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.


Defend Forward – Cloud Smart

A Change in Cybersecurity Tactics

The 2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy was released on September 18, 2018, and set the cyber-world humming. The path of cyber defense is shifting. No longer will cyber defense (at least as they DoD views it) be content to building a wall and making sure nothing breaches that wall.  The new directive is for cybersecurity to “defend forward to disrupt or halt malicious cyber activity at its source….” But what exactly does this mean?

Defend Forward

“The Department must respond to these activities by exposing, disrupting, and degrading cyber activity threatening U.S. interests, strengthening the cybersecurity and resilience of key potential targets, and working closely with other departments and agencies, as well as with our allies and partners.” -2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy

As you can see from the above quote, cyber defense is, in essence, going on the offense. An easy way to visualize this is by picturing a phalanx of hoplite soldiers in Ancient Greece. They have their protective shields in place and they are in close formation – amazing protection from any attack. However, they don’t stand still. They march forward and engage the enemy. They are bringing the defense toward the enemy’s position and using their defense as part of an offensive plan. They are, to bring it back to the new cyber strategy, defending forward.

defend forward

This is what the DoD plans for the future of cybersecurity. Rather than that waiting for the threat to attack, Defending Forward has your cyber defenses move forward to meet the attacker or, preferably, engage the threats before they can attack. It is an aggressive defense, but one that is needed in today’s ever hostile world. But that’s not all. Not only must we change our defensive tactics, we must also evolve our thoughts on the cloud.

Cloud Smart

 “Cloud Smart is about equipping agencies with the tools, knowledge, and flexibilities they need to move to cloud according to their mission needs.” – 2018 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy

According to the most recent (recent as of this time of writing – October 2018) draft of the 2018 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is adding a new spin to how government should think of and interact with the cloud. The new Cloud Smart initiative is a trident approach to being safe on the Internet: security, procurement, and workforce.

First, Cloud Smart calls for a modernization of cloud security. Network security at the outer layer should no longer be the be all and end all – the necessity for security throughout a network is imperative, expressly surrounding actual data stored on the network. The Cloud Smart strategy points out that data is key, and it is an agency’s responsibility to the public to keep that data safe and secure.

office cybersecurity

The procurement tine of the Cloud Smart trident deals with giving agencies the power and knowledge to purchase the proper security products for their agency. But unlike the past, where each agency gets whatever it has found on its own, agencies are encouraged to share. In fact, the push is to standardize security products across all agencies.

The final prong of the Cloud Smart trident deals with the actual workforce of government agencies. To paraphrase the OMB, key cybersecurity talent needs to be recruited and/or grown and trained from current personnel. These new cyber-warriors will be responsible not just for cybersecurity, but also for procurement and engineering of Cloud Smart solutions.

Fognigma is Cloud Smart and Defends Forward

Fognigma is a patented enterprise software solution which creates secure, invisible, and encrypted networks on the cloud called Mission Partner Networks (MPNs). It does this by taking randomly leased virtual machines from multiple cloud servers and connecting them to form one network. Inside these networks are all the communication and collaboration tools organizations need for mission success: traceless telephony, encrypted file share, secure chat messaging and video conferencing, and virtual desktops (VDI) with Fognigma-unique features. These networks exist over public infrastructure yet are invisible to spying eyes.

Every connection in a Fognigma network is wrapped in cascading layers of AES-256 encryption using two separate encryption libraries, OpenSSL and wolfSSL, for added security. This encryption protects the connections that make the network, but also all the connections inside the network. This provides protection at the outer layer of the network, but also surrounding the data stored inside – just like Cloud Smart dictates. Plus, Fognigma is FIPS 140-2 validated.

Fognigma offers even more protection by giving admins granular user controls. Fognigma protects against threats from the inside, as well, by letting admins set which users can access which tools, folders, and files – controlling even the type of access each user has (read only, write, etc.). And Fognigma does all of this without any third-party access or oversight – you own it and you run it.

granular controls for admin

Fognigma’s MPNs are designed to allow for the easy collaboration of multiple agencies without disrupting or endangering each agency’s users or data. In our experience, once an agency gets a taste of what Fognigma can do, it wants Fognigma for its own operations. We completely support that choice (and so does Cloud Smart)!

Fognigma embraces the Defend Forward mindset. Since MPNs are built across multiple cloud providers, they can reach out into over 50 regions spread across 5 continents. Fognigma lets you boldly go into any part of the world your mission dictates. You will advance upon the enemy, yet they will not know you are there due to the invisible nature of MPNs. In fact, MPNs defend forward a little differently from other networks. They defend forward in space, but they also defend forward in time.

Let’s explain. Fognigma lets you extend your network, part of your network, and/or one or more of your communication components into enemy territory – you have defended forward in space. But Fognigma also gives you complete control over when the network, parts, and/or components exist, giving you the ability to defend forward in time. Because Fognigma acknowledges that “always on” isn’t always desired – both for conserving resources and extra security – it gives you the ability to manually or automatically, on a schedule, remove components, network parts, or the entire network. Or, conversely, you can add to your networks. Basically, your entire network’s topography can be constantly in flux; you will be defending forward by being everywhere and nowhere, seemingly at the same time (like Schrödinger’s network). Your shields will forever be raised, yet your troops will be constantly and silently moving around the battlefield defending forward in four dimensions (i.e., in space and in time).

Fognigma combines all the best parts of the Cloud Smart strategy with a solid Defend Forward stance. With Fognigma, your organization will be able to protect itself while not having to sit still hiding behind walls. It can move, it can flow, it can adapt to any situation. Your organization will be able to smartly glide through the cloud towards mission success, while defending in all directions. This is why we can proudly say: Fognigma helps you Cloud Smart while Defending Forward.