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  • 03/01/2021 4:27 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Lisa HecklerVP Information Security & Privacy, CareSource and Technology First Board of Directors

    Is your life feeling a bit like Groundhog's Day? Needing something to snap you out of the Winter Blues? Look no further than Technology First for exciting volunteer, network and educational opportunities in the Dayton and Southwest Ohio region… and virtually beyond! Here's a peek into what's coming up related to my favorite topic - cybersecurity:

    Girl Scouts Cyber Challenge - Calling All Cybersecurity Professionals

    What??? The Moon has been hacked?! Girls in grades 6 - 12 will come to the rescue of the Moon Base as part of the 2021 Girl Scouts Cyber Challenge. This all day event will immerse attendees in the world of cybersecurity. Along the way they will solve interesting problems (no experience necessary) and meet real world cybersecurity professionals.

    Will you join me in creating an exciting experience for our young women who are interested in cybersecurity? The event will take place at the end of July (day to be finalized) and we need day-of volunteers to make it happen.

    Cyber SIG - Calling All Cyber Security Professionals… AGAIN!

    Technology First is starting a new special interested group focused on Cybersecurity. The group will meet quarterly starting with the virtual OISC (see below for more info on the OISC). Our next meeting will be on June 3 featuring local cybersecurity expert Bryan Fite. If you've met Bryan you know that this is sure to be an interesting evening filled with information on Bryan's latest research as well as lots of conversation on the latest threats and trends in cybersecurity. Technology First will be sending out more information as we get closer to the event.

    If you have questions or would like to submit a topic or speaker for consideration for a future event, please email kregan@technologyfirst.org.  

    Ohio Information Security Conference (OISC) - Last Call for Cybersecurity Professionals!

    (And anyone interested in learning more about Cybersecurity)

    We have another interesting and informative OISC on tap for 2021 including keynote speaker Duane Harrison, Chief Scientist, National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. NASIC is the Air Force analysis center for foreign air, space and specialized intelligence. As Chief Scientist, Mr. Harrison guides the 4,100-person center’s analytic production mission, ensuring timely delivery of relevant intelligence data products and services to Air Force and joint operational warfighters, acquisition and force modernization communities, and senior defense and intelligence community policymaking customers.

    Additionally, there are four tracks featuring cybersecurity practitioners sharing real life experiences, practical guidance, and thought leadership, as well as technology vendors sharing the latest tips, tricks and tools to address our cybersecurity concerns. The tracks are focused Cybersecurity Trends & Directions, Applied Cybersecurity, Cyber R&D, and Roundtable Discussions.

    Please join me at the all virtual OISC on Wednesday, March 10! Registration & Details Here!


  • 03/01/2021 4:22 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Shawn Waldman, CEO, Secure Cyber Defense

    When it comes to cyber threats, every second counts. Quickly identifying a security breach or cyber threat minimizes the damage and cost to an organization. Unfortunately, the volume of threat alerts an organization receives every day, from multiple security systems, creates an overload of tickets needing to be analyzed, prioritized, and investigated.

    Hackers are now using artificial intelligence to make their own criminal activities more efficient. If cybercriminals are using automation technologies, it makes sense that cybersecurity professionals do the same to stay one step ahead.

    Heightened productivity, consistency, and keeping up with increasingly complex security needs are all solid advantages for adopting automation. With automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), repetitive tasks like manually sifting through threat alerts can be handled quickly and efficiently. Automation technologies also use vast amounts of threat intelligence to quickly identify and address emerging threats—specifically sophisticated threats designed to avoid detection. Through the use of playbooks, systems can quickly and efficiently eliminate risk. This quick response reduces Mean Time To Detection (MTTD) and Mean Time To Response (MTTR) saving companies time, expense, and downtime.

    There are five ways artificial intelligence and automation fill a need for data security teams:

    1. Machine learning-powered security can quickly spot and automatically address sophisticated new threats
    2. Automated tools can uncover and fix vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them
    3. Tasks can be automated to extend the capabilities of security teams and reduce alert fatigue
    4. Automation handles threat analysis and response in a matter of seconds, 24/7
    5. As part of a larger security solution, automated platforms work together in a coordinated response

    WHY ISN’T EVERYONE RELYING ON THESE TOOLS?

