Architect

In physical world, an architect is "a person whose job is to design new buildings and make certain that they are built correctly", Cambridge. If this definition applies to digital world, the system architect is to ensure the system is built correctly per business requirement. Extending to cybersecurity, the cybersecurity architect is to ensure proper protection is incorporated in the digital landscape. Most often, cyber protections are overkilled. I come across an example that USB thumb drive carrying publicly downloaded security patches requires encryption because company policy only allows encrypted drive. On the IT side, there is no issue because patches are downloaded from IT machine with Internet access. But when transferring files to the OT side, it will create issue because decryption will need running special program in the USB "public" drive where OT environment is lock down. Further, the objective of encryption is to protect sensitive information in the USB because contents could be disclosed when lost. If dedicated USB...
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Architecture #2

Parthenon, 447 BC Some cybersecurity practitioners always mention network diagram to have cybersecurity architecture for review and so-called approval. They know just the term and never grasp the real meaning. Cybersecurity architecture is actually the digital landscape having these core elements: network zoning, electronic perimeter control, cyber protection measures. The last one is an organization-wide issue because protection measures are not solely via technical controls which are the last to consider. Not everything can be technically enforced and if it does, it kills business. Enhancing workforce competency especially cybersecurity practitioners who act as internal subject matter expert to provide reputable and credible opinions rather than just slipping words out of their mouth. Situation awareness is another key player in protection measure. The illustrated architecture is an aged structure with and yet it is still standing there. By the same token we should not solely demand refreshing technology obsolescence because it has entered end of support. It needs a holistic...
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Off Grid

Our physical world is fully integrated with the cyber world. Some derivatives like privacy, digital asset, cyber protection are of a concern. The extreme approach to get rid of these cyber issues is to stay off grid, i.e. in the wild: no cell phone, no electricity, no tap water supply, no gas, no vehicle, or a complete isolate zone with the outter world. It is easy to just talk about staying off grid but when putting into practice, it's a great challenge to adapt. You need to hunt for food, collect drinkable water, build shelter, source heat to cook or keep warmth and most importantly don't get sick. Even a recycle bin will lead you connected with others in the logistic chain. We can't escape from the cyber world but to manage this to understand and accept the consequence. ...
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Twins

Ditigal Twin is a digital representation of a physical object, person, or process, contextualized in a digital environment. There are lots of use cases and solutions available in the market for different types of model. How do we ensure the results from the digital environment is truly representing the physical environment? This falls into fundamentals that need subject matter experts design, deploy, sustain and validate the digital model regularly. Otherwise, an incorrect outcome from the digital representation will cause incorrect judgment with at worst catastrophic consequence. ...
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Security Culture

A trivial observation will reveal a lot of issues about the security culture of an organization. 1. Does the organization: Have information security policies in place Define the differennt information classes Provide examples of each information class Establish approval process with appropriate authoritive level to declassify information for sharing Deploy viable means to share confidential materials Communicate properly all staff with mandatory regular refresher programme Integrate information security undertaking in the employment term Impose discrepancy process for policy violation Enforce role based access profile per job function Review periodically for appropriate access rights 2. Do the staff: Have minimal access to information just per the job roles Forget to reclassify the information after approval has been granted Understand what has gone wrong It seems so many issues have been surfaced but this is the challenge and a matter of fact when all of us living in the digital world, not-to-mention unstructured information is everywhere beyond the organization cyber landscape. The bottom line relies on human rather than technologies to secure information mandated by policies (written directives). ...
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United

Combat against cyber threats relies on everyone. Together, determined group of individuals will become strong. Then, what about cybersecurity practitioners. Do we still need them? Yes, they are still required in an organization but there should be a small team to prioritize cyber protections aligning with the business objectives. Cybersecurity is now integrated into every job function, executed and sustained properly for effective protection. This requires the entire work force to achieve. This is just like each work force member has to prepare report, spreadsheet, presentation materials all on its own. Clerical support in the old days have gone. This change is inevitable especially all business functions are now undergone digital transformation to stay competitiveness in the market. ...
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Integrity

Here, I am not talking about the fundamental of information security, the CIA aspects. Most often, we trust the policy enforcement is honestly executed. Imagine the parking ticket is issued to vehicle with time expired. How do we ensure this is done unbiased, i.e. the actual time is expired in the meter rather than issuing the parking ticket at wish? We are not yet coming to the point of technology failure (incorrect display, incorrect calculation etc.). Personal integrity is important and that's why human is the success factor in cyber security. I have seen incompetent cybersecurity practitioner raising subjective opinions or manipulate the situation based on a buggy policy without looking in the real situation nor listen to feedback. This is the most biggest risk to an organization. The risk is no longer due to hackers, human error, insecure configuration, lack of cyber maintenance and those typical FUD issues. Therefore, evaluating the competency of the...
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ZTNA

Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is suddenly becoming eye-catching in ICT. No doubt, this will enhance cybersecurity as untrusted by default. The theory is simple: going thru multiple policies (technical configuration settings) and authentication before gaining access to the designated network resources. The controls are applied on who (access roles), when (time of day), what (network resources), where (network location) & why (what type of transaction or business reason). In a nutshell, who to access what resources from where and when with legitimate reason (why). The pitfall is the "how" … how does the existing environment fit with this access model and not-to-mention the changes in user experience. A M2M (Machine to Machine) ZTNA might be applicable use case but this will definitely take a while to transform for access involving human. Even worst, some cybersecurity practitioners introduce this ZTNA model in the ICS environment to combat against cyber threats which are even just conceptual because the ICS environment has...
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Trust #3

Driving on the road is risky in the physical world. The worst consequence is fatality. There are life-saving measures like air bag, seat belt in the vehicle. As a driver, how do you ensure these measures will work when needed? No, we can't but to trust these safety measures will work per design. At most these are checked during vehicle maintenance but no guarantee they work without actually activating the trigger. Similarly a data exchange link is purposely built to convert TCP with DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to serial communication in getting around the so-called vulnerable routable protocol in a lock down (both physical & cyber aspect) environment. Assessment of this communication link appears reasonable to verify properly configured but extending the scope to its surrounding systems how well they are secure will be excessive, overkill and waste of resources. There are many things we must trust based on our instinct and exercise professional judgment. Otherwise, there is no...
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Policy and Usability #2

For regions driving on the left, driver seat in the vehicle is on the right. If this policy is blindly followed in private venue without reimagine for practicality, it will end up the driver is unable to activate the toll gate, or make this a very complicated task. This can be resolved either at design stage to move the toll gate at the centre position serving both lanes, or simply change the direction of driving in this private venue for cost-effective retrofit. Therefore, competent cybersecurity practitioners must fully understand the business nature of the organization they work for, remove unnecessary controls in the systems to fit practicality or even revise the policy with flexibility making cybersecurity as business enabler. ...
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