Category : Leadership

UPDATE: Hacking Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

Since the first Red Lion Puerto Rico post, lots of things have happened!

  • Hackers for Charity has a direct donation page – Hit the button that says “Support the Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Effort”.
  • The towns we are directly supporting are Carlos Perez home town of Toa Alta and Jose Quinones Borrero’s town of Catano & Bayamon.
  • And most importantly, every piece of gear, every experience, every misstep, every tip and trick and hack we figure out painfully along the way, is being written up as a recipe, so we have a repeatable cookbook for disasters. And the Information Technology Disaster Relief Center is working with us to use our cookbook, get volunteers from the hacking community, and help Puerto Rico! Sign up now at ITDRC.org!

Recap!

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Hackers aren’t all bad… $15k for Puerto Rico Recovery

Janice Paulson, my wife, and I attend quite a few hacker conventions every year. We run BSidesDE, are semi-officially listed on the organizer’s council for BSidesDC, attend BSidesLV and Defcon, work Derbycon and Shmoocon, and probably go to another 2-3 conferences a year, besides these.

And at Derbycon, in Louisville, KY, I met up with some friends of mine. Ok, about 2500 friends of mine. Derbycon is a hacker conference, run by Dave Kennedy, Erin Kennedy, Martin Bos, etc etc. TrustedSec employees and friends put a lot of effort into the conference. Part of that conference is a 2 day training time, where high quality paid training is performed. One of the trainers, Carlos Perez, is a master of post-exploitation, and his training is highly valued. Jose L. Quinones Borrero, the primary organizer of BSidesPR in Puerto Rico, is also at Derbycon.

Carlos and Jose are both Puerto Rican natives and fantastic guys. Both of their wives told them to come to the conference, and to have a good time. They’ve weathered hurricanes before, and it wouldn’t be too bad. They were wrong.

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Assessing Big Picture Risk Through the Lens of the Equifax Breach

Authored by: Joshua Marpet – COO, Red Lion & Janice Paulson – Data Scientist, Red Lion

Disclaimer

Red Lion has no intimate knowledge of why or how the Equifax breach occurred. Red Lion was not involved in the security planning, implementation, or strategy for Equifax, nor have we been consulted for the incident response, crisis communications, or any aspect of Equifax’s security, compliance, security testing, etc.

Your Personal Data and Privacy

Equifax holds information about the bulk of all Americans who participate in common banking and credit transactions. They gather this information from your credit applications such as mortgage paperwork, car loans, and credit cards. They buy information about your address, family members, and other personal information from various sources, and re-sell, along with their assessment of your credit worthiness to banks and other lending institutions.

You consent to this every time you participate in the banking or credit lending system.

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First Impressions of ITPro’s Studio – Get a Discount

Getting There

Recently, the Red Lion team paid a visit to ITPro.tv studios in Gainesville, FL using a “party bus” set up by the company’s leaders Tim Broom and Don Pezet. Once there, the entire staff greeted us.

Layout

ITPro’s journey didn’t start out as flashy as they are today.  To get to their current setup, they transitioned from a closet, then a warehouse, finally to their current 10,000 sqft facility.  The first thing they did after moving in was to tear up the ground and re-lay the subfloor. They also laid pipes from the control center to each of the 5 “pods”/studios. This allows for the running of extra needed cabling to and from the control center. Then, they equipped each pod with soundproofing foam squares, overhead scaffolding, lighting, and cameras.  The best part is that the control center can control all pods at the same time.   And, all sets are built for maximum flexibility to fit the needs of their presenters.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWCNcgW3PRY[/embedyt]

Why this is important?

This configuration is “typical” for most production studios. However, keeping the offices on the production floor allows for massive flexibility and a “Wow this is cool!” factor that is off the charts.

What does ITPro.tv do?

