cyber security

08.11.2014 computer security, cyber crime, cyber security, security, security threats No Comments

IACP 2014 – October 25th – 28th, Orlando, FL – Day 2 – LE Cyber Threats and Attacks

mjw headshotDay Two at IACP and straight in early on Sunday morning to attend the Cyber Threats and Attacks Facing Law Enforcement Agencies session. Having attended the last two Cyber Threat Summits in Dublin, Ireland, I am well aware of the challenges we are all facing everyday in trying to protect our technology.

Mark Gage opened with a very worrisome statement, saying that we spend so much money trying to protect everything else in our lives, but not enough care is given to protecting our information and identity networks. We are at risk every single day, just by viewing Facebook or opening up an untrusted email attachment our phones/laptops can become infected, and spread malware.

We should all know better, in-fact we do know better, we know the risks associated with all these things, but yet we are all capable of making silly mistakes and suffering the consequences.

Mark says the most important thing is to educate your staff, consult with those you share systems with, do not use the same password for everything, and make your password changes a minimum of 90 days. It’s also critical that we keep all software up to date, particularly anti-virus software, and implement back up procedures. For companies, he suggests paying money to employ IT staff or contractors.

George Arruda spoke next of the worst day for him in Sept 2013, whilst driving on holiday in Florida, he received a phone call, which gave him the news he dreaded – a virus had locked down ALL of Swansea Police Department’s files thanks to a vicious virus called Cryptolocker!

The only way to get the files back was to pay a ransom of bitcoins, to some criminals out there in cyberspace. He didn’t know who there were, or where they originated from, but he gave the order to pay and get the files back.

A cyber security expert was called in and he advised against this, but they eventually began the transactions of transferring bitcoins and they started to get data back. The main problem here was that they did not have back up, so they were indeed in a vulnerable position.

Having amassed a very large amount of data, this incident shook the Swansea PD. On the back of this, George gave advice to everyone – Back Up Everything and teach your staff NOT to open anything suspicious, and only have ONE administrator access with a password.

Steve Sambar warned of the dangers of terrorist cyber attacks, and the worry of, if they attack, what do we do? Who will be responsible for handling it? How long will it take to cover? We face so many threats every day, human error, insider threats, external threats. Many big corporations have suffered already. For example, Target had 40 million accounts hacked in Dec. 2013, and Ebay’s database with 233m users was hacked in Feb. 2014.

Jim Emerson had the last word, delivering a fast paced description of the emerging threats and challenges. Everything is happening faster, he said, and we have to understand the reality of what cyber security is.

He showed two short videos from IACP about cyber security, these are available on the IACP website. Jim wants us to:

  • Check carefully where is the suspicious email coming from.
  • Be aware of who you connected to.

Jim also stressed the importance of this being a day to day footrace, and it never ends. He is right, and we do not want to be sorry when it is too late.

Until next time…take care of yourselves!


30.10.2013 computer security, cyber crime, cyber security, information security, insider threat, leadership, security threats No Comments

Message to the Board: Why YOU are the reason for insider threats.

Enjoy a 20 minute presentation on why executives are the cause for many to most insider threat cases…


14.09.2013 counterintelligence, cyber crime, cyber security, Economic espionage, espionage, information security, INSA, insider threat, Risk assessment, security, security threats No Comments

Message to Government and Private Sector: YOU are the reason for insider threats

spy v spyEveryone is missing the boat on the insider threat issue – INSA too…to paraphrase James Carville, “It’s leadership stupid.”

Government and private sector organizations are the primary reason for insider threats – senior leaders and the boardroom grow them internally.

With very minor exception, NO ONE COMES TO WORK FOR YOU ON DAY ONE WITH THE INTENT TO HURT YOU, steal your secrets, or sell your intellectual property.

It’s how you treat them, over time, that turns them into insider threats.

  • You put them in the wrong jobs;
  • You fail to trust them;
  • You make it hard for them to do their jobs;
  • You put asshole/untrained managers over them;
  • You treat them like furniture;
  • You , threaten their existence in your companies and agencies;
  • You kill their spirit; and
  • Then, you wonder why they decide to hurt you.

Want to reduce/eliminate the insider threat? Treat you staff the way you did on day one:

  • Welcome them as a human being;
  • Be aware of how they are cared for in your organization;
  • Show them you care about them and their families;
  • Give them a future;
  • Put r-e-a-l leaders over them;
  • Give them a voice; and
  • Pay them well.

In other words, treat them as you would want to be treated.

Now, why is that so hard?

