UNSECURITY Episode 121 Show Notes

Happy Tuesday! It’s time to get ready for another episode (#121) of the UNSECURITY Podcast!

Not sure if you caught it last week, but there was an open U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday (2/23). The hearing was titled “Hearing on the Hack of U.S. Networks by a Foreign Adversary” and lasted about two and a half hours. The hearing was about the events surrounding the SolarWinds Orion Hack, and what we can do to prevent (or at least reduce the likelihood of) similar events in the future. Witnesses included some well-known people in our industry:

  • Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye
  • Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO of Solarwinds
  • Brad Smith, President of Microsoft
  • George Kurtz, President and CEO of CrowdStrike

This hearing was a big deal because U.S. policymakers are trying to figure out what to do, and how “to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” If policy makers draft policy based solely on what these witnesses said, we might be in some serious trouble!

There were some really interesting things said during the hearing, and we’re going to share our thoughts on today’s show.

So, let’s do this! These are the notes for episode 121 of the UNSECURITY Podcast.


SHOW NOTES – Episode 121 – Tuesday March 1st, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 121, the date is March 2nd, 2021, and joining me as usual is my good friend, Brad Nigh. Good morning Brad!

Quick Catching Up

  • What’s new?
    • Working on S2Org r3, IR assessment, and other things.
    • The Gray Matter Society
    • Who would make a good guest next week?
  • Anything else new at FRSecure and/or SecurityStudio?

The Meat

Open Hearing: Hearing on the Hack of U.S. Networks by a Foreign Adversary – https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings/open-hearing-hearing-hack-us-networks-foreign-adversary

