UNSECURITY Episode 133 Show Notes

We’re back with another amazing guest this week! It’s our treat to welcome Gabriel Friedlander from Wizer to the show!

The guests from the last month (or so) have been incredible. There are so many great people in our industry who are in this for the right reasons, primarily to serve other people!

If you missed any of these shows, you can find them here:

This week, episode 133, we’re joined by a really cool guy with a huge heart for serving the underserved, Gabriel Friedlander from Wizer!

A quick introduction to Gabriel and Wizer is in the show notes (below).

This will be a GREAT episode for sure!

NOTE: We’re looking for people from other walks of life to share their perspectives too, especially men and women of color. Let us know at unsecurity@protonmail.com if you have suggestions.

Let’s get to the episode 133 show notes, shall we?


SHOW NOTES – Episode 133 – Tuesday May 25th, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 133, and the date is May 25th, 2021. My buddy Brad is here, as usual. Good morning Brad!

[Evan] I’m excited to welcome our guest this week. He’s someone I greatly admire, and a true asset to our community, Gabriel Friedlander from Wizer. Welcome Gabe!

Getting to know Gabriel Friedlander

An open and honest dialog with Gabriel about his background, ObserveIT, Wizer, and whatever else comes up in our conversation.

About Gabe – From His LinkedIn Profile

I founded wizer-training.com in early 2019 with a mission to make basic security awareness training free for everyone. Since then Wizer has been rapidly growing with over 6000 organization who signed up for our free training. And in 2020 we partnered with several local counties to offer free Citizen Training. We believe that in this day an age, security awareness should be a basic human skill.

Prior to founding Wizer I was the co-founder of ObserveIT (acquired by ProofPoint) , a company specializing in the detection and prevention of insider threats. I am also the co-author of the book, “Insider Threat Program: Your 90-Day Plan”. For more than a decade I have researched insider threat and trained numerous organizations on how to avoid and mitigate the risk it poses.

About Wizer

Did you know the average human attention Span is 8 Seconds – that’s just 1 Second Less Than A Goldfish! So we created training videos to be around 1 min long, entertaining, and to the point.  Our goal is to train employees on how to avoid today’s most common cyber attacks and to help create a “Human Firewall”.  Since there are officially more mobile devices than people in the world, we made Wizer mobile-friendly so you can access it from anywhere, anytime, with or without sound. Happy learning!  

Gabriel didn’t need another job (or necessarily the income) when he started Wizer. He started Wizer because he saw a need, wanted to help, and was looking for something fun to do. At first, everything Wizer did was free, and Gabriel didn’t have a plan for making money. Since then, things have taken off and he’s had a tremendous positive impact on our community.

News

Guessing we’ll use up the entire hour talking to Gabriel. Maybe we’ll cover some news next week.

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Who’s getting shout outs this week?

Thank you to all our listeners! Thank you Brad for a great conversation! If you have something you’d like to tell us, feel free to email the show at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen, and Brad’s @BradNigh.

Gabriel, how do you want people to find you?

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.

UNSECURITY Episode 132 Show Notes

Hey Listeners!

Spring is in full bloom (finally) in Minnesota, and life is good. The weather is great, and last week, our Governor (Tim Walz) lifted the mask mandate for people who are vaccinated and maintain some semblance of social distancing. It’s good to see people’s faces again, especially when they’re smiling. 🙂

We’re grateful for the guests who have joined our show the past four weeks! We’ve learned a ton from these conversations.

If you missed any of these shows, you can find them here:

NOTE: We’re looking for people from other walks of life to share their perspectives too, especially men and women of color. Let us know at unsecurity@protonmail.com if you have suggestions.

This week, we’re not planning to have a guest, so you’ll have to put up with Brad and I.

Next week (episode 133) we’re hoping to have Gabriel Friedlander from Wizer on the show!

Let’s get to the episode 132 show notes, shall we?


SHOW NOTES – Episode 132 – Tuesday May 18th, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 132, and the date is May 18th, 2021. Joining me is my good friend, highly-skilled information security expert, and all around great guy, Brad Nigh.

Good morning Brad!

There are so many things happening in our world, it’s hard to keep track. One interesting event from the last week (other than the Colonial Pipeline attack) was the announcement of President Biden’s Executive Order (EO) 14028 titled “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity”. In today’s episode, Brad and I are going to break this down.

Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity

  • The EO was announced by the Administration on 5/12/21.
  • There’s a lot of information to unpack here, including:
  • Section 1. Policy, containing:
    • Policy statement.
    • Scope.
  • Section 2. Removing Barriers to Sharing Threat Information, containing:
    • Review existing reporting requirements and procedures.
    • Recommend updates to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
    • Update the FAR.
    • Enforce IT/OT provider compliance.
    • Centralize reporting.
    • Provide budget for this section.
  • Section 3. Modernizing Federal Government Cybersecurity
    • Adopt security best practices.
    • Advance toward Zero Trust Architecture.
    • Accelerate movement to secure cloud services.
    • Adopt multi-factor authentication.
    • Encrypt data at rest and in transit.
    • Centralize and streamline access to cybersecurity data.
    • Invest in both technology and personnel to match the modernization goals.
  • Section 4. Enhancing Software Supply Chain Security
    • Develop standards, tools, and best practices for secure software development.
    • Enforce secure software development practices.
    • Define and enforce a “Software Bill of Materials (SBOM)”.
    • Define “critical software” and its protection requirements.
    • Consumer labeling programs for IoT and software.
  • Section 5. Establishing a Cyber Safety Review Board
    • Requirements for a new “Cyber Safety Review Board”.
    • All requirements are for the Secretary of Homeland Security and the (yet to be established) Cyber Safety Review Board (“board”).
  • Section 6. Standardizing the Federal Government’s Playbook for Responding to Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Incidents; the playbook:
    • Will Incorporate all appropriate NIST standards.
    • Be used by all Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) Agencies.
    • Will articulate progress and completion through all phases of an incident response.
    • Will allow flexibility so it may be used in support of various response activities.
    • Establishes a requirement that the Director of CISA reviews and validates FCEB Agencies’ incident response and remediation results upon an agency’s completion of its incident response.
    • Defines key terms and use such terms consistently with any statutory definitions.
  • Section 7. Improving Detection of Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Incidents on Federal Government Networks
    • The adoption of a Federal Government-wide Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) initiative.
    • CISA threat hunting on FCEB networks and systems without agency authorization.
    • Information sharing between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security
  • Section 8. Improving the Federal Government’s Investigative and Remediation Capabilities
    • Types of logs to be maintained.
    • Time periods to retain the logs and other relevant data.
    • Time periods for agencies to enable recommended logging and security requirements.
    • How to protect logs (logs shall be protected by cryptographic methods to ensure integrity once collected and periodically verified against the hashes throughout their retention)
    • Data shall be retained in a manner consistent with all applicable privacy laws and regulations.
    • Ensure that, upon request, agencies provide logs to the Secretary of Homeland Security through the Director of CISA and to the FBI, consistent with applicable law.
    • Permit agencies to share log information, as needed and appropriate, with other Federal agencies for cyber risks or incidents.
  • Section 9. National Security Systems
  • Section 10. Definitions
  • Section 11. General Provisions

This will be a great conversation as Brad and I share our summary, thoughts and opinions on all this!

News

Just time for one news story this week. This one is from Brian Krebs, “Try This One Weird Trick Russian Hackers Hate“.

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Who’s getting shout outs this week?

Thank you to all our listeners! Thank you Brad for a great conversation! If you have something you’d like to tell us, feel free to email the show 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.

UNSECURITY Episode 131 Show Notes

Apologies for not posting something about last week’s show, episode 130. We were honored and pleased to welcome John Strand from Black Hills Information Security as our guest. John, Brad and talked openly about John’s path through information security, what Black Hills is working on, the different pockets of security people, why it’s important to work together as information security vendors to improve the community, and John’s latest Pay What You Can (PWYC) Series.

It was a GREAT talk and we’re VERY grateful that John stopped by. Check out episode 130 here; https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unsecurity-episode-130-john-strand-black-hills-information/id1442520920?i=1000520139261

Episode 131

Pumped about this week’s show!

My good friend, Security Shit Show co-host, hacker extraordinaire, and all around great guy Chris Roberts is stopping in for a chat.

Special Guest – Chris Roberts

Chris and I (Evan) were introduced to each other by our mutual friend Tony Cole maybe three years ago, but we didn’t get to know each other well until the last 13, 14 months. We’re both REALLY busy guys, so our circles just didn’t cross much. In the past year, we’ve gotten to know each other quite well which is no surprise seeing that we spend more than two hours together each week on the Security Shit Show with Ryan Cloutier (another great guy).

Things about Chris:

From his LinkedIn Profile:

  • Currently the Chief Security Strategist for Cynet Security (among many other things)
  • Currently an Executive Committee Member at the CyberEdBoard Community
  • Currently an Advisor, Researcher, Hacker, Etc. at HillBilly Hit Squad
  • Currently co-host of The Security Shit Show
  • Former Chief Security Strategist at Attivo Networks, Inc.
  • Former Chief of Adversarial Research and Engineering at LARES Consulting
  • Former Chief Security Architect at Acalvio Technologies
  • Former Senior Consultant at Sentinel Global LLC
  • Founder of One World Labs
  • Former Managing Director Electronic Intelligence/Principal Investigator at Cyopsis, LLC
  • Former President/CEO at CCi5, Inc.
  • Former Director of Coalfire Labs at Coalfire Systems, Inc.
  • and on and on…

Chris has been all over the world and all over the United States doing crazy cool hacker stuff at every stop.

He is truly on of my favorite people on the planet to talk to! Always a good time.

