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You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out…

It is a good reminder from a security perspective

…is probably one of the most memorable lines of any Holiday Classic.  Of course I’m referring to A Christmas Story, where a young Ralphie tries to convince his parents, teachers and Santa that the Red Ryder BB Gun is the perfect present.  I don’t know of there was a warning label on the 1940’s edition box but it is a good reminder from a security perspective that often we, meaning humans, are our own worst enemy when it comes to protecting ourselves.  Every year about 100 or so homes  burn down due to fried turkeys.  A frozen one with ice crystals straight in or the ever famous too much oil that overflows and toasts everything it touches.  Even with the warnings and precautions, humans still take the risk.  Warning: You can get burned badly.

As if the RSA breach wasn’t warning enough about the perils of falling for a phishing scam, we now learn that the South Carolina Department of Revenue breach was also due to an employee, and it only takes one, clicking a malicious email link.  That curiosity lead to over 3.8 million Social Security numbers, 3.3 million bank accounts, thousands of credit cards along with 1.9 million dependant’s information being exposed.  While the single click started it all, 2-factor authentication was not required and the stored info was not encrypted, so there is a lot of human error to go around.  Plus a lot of blame being tossed back and forth – another well used human trait – deflection.  Warning: Someone else may not protect your information.

While working the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Vegas a couple weeks ago, I came across a interesting kiosk where it allows you to take a picture and post online for free to any number of social media sites.  It says ‘Post a picture online for free.’ but there didn’t seem to be a Warning: ‘You are also about to potentially share your sensitive social media credentials or email, which might also be tied to your bank account, into this freestanding machine that you know nothing about.’  I’m sure if that was printed somewhere, betters would think twice about that risk.  If you prefer not to enter social media info, you can always have the image emailed to you (to then share) but that also (obviously) requires you to enter that information.  While logon info might not be stored, email is.  Yet another reason to get a throw away email address.  I’m always amazed at all the ways various companies try to make it so easy for us to offer up our information…and many of us do without considering the risks.  In 2010, there were a number of photo kiosks that were spreading malware.  Warning: They are computers after all and connected to the internet.

Insider threats are also getting a lot of attention these days with some statistics indicating that 33% of malicious or criminal attacks are from insiders.  In August, an insider at Saudi Aramco released a virus that infected about 75% of the employee desktops.  It is considered one of the most destructive computer sabotages inflicted upon a private company.  And within the last 2 days, we’ve learned that the White House issued an Executive Order to all government agencies informing them of new standards and best practices around gathering, analyzing and responding to insider threats.  This could be actual malicious, disgruntled employees, those influenced by a get rich quick scheme from an outsider or just ‘compromised’ employees, like getting a USB from a friend and inserting it into your work computer.  It could even be simple misuse by accident.  In any event, intellectual property or personally identifiable information is typically the target.  Warning: Not everyone is a saint.

The Holidays are still Happy but wear your safety glasses, don’t click questionable links even from friends, don’t enter your logon credentials into a stray kiosk and a third of your staff is a potential threat.  And if you are in NYC for the holidays, a limited run of "Ralphie to the Rescue!" A Christmas Story, The Musical is playing at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre until Dec 30th.

ps

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Technorati Tags: F5, smartphone, insiders, byod, Pete Silva, security, business, education, technology, a christmas story, threat,mobile device, kiosk, malware, iPhone, web, internet, phishing

 

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.