  • Kevin Mandia’s Opening Statement – https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-kmandia-022321.pdf
  • Sudhakar Ramakrishna’s Opening Statement – https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-sramakrishna-022321.pdf
  • Brad Smith’s Opening Statement – https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-bsmith-022321.pdf
  • George Kurtz’s Opening Statement – https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-gkurtz-022321.pdf
  • The hearing went ~2 1/2 hours, did you make it through it all?
  • So, Amazon Web Services didn’t show up. They haven’t been forthcoming or helpful
  • An interesting Q&A (starting at 1:22:08) from Senator Wyden (D-OR)
    • Senator Wyden: The impression that the American people might get from this hearing is that the hackers are such formidable adversaries that there was nothing that the American government or our biggest tech companies could have done to protect themselves. My view is that message leads to privacy violating laws and billions of more taxpayer funds for cybersecurity. Now it might be embarrassing, but the first order of business has to be identifying where well-know cybersecurity measures could have mitigated the damage caused by the breach. For example, there are concrete ways for the government to improve its ability to identify hackers without resorting to warrantless monitoring of the domestic internet. So, my first question is about properly configured firewalls. Now the initial malware in SolarWinds Orion software was basically harmless. It was only after that malware called home that the hackers took control, and this is consistent with what the Internal Revenue Service told me. Which is while the IRS installed Orion, their server was not connected to the Internet, and so the malware couldn’t communicate with the hackers. So, this raises the question of why other agencies didn’t take steps to stop the malware from calling home. So, my question will be for Mr. Ramakrishna, and I indicated to your folks I was going to ask this. You stated that the back door only worked if Orion had access to the internet, which was not required for Orion to operate. In your view, shouldn’t government agencies using Orion have installed it on servers that were either completely disconnected from the internet, or were behind firewalls that blocked access to the outside world?
    • Mr. Ramakrishna: Thanks for the question Senator Wyden. It is true that the Orion platform software does not need connectivity to the internet for it to perform its regular duties, which could be network monitoring,  system monitoring, application monitoring on premises of our customers.
    • Senator Wyden: Yeah, it just seems to me what I’m asking about is network security 101, and any responsible organization wouldn’t allow software with this level of access to internal systems to connect to the outside world, and you basically said almost the same thing. My question then, for all of you is, the idea that organizations should use firewalls to control what parts of their networks are connected to the outside world  is not exactly brand new. NSA recommends that organizations only allow traffic that is required for operational tasks, all other traffic ought to be denied. And NIST, the standards and technology group recommends that firewall policies should be based on blocking all inbound and outbound traffic with exceptions made for desired traffic. So, I would like to go down the row and ask each one of you for a “yes” or “no” answer whether you agree with the firewall advice that would really offer a measure of protection from the NSA and NIST. Just yes or no, and ah, if I don’t have my glasses on maybe I can’t see all the name tags, but let’s just go down the row.
    • Mr. Mandia: And I’m gonna give you the “it depends”. The bottom line is this, we do over 6oo red teams a year, firewalls have never stopped one of them. A firewall is like having a gate guard outside a New York City apartment building, and they can recognize if you live there or not, and some attackers are perfectly disguised as someone who lives in the building and walks right by the gate guard. It’s ah, in theory, it’s a sound thing, but it’s academic. In practice it is operationally cumbersome.
    • Senator Wyden: I don’t want to use up all my time. We’ll say that your response to NSA and the National Institute of Standards is “it depends”. Let’s just go down the row.
    • Mr. Ramakrishna: So my answer Senator is “yes”. Do standards such as NIST 800-53 and others that define specific guidelines and rules.
    • Senator Wyden: Very good.
    • Mr. Smith: I’m squarely in the “it depends” camp.
    • Senator Wyden: OK.
    • Mr. Smith: For the same reasons that Kevin said.
    • Senator Wyden: OK, I think we have one other person, don’t we?
    • Mr. Kurtz: Yes, and I would say firewalls help, but are insufficient, and as Kevin said, and I would agree with him. There isn’t a breach that we’ve investigated that the company didn’t have a firewall or even legacy antivirus. So, when you look at the capabilities of a firewall, they’re needed, but certainly they’re not be all end goal, and generally they’re a speed bump on the information super highway for the bad guys.
    • Senator Wyden: I’m going to close, and uh, my colleagues are all waiting. Bottom line for me is that multiple agencies were still breached under your watch by hackers exploiting techniques that experts had warned about for years. So, in the days ahead it’s gonna be critical that you give this committee assurances that spending billions of dollars more after there weren’t steps to prevent disastrous attacks that experts had been warning about was a good investment. So, that discussion is something we’ll have to continue, thank you Mr. Chairman.
  • Other thoughts and discussion about the hearing.
  • There was general consensus amongst the witnesses that there’s a strong need for mandatory reporting of cyber attacks

News

News stories to cover this week, include:

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Good talk! It will be interesting to see what legislation comes out of Washington in response to SolarWinds.

  • Who’s getting shout outs this week?
  • Closing – Thank you to all our listeners! Send things to us by email at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen and Brad’s @BradNigh. Other Twitter handles where you can find some of the stuff we do, UNSECURITY is @unsecurityP, SecurityStudio is @studiosecurity, and FRSecure is @FRSecure. That’s it. Talk to you all again next week!

…and we’re done.

Episode 110 Show Notes – All Hell Broke Loose

Welcome! These are the show notes for episode 110 of the UNSECURITY Podcast.

We’re putting the Information Security @ Home series on hold again this week. In case you didn’t know, it seems we have a big problem on our hands. Over the course of this last week (or so), we’ve witnessed events in our industry that we’ve not seen before, in terms of magnitude and impact. It all started (publicly) with FireEye’s announcement of an intrusion and exfiltration of data. FireEye is one of the largest and most respected firms in our industry, so this was big news!

Unfortunately, this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Over the weekend, we learned of two more really significant breaches; one at the U.S. Treasury Department and the other at the U.S. Commerce Department. On Monday (12/14), all hell sort of broke loose when we learned that these breaches are all related, and the source is SolarWinds. Attackers compromised SolarWinds defenses and inserted malware into their premier product, the Orion platform. Orion is a network management system (NMS) used by thousands of organizations to manage and monitor their IT infrastructure. SolarWinds has become a single source of possible intrusions into ~18,000 other organizations. These intrusions into the other organizations aren’t run of the mill either, these are intrusions using “trusted” software (often) configured with elevated/privileged access. This and will continue to get worse before it gets better.