Other Guests – Past, Present, and Future

Lots of GREAT conversations with lots of GREAT information security folks!


SHOW NOTES – Episode 131 – Tuesday May 11th, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 131, and the date is May 11th, 2021. Joining me is my good friend, infosec buddy and partner in crime.

Also joining the UNSECURITY Podcast is our special guest, Mr. Chris Roberts! Welcome my friend. It’s an honor to have you on our show!

Introducing Chris Roberts

  • Let’s start with trying to figure out how Chris first got into the information security industry.
  • Next, we’ll see how far we can get down his career path before 1) we start chasing squirrels (we’re both ADD) or 2) we run out of time (because there’s A LOT there).
  • The Colonial Pipeline Attack and global security tensions/consequences.
  • Current projects.
  • Current events.

We’ll see if we get to his plane hacking antics too, but I’m not sure we’ll have the time.

News

We’ll probably skip news in this show. Guessing that Brad, Ron, and myself will have no problem filling the entire show with good discussion.

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Who’s getting shout outs this week?

Thank you to all our listeners! HUGE thank you to Chris for joining us. If you have something you’d like to tell us, feel free to email the show at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen, and Brad’s @BradNigh.

Chris is easy to find, but can be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter (@Sidragon1).

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.

UNSECURITY Episode 129 Show Notes

We have another great guest for episode 129, and we’re excited to get his take on things!

Special Guest – Ron Woerner

In this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast, we’re joined by another good friend of ours, Ron Woerner.

Ron and I (Evan) first met at the RSA Conference last year (2020) after being introduced to each other by Ryan Cloutier, another good friend. Ron is a no nonsense, plain English-speaking information security expert with a heart for helping people from all walks protect themselves better. I love this guy and I’m excited to chat with him on the show!

Things about Ron:

We’re in for a treat in this episode!

Other Guests – Past, Present, and Future
  • Episode 128 Special Guest – Roger Grimes (0n 4/20)
  • Episode 129 Special Guest – Ron Woerner (this week)
  • Episode 130 Special Guest – John Strand (on 5/4)
    • Believe it or not, I have never met John in person. Despite running in some of the same circles for many years, this will be the first time I meet him.
    • John also has a laundry list of accomplishments. He’s the Founder and Owner of Black Hills Information Security, Senior Instructor with the SANS Institute, teaches SEC504: Hacker Techniques, Exploits, and Incident Handling; SEC560: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking; SEC580: Metasploit Kung Fu for Enterprise Pen Testing; and SEC464: Hacker Detection for System Administrators. John is the course author for SEC464: Hacker Detection for System Administrators and the co-author for SEC580: Metasploit Kung Fu for Enterprise Pen Testing. He’s also presented at the FBI, NASA, NSA, DefCon, and lots of other places.
  • Episode 131 Special Guest – Chris Roberts (on 5/11)
  • Episode 132 Special Guest – Gabriel Friedlander (on 5/18)

Lots of GREAT conversations with lots of GREAT information security folks!


SHOW NOTES – Episode 129 – Tuesday April 27th, 2021

Recorded Monday April 26th, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 129, and the date is April 27th, 2021. Joining me is my good friend, solid partner, and and top infosec expert Brad Nigh. Welcome Brad!

Also joining the UNSECURITY Podcast is our special guest, Mr. Ron Woerner! Welcome Ron. It’s an honor to have you on our show!

Introducing Ron Woerner

It’s great to have Ron on our show! He gets information security and he always has an interesting perspective on things.

  • Open Discussion.
  • Top of mind things.
  • Current projects.
  • Current events.

Pretty sure we’ll get to talk about Ron’s talks at RSA, his work/lectures at Bellevue University, social engineering things, information security as a life skill, and other goodies!

News

We’ll probably skip news in this show. Guessing that Brad, Ron, and myself will have no problem filling the entire show with good discussion.

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Who’s getting shout outs this week?

Thank you to all our listeners! HUGE thank you to Ron for joining us. If you have something you’d like to tell us, feel free to email the show at unsecurity@protonmail.com. If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen, and Brad’s @BradNigh.

Ron can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter (@RonW123), and other places he’ll probably share during the show.

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.

UNSECURITY Episode 125 Show Notes

A news article caught my eye this morning while getting ready for this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast.

US Strategic Command Twitter account accessed by child: report

Link: https://www.foxnews.com/us/us-strategic-command-twitter-account-accessed-by-small-child-report

My first thought was “oh, that’s funny and sorta cute.” Then I thought some more. It seems innocent(ish) to walk away from your computer while you’re at home. What could happen? Well, this could happen, but it could have been much worse!

This is the Twitter account of the U.S. Strategic Command (“USSTRATCOM”). For those of you who don’t know what USSTRATCOM is, or what they do, here’s information from their “About” page:

“USSTRATCOM integrates and coordinates the necessary command and control capability to provide support with the most accurate and timely information for the President, the Secretary of Defense, other national leadership and combatant commanders.

