I Am a Non-Technical Executive… What Seven Things Should I Be Asking My IT Guys About IT Security?

Irvine, CA - Overseeing IT and security is a daunting task, even if you are an IT professional. If you are an executive to whom IT reports, then the task becomes near impossible. The list of following questions is designed to empower you to have a meaningful discussion with your IT team so you can be an informed and responsible manager pursuing your due diligence role in protecting the assets of your firm. If you are an IT professional, these are questions you should be prepared to answer.

1.       Q. When did we last do a risk assessment? Please share that document with me. I would particularly like to see the Risk Assessment Table.

A.      Make sure your IT team is periodically assessing the risks to your IT systems.  They should be recommending upgrades and new solutions for you from time-to-time, and you should be listening.  They need to be able to express the threat in operational and economic terms in order to justify the expenditure.  If your team can’t give you a clear and coherent answer on when and how they last did this, send them off with a task and a deadline.

2.       Q. When did we last do a Vulnerability Scan? What were the results of that scan? I would like to see the report.  Who did the remediation? When is our next scan planned?...

I Am a Non-Technical Executive… What Seven Things Should I Be Asking My IT Guys About IT Security?2017-11-13T07:21:50-08:00

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?

Here is a sneak-peek and what is likely my most important blog for the upcoming New Year.  This is just a partial teaser....


Irvine, CA - I was recently asked by a roundtable of CEOs to advise them on network security.  They had a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation.  I was surprised as this was a group of technology company CEOs and what I quickly found out is that they did not know much more than my non-tech company CEO clients.  From that discussion they asked me to come back and present to them a short list of actions they should take in 2016 to better secure their systems.  Initially I wanted to present them with a list of 10 things they should focus upon.  For anyone that knows, it is easy to create a list of 100 things that should be done to secure a system. However, I decided in order to make the list actionable and not overwhelming I needed to focus on the 10 things I have seen in the past year or two that have caused the most real-life grief for our new and existing clients.  I wanted to keep the list to 10 items, but I had to fudge a bit and expand to 12 core items. Then I added three bonus items for those who are over-achievers and another three for those in regulated businesses like healthcare, financial services and Sarbanes-Oxley.

This list is not complete nor absolute.  It is a list I have created largely in order of my perceived importance based upon the real-life hacks, breaches and other maladies related to failures of network security to keep the bad guys out.  You will need to assess the requirements that are appropriate for your firm.  If you are looking for a good place to start, I offer up my suggestions below.

1.       You need to do a vulnerability assessment or security assessment.  It is impossible for you to know what actions you should take to properly secure your systems without first doing an assessment.  Assessments are common practice at many firms, yet completely ignored at others.  It is fairly easy for you to order a vulnerability assessment and the best part is that it takes very little time and participation from you and your IT staff.  The cost for this service ranges from a few thousand dollars for a very small firm to several tens-of-thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for larger enterprises.  These should be done at least once per year just like your financial audit.

2.       Patching for Software Security Updates is perhaps one of the most overlooked and under-rated security measures you can implement to better secure your systems.  I maintain that good software patching measures are in some ways more important than your firewall.  A firewall is a formidable device that once it gets set-up has a number of ports opened up so that your firm can transact business.  That is where it gets weak.  Through these legitimately opened ports attackers will send nasty payloads that compromise your system, often without you knowing.  Imagine a hardened castle all buttoned up, but the draw bridge must be opened in order to conduct commerce.  Through that legitimately opened bridge come the sneak attacks, the scammers, crooks, mischievous and spies....

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?2015-11-12T03:10:52-08:00

BlueCross BlueShield Announces August 5th Data Breach Discovery

Tustin, CA - The most interesting part of this BlueCross BlueShield announcement is not that they found the breach on August 5th.  What is interesting when you read further into the announcement is that they say “Our investigation further revealed [...]

BlueCross BlueShield Announces August 5th Data Breach Discovery2017-09-18T00:38:04-07:00

Did You Think the OPM Breach Could Be This Bad? I Didn’t

These are some serious allegations.  Read the whole story for the chilling insight and alleged incompetency.  Here are some choice quotes:

"From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago," he added. "And my take on the current breach is 'so what's new?'"

In fact, the breach was unprecedented in its breadth and scope: "Security-wise, this may be the worst breach of personally identifying information ever,"

Did You Think the OPM Breach Could Be This Bad? I Didn’t2015-06-18T18:29:11-07:00

Oli’s Top Five Computing Threats for the Second Half of 2015

I was recently asked to be part of a webinar moderated by Elliott Markowitz, The VAR Guy.  Elliott wanted me to share my thoughts on the top threats facing small to mid-size businesses.  My answer is not scientifically derived, but based upon what I am seeing most often in the past two years of IT and security management in my world.  I am seeing the top threats from these five areas:

1.    Ransomware – Organized crime groups that encrypt all your important files and hold your data hostage until you pay....

Oli’s Top Five Computing Threats for the Second Half of 20152019-07-16T21:21:51-07:00