ITPro services the needs of the information security community in many forms. From being the Sherpas of solid technical content to enabling the career changing transformation of all people that want to better themselves, ITPro is the place to start. Their price as of the time of writing is $570 for the year or $57 per month with no annual commitment! This pales in comparison to the SANS Training at ~$5000/course. That being said, this is not a replacement for the boot camp style of training that most look forward to (and other dread). This can be an economical option for tight budget constraints, or someone with an individual desire to learn.

Get Involved

ITPro’s offerings can be found in their course catalog. They have a free trial that will allow you to sign up and start viewing content. Sign up today and start changing your career.

Discount Code

For being a Red Lion regular you get 30% off on your subscription to ITPro.tv when you use the Discount Code: RedLion.

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Red Lion Hires Joshua Marpet as Chief Operating Officer

Learn More About Josh

Red Lion would like to announce the new hiring of Joshua Marpet to the position of Co-Founder / COO. A bit about Josh:

“Joshua Marpet is an accomplished speaker, long time information, and physical security practitioner, as well as a startup CEO and serial entrepreneur. He has presented on topics ranging from Facial Recognition to National Security, to audiences from government agencies and multinational private companies. His research encompasses Digital Forensics, business security maturity, and how not to start an information security business. His conference, Security BSides Delaware, is one of the oldest and largest BSides conferences (shameless plug!!), and he’s exceedingly proud of it. In the venture capital and entrepreneurship world, Josh is also a super-connector. Josh strives to push himself to new heights with every venture and helps all that he can along the way.”

If you want to know more or reach out to Josh, you can email him at jmarpet@redlion.io

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Focusing on the fundamentals in the software development process.

Build secure software

Peter Hesse of 10Pearls wrote an article about the future and failure of information security. From Security Today, “Why is the Security Industry Failing?” is a wonderful recitation of the problems besetting the information security industry.

Peter describes the money-hungry vendor culture, where every problem is seen as a potential billion dollar product or service. He talks about how companies aren’t paying attention to the Top 10, 12, 15, or even 20 security control failures, from whichever creator of those lists you wish to name.

Hesse’s solution is to build security into software. Specifically, he says we need to, “focus on building security into our software applications and technology platforms.” In other words, create secure software and platforms during the development process, do not bolt security on top or add it in hindsight.

Peter, I’m sorry; you’re right…and wrong. Wait, hear me out.

You’re right. As it stands now, the typical software application is built to be sold, to send that code out the door as fast as possible so it can generate money for the company. Developers are instructed, “Deploy code quickly,” not “Deploy secure code quickly!” That one word, “secure,” makes all the difference in the world. Bolting on security ex post facto is always worse than building it in. Using sane frameworks, where input sanitization and code/data separation are part of the process? Genius! Using secure hardware with hardware security modules (HSMs), locked-down memory addressing, and very well-tested methodologies for encryption, messaging, and error handling just makes sense.

Now, Peter works for a software development company so his views fit his situation. I bet 10Pearls has fantastic code security policies and tests the heck out of its code. But are all development teams from myriad types of companies that way?

They are not, so… Peter, you’re also wrong, unless you think that all companies will use secure frameworks, will factor in code/data separation, will prioritize user security over immediate profit. To illustrate the point, how many camera companies issued firmware updates after the Mirai botnet was made public? One? Eight? None?!

In all seriousness

With the venture capital backed system we have now, coupled with stockholder priorities, it’s a rare company that thinks beyond the end of the current fiscal quarter and the magic “numbers” the company “needs to hit.” It’s difficult for most companies to develop a long-term view of the organization’s growth strategy. Yet a longer term view is absolutely necessary to prioritize security in software, systems, applications, and consumer electronics.

How do we fix the problem? We bake security into the processes, into procedures. We build structures which we slot systems and applications into. We perform that most horrible of rituals, compliance. (But it works, so that’s cool.) We use devices with Mobile Device Management systems, and lock down users’ profiles. Smart admins never log in as an admin and then surf the internet.

In other words, we focus on the fundamentals. We lock things down. We patch. We scan and test. We automate to make systems reproducible, and we segment to localize problems. We follow established standards, perform compliance audits, and prepare for $DEITY knows what, because it will happen.

