Isometric dron Santas hat delivering Christmas gifts and presents. Vector illustration

Scrooge’s Three Ghosts of Cybersecurity

Three Visitations

Just as Scrooge was visited by three apparitions, so shall ye be greeted by three specters. These are not hauntings to change your feelings for the holidays, though. These diaphanous blobs of ectoplasm are here to remind you about cybersecurity and how to think about it as the holidays pass and the new year begins. They are here to show you the three directions you must always look in as you think about protecting your network, users, and organization. Do you feel that chill in the air all of a sudden? Yes, that’s right: The Ghost of Cybersecurity Past has arrived.

Ghost of Cybersecurity

The Ghost of Cybersecurity Past

There’s a knock on your office door. When you open it, you are face to face with the Ghost of Cybersecurity Past. It is small like a child, yet there’s something old about its face. It beckons you to follow it, and you both walk hand in hand into your cybersecurity past. Insert flashback special effects here.

Once in the past, you see how simple cybersecurity used to be. Organizations would set up firewalls to stop intrusion and install virus protection to deal with any viruses which found their way into your systems. Sometimes sites would be blacklisted so employees couldn’t access them. It was an early time, where organizations were slowly coming online for the first time. Things were new. And yet, it was during this time of technological change where the seeds of compromise were planted. (For a wonderful interview with the first person to create a virus, read this!)

Phishing Attempt

This was the beginning, the Ghost shows you, how organizations began to connect together, yet fought hard to remain separate and insulated. The Ghost leaves with a shiver (insert flashforward special effects here), and you are alone.

The Ghost of Cybersecurity Present

But you are only alone for a millisecond before a loud, booming knock shakes your office. It is the Ghost of Cybersecurity Present. This Ghost is not small like your first spectral visitation; this Ghost is a giant. It is the present, after all. The world is all connected, everything is attached to the Internet, and there are malicious third-parties hiding in every nook and cranny waiting to feast on your data. The present of Cybersecurity is expansive, as it strives to protect a global attack surface where over 77% of organizations have suffered some form of attack in 2018 alone.

Gone is just putting up walls and patching holes after they appear. Current cybersecurity must be proactive and seek to shore up weak spots before they become holes. It must evade and obscure, encrypt and disappear. It is as giant an undertaking as the Ghost who is by your side.

Privacy and security

You turn exhausted and you notice the Ghost is similarly spent. And yet it shows you two more things: children hiding in the robes around its feet. “These are Connectivity and Privacy – the two issues that plague all humankind now,” the Ghost explains. Each child grabs and hangs onto one of the Ghost’s arms and you watch as he attempts to balance them. You silently nod, realizing this balancing act is what makes the present state of cybersecurity so difficult: managing everyone’s interconnectivity, while respecting and protecting their privacy. Before you can say another word to the giant spirit, you are alone again.

The Ghost of Cybersecurity Yet to Come

Before you can take three breaths, you feel a presence behind you. Turning, you lift your eyes and behold a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards you. If drifts along, taking you somehow with it, into the future of cybersecurity.

Clouds roll in and lightning flashes. In front of you, there are no more wires. There are just vacuum cleaners talking to microwaves talking to thermostats talking to computers talking to cars talking to cell phones talking to cloud storage talking to…. well, you understand.

Iot isometric Device

In the future, everything is connected and nothing exists in an isolated state. All new electronics access the Internet to provide more services to the user. It’s as if the digital world is made of whiffle balls — little points of access surrounded by holes that third-parties can exploit. The battlefield of the cybersecurity warrior of the future is one who instantly goes on the offensive when bringing a new device, network, or user online. One who moves their defense all around them, dynamically altering it as they go; one who appears to be one place and then another and then nowhere at all.

The future of cybersecurity is both terrifying and exciting — exciting because of the new tech which will be developed, but terrifying because each new connected device is also a new attack surface, so compromise can come from anywhere (not just the single point of entry from a modem like in the past).

But don’t be afraid. As the Ghost of Cybersecurity Yet to Come pulls back its hood revealing a sickly, skeletal form (looking ever so much like the Grim Reaper), you are reminded of the Death Tarot card. In Tarot, the Death card represents change. The Ghost is reminding you of the change that is to come in how you deal with cybersecurity, spurring you on to embrace that change. And then it is gone.

Bonus Ghost: Marley

You are left standing in the room where you started. No one is around, and no time has passed (the Ghosts have those timey-wimey, Twilight Zone skillz). There’s a lot of work to do. ‘But the title there mentions a bonus Ghost,’ you wonder, ‘where and who is this extra apparition?’

The fourth Ghost, reader, is the one writing these words. The one warning you to look to the past, present, and future as you craft your cybersecurity plans and processes. The one showing you the best way to prepare for the future is to combine the visions each Ghost showed you into one ever-evolving plan; the one who puts a little plug at the end of this night of visitations for an enterprise software product which can bring you leading-edge technology, the future of cybersecurity, today. That product is Fognigma.

Learn more how Fognigma can give your organization more than a ghost of a chance.