    If AI-powered automation tools are providing more accurate and timely results than humans, why isn’t everyone using them? For one, automation tools are behavior-based, meaning they need data to inform their learning and actions. Cost can also be a factor since these platforms require expertise to configure and manage, often requiring outside Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) support. Finally, automation needs to be part of an overall cybersecurity plan, rather than simply patching a hole.

    First and foremost, organizations need to be sure they have the basic security measures in place, like adhering to the CIS Top 20 Controls to stop the most pervasive and dangerous cyber threats. Having the basics in place before jumping into AI- and machine-learning platforms is the best place to start. Some of the basic elements include:

    • Understanding your network and the devices on your network
    • Addressing perimeters such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and encryption
    • Secure network coverage such as SIEM, SD-Wan, and VPNs
    • End-point protection such as antivirus and anti-malware
    • Good email security and hygiene
    • Controlling the use of admin privileges
    • Proper password management
    • Ensuring firewalls, email gateways, and other security devices are properly configured
    • Resources behind the scenes to satisfy training needs, create awareness, and develop a positive cybersecurity culture

    Automation isn’t replacing security teams, rather automation enhances the skills and capabilities available. Minimizing human errors in repetitive cybersecurity tasks is a benefit of automation. Automation provides consistency reducing error rates and increasing protections. A higher level of detection and speed of response means there is a quicker link between suspicious behavior and action. Over time, as AI-powered platforms continue to learn your network environment and ingest threat intelligence data, their benefits to your organization will continue to improve.

    Automation can be rapid, agile, and consistent. What automation can’t be is creative and curious. When security processes are automated, security teams are freed up to exercise their creativity to solve problems and build more comprehensive security approaches. Cybersecurity professionals still need to decide what servers or networks to isolate, when incident response teams need to be brought in, plus determine what changes should be made to policies and procedures to institute corrective actions.  Like everything else in the IT stack, it comes down to needs, workload, and budget to determine how much automation will deliver a return on your investment.

    So, What’s the Answer?

    The reality is that the complexity of technology and the amount of data that must be watched and analyzed is not slowing down. In order to manage the growing threat surface and threat alerts, security automation and integration tools will continue to evolve with the same urgency to support security teams. Is your company prepared to take advantage of automation? If not, how will you develop strategies to keep up with the speed and sophistication of cyber threats?

    Shawn Waldman

    Is the CEO and Founder of Miamisburg-based Secure Cyber Defense. With over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity and information systems, his team designs, manages, and monitors cybersecurity solutions, responding to threats and protecting organizations from cybercriminals.


  • 03/01/2021 12:42 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    John Huelsman, IT Director, Hobart Service


    What was your first job?

    • IT related – Computer Services at BGSU.  I worked part-time while a student at BG.  Go Falcons!
    • Non-IT related – paperboy (5th grade to 9th grade).

    Did you always want to work in IT?

    Nope, My initial career thoughts were towards teaching and/or coaching.  However, three of my older siblings graduated college in the IT field and got decent jobs so that led me to eventually explore it as a possibility.  I was proficient in math and science, so my high school guidance counselor pointed me in that direction as well.

    What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?

    • Be patient.
    • Observe and listen to leaders you respect.  Similarly, find a mentor and talk to him/her regularly. 
    • Get involved in professional networking organizations (like Technology First) and build your network of contacts.
    • See the big picture regarding your overall business and markets.
    • Put yourself out there and take risks. Volunteer for stretch assignments that get you out of your comfort zone.  “Progress always involves risk.  You can’t steal 2nd base and keep your foot on 1st.” – Fredrick B. Willcox
    • Take ownership of your career – it is ultimately your responsibility.


  • 03/01/2021 12:39 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Matt Coatney, CTO, HBR Consulting


    What was your first job?