Peter, until all software is written to a standard, and a standard that you and I can agree on and work with, I know you and I will keep recommending to our clients that they focus on the fundamentals. You know what? Even then, I bet we’ll still keep doing the basics. They work, after all.

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How Technologists and the Business don’t communicate.

Initially released February 6, 2017 for MISTI – Business for Technologists – Technologists are the bedrock of IT and IT security. They innovate, create, build, implement, maintain, and decommission the most amazing software and hardware systems ever compiled. Even something as simple as a file server, which is only supposed to store and backup files, has to deal with firewall rules, authentication, authorization, travel across VPN’s, backup/restore, and monstrous amounts of other factors.

Why do technologists not understand business?

Why do technologists struggle to become entrepreneurs? And when they’re embedded in a corporation, why do they have issues getting budget allocated to handle the problems that they, the techie, can clearly see will cause massive issues in the future? Why does senior leadership not understand the problem from the techie’s perspective?

Because business is not tech. Corporations these days look at technology as a cost center unless the business is either a bank or an information security company. Sure they may spend money on the new shiny “next-gen” equipment, but does it really enhance operations? The answer is emphatically “No.”

Tech is not business unless you are in the business of tech

The structural elements of technology are the pieces that support revenue generation, but they don’t actually generate any revenue on their own. It is the people and other intellectual resources within an organization that make the business run (and generate revenue), with direction from senior leadership.

Yet we see the technologists as the “Entrepreneur-Revolutionaries.” Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates. All techies, all disruptive innovators, all amazing! There’s a catch.

Very few serious technologists are business people

Notice the three entrepreneurs mentioned above? Why do you think there are so few of those types of names that are also household names? Because there aren’t many of them. Like God, Cher, and Superman, there aren’t many immediately recognizable super-beings, super-music, or super-heroes.

“But I have a great idea!!! It solves a big problem I have! I should make a billion dollars!” say more entrepreneurs than we can count. “Who else has that problem? Are there enough of them with enough spend that we can make a billion dollars?” asked every angel investor and VC firm ever.

Technologists spend time thinking about problems and solutions. It’s massively important! But business people, unlike technologists, think about their product or service in terms of who will buy it, who will support it, who will maintain it, and how much it will cost to acquire a customer. There are other considerations too: How to market it, how to brand it, how to protect the intellectual property, and how to raise enough money to get the cash flow working in the corporate favor rather than burning right through all the funds.

Selling a product is just as hard as developing the product

Most technologists don’t realize that there are sales leads that need to be generated, contacts that need to be cultivated, and supporting business purchases that need to be made (insurance, legal services, copiers, accounting software, anyone?). All of this under the mountain of paperwork that needs to be completed to ensure that one party does not take unfair advantage of the other during the process. If that’s not enough to think about, all of this must meet the goals of the business and be tied to the direction of senior leadership.

Business needs to learn how to interface with technologists

Business people can work with technologists to learn how to think about solving technology problems, and how to understand the terminology and thought processes of a technology buyer. To sell the solution properly, discuss it intelligibly, and sustain growth, business people must learn these skills.

The end game

Technologists generally have massive issues seeing the bigger picture, just as business people have massive issues understanding the complexities of the technology solutions built. These different ways of thinking are not failures on anyone’s part; in fact, they are learning experiences waiting to happen. Technologists can work with business people to learn how to implement, sell, market and brand a given solution, and then learn how to grow a business based on that solution. Next, they can architect solutions to make it easier for business.

Ultimately, communication is the answer.

 

About the Authors: Joshua Marpet and Scott Lyons can be found presenting at InfoSec World, and other MISTI conferences, as well as Security BSides Delaware, Derbycon, Defcon, Shmoocon, etc. Ask them business, entrepreneurial, and technology questions. But be ready to get a long answer. Have a drink with you. You’ll need it.

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