The mission of USSTRATCOM is to deter strategic attack and employ forces, as directed, to guarantee the security of our Nation and our Allies. The command’s assigned responsibilities include strategic deterrence; nuclear operations; space operations; joint electronic spectrum operations; global strike; missile defense; and analysis and targeting. USSTRATCOM’s forces and capabilities underpin and enable all other Joint Force operations.

USSTRATCOM combines the synergy of the U.S. legacy nuclear command and control mission with responsibility for space operations, global strike, and global missile defense. This dynamic command gives national leadership a unified resource for greater understanding of specific threats around the world and the means to respond to those threats rapidly.”

Sounds pretty damn important! Social media is used by organizations (public and private) to disseminate information to the public and their customers. What if the information disseminated is harmful to others? In this particular case, a child typed “;l;gmlxzssaw”. The message was broadcast all over the world and caused a stir. Caused a stir, but not panic.

What if this wasn’t a child and/or the message was more nefarious. What is someone typed:

“The United States of America is under current attack. The President has raised our alert condition to DEFCON 1. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. DO NOT panic, but please be aware. Additional details forthcoming, including further instruction for protection of U.S. citizens and our assets.”

Now, you may know that USSTRATCOM would never issue such a warning on Twitter, but do others? Even if others do know this, you’ve seen how some people throw logic and reason out the window when something panicky happens, right? What if the alert was more thought out with direct instructions to do certain things that could be destructive. Would this cause a panic? On the surface, this particular instance may seem funny. In reality, it’s sad. It’s sad that people often use computers without thinking of consequences and that we are STILL trying to get people to lock their computers when they step away.

Anyway, we’ve got a show to do. Let’s get right to it, show notes for episode 125 of the UNSECURITY Podcast…


SHOW NOTES – Episode 125 – Tuesday March 30th, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 125, and the date is March 30th, 2021. Back again is my good friend and security ninja Brad Nigh. Welcome Brad!

Another good show today. We’re gonna talk about this FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program think you might have heard about.

FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program

  • What is it?
  • Who’s it for?
  • The history of the FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program
    • 1st class in 2010 – six students
    • 11th class in 2020 – ~2,400 students
    • 12th class this year (2021) – 5,300+ students
  • Why did we start this thing?
  • Why do we keep doing this thing?
  • Next class starts on April 12th (2021)
    • What are we expecting?
    • Who’s teaching?
    • Is there time to sign up still?
  • Is it really FREE?!
    • What strings are attached?
    • Will I be marketed to?
    • Will I be sold something?
    • Will you sell my information?
  • What’s the future of the FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program?
  • Where can I sign up?
  • Can I refer others?
  • What if I’m not planning to take the test?

And whatever other question we can think of. We’ll be transparent as we talk about the program and our experiences with it.

Want to know more? GO HERE: https://frsecure.com/cissp-mentor-program/

News

Three interesting news articles this week:

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Good talk. Thank you Brad, and thank you listeners!

  • 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.

UNSECURITY Episode 124 Show Notes

Spring has sprung!

The first day of Spring was Saturday, March 20th. If you’re from Minnesota like Brad and I are, you’re happy about this. Speaking of Brad, he’s back this week!

Let’s get right to it, show notes for episode 124 of the UNSECURITY Podcast…


SHOW NOTES – Episode 124 – Tuesday March 23rd, 2021

Opening

[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 124, and the date is March 23rd, 2021. Back from taking a couple weeks off from the show is my good friend and co-host Brad Nigh. Welcome back Brad!

We’ve got a good show planned for you today. Let’s talk passwords! Yay, right?!

Let’s try to tackle as many common questions about passwords as we can in one show!

Passwords

  • Why do we need passwords?
    • The basics of identity and authentication.
    • A password is proof.
  • What happens when a password is compromised?
  • How are passwords compromised?
    • Caused by you.
      • Disclosed.
      • Weak.
    • Caused by them (someone you shared it with).
  • What’s the risk is a password is compromised?
    • How do we protect against password disclosure?
    • How do we protect against weak passwords?
    • How do we protect against someone else disclosing a password?
  • @SecurityStudio, we just finished a new password strength/score algorithm.
    • Eighteen rules with weights applied according to risk.
    • Length, numbers(only), lowercase(only), uppercase(only), letters(only), letters & numbers(only), known compromise(s), dictionary, dictionary w/simple obfuscation, 80%+ dictionary, 80%+ dictionary w/simple obfuscation, 60%+ dictionary, 60%+ dictionary w/simple obfuscation, doubleword, common numeric sequences, words & numbers appended, and personally common/known things.
  • The average person has how many passwords?
    • How many passwords do you have?
    • How many passwords to Brad and I have?
  • Are passwords secure?
  • Are we stuck with passwords forever?
  • What do we do to protect our passwords?
  • Does anyone like passwords?