    Software engineer for an AI software startup in the pharmaceutical/drug discovery space (by far the most geek-cool job I’ve had!)

    Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include?

    The challenge of the modern CIO is that you still must “keep the trains running on time” – ensuring that core systems like email, network, and infrastructure are rock solid and secure – but that is no longer enough by itself. That’s table stakes. The role is also increasingly looked to for advice and initiatives that transform the business through technology in areas like analytics, cloud, mobile, IoT, and the like. In mid-sized organizations especially, the CIO is looked to as the security, data, and innovation officer too, which requires intense focus and energy to balance all these plates.  

    What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?

    Be non-traditional. Avoid the typical, predictable career ladder. Pick up special assignments and roles that stretch your comfort zone and give you experience in all sorts of different disciplines: cutting-edge technology, operations, security, finance, economics, law, etc. The future leader will need a wide range of skills – including the skill and passion of continuous learning – to keep up with the rapid acceleration of technology and the world of work.


  • 03/01/2021 12:37 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Mardi Humphreys, Change Agent, Integration Edge - a division of RDSI

    There’s an old adage: if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. When it comes to work, let’s just say, I’m in the correct Zoom room A LOT. I like to think it’s just a diversity of gifts. My coworkers bring the technical knowledge necessary for building solutions and I bring them challenges to solve. But every little mistake I make feeds a low-grade lack of confidence and makes me wonder, “What if I fail?”

    When the thought occurs, I have to stop and remind myself that everyone fails. In fact, failure is a necessary step to success. If I approach projects with curiosity, seek to understand, and demonstrate I’m both listening and learning; then failure becomes part of the problem-solving process. It can even help bond the team. Failure presents an opportunity to highlight everyone’s unique roles and particular skill sets. This allows me to frame failures as experiments I need the team’s talents to finish. We can analyze where things went wrong, gather data, and move on. We want to fail fast, forward, and with feedback. Not every piece of code is written correctly the first time. It’s why development, staging, and production environments exist. Development and staging are places designed for experimenting, testing, and failing before putting the final solution into production. This method doesn’t have to be used exclusively for software development. It can apply to any project team.

    Development: This is the brainstorming phase. Wacky ideas are welcome in this no-judgement-allowed preliminary formation of plans. Blue sky thinking happens here. At this point, we know where the client is and where he wants to go. Now, we figure out how to get them there. Everyone is encouraged to contribute then go test their ideas on their own. Think proof of concept.

    Staging: This is the evaluation phase. Still a no-judgement zone, everyone brings their idea that passed testing and combines it with everyone else’s bit; much like connecting to a network. The results of wacky-ideas testing are discussed. Would this idea actually work? Do we have the necessary resources to make it happen? The team looks for obstacles to the solution’s success and adjustments are made. Will the client be able to afford this? Does an off-the-shelf solution already exist? Think prototype.

    Production: The individual experiments have been combined, vetted, tested, run, and are ready to present to the client as a solution or at least a roadmap. Think demonstration, or, if more fully evolved, think deliverable.

    This approach produces more ideas and more solutions more quickly. Business moves at the speed of trust. If we create a safe environment in which to fail, it not only saves time, but also creates a more compassionate, patient, and bonded team. Embracing failure can turn smart people into leaders, mentors, and coaches who will help the team build sustainable trust. Shifting to this mindset frees us from the fear of failure. It inspires us to use failure as a tool and puts us in the same category as Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and Sara Blakely. Talk about great company to be in!


  • 03/01/2021 12:35 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Chi Corporation and StorageCraft

    Just about every story you read about responding to ransomware includes the directive to “never pay the ransom.” That’s easy enough to say if you’re not the one whose data is being held hostage. And the odds are pretty good it will happen to your company. CyberEdge’s 2020 Cyberthreat Defense Report calls out that nearly seven-in-10 companies will be affected by ransomware attacks.

    So, it’s pretty clear you need to put the protections in place that keep ransomware out. You may think that means bolstering endpoint security since that’s where most ransomware attacks originate, but the reality is that 77 percent of organizations that have been infected with ransomware were running up-to-date endpoint protections.