Seems 2020 isn’t done 2020ing yet. The end of 2020 countdown at the time of this writing:

Other things? Yes, or course!

There are always many, many things going on around here (SecurityStudio and FRSecure). One very newsworthy event included the announcement from the State of North Dakota. North Dakota has made our S2Me (personal information security risk assessment) available for all state residents and will use it to help their citizens be more secure at home! One down, and 49 left to go!

Alright, on to it. Brad’s leading the discussion this week, and these are his notes. GOOD NEWS, we’ve invited our good friend Oscar Minks to join us as we delve in to the whole SolarWinds debacle.


SHOW NOTES – Episode 110

Date: Tuesday December 15th, 2020

Episode 109 Topics

Opening

[Brad] Hey there! Thank you for tuning in to this episode the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 110, the date is December 15th, 2020, and I’m your host, Brad Nigh. Joining me as usual is my good friend and co-worker, Evan Francen. Good morning Evan.

[Evan] Cue Evan.

[Brad] Also joining us this morning is another good friend and co-worker, Oscar Minks. Good morning Oscar.

[Oscar] Cue Oscar.

Quick Catchup

[Brad] As if 4th quarter wasn’t crazy enough we had the SolarWinds news break this week.  Before we dig into that let’s catch up and see how we are all doing with just over 2 weeks left in the year. What’s new?

Transition

Information Security @ Home
All Hell Broke Loose

[Brad] Well, we planned to do more security at home stuff, but as I said a couple weeks ago, 2020 won’t stop 2020’ing.

Topics

  • SolarWinds breach (only the beginning)
  • The timeline (FireEye announcement)
  • FireEye, U.S. Government, (possibly) 425 of the Fortune 500, and (probably) 18,000 organizations.
  • What happened?
  • What are the ramifications of all this?
  • What do you need to do?
  • What do we need to do?

Discussion between Brad, Evan, and Oscar

[Brad] 2020 is not going quietly into the night, is it? Alright, moving on for now.

News

[Brad] Amazingly SolarWinds wasn’t the only news in the last week. We probably won’t have time to get to all of these but they are good reads and good to stay on top of.

Wrapping Up – Shout outs

[Brad] That’s it for episode 110. Thank you Evan and Oscar! Who you got a shoutout for today?

[Evan & Oscar] We’ll see.

[Brad] Thank you to all our listeners! Send things to us by email at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m@BradNigh and Evan can be found @evanfrancen.

Lastly, be sure to follow SecurityStudio (@studiosecurity) and FRSecure (@FRSecure) for more things we do when we do what we do.

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!

UNSECURITY Podcast – Ep 101 Show Notes – Election Security

Well, it’s already mid-October and the election is 21 days (three weeks) away. Things have never seemed crazier or more divided, at least not in my lifetime. Good fodder for discussion in episode 101 of the UNSECURITY Podcast!

Work-wise things are also crazy, but good. Fourth quarter is always nuts for an information security company, and doesn’t matter is it’s consulting (FRSecure) or SaaS (SecurityStudio). Everyone is running at full capacity and finding life margin is a challenge!

Hope you’re happy and healthy! On the the show; I’m (Evan) leading this show and these are my notes.


SHOW NOTES – Episode 101

Date: Wednesday October 14th, 2020

Episode 101 Topics

  • Opening
  • Catching Up (as per usual)
  • Election Security
  • News
  • Wrapping Up – Shout outs
Opening

[Evan] Hey there, thank you for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. The date is October 14th, 2020 and this is episode 101. I’m Evan Francen, your host for this show. Joining me is my good friend and co-host Brad Nigh. Good morning Brad.

[Brad] Brad does Brad.

