Perimeter
Guest Blog // Selected Security Content Provided By Sophos
What's This?
9/10/2013
03:06 PM
Maxim Weinstein
Maxim Weinstein
Security Insights
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

How To Train Your Users

Help users contribute to your organization's security by teaching them to protect The Four Cs: computers, credentials, connections, and content

Let's face it: Getting users to understand and practice good security is hard. Really hard. It would be difficult enough if the technology environment remained constant for a while, but we all know how often that happens.

That's why it's especially important that we focus on raising user awareness of basic security concepts that are independent of specific technologies. One example is helping people understand what needs to be protected and why. I have encapsulated the basics of this in a mnemonic I call "The Four Cs."

The Four Cs are computers, credentials, connections, and content. If you can get your users into a mind set of thinking about protection in these four areas, then it will be one small but important step toward a secure chair-to-keyboard interface.

Let's review each of the Cs in a bit more detail. I use the term "computers" as shorthand because it also includes smartphones and tablets. Users have to understand that sensitive data is only as secure as the device used to access it. Ask them to imagine an attacker who can see everything they do on their home PCs -- can the attacker see customer data or trade secrets? If so, what are users doing to make sure this doesn't happen?

Credentials include passwords, security tokens, and anything else users need to log into company or work-related systems. Again, ask your users to imagine the worst. What are users trusted to do or see on behalf of the company? What might a motivated enemy do with the same access? What would happen to the user whose credentials were used to carry out a successful attack?

With all the publicity around the NSA leaks, it should be easy to get users interested in connection security. Encourage them to shift their thinking from government snoops to garden-variety criminals and industrial saboteurs. Would your users (deliberately) leave customer data or proprietary information sitting unattended on a table in a hotel lobby? If not, they shouldn't leave it floating around unencrypted on the hotel Wi-Fi, either.

Content protection is about which data goes where. Remind users how easy it is to forward an email or send a file to someone, sometimes even accidentally. Perhaps they shouldn't make it that easy for a colleague or third party to do the same with patient records or customer credit card numbers. Content protection also ties into the previous three areas: should important information be stored someplace that requires only a single shared password to access it? Do users trust the security of their computers as much as the security of the company's servers?

Too often, user education about security starts with the how, skipping right over the what and the why. The Four Cs don't cover every important aspect of user behavior; resistance to social engineering, for example, is notably absent. They do, however, offer a solid base of understanding for how users contribute to an organization's collective security. Once this idea is in users' heads, the questions about how to protect the computers, credentials, connections, and content will inevitably follow.

And those are the questions that any security professional should be happy to hear. Maxim Weinstein, CISSP, is a technologist and educator with a passion for information security. He works in product marketing at Sophos, where he specializes in server protection solutions. He is also a board member and former executive director of StopBadware. Maxim lives ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-3304
Published: 2014-10-30
Directory traversal vulnerability in Dell EqualLogic PS4000 with firmware 6.0 allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a .. (dot dot) in the default URI.

CVE-2013-7409
Published: 2014-10-30
Buffer overflow in ALLPlayer 5.6.2 through 5.8.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) and possibly execute arbitrary code via a long string in a .m3u (playlist) file.

CVE-2014-3446
Published: 2014-10-30
SQL injection vulnerability in wcm/system/pages/admin/getnode.aspx in BSS Continuity CMS 4.2.22640.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the nodeid parameter.

CVE-2014-3584
Published: 2014-10-30
The SamlHeaderInHandler in Apache CXF before 2.6.11, 2.7.x before 2.7.8, and 3.0.x before 3.0.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via a crafted SAML token in the authorization header of a request to a JAX-RS service.

CVE-2014-3623
Published: 2014-10-30
Apache WSS4J before 1.6.17 and 2.x before 2.0.2, as used in Apache CXF 2.7.x before 2.7.13 and 3.0.x before 3.0.2, when using TransportBinding, does properly enforce the SAML SubjectConfirmation method security semantics, which allows remote attackers to conduct spoofing attacks via unspecified vect...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.