Infosec Mysteries, vol. 1

For those of us who have been in the infosec field for a while, we see a never-ending stream of weird behaviors and situations over the years that just don’t make any sense. Despite our best efforts to be optimistic, understanding, and “business-oriented”, there are a number of “infosec mysteries” that boggle the mind and assault the senses. Forthwith, I give you…Infosec Mysteries Volume 1.

1. Why are users still clicking on random attachments? Especially if the email is from someone they do not know, have never heard of, or purports to be one of their long-lost friends on Facebook?! This is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest mysteries – how do we cure stupid? Many cars of convicted drunk drivers are equipped with alcohol sensors that detect blood alcohol level before they will properly start. Can we implement something similar for chronic offenders that hack, slash, and click their way to digital Armageddon? Is there a class of people out there that just cannot be trusted to use computers responsibly? This is similar to smoking in public for me – your exhaled smoke can have a negative effect on my health. Well, when these kinds of folks’ systems join the ranks of a bot army, it affects us, as well.

2. For all the intrusion detection systems I encounter in organizations, I estimate that 65% are used very little, even going so far as to call them “shelfware”. In addition, most staff using IDS today, that I encounter, are not properly customizing rule sets or even venturing to create their own rules, trusting the default rule sets and updates later provided by the vendor. So here’s the mystery – why the $%&! would you spend 5-6 figures (or more) on equipment that can act as cornerstones of your network monitoring capabilities and a) not get trained properly on how to use the stuff to its potential, and b) just ignore it after a period of time? I’ve seen this same phenomenon occur with other gear, but never so often as IDS.

3. So you’ve made an “investment” in antivirus. Who gives a shit? The stuff is CRAP, and it is BROKEN. The mystery – why are you not clamoring for, nay, DEMANDING, a whitelist solution? NOW!!?? With the proliferation of malware today, you are dealing with a new variant added to a “blacklist” every few seconds. Sounds really sustainable. Yep.

4. Here’s another doozie – the gradual desensitization of the public. In fact, this could be the greatest mystery on this list – how can TJ Maxx lose millions of credit card numbers, go through a scandalous public debacle, and actually see its share price go UP? The media has helped desensitize the public, unfortunately – “ho hum, another big data breach”. And we as security professionals have now come to realize that outrage is ephemeral. Ouch.