Risk // Compliance
11/18/2013
12:42 PM
50%
50%

Doomsday Prepping Your Business

Security and compliance are your guides to survival

I don't watch much television, but I've stumbled a few times upon a popular show called "Doomsday Preppers." If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a reality show where people explain how they think the world will fall into chaos, as well as their corresponding preparation efforts will ensure their survival.

Every time I watch, I have the same thought: "If real disaster strikes, these people are going to die."

It's not that they haven't given serious thought to a number of problems or are not serious in their preparations. My issue is they all seem to make two mistakes I commonly see many businesses make.

First, because they become so focused on only one or two specific risks, they create an inflexible plan that works only if the disaster occurs exactly as they envisioned it.

And, second, in convincing themselves how ingenious their preparations have been, they ignore or dismiss many other significant risks because they, well, feel "prepared." They have sold themselves on the idea that they are prepared.

For example, even after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, many coastal New Yorkers still had generators set up in their basements years later when Hurricane Sandy arrived.

Let's look at this from a survivalist viewpoint and then from a business point of view. Consider a man living in a typical metropolitan area. Among his many supplies, he has stockpiled 100,000 rounds of ammunition to defend his family and food from desperate, starving refugees (or zombies).

In reality, long before he will have the opportunity to use much of his ammunition, he'll run out of fresh water and be forced to leave the city, likely on foot. Unfortunately, his bunker is not portable, and to acquire something as fundamental as drinking water, he will have rendered his entire fortress pointless.

Many business organizations are like the preppers on this show. They focus on selected risks, ignore greater risks, and forget to have their solutions designed for adaptability.

I see organizations that have significant physical defenses -- electronic locks, cameras, expensive firewalls, and maybe even armed guards at the door -- yet a single employee with a thumb drive can walk away with enough information to steal (and sell) thousands of client IDs. And the company will never know it happened.

We have even seen businesses take compliance and security to such extremes that it creates new risks. If your organization requires users to learn new passwords every 60 days that resemble "Ry#394Wee9," then your organization ignored one crucial part of security: the human component.

IT departments who use this tactic essentially force all employees to write their passwords on Post-it notes and stick them all over their desks. It may have felt secure to someone in IT who thought only about computers and not people, but the result is an incredibly vulnerable company with too much focus on selected risks.

Can you prepare for every possible risk, threat, or disaster? Of course not. Even if you could, it would not make financial sense. Likewise, should you simply give up and adopt the opinion that it is impossible to ever be truly secure and compliant? No, there is still incredible value in reasonable security and compliance plans and actions.

What you must do is be sure your plans for security, disaster response, and compliance are all adaptable. Have basics covered, check and update it regularly, and then be sure your plans focus on responding quickly to problems -- not merely anticipate the few problems you were able to dream up.

Glenn S. Phillips does not own a zombie assault vehicle. He is the president of Forte' Incorporated where he works with business leaders who finally realized they need to understand the hidden risks awaiting them. Glenn is the author of the book Nerd-to-English and you can find him on twitter at @NerdToEnglish. Glenn works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand the often hidden risks awaiting them. The Founder and Sr. Consultant of Forte' Incorporated, Glenn and his team work with business leaders to support growth, increase profits, and address ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-4774
Published: 2015-05-25
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the login page in IBM License Metric Tool 9 before 9.1.0.2 and Endpoint Manager for Software Use Analysis 9 before 9.1.0.2 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users via vectors involving a FRAME element.

CVE-2014-4778
Published: 2015-05-25
IBM License Metric Tool 9 before 9.1.0.2 and Endpoint Manager for Software Use Analysis 9 before 9.1.0.2 do not send an X-Frame-Options HTTP header in response to requests for the login page, which allows remote attackers to conduct clickjacking attacks via vectors involving a FRAME element.

CVE-2014-6190
Published: 2015-05-25
The log viewer in IBM Workload Deployer 3.1 before 3.1.0.7 allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information via a direct request for the URL of a log document.

CVE-2014-6192
Published: 2015-05-25
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in IBM Curam Social Program Management 6.0 SP2 before EP26, 6.0.4 before 6.0.4.5 iFix10, 6.0.5 before 6.0.5.6, and 6.0.5.5a before 6.0.5.8 allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted URL.

CVE-2014-8146
Published: 2015-05-25
The resolveImplicitLevels function in common/ubidi.c in the Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm implementation in ICU4C in International Components for Unicode (ICU) before 55.1 does not properly track directionally isolated pieces of text, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (hea...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.