Obstinately clinging to iconic obsolescence
A By James Wootton Director, Protega Technologies Information Security Consulting www.protegatech.com
56 | Chief IT
s those around me in the Protega office will tell you, combine information security and a certain clichéd icon or photo-stock image and it’s a recipe that is guaranteed to get me to turn the rage on – The padlock! Put the words cyber and padlock together and google will churn out around 364,000 results. Everything from the purchase of padlocks to ransomware; to convincing you a solution is secure because of its presence, something a depressingly small number of us know is simply not the case! I wandered down to my local convenience store, handed over my $8 and purchased a stock brass-bodied padlock. This is one that the public clearly believe does the job because the lady behind the counter told me, it was a ‘good seller’. It looks the part. A solid brass bodied, steel shackled device, oozing safety and confidence; it says it will protect your cherished items! Except a mere 5 seconds later, with only a lock pick and no torsion bar, the lock turned out to be much as expected; all brass, no protection! But, in the same way your life is shattered the day you discover there is no Santa Claus, every competent locksmith will tell you that the vast majority of padlocks are nothing more than the illusion of security and should be treated with equal scepticism. I assert that Padlocks are therefore the worst possible analogy and pictorially, the worst possible distortion of acceptable standards for information security. Let me humour/frighten you with a physical-world analogy, where we recognised decades ago that in the ‘normal’ world, threat prevention and keeping the bad guys out requires a defence-in-depth risk mitigation strategy.
A (hopefully) appropriate combination of guards, guns, dogs, walls, gates, locks, alarms, lights, cctv monitoring and insurance(!) will be involved, dependent upon the appetite for perceived risk, versus constraints. Sorry for anyone being taught to suck eggs, but let me explain by picking a risk scenario very real to all of us. Consider the risks to your family and valuable belongings (assets) In your home. You definitely considered how to keep your family safe, right? You probably considered theft of your assets next, let’s face it, no one wants to lose their 6ct diamond necklace or 1968 ‘Bullitt’ Mustang! To a greater or lesser extent, you probably considered other threats such as Fire and Storm damage. Thinking about the counter measures that are deployed to mitigate these risks, can be an interesting exercise. Try thinking about the controls deployed in the negative, what haven’t you addressed (gap): • Locks – Chosen by Previous occupier, seemed ok when you made the risk assessment, but who has all the keys and are the locks any good? • Working Fire alarm? • Working Smoke alarms? • Secure safe for high value assets? • Secure Doors? • Secure Windows? • Secure garage door? • Adequate and appropriate Insurance? Hands up all those that considered every element of the above and felt they made an accurate assessment of each? Or, did you make a shoulder shrugging gesture whilst thinking,
Published on Nov 2, 2016
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