    Since it’s almost impossible to prevent every ransomware attack, what you need is a backup and disaster recovery solution that lets you bounce back from an attack, as unscathed as possible. We suggest you consider the following features when shopping for such a solution:

    1. Get Continuous Data Protection

    You never know when ransomware will strike, so you need to be prepared. Look for a solution that protects your data at all times by automatically taking continuous, space-optimized, image-based backups.

    2. Look for Efficient Multi-Site Replication

    You’ll want automatic replication of your backups offsite, or at least off-network, as well as to the cloud. This should be able to be accomplished simply by selecting the machines you want to back up and pointing their backups to the desired backup targets using a checkbox or a drag-and-drop interface.

    3. Simplify Data Protection with an SLA-Driven Workflow

    An optimized workflow for SLA-driven data protection should include a “set and forget” policy feature for data protection and management, with a browser-based dashboard that gives you a single workflow to protect and manage both physical and virtual infrastructures. It should give you a global view of all of your recovery points, and let you schedule and manage local backups, set up onsite, offsite, and cloud replication, and retention schedules. A solution with proactive error detection and alerting will further help simplify management and speed problem resolution.

    4. Make Sure Your Data Integrity Is Absolutely Reliable

    Choose a data protection solution that ensures your backups will be there when you need them. Inflight verification and automated re-verification of backup images mean you’ll have backups you can count on. Other features like smart retries, self-healing repairs, and PKI-based encrypted channel communication increase backup reliability even more.

    5. Include Instant, Flexible Recovery

    Because every minute of downtime caused by ransomware is very expensive, you’ll want a solution that lets you get back in business immediately. That should mean you can get back up and running in milliseconds.

    You’ll also want to be able to directly recover to your primary store, eliminating the need for vMotion and eliminating any performance impacts during recovery. Being able to recover to dissimilar hardware or virtual environments is another valuable feature for ensuring flexible recovery by letting you use available resources instead of waiting for specific resources.

    6. Count on Integrated, Cloud-Based DRaaS

    The best way to ensure total business continuity is to go with cloud-based DRaaS that delivers orchestrated, one-click virtual failover. So you don’t have to wait for anyone, recovery should be via a self-service portal and not require third-party intervention. Look for DRaaS solutions that include replication as a service and give you the option to recover using seed drives, BMR drives, and web downloads.

    A Nice-to-Have: A Converged Data Platform to Control Costs

    A solution that unifies data protection and scale-out storage onsite and offsite can help you fight back if ransomware strikes. It can also help you control storage costs and simplify both storage and backup and disaster recovery management.

    Look for a solution that uses an object-based, distributed file system so you can scale non-disruptively, without any need for configuration. Inline deduplication and compression will also save on storage costs. And scale-out storage lets you add capacity as you need it to keep up with your data storage requirements, eliminating forklift upgrades without sacrificing security.

    Get the Facts

    For over 50 years, Chi Corporation has been a leading IT solutions provider specializing in data storage, backup and recovery, networking, security, and virtualization. Together with our valued partner StorageCraft, we have helped organizations of all sizes ensure they never have to pay the ransom. For more information and to schedule a demo, please reach out to John Thome, President of Chi Corporation, at 440-498-2310 or jthome@chicorporation.com. Or learn more at ChiCorporation.com and StorageCraft.com. 
  • 03/01/2021 12:28 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Cadre Information Security

    Operating on the edge with vigorous due diligence

    Moving business processes, applications, and data to the cloud is inevitable as we expand operations and distribute workforces around the globe – yet this fundamental shift provides cybercriminals a central target and more accessible attack vectors to compromise sensitive assets. Consequently, organizations are increasingly challenged to expand the security perimeter, which often forces implementation of controls that are at odds with the evolving cloud environment. Cybersecurity experts argue that secure access service edge (SASE) – pronounced “sassy” – is a timely solution to the current cloud dilemma and it is the future of network security. Continue reading for a glimpse into this cloud-centric operation.