And, why do NONE of the plans I have seen for combatting the insider threat even mention poor leadership as a factor? | 9.12.13 Assessing Insider Threat Programs of U.S. Private Sector


24.12.2012 counterintelligence, cyber security, Economic espionage, law enforcement, public safety, security, Tips No Comments

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs: We have to take better care of each other

signsPop quiz…what do the following have in common:

  • Bradley Manning, US Army soldier who released 750,000 documents to wikileaks
  • Jacob Tyler Roberts, another young man who shot up an Oregon mall
  • Adam Lanza, young man who killed 26 at a Newtown, CT school
  • Marijana Bego, NYC art gallery owner who jumped to her death yesterday

The answer? One or more people knew something was wrong BEFOREHAND.

I am now convinced that EVERY incident, whether it is a tragic shooting, a terrorist act, espionage, or a sole suicide, there were signs ahead of time that something was not quite right with the individual(s) involved.

So what can we do? We have to take better care of each other. When we see signs that someone isn’t quite the way they used to be, call them on it. Ask questions. Take action BEFORE something bad happens.

Scared that you’ll embarrass them? scared you’ll embarrass yourself? If so, just think how you will feel if you don’t take action and something even worse happens…how will you feel then?

  • In Bradley’s case, the Army knew there were reasons NOT to put him in a position of trust, and they did anyway!
  • In Jacob’s case, his own roommate said he acted weird and talked about moving and selling his possessions!
  • In Adam’s case, the school district security officer knew he had disabilities!
  • And, in Marijana’s case, many people around her knew she was erratic and not happy.

I would hate to be in any of those person’s shoes…

so, for 2013, let’s try and take better care of each other, and vow to intervene early, maybe we can save a life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year



11.10.2012 computer security, counterintelligence, cyber crime, cyber security, Economic espionage, espionage, information security, insider threat, leadership, security, security threats No Comments

Why can’t Johnny be good? The making of an insider threat

“When Johnny reports to work for you on Day 1, they DO NOT intend to do you or your organization’s information systems any harm; something happens to them, either in their personal or work life that changes this – the CEO’s or Agency Head must be held responsible for making sure they know what’s going on with all of the Johnnys (and Janes) in their organization to prevent the good people they hired from becoming insider threats.”

While most of the world is focusing on “technology” as a solution to preventing insider threat attacks to organization/agency information and systems, hardly anyone is focused on leadership’s responsibility to create and sustain a work environment that minimizes the chance for an employee to turn into an insider threat.

On October 21, 2012, I had the chance to speak on this issue at the 2012 International Cyber Threat Task Force (ICTTF) Cyber Threat Summit in Dublin, Ireland a few weeks ago; here is a video recording of my presentation, I hope you find it informative and useful.


22.06.2012 cyber crime, cyber security, cyber warfare, security threats, Strategy, Technology No Comments

Love Guiness? Hate Cyber Crime?

Get on a plane and join me at International Cyber Threat Task Force (ICTTF) Cyber Threat Summit in Dublin, Ireland 20/21 September 2012, be my guest by using the registration code: nowheretohideguest –


30.08.2011 cyber security, Evaluation, information security, iso/iec 27001, security No Comments

NOWHERETOHIDE.ORG completes ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Lead Auditor (TPECS) competency

The British Standards Institute (BSI) issued ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Lead Auditor (TPECS) certificate to Chuck Georgo today. ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 27001 is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard published in October 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

ISO/IEC 27001 formally specifies a management system that is intended to bring information security under explicit management control. Being a formal specification means that it mandates specific requirements. Organizations that claim to have adopted ISO/IEC 27001 can therefore be formally audited and certified compliant with the standard.

NOWHERETOHIDE will be publishing a series of blog posts over the next few weeks to help educate organizations about the standard, its criteria, and strategies for achieving compliance.

It is important to understand that ISO/IEC certification is not a one-off exercise. To maintain the certificate the organization will need to both review and monitor the information security management system on an on-going basis.


05.08.2011 computer security, cyber crime, cyber security, cyber warfare No Comments

Cyber-Crime – Cyber-Warfare…you say tomato, I still say tomato…but are we prepared?

War has been defined as “a state of organized, armed and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, societal disruption, and usually high mortality.[Wikipedia]” Cyber Warfare has been defined as “politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. [DOD]”

While some of what we’ve recently can be construed as Cyber Warfare (including the recent hacktivism), the bulk of what’s really going (largely beneath the surface) is a) efforts by organized criminal elements using new technologies and capabilities to do what they have always done—steal money, or b) continued acts by nation states to steal military secrets (espionage) or corporate secrets (economic espionage).

While the latter (b) get the big press, I am worried that that the former (a) is actually the bigger problem of the two. I was personally hit by identity theft a few years ago when a group got access to my credit card details from a retailer I had done business with. This group proceeded to charge 250 rubles (about $9US) twice a month to one of my credit cards. While not a significant amount of money for me, I would guess that they had thousands of victims like me, and together, the monthly booty would add up quite quickly. Two hypotheses…

  1. More of this type of cyber-crime  is occurring today than the stuff showing up on the front page of any newspaper; and
  2. What we mean when we say “Cyber Warfare” is really just the 21st century version of crime; criminals using cyber means.

