Cyber Security: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Several weeks ago, I received two disturbing emails, one from my airline points program (and no it wasn’t an announcement that I’ve made my 1K for the year yet!) and the other from my bank.  You may know the emails I am talking about, you may have received them yourself. 

They informed me my information had been stolen from a 3rd party marketing company.  Looking at the news the following day I realized this was no hoax – this was real. 

Well, as a marketing guy myself, the natural response would be to blog about it!   And that was the plan, until I got busy with my “day job” and put it off…and the weeks flew by.
Then out of the blue all sorts of security breaches started making headlines such as:

  • Wordpress had a DDOS attack take down all three of their data centers
  • Ventura County (where I live) had their online payment system hacked from the Phillipines!
  • Skype for Android (which I use!) exposes user files through sloppy programming
  • Several of the top firewall vendors accused of having security holes in their products
  • Breaches all over the world including Australia
  • RSA ( possibly the most trusted name in security) breached by a tightly focused attack, leaving SecureID users (like me!) vulnerable

All this, from just March and April. Thinking what May might bring is a scary thought.

So I wondered to myself: What on earth is going on with network security these days? Or was it just a bad month?

We’ve seen record attendance at Black Hat conferences, our first-ever national Cyber Security Czar appointed, and at Spirent, we’ve done our part by participating in the latest advanced security tests.

C’mon, it’s 2011 people.  Are CIO’s simply not aware of the importance of network security? Or are they not getting budget? Or perhaps ( a more darker thought ) are the hackers simply #Winning?

Now, I am not singling out the companies above.  All of us, no matter how big or small, weather we manage a data center or just our own personal smartphone, have to accept the Threat Level Orange environment we are operating in, take a deep breath and re-re-re-review our security policies and practices, yet again.

So here are a few tips for consumers and businesses:

  • If you have a modern smartphone, that has all your files on it, download an AntiVirus for it.  These are available for BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android phones.  And make sure to put a lock code on it.  And if it does get stolen, change your corporate and personal passwords immediately.
  • If you run a Data Center, make sure all your employees get a refresher on identifying Phishing and other Social Engineering attacks
  • If you design firewalls, make sure you understand they will be tested!
  • And, if you work in marketing, scrutinize the security policies of those who handle your mailing lists!  You don’t want to be the next Epsilon. Yes, I’m still mad at them.

And that reminds me, I have to get back to work.

Until next time: stay vigilant.

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