What If?

What If?

Cybersecurity Human Performance

I recently participated in a panel at the BASC conference that was held at the Microsoft New England Research & Development (NERD) building at One Memorial Drive in Cambridge. One of the questions that surfaced inspired me to write this article.
While there are more security solutions available today than ever before, are we actually becoming more secure or is the gap growing? The short answer is yes. The security industry is reactive in that it can only respond to threats but it cannot predict them. This is because of threats are defined by malicious hackers and technology savvy criminals and not the security industry. Antivirus technology for example, was created as a response to viruses that were being written by hackers. So yes, security is getting better, technologies are advancing, and the gap is still growing rapidly. One major part of the problem is that people adopt new technologies too quickly. They don’t stop to question those technologies from the perspective a hacker…

A prime example of this problem is clearly demonstrated within the automotive industry. Computer systems that are in automobiles were not designed to withstand any sort of real hacker threat. This wasn’t much of a problem at first because automotive computer systems weren’t Internet connected and at first they didn’t have direct control over things like breaks and the accelerator. That all changed as the automotive industry advanced and as people wanted the convenience that computer technology could bring to the table. Now automotive computer systems directly control critical automotive functions and a hacker can interface with the computer system and cause potentially catastrophic failures. Despite this the problem wasn’t perceived as particularly high risk because accessing the computer system required physical access to the car (or close proximity for TPMS like hacks). That is all going to change when the Chevy Volt hits the streets since the Chevy Volt actually has its own IP address and is network connected. Is the risk really worth the convenience?
Another good example of how we adopt technology too quickly is demonstrated in critical infrastructure (power, water, communications, etc). Just like the automotive industry critical systems were not initially designed to be plugged into the Internet. These critical systems are the systems that control the water coolant levels in our nuclear power plants or the mixtures of chemicals in water treatment plants, etc. Some of these critical systems were designed in the 1960’s so the concept of the “hacker threat” didn’t exist. Other systems are very modern but even those aren’t designed to be secure as much as they are designed to be functional. Back in the day power plants, water treatment plants, etc. were air-gaped to isolate them from potentially harmful environments. But as the Internet offered more and more convenience the air-gaps that once existed are almost extinct. Now our critical systems connected to the Internet and exposed to real hacker threats; and do they get hacked? Yes. Again, is the risk really worth the convenience?
Of course an example that everyone can relate to is business networks. Business networks are constantly evolving and new technologies are continually being adopted without proper vetting. These technologies often include web applications, security technologies, backup technologies, content management systems, etc. These technologies usually promise to make things easier and thus save time which equates to saving money. For example, the other week we were delivering a penetration test for a pharmaceutical company. This company had a video conference system setup so that they could speak with remote offices and have “face to face” conversations. They loved the technology because it made for more productive meetings and we loved the technology because it was easy to hack.
Despite the fact that the security industry is evolving at a rapid pace, it can’t keep up with the volume of people that are prematurely adopting new and untested technologies. This adoption causes the gap between good security and security risks to grow. To help close the gap consumers need to start challenging their vendors. They need to ask their vendors to demonstrate the security of their technology and maybe even to make some sort of a guarantee about it. There are some solid companies out there that offer services designed to enhance the security of technology products. Once such company is Veracode (no affiliation with Netragard).

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Karen Huggins

Chief Financial, HR and Admin Officer
Karen joined the Netragard team in 2017 and oversees Netragard’s financial, human resources as well as administration functions. She also provides project management support to the operations and overall strategy of Netragard.
Prior to joining Netragard, she worked at RBC Investor Services Bank in Luxembourg in the role of Financial Advisor to the Global CIO of Investor Services, as well as several years managing the Financial Risk team to develop and implement new processes in line with regulatory requirements around their supplier services/cost and to minimize the residual risk to the organization.
With over 20 years of experience in finance with global organizations, she brings new perspective that will help the organization become more efficient as a team. She received her Bachelor of Finance from The Florida State University in the US and her Master of Business Administration at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France.

Philippe Caturegli

Chief Hacking Officer
Philippe has over 20 years of experience in information security. Prior to joining Netragard, Philippe was a Senior Manager within the Information & Technology Risk practice at Deloitte Luxembourg where he led a team in charge of Security & Privacy engagements.

Philippe has over 10 years of experience in the banking and financial sector that includes security assessment of large and complex infrastructures and penetration testing of data & voice networks, operating systems, middleware and web applications in Europe, US and Middle East.

Previously, Philippe held roles within the information system security department of a global pharmaceutical company in London. While working with a heterogeneous network of over 100,000 users across the world and strict regulatory requirements, Philippe gained hands-on experience with various security technologies (VPN, Network and Application Firewalls, IDS, IPS, Host Intrusion Prevention, etc.)

Philippe actively participates in the Information Security community. He has discovered and published several security vulnerabilities in leading products such as Cisco, Symantec and Hewlett-Packard.

He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), PCI Qualified Security Assessors (PCI-QSA), OSSTMM Professional Security Analyst (OPSA), OSSTMM Professional Security Tester (OPST), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)and Associate Member of the Business Continuity Institute (AMBCI).

Adriel Desautels

Chief Technology Officer
Adriel T. Desautels, has over 20 years of professional experience in information security. In 1998, Adriel founded Secure Network Operations, Inc. which was home to the SNOsoft Research Team. SNOsoft gained worldwide recognition for its vulnerability research work which played a pivotal role in helping to establish today’s best practices for responsible disclosure. While running SNOsoft, Adriel created the zeroday Exploit Acquisition Program (“EAP”), which was transferred to, and continued to operate under Netragard.
In 2006, Adriel founded Netragard on the premise of delivering high-quality Realistic Threat Penetration Testing services, known today as Red Teaming. Adriel continues to act as a primary architect behind Netragard’s services, created and manages Netragard’s 0-day Exploit Acquisition Program and continues to be an advocate for ethical 0-day research, use and sales.
Adriel is frequently interviewed as a subject matter expert by media outlets that include, Forbes, The Economist, Bloomberg, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and The Register. Adriel is often an invited keynote or panelist at events such as Blackhat USA, InfoSec World, VICELAND Cyberwar, BSides, and NAW Billion Dollar CIO Roundtable.