I’m also afraid that our law enforcement forces (internationally) are nowhere near being prepared to dealing with crime using cyber technologies—two points from a National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) Forum I recently attended:

  1. One of the sessions I participated in was entitled “Why Does the Crime Rate Continue to Decline?” The speaker (a well-respected professor) informed us that crime in America is actually down to the levels it was in 1964—this represents a significant drop. I asked the question “Did crime really drop or have criminals begun to use technology to steal rather than a pistol?” His response was “criminals aren’t smart enough to use computers.” I found this very hard to believe. Criminals have always adapted to stay a step ahead of law enforcement, and I fear that they now have a significant upper-hand, especially if law enforcement feels the way the speaker did and they fail to re-tool their ranks to detect, deter, and dismantle the new cyber-oriented criminal threats.
  2. Another session I attended was entitled “A Clear and Present Threat: A Look at Cybercrime.” In this session, one of the speakers spoke of the growing problem of crime in virtual worlds—people with avatars in virtual worlds are stealing other peoples virtual property and assets, and real lawsuits are being tried in real courts by real people. If you don’t believe me, read this article – Virtual add-ons draw real-world lawsuits – that I found in researching this further. I would submit that today’s criminals are more tech/cyber-savvy and have realized that there are safer (cyber) ways to steal money and property without having to physically point a gun at someone’s face.

Now ask yourself, how many law enforcement officers are prepare to investigate this type of crime, let alone basic identity theft, software piracy, child pornography, and cyber-extortion? And what about their readiness to preserve digital evidence in computers, laptops, routers, firewalls, servers, and handheld devices?

Today these skill sets are confined to special divisions within a police department, segregated from the bulk of the force. I would like to offer that just like the weapon, handcuffs, and radio on their utility belt,it’s time to equip many more, if not all law enforcement officers with the training and tools to understand, detect, and investigate cyber-crime…we’ll never get fully ahead of the problem, but maybe we can catch-up a bit.

your comments and thoughts welcome…r/Chuck



02.06.2011 computer security, cyber security, data sharing, Information sharing, law enforcement, Law enforcement information sharing, LEIS, security, security threats, Uncategorized No Comments

Security, Privacy, and Innovative Law Enforcement Information Sharing: Covering the bases

So it’s no great revelation that public safety has benefited greatly from public private partnerships, and I’m cool with that, especially when we are dealing with technology that saves lives. However, a press release hit my email inbox today that made me think of the risks to security and privacy when we implement innovative technologies.

Before I get into the story it, let me be v-e-r-y clear…I am NOT here to debate the effectiveness or morality of red-light/speed enforcement systems, nor am I here to cast dispersions on any of the organizations involved in the press release…this blog posting is strictly about using the Gatso press release to emphasize a point about security and privacy – when we engage in innovative law enforcement technology solutions, we need to take extra care to adequately address the security and privacy of personally identifiable information.

Here’s the press release from Gatso-USA:

GATSO USA Forms Unique, Strategic Partnership with Nlets

Earlier this month, GATSO USA was approved as a strategic partner by the Board of Directors of the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets). Nlets is….general narrative about NLETS was deleted. The approval of GATSO is an exciting first for the photo-enforcement industry.

Nlets will be hosting GATSO’s back office and server operations within the Nlets infrastructure. GATSO will have access to registered owner information for all 50 states plus additional provinces in Canada. The strategic relationship has been described as a “win-win” for both organizations.

From Nlets’ perspective, there are key benefits to providing GATSO with hosted service. Most importantly, it virtually guarantees personal data security. Due to this extra step of storing personal data behind the DMV walls of Nlets, the public can be assured that security breaches — such as the recent incident with PlayStation users — are avoided.

From GATSO’s perspective, hosting the system with Nlets will provide a ruggedized, robust connection to comprehensive registered owner information — without the security issues faced by other vendors in this industry. Nlets was created over 40 years ago…more stuff about NLETS was deleted).

The main points I took away from this press release were:

  1. Nlets is going to host the back-end server technology that GATSO needs to look up vehicle registration information of red-light runners;
  2. Gatso is going to have access to vehicle registration information for all vehicles/owners in ALL 50 states in the U.S. and (some) provinces in Canada; and
  3. And, because it’s behind Nlets firewalls, security is not an issue.

Again, please don’t call me a party-pooper as I am a huge advocate for finding innovative ways to use technology to make law enforcement’s job easier. However, I am also painfully aware (as many of you are) of the many security and privacy related missteps that have happened over the last few years with technology efforts that meant well, but didn’t do enough to make sure that they covered the bases for security and privacy matters. These efforts either had accidental leakage of personal information, left holes in their security posture that enables direct attacks, or created opportunities for nefarious evil-doers with legitimate access to use that access to sensitive information for other than honorable purposes.

