Businesses often find that its security incidents aren’t caused by a failure in technology, but because employees have not been trained to protect their company’s data. High profile cases of data loss and increasing cyber attacks are making it more important than ever to get the basics right.
Training and awareness is one of the most overlooked areas of Information Security. Businesses often find that security incidents aren’t caused by a failure in technology, but because employees do not fully understand the role that they must play in protecting their company’s assets.
We see all too often that leadership race to implement new technologies to ring-fence a particular area. Effective cyber risk management is based on an enterprise-wide approach that includes people, process and technology. To create a strong competitive advantage, this culture needs to start at the boardroom. When employees are armed with the right guidance and empowered to act, they transform from being a risk to becoming the first line of defence.
KPMG’s Cyber Academy is a leading-edge centre for bespoke cyber security learning that puts employees at the forefront of doing business safely and securely.
Based on our experience of working with organisations big and small in various industries, we can help you benchmark your organisation’s capabilities and skills. Following a situation analysis we can identify areas for development and a bespoke blend of e-learning, virtual classrooms and face-to-face training.
Get in touch with our team. We’re here to help you secure the future of your business.
To keep up to date with the recent data breaches, one can use DataLossDB. It is a research project aimed at documenting known and reported data loss incidents world-wide.
For something more visual, Information is Beautiful presented world’s biggest data breaches as bubbles of various size depending on the amount of records lost. Short stories and explanations are also available for some of the incidents.
For real-time information, Google developed the Digital Attack Map. It is a live data visualization of DDoS attacks around the globe, built through a collaboration between Google Ideas and Arbor Networks. The tool surfaces anonymous attack traffic data to let users explore historic trends and find reports of outages happening on a given day.
I completed my SABSA Foundation training, passed the exam and earned the.SABSA Chartered Security Architect credential.
SABSA is a proven methodology for developing business-driven, risk and opportunity focused Security Architectures at both enterprise and solutions level that traceably support business objectives. It is also widely used for Information Assurance Architectures, Risk Management Frameworks, and to align and seamlessly integrate security and risk management into IT Architecture methods and frameworks.
SABSA is comprised of a series of integrated frameworks, models, methods and processes, used independently or as an holistic integrated enterprise solution, including:
- Business Requirements Engineering Framework (known as Attributes Profiling)
- Risk and Opportunity Management Framework
- Policy Architecture Framework
- Security Services-Oriented Architecture Framework
- Governance Framework
- Security Domain Framework
- Through-life Security Service Management & Performance Management Framework
In my previous post I discussed free online courses in information security. Here I would like to share a few more resources.
“In this course, we will study security and trust from the hardware perspective. Upon completing the course, students will understand the vulnerabilities in current digital system design flow and the physical attacks to these systems. They will learn that security starts from hardware design and be familiar with the tools and skills to build secure and trusted hardware.”
“This course we will explore the foundations of software security. We will consider important software vulnerabilities and attacks that exploit them — such as buffer overflows, SQL injection, and session hijacking — and we will consider defenses that prevent or mitigate these attacks, including advanced testing and program analysis techniques. Importantly, we take a “build security in” mentality, considering techniques at each phase of the development cycle that can be used to strengthen the security of software systems.”
“This course focuses on how to design and build secure systems with a human-centric focus. We will look at basic principles of human-computer interaction, and apply these insights to the design of secure systems with the goal of developing security measures that respect human performance and their goals within a system.”
“The impact of technology and networks on our lives, culture, and society continues to increase. The very fact that you can take this course from anywhere in the world requires a technological infrastructure that was designed, engineered, and built over the past sixty years. To function in an information-centric world, we need to understand the workings of network technology. This course will open up the Internet and show you how it was created, who created it and how it works. Along the way we will meet many of the innovators who developed the Internet and Web technologies that we use today.”
“Cybercrime has become both more widespread and harder to battle. Researchers and anecdotal experience show that the cybercrime scene is becoming increasingly organized and consolidated, with strong links also to traditional criminal networks. Modern attacks are indeed stealthy and often profit oriented.
Malicious software (malware) is the traditional way in which cybercriminals infect user and enterprise hosts to gain access to their private, financial, and intellectual property data. Once stolen, such information can enable more sophisticated attacks, generate illegal revenue, and allow for cyber-espionage.
By mixing a practical, hands-on approach with the theory and techniques behind the scene, the course discusses the current academic and underground research in the field, trying to answer the foremost question about malware and underground economy, namely, “Should we care?”.
Students will learn how traditional and mobile malware work, how they are analyzed and detected, peering through the underground ecosystem that drives this profitable but illegal business. Understanding how malware operates is of paramount importance to form knowledgeable experts, teachers, researchers, and practitioners able to fight back. Besides, it allows us to gather intimate knowledge of the systems and the threats, which is a necessary step to successfully devise novel, effective, and practical mitigation techniques.”