Other Things

  • The latest registration count for the FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program was 4,701 as of yesterday (3/22) morning!
    • The 2021 program kicks off in 20 days.
    • Will we top 5,000 registrations?!
    • What do we like best about the program?
  • New features for S2
    • Nested entities within S2Org.
    • S2Me Instant Score (coming soon).
    • S2PCI (coming next month).
  • What else?

News

Three interesting news articles this week:

(PSST… Want a good list of APT groups and their operations?! – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/1H9_xaxQHpWaa4O_Son4Gx0YOIzlcBWMsdvePFX68EKU/pubhtml#)

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Good talk. Thank you Brad, and thank you listeners!

  • 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.

FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program Welcome Message

Only 46 more days. It’s almost time to start the FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program!

As of yesterday (2/23/21), we have more than 3,500 registered students for the 2021 class. That’s awesome! (and a little nuts) For context, we started the program in 2010 with six students. At the time, FRSecure was a teeny startup (3 employees), but our size didn’t matter. We started with a simple goal:

Provide quality information security training for free.

No strings. No ulterior motive. No marketing gimmicks. Nothing but helping people on their journey.

Why this goal?

We love people. By proxy, we love people in our industry, and by (another) proxy, we love the people served by our industry. Our mission (“to fix the broken industry”) is born from and rooted in love, and we will always do right by our mission. Makes sense, yeah? We’re all #MissionBeforeMoney around here!

Fast forward, this will be our 12th consecutive year. We’ve been a positive influence (to one degree or another) in the lives of more than 6,000 people through the CISSP Mentor Program in the past two years alone (3,500+ students this year so far, 2,400+ students last year). Everyone is welcome here, regardless of background, experience or education. If you don’t want to take the CISSP exam, or don’t feel ready, join us anyway. You’ll learn more about information security, and maybe you’ll pick up some life skills along the way!

Welcome Message

Posted in the 2021 CISSP Mentor Program Study Group on 2/19/21:

Hello 2021 FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program Class,

I’m Evan Francen, the founder and CEO of FRSecure (and SecurityStudio) and one of the instructors here. We’ll get to know each other once class gets going, but I wanted to introduce myself now and welcome you.

Welcome to the 2021 FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program!

I’m excited that you’re here and honored to be part of your journey.

A little history…

In 2008, we started FRSecure with this mission:

To fix the broken information security industry.

Our mission came from a deep passion to do things right and serve others. You see, information security isn’t about information or security as much as it is about people. People cause the havoc (intentionally or accidentally) and people suffer the consequences. If nobody suffered, nobody would care.

The information security industry is still young. There’s no shortage of work to do, and the sooner we get to work on the right things, the better off everyone will be. Two things are at (or near) the core of our information security industry problems:

  • People take advantage of other people. If there was a single motivator for me, this would be it.Attackers – people who don’t hide their intent to do others harm. Most people think we’re only concerned about the attackers, but there’s much more.Frenemies – people in our industry who sell products and services that are not in the best interests of the buyer and/or do not do what they claim.
    • “Experts” – yes, in quotes. There are people in our industry who are in it for the wrong reasons. They are motivated by selfishness and not to serve others. This wouldn’t seem so bad, but most of these people are charged with securing information that does not belong to them. Inflated egos intimidate and discourage others, ignorance leads to poor decisions, comfort leads to inactivity, etc., etc.
  • Information security fundamentals are not universally understood or applied. This is true in the public sector and private industry. It’s also true at home. If we (as an industry) mastered the application of fundamental information security concepts, we’d reduce the number of breaches by as much as ~80-90% (my conservative estimate) and significantly reduce the impact to society.

Fixing these problems is certainly easier said than done, but the pursuit continues…

So, where does the FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program fit in this equation, and what does it mean for you?

Simple. Our industry needs more good information security people. We need you!

The FRSecure CISSP Mentor Program was born out of our mission. In our first year (2010), there were six students. All six students went on to pass their exams and became CISSPs. Today, they are all working in our industry and making a positive difference in the lives of others. Last year was the 11th consecutive year for the program, and we had more than 2,400 registrations. It’s been an incredible experience for us, and for me personally. We do this because we love people, and we do it for no other reason. No strings, just #MissionBeforeMoney!

The 2021 CISSP Mentor Program

We’re sticking with the formula that works. Due to COVID still being COVID, we will once again teach all classes remotely. We’ve already surpassed last year’s record number of student registrations, and we’re on track for more than 5,000! This will be the best class yet, and I’m VERY excited to get to know some of you along the way! You’ll see me and some of the other FRSecure folks drop in here (the study group) from time to time. We’re here to help you as much as we are able (given day job and family stuff).

Once again, welcome! Thank you for letting us be part of your success. In know I speak for the other instructors (Brad Nigh and Ryan Cloutier) and the entire FRSecure team when I say that.

Let’s do this!

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L is for Layers

Learning the ABCs is important to understanding the English language, and the ABCs of Information Security are important for understanding the basic concepts in information (and people) protection. These ABCs are written as education for people who don’t speak information security natively and serve as good reminders for those of us already fluent in this confusing language.