After I read the press release, I thought that it would be a good case-study for the topic of this blog – it involved innovative use of technolgy for law enforcement, a psuedo-government agency (Nlets), two foreign-owned private companies, and LOTS of PII sharing – some might even say it had all the makings of a Will Smith movie. :-)

To help set the stage, here are a few facts I found online:

  • Gatso-USA is a foreign company, registered in New York State, operating out of Delaware; its parent company is a Dutch company, GATSOmeter BVGatso.
  • Gatso does not appear to vet all of the red-light/speed violations itself; it uses another company – Redflex Traffic Systems to help with that (Redflex is not mentioned in the press release).
  • Redflex seems to be a U.S. company, but it has a (foreign) parent company based in South Melbourne, Australia.
  • Finally, there are no-sworn officers involved in violation processing. Red-light/speed enforcement cameras are not operated by law enforcement agencies; they outsource that to Gatso, who installs and operates the systems for local jurisdictions (with Redflex) for free, (Gatso/Redflex is given a piece of the fine for each violation).

There are no real surprises here either; there are many foreign companies that provide good law enforcement technologies to jurisdications across the U.S., and outsourcing traffic violations is not new…BUT what is new here is that a sort-of-government agency (Nlets), has now provided two civilian companies (with foreign connections) access to Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (vehicle registrations) for the entire U.S. and parts of Canada…should we be worried?

Maybe; maybe not. Here are nine questions I would ask:

  1. Personnel Security: Will Nlets have a documented process to vet the U.S. and overseas Gatso and Redflex staff who will have access to this information through direct or VPN access to Nlets systems?
  2. Data Security: Will Gatso or Redflex maintain working/test copies of any of the registration information outside of the Nlets firewall? If so, are there documented ways to make sure this information is protected outside the firewall?
  3. Data Access: Will Gatso/Redflex have access to the entire registration record? or, will access be limited to certain fields?
  4. Code Security: Will any of the code development or code maintenance be done overseas in the Netherlands or Australia? If so, will all developers be vetted?
  5. Network Security: Will overseas developers/site suport staff have access to the data behind Nlets firewalls? What extra precautions will be taken to protect Nltes systems/networks from abuse/attack?
  6. Code Security: Will Nlets conduct any security testing on code loaded on the servers behind their firewalls?
  7. Stakeholder Support: Have all 50 U.S. states, and provinces in Canada, been made aware of this new information sharing relationship? Do they understand all of the nuances of the relationship? And, are they satisfied that their constituents personal information will be protected?
  8. Audit/Logging: Will all queries to vehicle registration information logged? Is someone checking the logs? How will Nlets know if abuses of authorized access are taking place?
  9. Public Acceptance: How do states inform their constituents that their personal vehicle registration information is being made available to foreign owned company? Will they care?

How these questions are answered will determine whether or not we should worry…

Did I miss any other important questions?

Beyond this particular press release and blog posting, I suggest that you consider asking these kinds of questions whenever your agency is considering opening/connecting its data systems to outside organizations or private companies—it may just prevent your agency from becoming a headline on tonights news, like St. Louis –> St. Louis Police Department computer hacked in cyber-attack .

The bottom-line is that whenever you take advantage of opportunities to apply innovative technologies to public safety, make sure that you cover ALL the bases to protect your sensitve data and PII from leakage, direct attacks, or misuse and abuse.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.


27.09.2010 computer security, cyber security, Economic espionage, SCADA, security No Comments

Web ‘superbug’ threatens Chinese national security – Stuxnet SCADA Attack

Caught this article in Times of India  (PTI, Sep 27, 2010, 01.29pm) website today…funny it didn’t make any of the U.S. cyber security sites…here’s a couple snippets…

“A sophisticated malicious computer software, is attempting to infiltrate factory computers in China’s key industries, threatening the country’s national security, cyber experts have warned.”

“Called Stuxnet, the worm was first discovered in mid-June and was specially written to attack Siemens supervisory control and data (SCADA) systems commonly used to control and monitor industrial facilities – from traffic lights and oil rigs to power and nuclear plants, the state-run Global Times daily reported quoting experts.”

“Globally, the worm has been found to target Siemens systems mostly in India, Indonesia and Pakistan, but the heaviest infiltration appears to be in Iran, the report said. According to Wang, there might be large financial groups and nations behind the malicious software.”

“Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of security firm Kaspersky said the Stuxnet worm could prove that “we have now entered the age of cyber-warfare. – He believes that Stuxnet is a working – and fearsome – prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to the creation of a new arms race in the world.”

Read more: Web ‘superbug’ threatens Chinese national security – The Times of India

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