you hunted late into last year have borne fruit. Like the Robber Barons of yesteryear, you have a dogged commitment to your industry, though sometimes you wish you had cornered the oil market instead. Because, like the scions of the Gilded Age in American history, you are trying to build trust in a marketplace that often seems more like the wild, wild west. Nevertheless, the horizon seems rife with opportunity and your sales team is all fishing and no cutting bait.  (more…)

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Even in the face of increasing network breaches, we distance ourselves from the threat. It’s a big box retailer or a global bank that’s been violated, not us. Our data and personal information might be in danger, but we assuage our fears with the sense and song that the sun’ll come out tomorrow and we’ll face the new day with purpose, repair the damage, and get on with our lives. What happens, though, when the cyber breach threatens a human heartbeat? (more…)

The Talent Pool

In the fifth of six predictions for IT staffing in 2015, CIO suggests that a robust economy and job market will encourage more full-time employees to seek part-time or freelance work. This trend, they suggest, will repeat similar movement in the previous cycle and reap benefits for both employers, who have the ability to identify and deploy specific needs and talents, and employees, who maximize the return on their particular skill sets. For the sake of argument (and this blog post) let’s assume the predictions are spot on. How does your organization take advantage of the shifting talent pool? (more…)

Calm Before the Storm

The blue skies above a small bay in early April offer no inkling of the potential chaos lurking in the wings. Just inland from the Gulf of Mexico, tourists comb the backwaters for fish and fun as the manatees swim languidly beneath them, timeless watchmen of the water and the weather. Smoke rises from stacks in the distance, a reminder that even the best nature offers stands in the path of progress. Like the manatees, we must adapt to changes in our world, and our world is probably changing more rapidly than we imagine. (more…)

Low-Tech, High-Tech

As we continue our march against terror, technology continues to ramp up to facilitate our efforts, on the intelligence front as well as the front lines. We have drones and jets and kevlar and night-vision optics. We have spy satellites and GPS tracking and even cyber commands that fight at the digital front. We should have the upper hand in dealing with the current threat from the group known as ISIS, and we probably do. After all, they seem to be wielding relatively low-tech weapons like AK-47s and RPGs and Google.

(more…)

On the Road Again

Spring is working really hard to push through the snow as chilly nights give way to warmer days and the road beckons the warriors back from a long winter’s nap. It’s time to hit the bricks, pound the pavement, spend the shoe leather, all looking for new opportunities for your business. And, when the day is done, when your team has left nothing on the field in Topeka, given their all in Albany, there’s a cozy bed with rewards points, warm cookies, and complimentary WiFi waiting at the next exit. Home, sweet home, right? (more…)

Code Gone Wild

It’s Spring Break, and hundreds of thousands of students from the far reaches of North America are making their way across the USA in a Chevrolet, migrating to the seasonal climes and exotic beverage offerings of sunny Florida. Escaping the more — perhaps presumably — disciplined daily rigors of their college studies, many students engage in atypical behavior, casting inhibitions to the wind and embracing the larger world in various stages of sobriety and dress. It’s all silly college kids until you get the call.

Now imagine your data on Spring Break.

Cocktails and Sunscreen

Your data is your data. You protect it when you can and hope your staff makes good decisions when they take it out into the world, because you know that lurking in the shadows are bad people with even worse intentions. They wait at the bar to offer high-tech cocktails, ones that your data won’t even know it drank. They use proven social engineering techniques to gather information and gain entry, tossing out lines line “Oh yeah, I knew Bif when he was in high school. We go way back.” Next thing you know, your data is enjoying an afternoon on the beach with no sunscreen. Feel the burn.

Happy Hour

ICS is the Lifeguard for your data, the designated driver and trusted friend that keeps your data at the party but out of harm’s way. And with ICS you always get two for the price of one, both industry leading expertise and peace of mind.

Call ICS today before you get that distress call from your data. Don’t worry, be happy!

CSI Cyber

You know an issue is prominent when it enters popular culture, and the creators of the wildly successful CSI franchise are hoping to demonstrate the increasing need for cybersecurity vigilance with the newest addition to their portfolio, CSI: Cyber. The bread and butter of this successful series of shows is the slow, complex narrative surrounding a single crime scene. They explore every lead and methodically bring the perps to justice. It’s a great formula for television.

