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BYOD: Bring Your Own Damage

Companies need to start determining the impact BOYD plays on them and implement appropriate policies that would balance the security concerns, as well as their employees’ requirements, writes CATHERINE BERRY.

It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be approximately 10 billion mobile devices in use globally. The harsh reality is employers cannot prevent employees from utilising their personal mobile devices in the workplace, whether it be for personal or professional use. Further, organisations typically expect a high level of productivity from employees, and the utilisation of mobile devices supports this due to the large degree of flexibility it introduces for the employee. Unfortunately, the issue is exacerbated further by the fact that employees expect the organisation’s information technology to provide support in respect of these devices. What most companies do not understand is that they are in fact liable for the consequences of employees using their own personal devices for work.

Most employees would also be shocked to discover that that their devices may be subject to discovery request in the context of litigation involving their company, and may have to surrender their personal devices (containing browser history and including personal information, photos, etc).

The challenge facing organisations is that this employee IT ownership model, generally referred to as Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), significantly influences the traditional security model, particularly since these devices are being used to access corporate data. BYOD typically includes end users who provide their own mobile phones, use their personal tablet device at work, or where there are unsubsidised devices required for business utilisation. Organisations now have to determine what the exact impact is, in order to establish appropriate procedures and policies that would balance the security concerns, as well as their employees’ requirements.

BYOD without Borders

In an attempt to establish the organisation’s exposure to BYOD, an exercise should be undertaken to determine exactly what type of data and functionality is being exposed. Consideration should also be given to legislation which may impact hereon, such as the imminent POPI Act, as well as PCI-DSS requirements (if applicable to the organisation). Other considerations include geographical spread of the devices, given that this would not only increase risk levels, but would also require absolute clarity in respect of legislation applicable to those areas.

Password Protection, Remote Wipe & Lock & Disclosure

One of the primary concerns surrounding the security of mobile devices is the loss of such devices. Particularly in respect of the content on the mobile device being accessed, or the possibility of corporate data being accessed through channels such as VPN connections. Clearly security considerations must include password protection, encryption, as well as remote wipe procedures. Many organisations enforce ActiveSync policies, pre-installed in most consumer mobile devices, to enforce password protection and remote wipe and lock. As a further measure, employees should be encouraged to keep sensitive devices in their possession, and sight, at all times. Ensuring that regular backups are made will not only salvage lost information, but will also assist with minimising downtime by easing the transfer of the information onto a new device. Last and perhaps even more importantly, having a backup of the data will make identifying what information has been lost (and thus determining whether a disclosure needs to be made in terms of regulations) that much simpler.

Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigation Report considered 63,437 security incidents, of which 1,367 were confirmed data breaches. Of this, incidents where an information asset went missing, whether it be through misplacement or malice, accounted for 9,704 total incidents, and 116 confirmed data disclosures. Out of the 9,704 incidents, the theft / loss of laptops accounted for 308 incidents, desktops for 108, flash drives for 102 and a staggering 8,929 “other devices” (where the type of device has not been stipulated). Interestingly, loss of devices is 15 fold more prevalent than theft of a device. The statistics show that, in terms of location, 43% occurred at the victim’s work area, 23% from a personal vehicle and 10% from a personal residence.

Another concern posed by the use of mobile devices in the corporate network, is the risks posed by the integration of applications into our daily lives.

Vulnerabilities within the application could potentially expose the corporate network. Malware presents a major concern, particularly given the risk of it being injected into the corporate network at large.

Effective Policing Improbable

It is vital that organisations proactively engage with employees to manage their expectations relating to the support of personal mobile devices, particularly as this may impact upon information technology support resources required. It should also be borne in mind that help desk staff may require additional training to ensure that they are able to render the necessary support. Hinging hereon is the fact that organisations have less control over these devices. This makes identifying vulnerabilities which may exist, by utilising anti-virus software, ensuring patches are regularly installed, and implementing fire walls near impossible. Even if employees do agree to BYOD policies, it is questionable as to how effectively the organisation will be able to monitor the devices for compliance.

The complexities of cybercrime risk management are more intricate that imaginable; regardless of the complications – it takes just moments from connection to infection.  While staff may be protecting their personal computers, the general lack of awareness to safeguard BYOD tablets and smartphones poses a major risk to organisational cyber security. For all these reasons, businesses would be remiss to leave protection to chance, particularly in a country that is home to some of the best hackers in the world.

* Catherine Berry, Camargue Director, Commercial and Cyber Crime Division

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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