Computer Security Q&A Featuring Intraprise CIO, Joe Brown

by Joe Brown, Friday, December 2, 2022

Do you have computer security concerns, with the recent shift to ‘work-from-home’ culture? We do. That's why we've hosted a Computer Security Q&A on Twitter, featuring Joe Brown, COO & CIO of Intraprise Solutions, to provide some much-needed advice on how to handle Computer Security in our changing digital world. Joe answers your questions about Computer Security: dive into key questions, with answers that will help you to protect yourself, your work, and your intellectual property.

Top Computer Security Questions and Answers

Why is computer security important?

Imagine not using a computer to do your job - it’s impossible. Computers (and phones) are an essential part of our personal and work lives.  Practicing computer security helps ensure that systems are available and trusted, so we can do our jobs efficiently, without worrying about common security mishaps. 

What are the elements/characteristics of computer security?

There is a model known as the CIA triad, which stands for confidentiality, integrity and availability.  This model can be used by organizations to guide information security policies.

  • Confidentiality refers to an organization’s efforts to ensure its data remains private. Access controls and multi-factor authentication are used by organizations to prevent unauthorized access to its systems and data.
  • Integrity involves making sure an organization’s systems and data are accurate and trustworthy.  Encryption and digital certificates are used to help protect data and system integrity.
  • Availability involves the measures needed to provide authorized users with reliable access to systems and data, which means systems need to be up and functioning as intended.  Redundancy, change management procedures, monitoring, and a consistent update process helps ensure availability.

What are the top computer security and IT security threats?/What are the risks of poor computer and information security?

Well, there are many but ransomware, to me, is the biggest threat as it has been commercialized by bad actors to fund their operations. We see examples each year where hospitals’ systems have been compromised. Ransomware essentially locks an organization out, so that they can’t access their data. They either pay the ransom or restore from backup (or cut over to an alternate site if they have one, provided the alternate site has not experienced the same event).  All the while, their operations have been severely disrupted, and their patients adversely impacted. Poor computer and information security practices may lead to security incidents and breaches, which have several adverse impacts to an organization. Recovering from incidents and breaches is time consuming and expensive. It could lead to a loss of customers and an organization’s IP, causing damage to the organization’s reputation.

What are the requirements of cyber security?

A basic requirement of cybersecurity is that organizations must know their risks.  They must know their data, where it is located, its sensitivity level, and who has access.  This knowledge is a basic requirement in formulating effective security programs.  

What are the top security challenges businesses face?

It can be challenging to ensure buy-in from everyone in the organization - from the C-suite to interns to your business partners. It is so important that everyone in the organization consistently follows its policies, practicing good computer security, to keep the entire organization safe.

How can those businesses overcome those challenges?

Ongoing organizational awareness is critical to ensuring your workforce follows best practices regarding cybersecurity.  One can achieve that workplace culture by hiring and retaining the right people, training your workforce, ongoing security reminders, and proper use of technology. Further, management should consistently follow a risk-based approach to decision making by identifying, assessing, and controlling threats to the organization.

What are the different types of cyber security?

Cybersecurity is typically categorized as: 

  • Critical infrastructure security: an organization’s on-premise servers and databases
  • Application security: the programs an organization uses such as email, instant messaging, and source code control
  • Network security: VPN, firewalls, routers, and switches
  • Cloud security: an organization’s remote or off premise systems hosted in AWS, Azure, or Google
  • Endpoint security: a workforce’s laptops and desktops
  • Mobile or IoT security: includes cell phones and Internet of Things includes smart speakers

How do you know if you have enough cyber/IT security in place?

I’m not sure that is knowable, but every organization must define their own security program - which may or may not be constrained by available resources and budget.  The trick for organizations is spending the appropriate amount for needs, while allocating the appropriate resources.  An organization’s cyber spend should align with its business goals.

What’s the biggest thing folks are missing when it comes to cyber/IT security?

That they are likely the biggest threat to their organization.  In other words, insiders have access to business systems and sensitive data, and it is up to them to keep it secure.  Your IT department can help staff to comply by limiting access to only those necessary systems and data, while educating on how to avoid threats.

What’s your best tip for keeping personal information/accounts secure?

Strong passwords are essential.  Do not reuse account names and passwords across your personal accounts, especially for financial accounts.  Use a separate encrypted email service for your financial and healthcare accounts with MFA enabled.  Use a different email account for everyday correspondence that is not sensitive.    

What are your top tips for recovering after a security breach?

Know who to contact prior to a breach occurring and bring in those experts to help you recover.

How can decision makers overcome objections to moving to the cloud because of security concerns?

Provided your CISO is a cloud proponent and is on board with migrating to the cloud, it is their responsibility to do their due diligence, assess the risk, ensure their workforce is properly trained, and put plans in place prior to any migration.  It is the CISO’s responsibility to educate the decision makers, get them comfortable with the cloud, and show them how they can achieve their business goals using cloud services. Ultimately though, the execs need to acknowledge and accept the risk that a third party is running the infrastructure their applications are running on in the cloud.   

What is in place/available to make cloud computing secure? 

CSPs (Cloud Service Providers) provide features and tools which help to make cloud computing secure.  All the security technology used in on-premise systems are available in the cloud such as VPNs, encryption, firewalls, access controls, MFA, data loss prevention, anti-virus, etc.  So there really is no difference from what security technology is available between cloud and on-premise systems.  

Should we feel secure using Bluetooth devices? Are there concerns we should be mindful of when using Bluetooth to conduct work related activities?

Bluetooth can be used securely, however no technology is completely secure.  So, ensure you are using the latest version, by updating your devices with the latest operating version.  Check your Bluetooth settings to see which apps have access to Bluetooth and turn off those not needed.  Don’t pair devices in public spaces and turn off Bluetooth when not in use.  

I think Bluetooth use at your office or home is fine as devices must be within about 10 meters of each other, so the chance of someone hacking you are remote.  However, I would not use Bluetooth in public places such as airports, especially if you are discussing or have sensitive data on your device.

With the increase in people working from home, and the shift to 100% remote, what are security concerns? 

A virtual private network connection is a requirement. VPNs provide an encrypted tunnel from the home office to an organization’s network. Organizations should also have their workforce complete a home office survey where they attest to certain controls are in place in their work area such as keeping devices physically secure. Encryption must be enabled on their Wi-Fi router.

Also an endpoint protection service with more than just anti-virus is essential with a 100% remote workforce. Advanced features needed to help keep remote work secure includes:

  1. Patch management (ensures the endpoint is up to date with operating system, application and AV patches)
  2. Software inventory reporting (displays what software is installed on endpoints)
  3. Threat detection and notification (identifies and quarantines threats and sends notifications to administrators)
  4. Allows administrators to schedule and perform endpoint vulnerability scans
  5. Allows administrator the ability to generate diagnostic logs (needed for system troubleshooting)
  6. Remote restart capability
  7. Provides endpoint status (displays whether the device is turned on and proactively identifies and displays exceptions with regards to policies).

For more information on security needs in our work from home culture, click here.

Final thoughts from Joe Brown, COO & CIO of Intraprise Solutions:

If you don’t have an IT certification, consider obtaining one.  I worked in IT for many years prior to making the decision to obtain my certifications, so it is never too late to pursue one. My employer did not require one but they were very supportive. Do your research and pick a certification that aligns with your company’s business. As an example, if your company uses AWS, consider an AWS certification. I think you will find the process very gratifying once you achieve your certification goal, and you will enhance your value to your company.

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