Entries by Lawrence Strauss

Doublecheck Those Figures

The threat posed by overconfidence

–Jeetu Patel, Cisco

Economist Daniel Kahneman’s life’s work (he died last month at 90) was to point out how irrationally we behave, including telling the Guardian that if he had a magic wand, he’d most like to correct our overconfidence.

The Titanic’s sinking may have been due to overconfidence. Investors’ ideas on moves they should make in the stock market wind up costing them 4%. And now we have the Cisco 2024 Cybersecurity Readiness Index Report. This is a double-blind survey of over 8,000 business and cybersecurity leaders. The findings show the greatest cybersecurity weakness is a disconnect between overconfidence that their business will be able to avoid a disrupting attack and their analyzed readiness for avoiding disruption. To be exact: 73% of business leaders anticipate an attack in the next two years, but a surprising 3% were shown to be prepared for such an attack … [6 min. read]

MFA Still Tops

In SonicWall’s 2024 Threat Report the Number One Attack-Deterrent Is MFA

Complex, Locked Vaults and Double Keys

How would you feel about giving your valuable documents to a bank that only had a single lock on the bank’s outside doors? One lock might put off a less-determined intruder, but I’d expect it would be pretty easy for a burglar to figure a way past just one lock. So how would you expect a bank to responsibly treat your valuables? Not only would those outer doors have locks, there should also be a built-in cement and steel vault secured to the building’s structure to withstand destructive weather, fire and thieves, the vault’s lock should be complex to resist cracking, within the vault should be locked steel boxes that usually require two keys (one that you hold and one that the bank holds and authorizes its use after you prove your identity).

What is the relative value of what people keep so securely at a bank compared with the data an organization is trusted to protect? [6 min. read]

Ever See an Ant Back Up?

And Now for Something Completely Different

In the light of summer in a forest, a colony of ants was busy. It was known as The Colony of Methodical Memory. And the colony worked hard. The ants built clever storerooms within the earth. And they meticulously copied their knowledge and wisdom onto many gathered leaves and placed these in the secure storerooms.

There was at the same time in the same wood a swarm of grasshoppers, known as The Swarm of ‘Hi There’. While the ant colony worked, the grasshoppers swayed on leaves in the sun … [5 min. read]

Look Past the Weeds

Don’t Get Lost In The Vulnerabilities

The lockdowns found me in my garden more. One of the things I learned those couple years was that I started out intently focused on the annoyance of weeds – pulling them, pouring boiling water on them when they popped up in the cracks of my driveway, generally trying to kill them. But at some point my focus shifted and I began to see the whole yard – I especially noticed where different plants thrived or failed to. I moved things around. Happy, healthy plants – including working on achieving thicker ground covers (like that sedum pictured) – look beautiful while making the conditions less hospitable to weeds.

Vulnerabilities, which includes unpatched software and misconfigured systems, can be thought of like weeds … [6 min. read]

Question Everything

A set of policies … would have identified, I believe, a pattern of activity here …

–Navy CTO Don Yeske

The US military is in the process of moving to a Zero Trust networking framework. But before they began that process in November, a Cape Cod-stationed National Guardsman leaked 350 classified documents over the course of between six and fourteen months before his detection and arrest. And Zero Trust – that enforces stringent policies or rules over permitted network activities – might have stopped the rogue airman sooner (he was serving as an IT admin without need to access those military secrets).

This type of breach is called an insider attack. Insider breaches make up 20% of all breaches. Zero Trust is useful to handle these and many of the other attacks that begin outside an organization’s network … [5 min. read]

Are we there yet?

There is no doubt that over time, people are going to rely less and less on passwords

–Bill Gates, 2004

A 2023 study found that 64% of people surveyed are not confident they are managing their passwords well. Most discouraging in the new survey was the report that of those born after 1990 only 20% use unique and strong passwords. These stats bring also a feeling of futility: ‘so many data exposures – what does it matter?’ ‘there is no privacy anymore – whatever.’

I don’t share the opinion that we should throw in the towel, though who can’t sympathize with the sentiment? But Bryley sees time and again that, in fact, compromised passwords matter to an organization’s security. As an example of the severity of the problem, Google Cloud reported in October that 54% of breaches “are resulting from common and well-known threat actor attack techniques, such as obtaining and using stolen credentials …” [4 min. read]

How an Email Compromise Attack Begins

Faced with the right con, we’re all vulnerable

–Tim Harford

On his Cautionary Tales podcast, Tim Harford told the story of an ex-con who put on an army captain’s uniform and an air of authority and proceeded to demand to inspect a military financial account and confiscate (that is, steal) the $250,000 it contained.

If your employee gets an email from an executive at your organization requesting urgent action, how does the employee respond? … [4 min. read]

A Review of 2023

Here are some notable events and stories from 2023:

A Guiding Principle

Bryley is a client of Bryley, President Garin Livingstone said in a 2023 interview. We have people at Bryley that need technical help. We also need to make sure that our computer systems are being maintained and updated. Among the benefits of adhering to this model?

  • Updates and patching are as minimally disruptive as we can get them.
  • New technologies are fully vetted before the tech is deployed

This principle of being one’s own client has been a standard that Bryley has observed over the course of its thirty-six years … [6 min. read]