House of Cards

For those Netflix binge watchers out there, consider also the role of the cyberterrorist with the guinea pig. At the beck and call of the FBI because of his nefarious activities, he latches on to the tail of the Frank Underwood storm and hacks his way into the personal information of his captors and their wives. High school kids who’ve been warned a million times about the dangers of their digital footprint marvel at the harvest of his efforts and ask, “How did he get all that information?” (more…)

Uber Secure

Singing in the Rain

Ever tried to hail a cab at night, in the rain, in Manhattan? Even worse, in a metro market where taxi service is not as fluid? Even if you haven’t, you can probably imagine how innovative an app-based cab service could be. Uber and others are filling this niche in markets across the country and around the globe. The service is almost a seamless hybrid of social media and carpooling, and it’s a great example of how technology is changing the way we interact with each other and the world. (more…)

The Dire Straits of Cybersecurity

Money for Nothing

In late 2013, ATMs in Kiev began spitting out cash at random times, even if nobody was standing in front of them. Turns out, cash on the concrete was just the tip of the iceberg. By the time investigators got their forensics around the issue, over 100 financial institutions across over 30 nations had been breached in what might be the largest bank theft of all time. (more…)

Wyle E. Coyote: Cyberthreat

Beep Beep!

In the classic cartoon, The Coyote endlessly and unsuccessfully chases the Road Runner. The Road Runner always seems to outsmart him, but the narrative is predicated on the Coyote’s use of the same old ACME box of tricks, the same old anvil to the head. Humans are also creatures of habit, and we often rely on the same old methods, even when we expect a different outcome. Hold this dynamite and watch me explain how this applies to cybersecurity.

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A River Runs Through IT

Analysts and journalists tell us that there are two types of networks, those that have been hacked and those that will be soon. Security experts suggest that the second category might not exist at all, as the percentage of organizations, big and small, that have been breached zeroes in on 100. The trolls get smarter and more patient as we increase our vulnerability by an ever-expanding digital footprint, even while many organizations take no significant steps to assess their exposure and protect their data. Denial. It’s no longer just a river in Egypt.

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I’m with the Government, and I’m Here to Help

In response to the ever-increasing number of breaches, including most recently Sony Pictures, The White House has formed the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center to coordinate cyber threat data and assessments. This move is met with both praise and criticism. The frequency and increasing sophistication of the breaches across the private and public sectors leads many to suggest that the government is uniquely positioned to fill this role. Others cite redundancy and inefficiency as characteristic of government intervention and offer little hope that increased government involvement will mitigate the threat.

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Cybersecurity Dragnet

Analysts from the far reaches of the cybersecurity empire remind us of the many challenges we face daily, and some of these will no doubt wreak havoc in 2015 because the threat evolves rapidly to exploit weaknesses we don’t even know exist yet. Other, more predictable threats use proven strategies to exploit known weak links in our organizations. Human links. These are a couple of their stories. (more…)

Application Security

Trouble in the Sandbox

Network security teams use virtual environments, or sandboxes, with their own guest operating systems to allow code to be scrutinized before entry into sensitive areas. If the code is malicious, the sandbox throws it out before it does harm. But sandboxes attract two things, clever kids and cats. Cats move the sand around when nobody’s looking and leave a little something extra, so you know they’ve been there. Clever, industrious kids sit on the edge and patiently move the sand around to suit them. Clever adults do the same thing. (more…)

Life in the Fast Lane

When crossing the streets of Great Britain, it’s hard not to notice the strong encouragement painted on the curb at your feet to “Look Right,” or “Look Left,” depending on the flow of traffic. These directions have an explicit purpose. It’s amazing how many people, especially tourists, are struck by passing cars because they didn’t look in the correct direction. Remember, Britons drive on what Americans consider the “wrong” side of the road, and we are conditioned to look left initially when crossing the street. Fatal mistake for many. (more…)

