The Changing Game of Cyber Security
“After I drink coffee, I like to show the empty mug to the IT guy to tell him that I’ve successfully installed Java – he hates me!” @SortaBad
Over the years, the concept of IT Security has evolved immensely. In 1980, when IT offices were as spacious as dorm rooms and contained a single computer with a fraction of the processing power of today’s iPhone, the security team focused on different areas of concern. Among these concerns were who had access to systems and data, securing servers, networks, workstations, and building IT Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) in the event the primary infrastructure environment was compromised or damaged and a new environment needed to be put in place. Today, with the evolution of cyberspace, the scope of the IT Security team is much broader, not just focusing on the aforementioned areas, but also concentrating on risk areas emanating from multiple physical and cyber threat areas.
As the quantity and mannerisms of new cyber threats increases every day, company security and livelihood rely on the IT team.
Today, we hear about individuals, businesses, and governments being hacked for information or ransom, allegedly by other countries or hacking groups/individuals. There have been over 5,000 major data breaches and over 160 billion dollars stolen in credit card fraud since 2015. In response, the PCI Security Council hardened standards for PCI Compliance. In a world of rapidly-growing technology, it has become a virtual arms race in which companies must defend themselves and their customers from those intending harm.
As a farm boy from a town of 300 people in rural Vermont, I grew up with little need for complexity; our life was simple and practical, perhaps even Keeping It Simple (KIS) before the slang was popular. To a certain extent, that concept has carried through in my career, starting with a manufacturer of surgical stapling devices in Connecticut.
The company was founded by Leon Hirsch where company revenue grew from $350,000 to over $1 billion when we were acquired by Tyco International. Our focus was on practical business needs and applications, and I was fortunate to grow with the company, and to learn about networks, servers, security, and business applications, and how to apply the elements of information technology in a practical and efficient manner. I found that merging the knowledge of practical business applications with the practices of every day information technology was a useful and successful approach to IT systems efficiency and advancement.
Ultimately, though, a single individual with a diverse background is not enough to cover the expansive spectrum of IT needs. The entirety of a proper IT team requires many hands on deck, differentiated skill sets, multiple perspectives, and various backgrounds. For me, as a senior member of management, it’s important to keep the door open to those who have different, and potentially better, skill sets than myself. Our team, as well as every other team of any business, will never grow and continue to be successful if team members fear smarter individuals joining the group.
In order to have a great IT Security program, you have to have a great team. We have the support of Senior Management in the establishment of an excellent IT Security team, and have strengthened our internal IT Security team by bringing on additional Security Administrators.
Our IT Security team has just completed a six-month project deploying a “Security Stack” on every production server and all Parking Access Revenue Control environments processing credit cards. This “Security Stack” monitors all network, file, and application activity, reporting any suspicious activity to Security Operations.
Previously in 2018, the IT Security team spent one year upgrading our firewalls (hardware appliances used to block unauthorized access to networks) to a centrally-managed solution providing a clear view of our threat landscape. Our organization has also partnered with a local vendor utilizing their Security Operations Center to provide 24/7/365 monitoring in all of the above-mentioned environments.
Many would be surprised at the sheer number of attacks our infrastructure encounters on any given day; the number of (blocked) unauthorized networks access attempts are in the tens of thousands on a daily basis. Our security team has also successfully thwarted several large-scale attacks protecting our critical infrastructure from hackers, ransom ware, and worms.
As the quantity and mannerisms of new cyber threats increases every day, company security and livelihood rely on the IT team. We must stay up to date on the most recent hacks and consistently evolve our own practice to fight off the most modern threats. Maybe one day we will even get ahead. Until then, we will fight the good fight, java in hand, on this side of the firewall.
Bob Berry is Chief Information Officer at Citizens Lanier Holdings. He can be reached at email@example.com