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NSTIC Strategy Released

Last June, I blogged about a draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) that had been released for public comment. This past April 15, the finalized NSTIC strategy document was released at an event at the US Chamber of Commerce.

For those of you that aren’t already familiar with the NSTIC, it is a US government-facilitated initiative that seeks to simplify and strengthen user authentication and to provide trustable assertions about principals in online transactions through the creation of an ecosystem that includes identity and attribute providers. More information is available at the NIST NSTIC website, particularly the animation video. NSTIC seeks to improve trust in use in the Internet and to enable new uses that depend on trusted attributes and higher assurance transactions.

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Securing Remote Locations in 3 Steps

VPNs, protected devices, and secure wireless LANs are keys to successful remote security.

Everyone understands how important it is to batten down the security hatches at company headquarters. But in the haste to protect the network and devices that store a small company’s critical business data and host its key applications, remote offices are sometimes forgotten. You need to make sure remote offices are equally secured, with an eye toward handling a few challenges specific to a location far from headquarters.

Any place someone works outside of your main facility can be considered a remote office, whether that’s an employee’s spare bedroom or a rented suite in a different state. All remote offices share a few security risks: a connection to your network via the public Internet; personal devices used for work, such as laptops; and the potential for unauthorized access to your company’s computing assets, both the equipment and the data stored on it.

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Incomplete Reporting of Law Enforcement Electronic Surveillance May Skew Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are the underpinning of all effective security programs. It’s quite difficult to best prioritize defensive efforts without a proper valuation of assets to be protected, consideration of threats against those assets, and some means to establish a probable rate at which those threats will result in a particular impact. Because risk assessments describe the priorities of the organization through the perspective of minimizing impact from security events, they must be regularly reviewed to ensure not only that the assets and activities of the organization are current, but also that the current threats are properly accounted for.

Recent research by Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, suggests that underreporting of US law enforcement surveillance could be creating a blind spot in organizational risk assessments. That is, the current legislative reporting requirements exclude certain information and agencies. In the absence of such requirements, it appears that state and local agencies, for example, are responsible for the vast majority of Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) requests. Unfortunately, the kinds of information excluded from stringent reporting requirements coincides with the current trends in mobile computing and informal electronic communication, namely stored communication (text messages, social networking posts, etc.). At this intersection lies the opportunity for an organization to miss a very real threat to its sensitive communications, as we mentioned in our recent Cyber Risk Report.

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New Advancements in Borderless Networks: Connect from Anywhere, at Anytime

Remember the days when going to work meant being stuck at your desk, working on a desktop PC? Thankfully, the proliferation of laptops, tablets, and mobile devices, along with a robust network to support connectivity, has enabled all of us to be on the go and working, at the same time.

With new innovations in Borderless Networks, which are being announced today, an organization’s ability to securely connect anyone, anywhere, with their preferred device, while delivering a high quality experience even to the most resource-intensive multimedia applications, has become even stronger.

So how will these new innovations change the workplace even more? Watch this video to find out, and to learn more details on the enhancements.

Luckily, most of us don’t have a boss like that one in the video. And using our smartphones, we can get some work done on the beach! (Ok, maybe).

As for how the new the Borderless Networks innovations will have an impact—they will deliver solutions in three areas: Security, Management, and Multimedia.

Here are the details, and what the new innovations will mean for our partners: Read More »

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Score One for the Good Guys

With each passing day, security reports – including Cisco’s – describe accounts of computers that are used in botnet attacks. Each computer, unwittingly, is infected with malware and controlled by remote unseen hands, foreign or domestic, and with little to no care for the computer’s owner. Simply put, the computer is no longer exclusively under the owner’s control; nor is the data or the privacy of the owner. Unchecked, botnets grow in variety, frequency, complexity, and capability.

Traditionally, dynamic teams, composed of private citizens and law enforcement, devise ways to contain the effects of a botnet and, if possible, shut it down in some way, such as:

  • Releasing signatures to anti-virus vendors in the hopes that AV will clean some of the infected machines
  • Disrupting the Command and Control channel, so that the infected computers are no longer receiving instructions
  • Just attempting to stay one step ahead of the malware through DNS, detection, or blocking access lists

In nearly each circumstance, new approaches are developed to keep the botnet variants from succeeding.

Add another creative approach to the mix based in the rule of law.

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