How One Challenging Gig with My Band Prepared Me for a Career in Cybersecurity

Sometimes, connections between work and play appear when they’re least expected. You wouldn’t expect, for example, a guitar-shredding metal-head to carry over much from his time on stage to his career in cybersecurity, but that’s exactly what happened to Julian Weinberger, CISSP and Director of Systems Engineering for NCP engineering. Julian isn’t performing in the U.S. anymore, but during his time in Germany, one gig in particular brought so many challenges that he still thinks about it today. We sat down with Julian to discuss what happened that night. What specific event involving your band has taught you the most about working in security and business continuity? A few years ago, after hustling to line up free gigs, I landed my first paid performance. Unfortunately, I ran into myriad unanticipated issues: a string on my first guitar broke, my backup guitar didn’t work, my cable made weird noises, and, as if that wasn’t enough, my in-ear system stopped working. Although none of these issues were my fault, they wreaked havoc on the gig – and when you’re hired to entertain, you risk not being paid if you’re unable to deliver, regardless of the circumstances. It’s similar with enterprise network security. If things break — and they will — you need to be prepared with a plan to fix it. So how did you respond on stage? And what did that teach you about security? When performing on stage, technical difficulties must be fixed within seconds, and it’s the same case with security. For instance, if your microphone cuts out – or worse, your organization is faced with security issues...

OPM Breach Shows Need for ‘Nimble’ Government Network Security

No matter how you look at it, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is on the hook for revealing the records of millions of Americans. The only question is how many millions. If you believe the agency’s own report, then it’s 4 million. Four million current, former and prospective government employees whose personal information became public following a cyberattack conducted throughout the early part of this year. The numbers are even worse if the reports from the Associated Press, Bloomberg and other prominent news sources are accurate. They claim the number of victims is closer to 14 million. Although the OPM investigation is still ongoing, the federal government has already begun the task of investigating and explaining the attack. As White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters last week: “Protecting the computer networks of the federal government is a daunting challenge. It does require the federal government to be nimble, something that’s difficult when you’re talking about an organization that’s this large.” Earnest is right. When you’re talking about the federal government as one body, it’s difficult to imagine it being fleet-of-foot and responding effectively to new and emerging cyberthreats. On a smaller scale, though, there are plenty of government agencies, at all levels, that are getting the job done locally, and taking proactive steps that should prevent them from becoming the next OPM. Let’s look at one government agency in Iowa that’s upgraded its remote access and, in the process, is protecting its network. Read Case Study Lessons from the Heartland Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) is a state agency, headquartered in Des Moines, that partners with...

Countering Advanced Persistent Threats with Comprehensive Network Security

The technological savvy and tenacity of cyber criminals has never been greater, and IT administrators trying to prepare for impending attacks are often left backpedaling. With all of the different ways a corporate network may be attacked, IT administrators must strive to implement a comprehensive remote access security framework within their enterprises.  Especially with the proliferation of mobile devices, with a wide variety of operating systems, being used to access the network, companies need to make sure they have all of their bases (or, in this case, endpoints) covered. While traditional attacks, such as viruses, spyware or bot infections are far from extinct, advanced persistent threats (APTs) have recently been garnering a lot of attention. APTs give IT teams headaches, because they are extremely stealthy in nature and are almost always aimed at a very specific target. Traditional attacks are generally created to quickly harm the machine and network they’re infiltrating, leaving before they can be detected by the network’s intrusion detection system (IDS). APTs, on the other hand, are designed to remain in the network undetected for extended periods of time, all the while stealing sensitive company data. The wide range of methods and vulnerabilities that these attacks use to gain access is what makes them so tricky to discover. Unfortunately, once an attack has commenced, it usually requires an IT administrator to notice anomalies in outbound data before anyone realizes there is a problem at all. Sophisticated APTs can be very difficult to spot, especially without the right framework in place. One recent example of an APT struck the New York Times. It appears that the cyberespionage...

NCP engineering Supports Microsoft Windows Users’ Evolving Remote Access Needs

Organizations tasked with safely connecting their employees to the corporate network are under pressure to not only accommodate various devices, but also offer multi-platform support. In fact, analysts predict  that through 2017, 90% of enterprises will have two or more mobile operating systems to manage! Adding to this pressure is the recent onslaught of Windows 8-based systems in the enterprise, which means the demand for secure remote access solutions is following suit. Heeding this call for adaptation, NCP engineering has upgraded its enterprise IPsec VPN client suite to offer compatibility with laptops and tablets running Windows 8, in particular, its Professional and Enterprise editions. The centrally managed remote access software also supports devices using Windows 7/Vista/XP 32-/64-bit. NCP has also added several new security benefits to its enterprise IPsec VPN client, including prompting users via warning messages if they fail to log on to hotspots without established Wi-Fi connections. When this occurs, the software solution advises users on creating suitable connection profiles, and helps them determine if alternative network selections are necessary. The NCP Secure Enterprise Client also includes the recently added Access Point Name (APN) management feature, which eliminates the need to manually update each device’s APN when switching out SIM cards from different mobile operators. For more information on the new product version and how NCP is meeting Windows users’ evolving remote access needs, check out the full press release...

Secure Authentication for Apple iOS Devices

As indicated by your feedback in several of our polls, and as highlighted at Interop New York, more and more users are opting to access their company network via various devices. Of all the devices involved in the BYOD movement, Apple iOS products are some of the most popular. In response to this demand, the NCP Secure Enterprise VPN Server now integrates with Apple’s iOS, so IT administrators can perform certificate-based authentication to control network access of iPhones and iPads. So, how does this work? Apple’s mobile device management (MDM) distributes various certificates to all authorized iOS devicies. When users establish VPN tunnels from their devices, the NCP Secure Enterprise VPN Server uses these certificates to determine what type of device the user is accessing the network with. This enables network administrators to, for example, allow a Mac OS X notebook full access rights, while limiting iOS devices to partial access to the central network. Also, users are unable to decipher or manipulate the certificates, significantly reducing the risk of certifications being duplicated for unauthorized devices. Security is, after all, one of the biggest concerns associated with BYOD. Ultimately, with its iOS secure authentication, NCP enables IT administrators to use certificates to control assignment rights on these end devices – without interfering with the user-determined username and passwords. Want to view the entire, official announcement? Check it out...

Automated Mobile Security, Part 1

The following the first in a series of excerpts from NCP engineering‘s technical white paper, Automated Mobile Security:  Leveraging Trusted Network Connect (TNC) IF-MAP to provide automated security for company networks and mobile devices. The increasing use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablet PCs introduce new threats to enterprise IT networks. While most of the well known security programs such as desktop firewalls,  antivirus and harddrive encryption work pretty well for laptops, they are still not available for these kinds of mobile devices. The only way to keep your network secure is by providing additional security on the central IT infrastructure. The problem is, most of today’s security systems work isolated from each other and if they offer interoperability they do so only to a limited extent, which is insufficient to counter the new threats network security faces every day. A new specification developed by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) strives to solve this interoperability problem with the development of IF-MAP. IF-MAP provides the possibility to interconnect different IT-security systems and provide an accurate representation of the health status of your IT network. It even can automate security responses to network  threats and enforce security without the need for human interaction. The support for IF-MAP is steadily increasing, as more and more vendors and open source products are supporting the IF-MAP technology. Stay tuned for the next post that explains IF-MAP in more...