Hacking Hollywood: The Sequel

James Franco: National Security Threat

Somewhere near the confluence of American entertainment and North Korean sensitivity, a cyber attack has sparked a national debate and an international incident, with fingers pointed and appropriate responses promised. The Interview has since been released online and in selected theaters, and the unexpected PR generated by the hacking has probably done a great deal to advance the profitability of the film. It even garnered a Presidential nod at a White House press conference. (more…)

This Christmas, Give the Gift of Data

In fact, you already do. You just don’t get credit for it. Every time you enter the ether, you leave a trace. But you already know that. It’s the reason you face the right ads the next time you cross the threshold. It’s why social media companies work so hard to keep you active on their sites, free of charge. You already know that in those settings where you don’t pay for a product or service, it’s because you are the product. But it’s about to get real (and probably has already). (more…)

’Twas the Night Before

It’s the night before Christmas. You’ve hung the stockings with care and set out the cookies and carrots. Your organization’s year-end results suggest that you’ve been good, but you better not cry, better not pout, and here’s why: you’re hoping for even more growth in 2015 and Santa’s coming to town. (more…)

Brave New World

Cybersecurity is approaching oxygen and water on the list of things we need to survive in this crazy world of ours. The threats are very real, whether deployed by governments around the globe or neckbeard hackers in the window booth at the corner coffee shop. The technology we create to make our lives easier now requires extraordinary vigilance, but it’s not the machines we should fear, as science fiction writers originally thought. The biggest threats seem to be the humans manipulating the good technology for bad purposes, and we can never completely isolate ourselves from them. Or can we? (more…)

Hollywood Hacks

Have you ever seen a movie you disliked so much that you wanted your money back? Maybe you kept hoping it would get better but finally you just had to get up and leave. We even use the previews to judge the movies by their covers, voting with our wallets to guide movie studios across our discriminating palates.

Now imagine disliking a preview so much that North Korea orders its national army’s cyberwar unit to hack into the Sony Pictures network and create as much chaos as possible without leaving a trail. That’s a strong vote with a big wallet and even bigger repercussions. (more…)

Monday, Monday… So Good to Me

Cyber Monday. The masterful creation of marketing professionals, designed to tap your wallet before the turkey and dressing settle in your tummy. Think of the sheer volume of sensitive consumer information that will be wafting through the ether on this day, searching out bargains and tantalizing hackers. Imagine millions of people walking through a big mall with their purses and wallets wide open and you begin to get the picture. But who doesn’t love a deal? And in today’s digital, global, Internet-of-Things, consumption-driven economy, who are we to argue with the ease with which we transact? (more…)

What’s in a Name?

Jeremy Hammond. A name you’ve probably never heard of. And he was recently the FBI’s most-wanted cybercriminal. As a hactivist for more than a decade, Hammond breached Stratfor, a security company with clients like Homeland Security and the Defense Department. At one point he knew the credit card information for the United States Marine Corps. Hackers with that kind of chutzpah are few and proud, indeed. (more…)

The Plymouth Rock of Cybersecurity

Your organization has weathered some storms, am I right? The valleys between the peaks, when sales slow and payroll weighs heavy on the mind. You’ve hired through the good times and had to cut back in the lean times, but you and Michael have rowed your boat ashore, leaving the roiling seas of fiscal uncertainty behind you. Welcome to Plymouth Rock, Pilgrim. How about some steady quarterly earnings and revenue growth to go with that maize? (more…)

Blinding Growth

Utility companies are tearing up 9th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, fueling the frustration of cabbies and pedestrians alike. The pasta bowl that is the highway system surrounding Atlanta is almost always under construction, locking traffic up around the clock, it seems. Both examples show the impact of interrupting the flow of traffic. As we build and grow our human presence, infrastructure never seems adequate, but we are always hesitant to change or upgrade because we don’t want to interrupt the flow. We close our eyes and cross our fingers. (more…)

The Digital Frenzy

The media is not short on cybersecurity horror stories, from Home Depot getting hammered to big bank back room holdups, all by nefarious hackers working from their parents’ basements. Or so it would seem. Truth is, 80% of all corporate breaches find their root cause in employee negligence, not hackers working alone. (more…)

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