“In this course, you will explore several structured, risk management approaches that guide information security decision-making. Course topics include: developing and maintaining risk assessments (RA); developing and maintaining risk management plans (RM); regulatory and legal compliance issues affecting risk plans; developing a control framework for mitigating risks; risk transfer; business continuity and disaster recovery planning from the information security perspective.”
Image courtesy of cooldesign/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The PCI Security Standards Council is an open global forum, launched in 2006, that is responsible for the development, management, education, and awareness of the PCI Security Standards, including the Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS), and PIN Transaction Security (PTS) requirements.
The PCI Security Standards Council also develops and manages a number of programs to build awareness and to train, test, and qualify organizations and individuals to assess and validate adherence to PCI Security Standards.
They put together a short video explaining the basic principles.
There is no doubt that security is necessary, but why is it so unpleasant to follow a security policy? Reminding yourself to stick to the rules feels like your partner telling you…. to eat your salad. You know they are right, but anticipating that bland taste and mindless chewing that awaits you simply puts you off. You decide to leave it for tomorrow, so much so that you never get to it.
Cakes, on the other hand, are yummy and require no effort whatsoever to indulge in our cravings for them. Nobody needs to force us to eat a piece.
In our day-to-day lives we prefer to do “cake” tasks without giving it a second’s thought. Things like storing confidential files on Dropbox or emailing them to our personal accounts…. you know, taking a little bite here and there. It’s “only for today”, “no biggie”… This one-time thing is so harmless, it’s like a comfort snack. We might later feel guilty that we bypassed a few “salad” controls. Maybe we used our personal USB drive instead of a company-issued encrypted one, but at the end of the day… who cares? Who will notice? As long as there is no dramatic impact on our health, a bite here or a bite there won’t cause any harm.
And one day we realise that it’s not all rosy. The result of our laziness or lack of willpower eventually rears its ugly head when the doctor makes us stand on the scales and has a look at our blood pressure. So to add to your partner’s words of wisdom, is the doctor’s warning of an unhealthy present and a bleak future; something that would sound very similar during the company’s security audit.
“You have got to eat more salad and lay off the cakes!”
To make matters worse, even with our best intentions to have the salad at the office cafeteria, we discover that the one available is practically inedible. Pretty much like finding that the company’s secure shared drive doesn’t have the necessary space to store our files or that the encrypted pen drive is not compatible with the client’s Mac.
So if there are chefs coming up with ways to make salads more appealing, what can security professionals do to help us, the employees, maintain our “security diet”?
They could aim at making security more like a cake – effortless, even attractive, but still keep it as healthy as a salad. Sound simple? Perhaps not so much, but they should invest in usability studies to make sure that the secure solution is the easiest to use. It might involve discovering an entirely new culinary art on how to make a cake-tasting salad altogether. But if they fail to realise just how unpalatable the salads are to begin with, we should let them know. Security professionals need employees’ support.
Organisations are like families: everyone has to stay healthy, otherwise when a single member gets sick, the whole family is at risk of getting sick as well, whether it be catching an infectious disease or adopting an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s like having the slimmest, fittest family member refrain from adding biscuits to the grocery list in order not to tempt the couch-potatoes. It’s a team effort. In order for a company to stay healthy, everyone has to keep a healthy lifestyle of eating salad regularly, even when it is not that pleasant.
The whole company needs to know that security is important for achieving its goals -not as something that gets in the way-, just as we should all know that having a healthy diet of greens will guarantee a sound body. Employees contribute to the efficient operation of the business when they comply with security policies. Not only does security ensure confidentiality and the integrity of information, but it also guarantees that the resources are available for employees to complete their primary tasks.
We need to realise that we contribute to security; and we can inflict serious damage on a company when we don’t comply with security policies, no matter how insignificant or harmless they may seem. As employees, we are individually responsible for the organisation’s exposure to security risks just as we are responsible for exposing ourselves to illness. Our behaviour and daily regime significantly shape our quality of life, and our practices shape the quality of our business.
The health of the company is everyone’s business. Let’s all eat our salad while helping the security specialists to come up with better tasting ones.
I just returned from my trip to Bangalore, India, where I was asked to deliver a series of training activities to the KPMG offshore teams. Spending a week there came with lots of wonderful insights.
First of all, India is a beautiful country. I didn’t really have a lot of time to travel around, but I still had a chance to visit the Bangalore Palace, drive up and down the Mahatma Gandhi Road, see the Parliament and many beautiful parks.
Moreover, apart from delivering training sessions myself, the local leadership organised a presentation for the UK team, where we were described the services they offer globally. I was impressed by the level of innovation and standardisation, which clearly demonstrate the rapid technological growth in India.
I’ve had a chance to work with some of the marvelous members of our offshore team before, and it was very valuable to finally meet them in person. I had an opportunity to interview a few people for a position in my programme and we are already on-boarding the successful candidate.
Not only I was able to share my knowledge and meet some lovely people, but I could enjoy a brief but wonderful taste of India and its warm hospitality. I’m sure the effectiveness of our communications and project work will increase substantially in going forward.