Daily Tech Digest - December 02, 2016

Travel Security Tips for Personal and Business Trips

While you may not have much say in when and where you travel, understanding your trip’s goals can help determine the best business security practices. A quick, one-day trip to meet a business partner might mean you can leave your computer at home, for example. A month-long globe trot to multiple satellite offices, client meetings and a little R&R would require a more rigorous approach to securing all of your devices. It is equally important to know the purpose of your trip, the systems and access you will require while traveling, the sensitivity of information you will be handling and the available security resources. These points will determine what travel security precautions you should take before you even pull out your suitcase.

Major cybercrime network Avalanche dismantled in global takedown

To shut down Avalanche, law enforcement agencies embarked on an investigation that lasted longer than four years and involved agents and prosecutors in more than 40 countries, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Europol said 39 servers supporting Avalanche were seized, and another 221 were forced offline with notifications sent to their hosting providers. Investigators used a method known as sinkholing to infiltrate the cybercriminals' computer infrastructure and disrupt their activities. This involved redirecting the internet traffic from Avalanche's infected computers to servers controlled by law enforcement. "The operation marks the largest-ever use of sinkholing to combat botnet infrastructures and is unprecedented in its scale," Europol said in a statement.

Why Small Businesses Should Get Smart About Information Security

In many ways, small businesses have even more to lose than large ones simply because an event—whether a hacking, natural disaster, or business resource loss—can be incredibly costly. The report beings by noting that while cybersecurity improvements by some businesses have rendered them more difficult attack targets, this has led hackers and cyber criminals to focus more of their attention on less secure businesses. One reason for this is that small businesses, including startups, often lack the resources to invest in information security as larger businesses can. Many fall victim to cyber-crime. In a later comment on the report, author Pat Toth stated, "[s]mall businesses may even be seen as easy targets to get into bigger businesses through the supply chain or payment portals."

Mobile Device Security is the need of the hour

One of the biggest apprehensions when it comes to using Android devices in any government & enterprise environment is its lack of security for the mobile device & the data on it. Google recently unleashed one of its biggest marketing campaigns and product launches outside the US. It is with the launch of Android One that it wants to capture the other billion. This has been a major success for Google who in spite of world dominance in terms of Android users still is not able to tightly manage its ecosystem. Fragmentation of software, screen size and resolution was hurting the app developer ecosystem. Android one as a strategy comes like a knight in the shining armor for Google, that will reduce fragmentation by strongly controlling what goes into the phone.

Six must-haves for IT's mobile security checklist

Let's face it -- there is no such thing as absolute security, and there likely never will be, simply because allowing even restricted access to any resource means that someone might compromise this access. Hackers can be bright but misguided, but professional information thieves are like any other spies on a critical mission, with the goal of stealing information or disrupting an organization's operations, often with devastating results. Since it's impossible to guarantee absolute security, the mission for IT administrators is to make any compromise to enterprise mobile security so difficult that all but a handful of hackers with access to nation-state-level resources will simply give up. The basics of good security practices are the same, regardless of organizational mission, size or the specific infrastructure and tools.

2017 security predictions

Cybersecurity professionals will struggle to protect critical infrastructure, connected systems and remotely accessed systems and devices while weak password practices remain the norm, but it's not just external threats that are a problem. Mitigating insider threats can also be accomplished through better password management, he says. The best way to do so is to implement a solution that securely store passwords that remain unknown to users, and then regularly validates and rotates those passwords to ensure safety and security, he says. "What we're talking about is credential vaults. In an ideal world, a user would never actually know what their password was -- it would be automatically populated by the vault, and rotated and changed every week. Look -- hackers are intrinsically lazy, and they have time on their side. ..," Dircks says.

Cybersecurity: Steps To Manage Cyber Risks Effectively

Hackers are targeting organizations from all industries, including not-for-profits and charities, by using techniques ranging from Advanced Persistent Threats ("APT") to sophisticated spear phishing campaigns. In such an environment, how should organizations prepare for the unexpected? While the challenge is significant, it is not insurmountable. The impact of a cyberattack on an organization can be significant. In many instances, an organization can lose the trust of its internal and external stakeholders if it comes to light that it had not put sufficient time, resources and energy into preparing for a cyberattack. On the other hand, organizations that invest in planning for the likely eventuality of a cyberattack are much better positioned to deal effectively with and limit any negative consequence.

Implantable medical devices can be hacked to harm patients

At least 10 different types of pacemaker are vulnerable, according to the team, who work at the University of Leuven and University Hospital Gasthuisberg Leuven in Belgium, and the University of Birmingham in England. Their findings add to the evidence of severe security failings in programmable and connected medical devices such as ICDs. ... Previous studies of such devices had found all communications were made in the clear. "Reverse-engineering was possible by only using a black-box approach. Our results demonstrated that security by obscurity is a dangerous design approach that often conceals negligent designs," they wrote, urging the medical devices industry to ditch weak proprietary systems for protecting communications in favor of more open and well-scrutinized security systems.

Should application development have greater security-based regulation?

While he admits the likes of PCI compliance or the incoming GDPR are starting to help, none of them go deep enough down into the code level for O’Sullivan’s liking, and instead he would like to see new rules that focus on secure code development. “If the regulations just went a little bit deeper - to kind of look at a granular level where the problems really are - and mandated using certain types of frameworks and using certain types of controls at a code level, that would help.” “There's all sorts of controls built into your code, they're out there, OWASP [a non-profit repository of security information] is a great resource for that type of thing. There's cheat sheets for avoiding certain vulnerability types. Use them, put them in your code. Mandate that they get used, build that into regulations.”

Data Science Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction

If you're thinking of developing your skills in data science, you've probably already considered Python or R. Python is an especially popular choice for those coming from a programming background since it's a good general-purpose scripting language which also provides access to excellent statistical and machine learning libraries. When I first started out in data science I used Python and scikit-learn to tackle a clustering project. I had some data gathered from social media on users' interests and I was trying to determine if there were cohorts of users within the whole. I chose spectral clustering because it could identify non-globular clusters (so must be better, I reasoned), and the first results were promising. My confidence quickly evaporated when I re-ran the clustering and got different results.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is not about making all the decisions. It's about clarifying decisions to be made and supporting your people to make them." -- @NextNate