    A netscape riddled with vulnerabilities

    Network security has experienced many evolutions since the early days of the internet and its subsequent explosion into the cloud.

    While the stateless access controls of firewalls nearly a quarter century ago were incapable of protecting emerging stateful technology, the consequent move to proxy technology also proved to be a vain resolve because proxies couldn’t keep up with new applications and network traffic.

    Stateful inspection of applications proved to be more secure and dominated the market for many years, until the explosion of internet applications demanded yet another novel tactic to secure networks.

    Next-generation firewall architecture and an array of network security infrastructures, such as internet protocol virtual private networks and remote access gateways, now enable organizations to more effectively secure traffic destined for headquarters, branch offices, and data centers. But even these solutions create new problems as they solve old ones.

    Now, the inherent risks of migrating applications and data to the cloud, along with protecting the growing pandemic-era remote workforce from cyber threats, perpetuate the multitude of network traffic vulnerabilities that overwhelm CISOs and their security teams.

    Perhaps it is time to get “sassy” with network security

    “The future of network security is in the cloud,” says 
    Gartner, who describes an emerging cybersecurity concept known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE):

    "In cloud-centric digital business, users, devices, and the networked capabilities they require secure access to are everywhere. What security and risk professionals in a digital enterprise need is a worldwide fabric/mesh of network and network security capabilities that can be applied when and where needed to connect entities to the networked capabilities they need to access."

    While Gartner predicts that more than 40% of businesses will have a strategy to adopt SASE by 2024, many enterprises have already embraced the cloud-based network security service model to converge their multitude of network traffic and managed security products.

    SASE capabilities are delivered in real-time as a service based on the identity of the entity, which includes people, devices, applications, services, IoT systems, and edge computing locations.

    Its cloud-based infrastructure provides flexibility to implement and deliver security services more efficiently, including threat prevention, sandboxing, DNS security, next-generation firewall policies, and web-filtering, among others.

    Integrating full content inspection and enterprise data protection policies into the framework enhances visibility into network activity and improves threat prevention, ultimately minimizing the compromise and theft of sensitive information.

    The model continuously assesses risk throughout network sessions. Plus, exercising Zero Trust in the cloud reduces faulty assumptions and protects sessions even when entities are not connected to the network.

    Not only can operating on a single platform increase performance by allowing us to connect to entities wherever we are located in the world, this approach also eliminates the necessity for multiple point products, which could significantly reduce costs and IT resources.

    “SASE is moving us away from a model of building defensive perimeters and internal checkpoints which replicate a world of physical security to a new viewpoint where users, systems and data carry the requisite security protocols with them as a personal force field connected to a central point of security management,” says Greg Franseth, a seasoned information technology expert and Director of Professional Services at Cadre Information Security.

    Operating on the edge demands vigorous due diligence

    Getting sassy with a single cloud-based platform enables CISOs and risk managers to simplify IT infrastructure and reduce the complexity of network security.

    But as the industry embraces this incredible shift in network security, moving to the cloud creates a new centralized attack surface for cybercriminals to target and exploit.

    We must be mindful that the fundamental objective to prevent attack-ways to our people and sensitive assets hasn’t changed. We must continue to be vigilant and innovate in staying secure.

    Effectively leveraging the cloud will empower us to protect the organization from hostile cyberattacks in novel ways.

    Topics: Secure Access Service EdgeSASE


  • 03/01/2021 12:24 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Claire Cochran, AHEAD - This article originally appeared on AHEAD's i/o blog

    Security and privacy have long been considered “two peas in a pod,” but security is often the primary focus of the two. This is because it is possible to have a nearly perfect secure system without worrying about privacy. (Imagine Fort Knox with nothing inside of it to protect.) However, it is impossible to have a privacy-centric system without any focus or worry about security principles and technologies. When you put the data first and truly understand what it is you’re protecting, you are able to scale security to make it commensurate to the data under protection.

