What nineteen audiences in twelve months taught me?

Navigating Fear in the Security and Compliance World

In advancing technology it is fear of having a project go sideways, over budget or fail to accomplish the stated objective that has many frozen. What if that technology we recommend doesn’t work as we hope? What if it is something required by law (such as encryption in healthcare) that we fear an unknown outcome so much that we won’t act? What if we miss a key component of a project or underestimate the effort required and the entire project goes over our budget?

What nineteen audiences in twelve months taught me? 2014-12-17T23:02:14+00:00

How Can An IT Security Breach Cost Me My Job? The Sony Pictures Case

I don’t normally give a moments notice to stuff that goes on in Hollywood, but the story “Future of Sony's Amy Pascal questioned after hacked email revelations” caught my attention because of the cyber security aspect involved.  So often I hear executives say something similar to “I don’t worry about our security because we don’t have anything anyone would want to hack into.”

That complacent assessment is wrong as most everyone knows since today nearly all hacking/security breach incidents are the result of indiscriminate malware that scans the Internet searching for vulnerable systems.  When that malware finds a vulnerable system most of them run automated code that looks for passwords, bank account information, encrypts data for ransom, etc.

In this particular case a ton of data was stolen and released.  The implication for Sony Pictures Co-Chairman is that her personal e-mails were....

How Can An IT Security Breach Cost Me My Job? The Sony Pictures Case 2014-12-12T18:22:46+00:00

Why Will My Company be Listed on the HHS Wall of Shame?

6 Reasons Organizations Fail to Encrypt ePHI

The drumbeat of HIPAA breaches in the media is incessant, and the refrain is the same: yet another PC containing electronic protected health information is stolen, so the organization is compelled to notify patients, Health and Human Services, and the media.  The Office of Civil Rights swoops in, levies a 7 figure fine, and posts the offender on the HHS “Wall of Shame”, resulting in a damaged reputation and loss of future earnings.

Ironically, had the PC’s hard-drive been encrypted, the loss would have been a non-event, unreportable given the Safe Harbor provisions of HIPAA.  And inexpensive encryption technology has been readily available for years.  Yet, 538 or 46% of the 1,171 Breach Notifications posted on the Wall of Shame stem from the simple loss of a computer with an unencrypted hard-drive.

So, if it is so obvious how to correct the deficiency that single-handedly accounts for the most frequent HIPAA Breach Notifications, why don’t more organizations properly encrypt and protect the ePHI entrusted to them?  Here are the six most common reasons we discover during our risk assessments …

Why Will My Company be Listed on the HHS Wall of Shame? 2014-12-08T18:10:15+00:00

How Frequently Should I Do a Review or Assessment of My IT Systems?

...this then puts all the burden and stigma on Alvaka, our engineer and our NetPlan program.  That fuels some of the debate we have with some clients.  I remember two separate debates with a controller at a 20 year long client.  He said he “should not have to pay for us to check our own work.”  I have two answers for that objection:

1.        He has two of his own guys that work on his IT system, along with other vendors.  His employees can do things unintentionally, etc.  This is not about checking on our Alvaka engineer.  It is all about checking the overall integrity and operational state of his IT system, which has changing needs over time and changes due to different people touching it.  It is simply a matter of doing a periodic review to make sure nothing is getting missed or looking for things that need to be done a different way.  Changing and updating tape/disk backup jobs to accommodate new servers and software is a classic example.  Without review these jobs don’t often get updated and that leads to tragic results down the road.  I have seen it way too many times in 30 years.  It is preventable.

2.       Even if a client does not have their own IT staff, it is prudent to periodically check IT systems to make sure everything is working right, that the current needs are being met and that important requirements/practices are not getting overlooked or wrongly....

How Frequently Should I Do a Review or Assessment of My IT Systems? 2014-12-04T16:00:00+00:00

What Should You Do About IT and Network Security in 2015?

So what should you do at your company?

1.       Identify your most valuable IT systems within your company.  What is the most important data that resides there?  Determine your obligations to protect that data and how important is it that those systems are up-and-running.

2.       Do you have a current network/information security policy in place?  Once you determine which systems and data are most important to protect, developing your policy becomes much easier.

3.       Discover where you are most at risk.  A quick and easy solution is to have someone perform a vulnerability assessment on your system.  Alvaka Networks can help you with this.  Vulnerability assessments are our most common security service we provide.  It makes your work easy.  We will help you match the protection needs of your most important IT assets with the vulnerabilities identified in the vulnerability assessment.  From there you can easily create a roadmap for what you should do to protect you, your company and your IT assets from cyber-attack.

What Should You Do About IT and Network Security in 2015? 2014-12-03T21:00:00+00:00
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