[Evan] I know we’re a day late getting the podcast out again this week, but holy cow we’ve been busy! We’ll try to get back on track next week.

Brad, I want to reiterate how I enjoyed our discussion the past couple of weeks about the social dilemma, a Netflix documentary about social media and its effects on society. Lots to think about. In fact, I’m planning to watch it again this week.

[Brad] He might comment here.

Catching Up

[Evan] So, what’s new? Tell us what a day in the life of Brad looks like.

[Brad] Cue Brad.

[Evan] I’ll share some stuff too (probably).

Transition

Election Security

[Evan] As you know, we’re only 20 days from the election. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you should. Go to vote.gov and check it out. Brad have you registered to vote?

[Brad] Cue Brad.

[Evan] I’m registered and ready to cast my ballot! The date is November 3rd.

There’s been much said about election security. A simple Google search of “election security” produces over 2.2 million results! Election security isn’t a new thing, even though it’s been front and center the past few election cycles.

There’s more to election security than protecting voting machines, so let’s talk about this.

Resources

[Evan] There’s a lot more to election security than infrastructure. What about voter intimidation, disinformation, and security after election night? We’re talking about disinformation on Thursday night’s Security Sh*t Show because this is a significant issue in today’s society.

Election Security Discussion

Open discussion

[Evan] Good discussion! Securing an election has never been more difficult. Let’s catchup on some news quick.

News

[Evan] Here are some recent and interesting news stories to talk about.

Wrapping Up – Shout outs

[Evan] Great! Episode 101 is just about complete. Thanks Brad, do you have any shout outs this week?

[Brad] We’ll see.

[Evan] Always grateful for our listeners! We’re behind on email, but we’ll promise to respond soon. Send things to us by email at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen and Brad’s @BradNigh.

Lastly, be sure to follow SecurityStudio (@studiosecurity) and FRSecure (@FRSecure) for more things we do when we do what we do.

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!

The UNSECURITY Podcast – Episode 63 Show Notes – Mission

I’m grateful to be back home. Two weeks in Cancun, Mexico where the sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80s. Now, I’m back in Minnesota where there’s a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature is in the single digits. I’m grateful to be back home because I’m with my family again. My FRSecure and SecurityStudio family!

THANK YOU to Brad and Ryan for doing holding down the fort!

OK, I was in Cancun to begin writing our next book. It’s “our” next book because Brad’s going to write his part and Ryan’s going to add a little flair too. The book is unofficially titled “Securing America” and will start to come together over the next couple of months. The (rough) outline looks like this so far:

  • Introduction
  • Information Security Operating System (ISOS)
    • Components
    • The Cycle
  • Securing America
    • Small Business
    • Local Government
    • Education
    • Home
  • The People Component
  • The Asset Component
  • The Control Component
  • The Process Component
  • The Measurement Component
  • The Journey – All Working Together
  • Starting NOW

If this book is anything like the first one (UNSECURITY), there’s likely to be some changes to the outline, but this is what we’ve got so far.

Alright. On to the show. This is episode 63 of the UNSECURITY Podcast. I’ll be hosting and these are my notes. Joining me in studio will be my co-host Brad Nigh and SecurityStudio’s very own Ryan Cloutier.

Let’s do this!

-Evan


SHOW NOTES – Episode 63

Date: Monday, January 20th, 2020

Show Topics:

Our topics this week:

  • Opening
    • Back Home
    • Book (Securing America) Status
    • What did I miss?
  • U.S. and Iran
    • Finishing the discussion from last week.
    • We’re not out of the woods.
  •  The “Mission” and CISSP Mentor Program
    • What is it?
    • Why do we care?
    • How can you join us?
  • News
Opening

[Evan] Hey UNSECURITY Podcast listeners! This is episode 62 and the date is January 20th, 2020. I’m Evan Francen, and it’s good to be back! I’m hosting today’s show, and joining me in studio is my friendly co-host Brad Nigh and my left-hand man Ryan Cloutier. Hey guys.