    After more than a decade of its Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), in January of 2020, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spoke on the topic of privacy. The new and simply named NIST Privacy Framework was created to complement the CSF and lays a foundation for early privacy program adopters to follow as they build out more comprehensive programs. According to NIST, the framework considers “privacy events as potential problems individuals could experience from system, product, or service operations with data, whether in digital or non-digital form, through a complete life cycle from data collection through disposal.” In other words, any form in which the data of an individual could become public in any way, causing harm. NIST further breaks down harm categories into the following areas: embarrassment or stigma, discrimination, economic loss, or physical harm.


    (source: NIST)

    It helps businesses better identify, prioritize, and manage privacy risks to protect the privacy of individuals everywhere. It does this by closely mirroring the same approach as the CSF—CSF functions include: Identify, Protect, Respond, Recover; while the functions of the Privacy Framework are: Identify, Govern, Control, Communicate, Protect. The two clearly borrow from each other and overlap—showing how integral the two concepts are to mutual success.


    (source: NIST)

    Framework Structure and Use

    Like the CSF, the Privacy Framework is made up of three parts: Core, Profiles, and Implementation Tiers. The Core is a set of activities and outcomes to help organizations begin to think and talk about their privacy risk. Its Profiles dive into the above-mentioned functions of Identify, Govern, Control, and Communicate. The Implementation Tier helps businesses understand whether they have the resources currently in place to manage privacy risk and achieve their goals.

    Any organization can use the framework to assess and reduce its privacy risk. In fact, NIST provides hypothetical use cases featuring both a large corporation and a small business to illustrate its implementation within various environments.

    So What Does This Mean for Businesses?

    Privacy as an industry has long been complicated with compliance and legal regulations and standards with a lot of uncertainty around where regulatory boundaries start and end. There are also multiple industry and government regulations which have taken the spotlight in recent times—GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, PIPEDA, FERPA—this list goes on and on. However, these existing (and often required) regulations are specific to certain industries, governments, and even geographical areas. NIST’s purpose when developing the Privacy Framework was to develop an industry-, geography-, and sector-agnostic approach that is readily available as a voluntary foundation to anyone who is interested in adopting it. It serves as a great starting point for organizations to use while developing basic, intermediate, and even advanced privacy programs.


  • 01/01/2021 2:51 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Thomas Skill, Associate Provost & CIO, University of Dayton and Technology First Board of Directors

    For more reasons than most of us are prepared to count, 2020 was a year we would like to forget.  The struggles we faced with the global pandemic and the resulting personal and professional consequences of health-related protocols such as physical distancing forced major changes in the ways we work, learn, and gather. While none of us willingly signed up for this experience, there is a silver lining in the dark clouds of 2020 – and the IT industry should get some well-deserved credit for their contributions.

    Imagine for a moment what this pandemic would have been like if we did not have the Internet, videoconferencing and online learning tools?  Prior to the pandemic, just 3.4% of the US workforce were working remotely according to the US Bureau of the Census.  In April 2020, 51% of US workers were remotely doing their jobs (according to a recent Gallup study).   What is so very remarkable is not just the sheer numbers, but also the incredible speed of this transition!  In many cases, this shift to remote working and teaching was almost an overnight event.   For example, at the University of Dayton in March 2020, we moved over 3000 “on-premise” classes to “fully remote” in just 10 days – and that included training and supporting nearly 1000 faculty. These kinds of emergency transitions happened at schools and businesses across the nation.

    Many popular media stories are touting this pandemic as the catalyst for incredible technological innovations. However, from an IT perspective, I would contend that the scaling of IT systems and the widespread adoption of remote engagement technologies are our most significant accomplishments.  While not as important as the successful development of a vaccine, it does stand as a remarkable achievement in the social acceptance and diffusion of essential technologies.  This pandemic has dramatically transformed the ways that we work and teach – and the speed at which we saw the rapid adoption of video conferencing tools will very likely become an important case study in the effective diffusion of an innovation.  