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Supporting Offensive Cyber Operations

Offensive Cyber

In the 2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy, the DoD outlined a change in cyber defense tactics. One of the new strategies is called ‘Defend Forward’  (which we explored in a previous blog post). In short, Defend Forward charges organizations to shore up their cyber defenses and not sit around waiting for someone to attack and test them – to continue to move forward, all while fully defended. Definitely a shift in cyber defense strategy, as offensive cyber operations are on the rise

offensive cyber operations
Protecting your data is important

But the Department of Defense didn’t stop there. They also stated they “will employ offensive cyber capabilities and innovative concepts that allow for the use of cyberspace operations across the full spectrum of conflict.” Yes, the DoD is actually mentioning the need of offensive cyber operations. The new future involves not only arming one’s organization with mobile cyber armor, but also searching out and destroying threats before they can become threats. Fognigma’s patented software solutions are ready to support this new cyber defense strategy. Read on to learn more!

Fognigma Makes You Invisible

We must start by saying that Fognigma is not an offensive tool. It does, however, provide a patented and proven way for you to hide your operations from spying eyes. Fognigma gives you the power to create encrypted, cloaked Mission Partner Networks (MPNs), allowing total protection and anonymity of communications. An MPN is built from strategically leased virtual machines from one or more cloud providers, which work together as one powerful network.

With Fognigma, you completely control your MPN without any third-party interference or oversight. You run it; you own it. You exist now without anyone watching over you. Fognigma also gives you full command over your online presence. By managing your online attribution, you can craft your online appearance to separate who it looks like you are, where it looks like you are, and what it looks like you’re doing from what’s actually going on.

Secure Network Infrastructure

This invisibility of network and communications is paramount for organizations who conduct offensive cyber operations. Too often, offensive ops are compromised by parts being easily discovered and/or associated. A good example (and warning for the future) involves all the new info that’s been revealed about the big 2009-2013 CIA breach. Simple Google searches by third parties revealed sites that had similar aspects to them, leading to the correct assumption that they were, in fact, operated by the same group. This was later used for interception and exfiltration of sensitive information about offensive ops.

As previously stated, Fognigma is built from various virtual machines (VMs). These VMs only know of their immediate neighbors, so the network can’t be compromised should one VM be breached (which is statistically impossible given the nature of Fognigma’s encryption technologies). Also, organizations have the option to use Fognigma’s Portal Proxy technology (also patented) which allows them to create anonymous and disposable URLs for different Fognigma components. With Portal Proxies, organizations can give users their own URLs, so even if multiple people are accessing the same component, from the outside, it will look like they are going in different directions. This disassociates the users from the organization and from each other. And the more disassociation an organization can create during offensive operations, the less chance of activity correlation which could lead to a compromise like the aforementioned CIA operations.

Fognigma Has Global Reach

In order to properly engage in offensive cyber operations, organizations need global access. This is another area where Fognigma shines. Because of Fognigma’s structural nature, all the parts of the network and internal communication components can be built in different areas of the world. If you needed a file share residing in India, you could have just that (built in a few mouse clicks). All users granted access to that file share could access it when they connect to your MPN from wherever they are in the world.

Fogngima Networks Span the Globe

Fognigma also gives you global reach in an intelligent manner. Meaning, it normally doesn’t behoove an organization involved in operations in one part of the world to appear to be coming from another part of the world. Fognigma solves this by the properties of an MPN’s exit points. Without going into too much technical detail here, users leave an MPN by going through admin-created exit points. Once a user goes through an exit point to the Internet, their IP matches the country in which the exit point is located. This is invaluable when not wanting users to appear to be foreign to the part of the world in which they are conducting operations.

Fognigma Provides the Tools for Offensive Operations

But, Fognigma isn’t just an invisible network. Inside your MPN is a suite of communication and collaboration components which allow your operations to stay in constant contact. As soon as your device connects to your MPN, you’ll have access to: traceless telephony (with a misattributable call chain feature for safely communicating with untrusted external parties), protected video conferencing, and secure chat messaging. A file share is also hidden within your MPN for the safe storage and transfer of files.

secure telephony
Secure Telephony

And then there’s Fognigma’s superpowered Virtual Desktops (VDI). Fognigma’s VDIs have all the features of normal VDIs plus many more that only Fognigma can deliver. For instance, you can now transfer files from a USB directly to your VDI, completely bypassing the host computer. If there is a file on the host computer you wish to transfer, you can copy it to your VDI as easily as dragging and dropping it. Fognigma VDIs can be used as a super anonymous and temporary way to access other MPN. For example, you could initialize a VDI, connect to a video conference inside your MPN (assured that the audio is also safe, as Fognigma ensures all audio is proxied to ensure no IP leak), communicate with your team, and then destroy the VDI when done. When any part of an MPN is destroyed, the components are wiped clean and completely overwritten by the cloud providers, eliminating all digital forensics. It’s as if none of it ever really happened.

Fognigma is the Base Offensive Operations Need

A secure cybersecurity base for offensive operations needs to be a multi-tool, a transformer, and a cloaking device which can fit in your pocket. It needs to make the world think you are doing one thing, when you are actually doing something else. It needs to separate the connected and connect the separated. And, most of all, it needs to do all of this without anyone realizing it’s doing anything at all. That list is a good summary of reasons why Fognigma was created. We wanted to give organizations that toolbox, that utility belt, that base on which to build their operational success. And more than that, Fognigma was developed (and continues to be developed) to give the US Government and its military forces the advantage on the world stage. Fognigma puts the power of cybersecurity in the hands of those who will use our technology to make the world a safer place for all of us.