[Brad & Ryan] They’ll say “hi” or something.

[Evan] Did you guys catch that? I called Ryan my “left-hand man”. Of course you did, you guys read the show notes! You know why I called Ryan my “left-hand man”?

[Brad & Ryan] Stumped. Maybe.

[Evan] Well, I’ll tell you…

[Evan] Alright, I’m back home. It feels good to be back, and it couldn’t have been any better to come back to a bunch of smiling faces at our holiday party on Saturday! What did you guys think?

[Brad & Ryan] Sharing thoughts and such.

[Evan] We have a ton to cover today! Let’s catch-up quick. You guys cool with that?

Catching Up Discussion
  • Back home
    • Holiday Party
    • Q1/2020, Expectations
  • Book (Securing America) things
  • Did I miss anything?

[Evan] Like always, many good things to look forward too. Love you guys and love being back. Last week I had to run halfway through the show. We were talking about tensions between the United States and Iran and how it affects us all. There’s this talk of a cyberwar between us, and I just want to close the loop a little on the topic.

U.S. and Iran Discussion

[Evan] OK, the world’s not likely to end today, but we need to stay vigilant. Complacency and ignorance come with consequences. Switching gears now…

We talk about this mission at FRSecure and SecurityStudio. Brad, you have your take. Ryan, you have yours. I’ve certainly got mine too, but what is this “mission” and why is it important for our listeners to know about it?

Discussion about The “Mission” and CISSP Mentor Program

An open and honest discussion about our mission.

  • What is it?
  • Why do we care so much about it?
  • Are there ways for people to join us? If so, how?

The CISSP Mentor Program Registration is Open!

[Evan] Yes, it’s all about the mission! The theory is if you focus on the mission you’ll make money, but if you focus on the money, you’re certain to miss the mission. Love it! Alright, good talk. Let’s cover a few news stories, and wrap this thing up.

News

There’s always plenty of news in the information security industry. Here are a few stories that caught my eye recently:

Closing

[Evan] Wow. Lot’s going on and plenty of news to stay up on. I guess this is why they pay us the big buck, right?

This is the end of our show, and we close these things out pretty much the same way every week. Keep sending us your feedback, tips, of whatever else you’d like us to know at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you have a suggested guest for us to reach out to, let us know that too.

If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m Evan and you can find me @evanfrancen. Brad’s a cool cat, and you can find him @BradNigh. Ryan’s not to shabby himself, follow him at @CLOUTIERSEC.

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!

The UNSECURITY Podcast – Episode 62 Show Notes – Iran and Stuff

Still in Cancun for another week (Evan). I know, poor me.

One thing is certain. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or what you’re doing, the world doesn’t pause and wait for you. Attackers still attack and defenders still defend. Some of us are thriving and others of us are just struggling to survive.

So, the big worldwide news this past week was the U.S. spat with Iran. It was immediately politicized, as we would expect, but what does it mean to you, me, and the world of information security? Let’s talk about this.

A few of you took me up on my offer last week for a free copy of UNSECURITY. Your books are being sent soon.

If you haven’t read my first book, I invite you to. You can either purchase it, or if you’re with us on our mission to fix the brokenness in our industry, contact me (Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc.) and tell me so. I’ll send you a free signed copy! P.S. I’m not publicizing this everywhere, so let’s see if your paying attention.

I’m supposed to be leading the show this week, but I’m still out of the office. Brad and Ryan should be in studio for this episode, and I’ll call in again.

These are my notes (Evan).


SHOW NOTES – Episode 62

Date: Monday, January 13th, 2020

Show Topics:

Our topics this week:

  • Opening – Catching up
  • U.S. and Iran
    • What does it mean for information security?
    • What does it mean for you and me?
    • Avoiding collateral damage
  •  News
    • Is Microsoft sharing Skype and Cortana audio with the Chinese?
    • Security tips for college students
    • Amazon Ring employees caught snooping
  • Contact Us – featuring people looking for jobs in information security
Opening

[Brad] Hey UNSECURITY Podcast listeners! This is episode 62 and the date is January 13th, 2020. I’m Brad Nigh, your host for today’s show. Joining me in studio is Ryan Cloutier and by phone is Evan Francen. Hi guys.

