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Are Cyber Security Challenges and Opportunities in Mauritius and Africa different from Europe?

Spoiler alert: the answer to this question is "not really". However, the subtle differences that do exist are important to acknowledge in order to successfully implement or provide Cyber Security in those locations.

I was interviewed recently for an upcoming article about Cyber Security in a regional African and Indian Ocean magazine called Eco Austral. As I answered the journalist's questions I wondered how different those answers would be if it was for a European magazine.

In this blog article, I will first provide the answers to the four questions I was asked in the wake of recent Ransomware attacks that generated a lot of public attention. I will then expand on those questions and will be looking at the different Cyber Security contexts for those regions in terms of advantages and disadvantages to, finally, identify common opportunities and challenges.


PART 1 - CYBER SECURITY...


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When Business and Family priorities come together

A few month ago, when my child climbed into the boot of our family car at the airport and pretended to be a suitcase so I could take that “suitcase” on my business trip, it is when I decided I had to radically change how I was doing my job.

As I am turning an important chapter in my working life I thought I would share part of the journey that drove me to first leave a stable and somewhat senior position for a large international company in the UK for a “glamorous” CISO position in a relatively small organisation on the other side of the world, in Mauritius. Then almost a year later, deciding to leave the safety of a full-time job and create my own company.

For 15 years, I worked for BP in the UK in various Cyber Security roles, life was very good, the benefits excellent, the job challenging and I forged numerous good friendships. There were little reasons to leave. Except maybe the prospect of a more outdoor family life in a sunny and beautiful tropical ...
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Cyber Security Planning - A simple 6 Steps Approach

Having a plan, or not, to secure your enterprise and respond to an incident could be the difference between closing down your company or seeing that incident through!
Most large organisations invest considerable amount of time, money and resources to define a Cyber Security Strategy resulting in several Cyber Security Programs and Incident Management/Response Plans. All of which are in support of a wider Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
This results in procedures, documentation, backup systems, regular incident simulations and dedicated teams.

As long as these initiatives are kept up to date and still relevant to the organisation mode of operation then it should help a company survive most incidents.

By contrast, smaller organisations and especially start-ups tend to focus first on getting the "job done" and then think of what to do in case of an emergency or incident.
Their Cyber Security Programs and Incidence Response Plans are often limited to t...
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The 2015 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge Write-Up

For the last 12 years, SANS/Counterhack offers a hacking challenge over the Christmas period. It is a great event, fun and with an increasing level of difficulty which lets everyone having a go.
This year, The 2015 SANS Holiday Hack Challenge was built around a great 8-bit retro web gaming platform where you had to run around a virtual town to find the various hacking challenges.
The plot was centered around a fictitious toy, a gnome, that everyone wanted to have in their home for Christmas. However, two kids found the toy was "behaving" strangely and something was going on.
Through the challenge you will learn that the gnomes had in fact a hidden built-in camera and were transmitting photos to 5 super gnomes (servers) by connecting to free surrounding WIFI netwo...
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How to build an efficient Anti-Phishing Framework?

As our world reliance on electronic connection and communication is accelerating, cyber attacks are on the rise along with counter measure solutions in the form of endless new cyber security companies, consultants, expertise, software and hardware aimed at protecting individuals, assets, corporations and even nation states.

However, even with all the tools and increasing cyber budget at our disposal, there is always one constant weak link: The Human element in the so called Cyber Kill Chain.
It is this human element that can defeat the most sophisticated defence systems and it is why the use of Phishing and Spear Phishing attacks are so prominent and successful.

Those attacks exploit human emotion, ignorance and credibility to bypass defences in tricking users to follow poisonous steps:
Clicking on links, opening documents, accepting/ignoring security warnings and good practises, installing software, etc....
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How to build a Red Team and Why?

I recently gave a talk at the Rant Forum in London on the topic of "RedTeam, why this is more than a buzz word?". It was an interesting experience and whilst different from traditional security events, as the crowd can and will interrupt you at any time, it was very enjoyable.
Many attendees asked if I could produce some "slides" after the talk. As no slides were used, below is a collection of notes from wich the talk was based on.

In this post we will explain what RedTeam is, how does it fit with other similar security services and what advantages does it bring to an organisation. We will also look into what works? what doesn’t? And where is this “new” type of service going?
1. DEFINITION
A Red Team is part of a trio of services which increases in sophistication: Vulnerability Assessment, Penetration Testing and then Red Teaming. We will d...
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RANT FORUM - Red Team Recipes Presentation

I will be giving a talk tomorrow evening, the 28th of November at around 6pm, in London at the Risk and Network Threat (RANT) Forum .

The topic is:
Why RedTeam is more than just a buzz word? What works? What doesn't? And where is this "new" type of service might be going? All those questions answered by someone who is actually delivering Red Team activities.

Registration is free, you get free drinks and food... plus you get to hear me talk, so what is not to like?! :)

You can register HERE

The RANT Forum is quite different from your typical free security briefing, for a start it is not a sales forum. However, the company behind it is a recruitment agency, so they are still interested in taping the UK Security professional community!
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IDS used as a Network Forensic Tool

Note: This is the second post of a two parts series on how to use IDS in a different way.

Intrusion Detection Systems are traditionally seen as Defensive tools. They can however be used for different purposes than initially designed for as highlighted in the previous post , where we discussed how IDS could be used as an offensive tool.
The popularity of pre-configured/packaged IDS environments such as SELKS or Security Onion provide various software packages and Graphical User Interfaces to navigate through large volume of data by parsing/categorising/filtering it automatically.

More importantly, such systems are starting to provide mo...
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IDS used as an Offensive Security Tool

Note: This is the first post of a two parts series on how to use IDS in a different way.

Intrusion Detection Systems such as Snort and Suricata are traditionally seen as Defensive tools, and in essence they are. They can alert on security issues occurring on your network such as Botnet Activities, network based attacks, hosts/servers activities and vulnerabilities.

That last point is important.

It is important because that same information used for defence activities, could be used by an attacker as part of an attack reconnaissance. For example, being able to identify a list of hosts that use outdated SSH/SSL servers, a vulnerable Flash Client or other vulnerable software/services; HTTP logs highlighting users web activities, clear text passwords, etc.
When looking at an IDS that way, it becomes a passi...
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Securing your Cloud Storage with a Boxcryptor alternative called EncFS

Cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Box, One Drive, etc. are increasingly being used for both personal and business reasons. On the Business side, often without the individual's company fully aware of what data is actually leaving their premises.

One of the issue with storing data in the cloud is Security. Looking at Dropbox in recent years, there has been a number of embarrassing blunders which resulted in their customers' data becoming available to anyone who knew where to look. We did blog about it several times: here, here and here. Many other security blogs also related those stories, such as this nice summary from Sophos.

To limit the risks relat...
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