    This is not a simple circumstance where videoconferencing has finally found its purpose.  We’ve had compelling use cases for this technology since it was introduced unsuccessfully in the early 1960s.  What we are witnessing today is the convergence of several mature technologies: Widely available high-speed Internet, ease-to-use software platforms, and standards-driven end-user devices (smartphones, tablets and computers). However, perhaps the two most important drivers are the favorable “economics of access” for most users (we can afford to be online for hours at a time) and the ready availability of IT support to help us solve those frequent technical problems (where would we be without tech support?).

    As we look to 2021, the IT community can take great pride in having provided one of the few bright spots during this pandemic.   However, we must keep in mind that much work remains.  Our heroic efforts were executed as “emergency solutions” to a crisis. Our rollout plans had many gaps in both security and equitable community access.  We were pressed to rapidly deploy VDI, VPNs and other security tools that pushed us beyond our traditional security “comfort zones.”  The genie of remote work is now out of the bottle and we will need to reconsider our practices for supporting this new home-based workforce.    The other major consideration is the ongoing “digital divide.” While access to high-speed Internet and computing tools has expanded greatly in recent years, there are significant gaps in both urban and rural areas of the US that are leaving families behind.  A recent Pew study reported that a significant number of families earning less than $30,000 annually do not have access to a reliable computer or an Internet connection.  A stunning 45% of those families had their children doing homework on a cellphone during the “study from home” days of the pandemic. 

    Exploring and promoting secure and broadly accessible solutions to these ongoing challenges are what the IT community in Dayton embraces through our work at Technology First.  I’m looking forward to a post-pandemic 2021 when we can once again gather – and continue to collaborate – as we consider opportunities to support and grow IT in our community. 


  • 01/01/2021 2:49 PM | Kaitlin Quellhorst (Administrator)

    Tim O'Connor, Manager, Knowledge Services (vCISO), Cadre Information Security

    As a business professional, why should you care what your employees post on social media?

    Even before COVID-19 caused the mass migration to a remote workforce, many successful hacks into organizations originated from an employee’s personal device (e.g. cell phone, tablet, laptop) or from information leaked from a personal social media account. I am NOT suggesting that organizations play “big brother” and attempt to police the personal affairs of employees online, but I am going to make a case for education, awareness, and due care.

    While we can’t (and should not want to) dictate what our employees share about their personal lives on social media, we also can’t escape the fact that poor social media “hygiene” is a risk to the organization. Employees will forward emails between work and home accounts and use similar passwords for personal accounts and work accounts.

    The most effective way to mitigate the risk of users “taking malware to work” is a good Security Awareness Program designed with the help of a trusted advisor. In this article, we are going to cover a few of the worst kinds of behavior that your employees will hopefully avoid, once they receive proper training. When sharing this information it is critical to let the employees know that good social media hygiene helps protect not just the organization but also themselves, family, and friends. You may wish to convey the information in this article to your staff and partners.

    It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hacked

    Games are fun and one of the attractions of social media is sharing personal trivia with friends and family. I am not going to ask you to stop playing games, but it is important to recognize that some of the games on social media have been designed by evil hackers.

    Many of these games look innocent and don’t SEEM to give away any information to hackers, but hackers are a crafty lot. Many of these games, like the popular “what is your elf name”, ask for your birthdate or a part of your name as part of the process. Others ask about your favorite pet or your phone number. What could be wrong with these games?

    The way it works is that evil hackers simply reverse your post to find out pieces of your birthday, phone number, and/or favorite things (people often use favorite things like pet names as passwords). After you answer one or more of these quizzes, enough of a profile is built to allow the evil hacker to guess likely passwords or forms of authentication such as the last digits of your phone number. With this information, for instance, they could steal your pharmacy prescription:

    A legitimate question upon seeing the hackers game shown here is, “why would knowing only the last two digits of my phone number be a risk?” The answer is that knowing this is a gold mine to a mentalist or an evil hacker as this reduces the possible remaining numbers to a manageable sum. The evil hacker can use another game or source to get the other digits or might just use them to CONFIRM other information that can be found publicly as they build a profile on you. In the social media post above, we found people even offering up remaining digits as part of the fun of the game. You can find out more about the “Elf Name” hacks and the relationship of mentalism to Social Engineering here.