TRUTH: If more people and organizations applied the basics, we’d eliminate a vast majority of breaches (and other bad things).

Here’s our progress thus far:

So, now the beloved letter “L”.

Lethargic Larry’s lackadaisical use of network layers, and his leisurely approach to security let lazy criminals move laterally throughout the lattice, leaving his league of lawyers lamenting the long laborious litigation laid before them from the lye leaked into the lotic.

For the purposes of the Information Security ABCs, “L” is for “Layers”.

To best apply the word “layer” with our definition of “information security”, let’s review both definitions quick. The word “layer” has several definitions in the English language, and here are two:

  • a thickness of some material laid on or spread over a surface: a layer of soot on the windowsill; two layers of paint.
  • something lying over or under something else; a level or tier: There can be multiple layers of metaphor in a single poem.

You remember our definition of “information security” right? Maybe. Well, in case you forgot, it’s managing risk to unauthorized disclosure, modification, and destruction of information using administrative, physical, and technical means (or controls).

So, what is an “information security layer” or “security layer” for short?

What is a Security Layer?

In the context of information security, we use the term layers to describe the controls, most often preventative controls. A single layer is less strong (or effective) than multiple layers. For multiple layers, we just stack one layer on top of another (logically) to make our security (and protection) stronger. Here’s an analogy:

  • Bullet-resistant glass is constructed using multiple layers of laminated glass. The more layers there are, the more protection we get from the glass. Note, the glass is bullet “resistant” and not bullet “proof”. A projectile that is powerful enough, will get through. The point is, the layers make the protection stronger.

  • Attacker-resistant networks are constructed following the same concept, but using multiple layers of network protection (segmentation and isolation, maybe provided by firewalls) instead of multiple layers of laminate glass. The more layers there are, the more protection we get from the network. Like the bullet resistant glass, attacker resistant networks are never attacker “proof”.

Multiple layers make protections stronger, they compliment and compensate for each other. Here are a couple more examples:

  • The most common control for authentication is a username and password, a single layer (or often referred to as “factor”). If we add another layer to the authentication, maybe a hardware token (like YubiKey or RSA SecureID), a biometic (like Face ID), or a software token (like Google Authenticator or SMS text), we’ve significantly strengthened the control. We call this multi-factor authentication (MFA), but it’s also multiple layers.
  • A building is protected by exterior controls (walls, windows, doors, etc.). A single layer of protection might be provided by the walls and a single entry door. Once an attacker breaches the door (or wall or window) and gains entry to the building interior, there would be nothing left to stop them from taking anything they wanted or assaulting anyone inside. A simple multi-layer approach might employ additional locked doors between the single exterior entry point and office spaces, between office spaces and mail rooms, between office spaces and data closets, etc., etc.

Layers are important for safety

As one who lives in a cold weather climate, I can assure you that layers are an essential part of staying safe in cold weather. As with all things, having the appropriate number of layers is critical, too many layers and you overheat and struggle to move, not enough layers and you will freeze.

When it comes to using layers in security the same principal applies, too many layers prevents effective use and not enough layers leads to unnecessary risk and danger.

Layers are part of defense in depth

We like to use the analogy that security is like an onion, we say this because an onion has many layers and each layer is needed to make a whole onion, in security it is no different. You may need many layers to make the whole security program effective.

Layers are the cornerstone of defense in depth, defense in depth is a security concept that states; security should be implemented in overlapping layers that provide the three elements needed to secure assets, prevention, detection and response, while seeking to offset the weakness of one security layer by strengthening it with two or more additional layers. This is the #1 reason for using Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) to strengthen the security of your username and password.

Let’s take a deeper look at the various security layers, we encounter most often.

Physical

The physical layer consists of the things you can touch, fences, locked doors, surveillance cameras, man in the middle traps (a room that one door locks behind you before the door in front of you can be opened) security guards, etc. This is the fist layer of any security program; all the other layers are ineffective if the systems can be physically accessed by bad actors. Having an appropriate level of physical controls in place is critical to ensuring the rest of the security layers are effective. After all,

“It doesn’t matter if your server runs the greatest security software of all time when someone steals the server.”  

Access Control

The access control layer comes in two forms physical access and logical access, both serve the same purpose, to limit access to sensitive systems and data to authorized personnel (approved users only). The most common physical access controls are door locks, and the most common logical access controls are passwords (used in combination with a username).

Access control gives us the ability to restrict and monitor who is accessing what, and physical and logical access controls can have many sublayers. For example a locked door could have additional layers (controls) of security such as a surveillance camera or security guard. Logical examples include multi-factor authentication (MFA) covered earlier, or performing logical access audits on a periodic basis.

Application

The application security layer is all about providing protection to applications and the data applications use. Security controls on the application layer require additional consideration, as poorly configured security controls can degrade the performance, stability, and overall usability of an application. Inadequate or missing security controls at the application layer present significant risks, such as data loss, data integrity issues, backdoors/malware, additional unauthorized network access and service interruption.

Ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, SQL injection and cross site scripting are some of the attacks targeted at the application layer.

Taking a multi-layered approach to application security is a best practice. Using a Web Application Firewall (WAF) for web facing applications, secure web gateway services for Internet access, logging and monitoring of application activities and training aimed at improving user behaviors are a great starting points to consider for a multi-layered approach to application security.

Network

The network layer is responsible for connecting systems together. Systems within an organization are likely to need communication capabilities with each other to operate, and connectivity to the Internet may also be required. This is the layer where a standard firewall lives. You know, that thing we traditionally think of when we talk about cybersecurity (BTW, cybersecurity is not information security. They’re like cousins)?

Think of the network layer as your first chance and last chance; it is your first chance to detect suspicious traffic/behaviors, and it’s your last chance to stop data from leaving your network. The network layer has two directions that must be considered in your protection approach, inbound (sometimes called “ingress”) and outbound (sometimes called “egress”). Controlling and monitoring data and traffic in both directions are critical, although this contrary to current practice in many organizations.

The Crunch Shell and Gooey Center

Most networks are secured (poorly) with a “crunchy shell” and “gooey center”. Traditionally, we’ve focused so much on establishing a strong perimeter (“crunchy shell”) that we neglect to account for what happens when an attacker get’s through the perimeter. There are few restrictions in place, and we’re left with our “gooey center”. In most networks, once an attacker gets through the perimeter (trivial in many cases), they have free reign to move laterally throughout the network until they find valuable data. Once the attacker finds valuable data, they are rarely restricted in exfiltrating the data because of ineffective egress traffic restrictions.

The two most common mistakes in network security layering include:

  • Too much focus on the perimeter.
  • Too much focus on restricting traffic inbound and no (or very little) focus on traffic outbound.

An important note about the “perimeter”, especially with the explosion of remote work due to COVID-19, is there is no perimeter. At the very least, there are many perimeters. All the more reason for a layered approach.

Some of the tools used to secure the network layer are firewalls, security incident and event management (SIEM) tools, network intrusion prevention systems (NIPS), network intrusion detection systems (NIDS), logging and packet capture devices, network-based data loss prevention (DLP), email filtering, and web filtering.

The better the network layer is secured and monitored the higher the your chances of seeing something in time to stop the “something” from being very bad. Some of the controls we use to secure the network layer are physical and some are logical. The best approaches are usually a blend of both. When it comes to the securing the network layer, less is more and, more is less.

Whoa, did I just blow your mind?! How can it be both more and less you might ask.

The answer is painfully simple, the more restrictive you are with what you allow on the network without the knowledge of what it does or why, the less issues you will have to chase down later. Knowing what something is, why it’s on the network, why it’s important to the business and how it works/behaves during normal operation are invaluable when it comes to securing the network layer. The better you understand what’s on the network and how it operates the better your firewall rules, IPS, IDS, WAF, log data, SIEM and other security controls can be configured. This always results in less things to chase and less time elapsed between detection and response.

Remember when it comes to network access Less is More! (concept of least privilege)

While the network layer has traditionally gotten the most attention from security professionals over the years, and is where the concept of perimeter defense is rooted, it is only one of the many layers you need to design and manage an effective information security program.

Host / Platform

The host layer is where virtualization happens and where operating systems live, virtual or not. This is also the layer that computers/servers/Internet of Things (IoT) and all other devices (with a unique IP address) reside. When we discuss this layer, in the cloud as IaaS or other, we refer to it as the platform layer and there are some distinct differences in how to secure it. Securing this layer comes with the challenge that most devices need to interact with many applications and services hosted locally and remotely. When we consider all the various other layers and systems at play, we must consider virtualization, application stacks, code libraries, 3rd party services, integrations and data movements, security patches, upgrades, cloud services and on and on.

Adding to the challenge, we must do this while balancing the needs of the business and risk.

The WORST ENEMY of security is complexity; therefore, we must combat complexity at all times. This is a huge challenge when dealing with the (sometime unreasonable) demands of the business. Using a simplified approach whenever possible, and leveraging a layered approach to information security will make your life easier and your protections more effective. Believe it or not, the fundamentals are still the most effective security controls out there.

Honorable mentions for “L”

  • Lag
  • LAMP
  • LAN
  • Laptop
  • Laser Printer
  • Latency
  • Lazy Loading
  • LCD
  • LDAP
  • Lead
  • Leaderboard
  • Leading
  • Leaf
  • LED
  • Let
  • Left-Click
  • Leopard
  • LFN
  • LIFO
  • Lightning
  • Link
  • LinkedIn
  • Linux
  • Lion
  • LISTSERV
  • Live Streaming
  • Load Balancing
  • Localhost
  • Log File
  • Log On
  • Logic Error
  • Logic Gate
  • Login
  • Long
  • Loop
  • Lossless
  • Lossy
  • Low-Level Language
  • LPI
  • LTE
  • Lua
  • LUN

So, there it is folks. The letter “L” is for “Layers”.