[Ryan & Evan] We’re welcoming fellas, so we’ll say “hi” or something here.

[Brad] Let’s catch up quick. How was your week and what’s going?

Catching Up Discussion

Who’s doing what?

  • Ryan’s first week at SecurityStudio.
    • What was it like?
    • Anything newsworthy or exciting?
  • Brad’s crazy week.
    • Most weeks are crazy. What was craziest?
    • What are you excited about?
  • Evan in Cancun.
    • Chillin’ or workin’?
    • How’s the book coming along?

[Brad] Cool. Good things last week and coming up this week.

Switching gears a bit. I want to discuss a topic that’s on many people’s minds; the conflict between the United States and Iran, and what effect it has on our daily information security/cybersecurity lives.

U.S., Iran, and Information Security Discussion

Very significant events have taken place over the past few weeks. Events that impact our world as we know it; politically, economically, and from an information security (or cybersecurity) perspective. Let’s stay out of the politics as much as we can and leave the economic discussion to the economics experts.

What I’d like to discuss is how these current events affect us with respect to information security. We should all be concerned about how these things affect our ability to protect ourselves, our families, our schools, our workplaces, and our local governments.

First a little background on the current events:

  • December 27th, 2019 – The K-1 Air Base in Iraq was attacked killing an American civilian contractor, injuring four U.S. service members and injuring two Iraqi security forces personnel. The U.S. blamed Iranian-backed militia for the attack.
  • December 29th, 2019 – The United States attacked five Hezbollah positions in Iraq and Syria resulting is an at least 25 killed militia members and another 55 wounded.
  • December 31st, 2019 – January 1st, 2020 – Hezbollah militiamen, their supporters and sympathizers attacked the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone of Baghdad. The United States blamed Iran and its non-state allies for orchestrating the attack. No deaths or serious injuries occurred during the attack and protesters never breached the main compound.
  • January 3rd, 2020 – A targeted U.S. drone strike killed the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was considered to be the second most powerful person in Iran.
  • January 8th, 2020 – The Iranian military launched numerous ballistic missiles at two airbases in Iraq. there were neither American nor Iraqi casualties. Hours after the initial Iranian missile attacks, a Boeing 737-800 (Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752) crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 176 passengers on board. Iran initially claimed the cause of the crash was mechanical failure.
  • January 11th, 2020 – A video showing the moment Flight 752  was hit by an Iranian missile was published by The New York Times. The Iranian government was forced to admit that it “inadvertently” shot the plane out of the sky. A wave of anti-government protests have now emerged across Iran.

Phew! These are only the latest events in decades of conflict between the two nations.

So, back to the point of our discussion. I’d like us to share our opinions, and hear the opinions of our listeners this week. You know what they say about opinions, right?

  • What does it mean for information security?
  • What does it mean for you and me?
  • How can we avoid collateral damage?

Some sources of information to guide our discussion:

[Brad] Great discussion and plenty of healthy opinion. I think the same things hold true for us that have always held true:

  1. Focus on what you can do to protect your area of influence (your habits, at home, at work, etc.)
  2. Master the fundamentals. We can’t control what Iran or the United States does, but we can make it a little less likely that we’ll be a victim in all this.
News

Now for some (other) news. Here are three newsy things that caught our attention last week.

Closing

[Brad] OK, that’ll just about do it. Be careful out there.

One last thing before we close this show out. Are you or someone you know looking for a job in information security? If so, we’d love to hear from you and help out where we can. Email us at unsecurity@protonmail.com and we’ll chat.

If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @BradNigh, Ryan can be found at @CLOUTIERSEC, and Evan’s in his usual spot, @evanfrancen.

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!