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Learning From Others: Incident Response and Catastrophic Compromise

In May, I talked a bit about compensating controls and their value in layered defenses. The Wall Street Journal recently detailed what appears to be another significant failure of detective controls, as Dubai police worked with national governments to apprehend suspects in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Authorities in Dubai posted about 30 minutes of video footage to YouTube shortly after al-Mabhouh’s January death. The videos showed a significant amount of coordination and investigation to tie together more than two dozen suspects over several locations throughout Dubai. Now, nine months later, despite this tremendous investigative effort, the trail shows few signs of progress. But when looked at from the perspective of incident response, even a spectacular failure can be a successful lesson learned for tomorrow.

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When Your Employee Doesn’t Want to Come to the Office

How many times have you been approached by your employees asking for permission to work from home instead of coming into the office? Your immediate reaction probably includes head nodding, quickly followed by questions surrounding the resourcing that is required to make this desire a reality. In a recent Cisco study, “The Cisco Connected World Report,” respondents indicated companies that afford their employees the flexibility to work remotely are more attractive employers.

Should companies allow remote worker access? Read More »

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The Internet and Interpol, a Natural Alliance

Over September 15-17 at the 1st Interpol Information Security Conference (, more than 300 delegates from 188 countries came to Hong Kong, and under the care of Interpol and the Hong Kong Police Department, spoke candidly and collaboratively about Information Security and the common challenges we all face. In his welcoming address, Interpol’s Secretary-General Ron Noble mentioned how a Facebook page was created in his name in an attempt to confuse others and socially engineer colleagues. The Hong Kong Commissioner of Police opened his address by comparing technology to the moon: it has a bright side and a dark side. Both speeches hold in common that technology is ubiquitous, we must continue to keep criminal activity at bay, and that the Internet’s global reach means we all share in its continued success and must remain vigilant to protect it from the threats against it. Read More »

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Virtualization and PCI DSS 1.2.1

Will PCI 2.0 Bring Virtual Relief to Real Questions?

PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 1.2.1, which is a set of standards for retail and other verticals that defines the requirements for security compliance, is relatively simple and straightforward. 12 requirements define the spirit and intent of the standard. These are good, common sense guidelines and best practices that are derived from decades of experience keeping customer data secure. However, there are areas where PCI DSS could do a better job of handling what has become common, well accepted practices; virtualization is one of those areas. Read More »

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ZeuS: Getting a Taste of its Own Medicine?

This week brought us a wide variety of news about the ZeuS malware platform and its criminal users. While the platform has been very successful at stealing banking credentials and money from its victims, it may be showing some promising signs of weakness to the security community. While it has long been recognized as a modular and adaptable platform, the rising complexity in the system may be exposing it to security concerns found in traditional enterprise software. Identifying and exploiting these weaknesses may be an essential factor in disrupting its botnets and tracking down its controllers.

One of those features, highlighted in this week’s Cyber Risk Report, was a jump into mobile malware. One particular ZeuS adaptation has appeared as a combined threat between desktops and smartphones, with the ultimate goal of intercepting not only keyboard-entered user credentials, but also SMS messages from banks used for out-of-band user authentication.

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