The key to good information security is understanding information security for what it is (see the definition earlier in this post) and to master the basics. Mastery isn’t just knowing what the basics are (lots of “experts” know the basics), but to master them in application too (few “experts” are good at applying the basics). APPLY THE BASICS!

On to “M”!

The Burn(out)

If you work in this field (information security) long enough, burn out is something you’re sure to encounter. You will fight against burn out yourself, meet somebody who is on the verge of burn out, or sadly, meet someone who has already burned out.

We work our asses off. The hours are long. The stress is real. Isolation comes with the territory.

If you are on the verge of burning out, please seek help (from me, a colleague, a friend, a counselor, etc.). We need you. We need you to fight beside us. We need your ideas. We need your perspectives. We need your wisdom. We need your support. We need your passion. We need your skill. We have serious information security problems in society. In fact, we’ve created more problems than we’ve solved.

WE NEED YOU FOR THE CREATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF SOLUTIONS TO SOCIETY’S INFORMATION SECURITY PROBLEMS.

The letter below is hypothetical. It’s not written to anyone in particular or with anyone in mind (except the information security professional). It’s a raw dump of frustrations I’ve heard over the years from my brothers and sisters in arms.


Dear <INSERT NAME OR TITLE>,

I’m tired.

You may not care, but you should. I’m holding shit together while you focus on life. Some of my frustration stems from your view that information security (or “cybersecurity”) isn’t part of life. The truth is, information security IS part of life. It’s a damn life skill!

Before you ask why I’m tired, I’ll tell you. I’m tired because:

  • I work 80+ hours a week to protect you and all that you are responsible for.
  • I’m fighting a fight I cannot win, especially without your help.
  • I’m asking you to help, but you aren’t listening.
  • We’re under relentless attack, but you don’t see it, so you don’t care.
  • You think “it won’t happen to me” and I’m afraid it already has.
  • I’m losing support from my family because they’re sacrificing their time with me while I protect you (and worse, they don’t understand why I’m doing it).
  • You won’t step up and take responsibility for what’s yours.
  • I need you to help me solve problems, but I can’t get you to participate.
  • You think this is my responsibility, but it’s not, it’s yours.
  • I tell you things with honesty and transparency, but I don’t think you trust me.
  • We’re understaffed and underfunded, but you keep telling me to do more with less.
  • I need you to champion this cause, but you do nothing more than tolerate it.
  • I want to teach you about information security, but you are too smart or too busy for education.
  • You don’t see the value in me because I’m nothing more than a cost center to you.
  • You will blame me when things go wrong, but you don’t notice when things seem OK.
  • Your demands for more technology and gadgetry makes protecting you harder than it already was.
  • I sit behind a screen all day and my physical health is declining.
  • I deal with the dark shit of this world, mostly alone, and my mental health is at risk too.

Despite all this, believe it or not, I LOVE what I do. I love what I do because I love doing good, fighting against evil, and protecting people like you. It scares me to think of doing anything else for a living. You pay me well, so I’m not complaining about money.

You know this isn’t about money, right?!

My work and passion runs deeper than money. Money provides the means to my cause, but it’s not the cause. I do what I do because I want to make a positive difference in your life and I want you to be healthy. I do this because I care about you, obviously more than I care about myself sometimes. I’m here to serve. I am here to help. I answer the phone when you call. I’m here to respond when things go wrong, even if it means I take the blame.

This is my duty and my promise to you.

Sometimes I ask myself if it’s worth it. Is the frustration worth the reward? Is this all worth it, knowing that I’m destined to fail?

You might be inclined to ask “what do you mean, destined to fail?!”

I’m destined to fail because you ask me (directly or indirectly) to do the impossible, you won’t enable me to succeed even it were possible, and you have expectations of me that can’t be met

You ask me to keep you “out of the news,” but I can’t promise you that. No matter what I do, I can’t protect you from all the bad things that can/will happen. I’ve always told you the goal is risk management, and not risk elimination. Risk elimination just isn’t possible.

I don’t want you to take pity on me, and I don’t want any outward acknowledgement. I want you to own what’s yours! I want you to get in this game and play ball. You can delegate all sorts of things to me and others, but you will never be able to absolve yourself of your ultimate responsibility. The wolves in our industry will fool you into thinking they can solve all your problems without your attention or worry, just your money. They can’t. It’s a lie. They prey on your ignorance to mislead you and steal your money, not unlike the attackers we’re trying to fight against in the first place!

All of us need you to step up. We need you to own what’s yours. We need you to lead. Ultimately, the security and safety of all things and people under your control is your responsibility. It’s time to step up before I give up. I’m your best hope, but we’re hopeless without each other.

-Information Security Professional (on the verge of burnout)