    What is Amen farming and what harm could it possibly do?

    “Amen Farming”, also known as “Like Farming”, is a social media hack that tries to compel people to quickly post a one-word comment about a compelling subject. On the surface, it would seem that this is no different than sharing any other meme and making a comment. It turns out on further examination though that this is a powerful psychological tool that can exploit the privacy settings of respondents.

    As a security professional, I am extremely fascinated by the many ways Amen Farming can be exploited. I ALMOST don’t want to warn my friends just so that I can track the methodology of the hack. There are almost a dozen ways these posts can assist evil social media hackers. The first is that many more people will respond to these one-word memes than would respond to a regular discussion. When a long chain of shares and comments are built, this allows the original posting account to mine information from the replies that would normally be blocked by privacy settings. We don’t know all the ways this information can help evil hackers but we do know it assists them in profiling accounts and building up the reputation of an account that they will later use for friend invites and misinformation campaigns.

    This practice has become such a gold mine for evil hackers that they often don’t even bother to make up their own memes. They just find a popular one and photoshop “say amen” or another phrase into the meme graphic as in this example.

    The best thing to do is to NOT SHARE these memes and of course don’t type “amen”. When you see someone sharing these kinds of memes let them know it might be a scam and point them to this article or the one from “That’s Nonsense”: (https://www.thatsnonsense.com/facebook-like-share-photo-scams-dont-make-scammers-rich/).

    If you MUST share the meme, don’t share it from the original account. Download the graphic and then reshare it as your own content and also make sure your social media privacy settings are set to “friends only”.

    Fact-Checking Hoaxes

    If you are reading this article I suspect you already know that spreading hoaxes on social media is a bad thing and should be avoided. Therefore, I won’t be going into much detail but I would be remiss if I did not include this in our list.

    An interesting new development in the “fake news” wars is that scammers are now doing their best to discredit fact-checking outlets. This makes perfect sense as the ploy to “shoot the messenger” goes back long before social media. You should not take the word of a fact-checker until you verify the contents of the article and the sources used for fact-checking. While statistics show only a very small number of fact-checking articles from well-known sites ‘get it wrong,’ it still can happen. In practice, however, it seems hard to get your crazy uncle to do ANY fact-checking much less use additional due diligence. For yourself, some fact-checking is better than none and I would urge you to read the entire write-up from the fact-checker.

    If your crazy uncle does not believe any fact-checkers, try going to the sources in the fact-checker article and posting those directly.

    “Watch Out For This Hacker” Warnings

    Several times a year instant messaging hacks show up warning people to not befriend some ‘famous’ evil hacker. A recent example is the “friend request from Jayden K. Smith” hoax. Since Jayden K. Smith is not a real person and she won’t actually send anyone a friend request, what is the harm?

    The harm from these kinds of messaging scams is similar in some ways to Amen Farming. The evil hackers are building profiles and networks and as an aside, they are helping to muddy the water and discredit real notifications about social engineering. The principal difference is the media used, in this case, instant messaging services.

    Accidental Information Leakage in Social Media

    Never post your phone number, address, age, or passwords on social media. While I think most of us know that, you should know that this information can easily be shared inadvertently, often through photos.

    A good example happened last year when a photo of a government emergency worker was posted but on the monitor behind him was a post-it note with a government network password.

    Now that many of us are working from home, this kind of information leakage becomes much more common. Check to make sure any photos you post do not include shots of the desk where papers might be in sight or calendars on the wall. When you post a photo of that new item that just arrived in the mail, can you see your mailing address?

    Screenshots are particularly dangerous and should be examined and edited closely before sharing. Many people now use multiple monitors at home and don’t realize that a screenshot includes BOTH screens. Screenshots from phones and tablets are also possible sources of information leakage.

    Knowledge is Power

    I hope this article has helped you to become aware of some of the top common exploits that happen with social media sharing and that you will pass this information on to others.

    If your organization would like help in developing policies, Security Awareness Programs, or other related issues please let us know. We have lots of services, workshops, webinars, and direct help to you.


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