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An asset for your list!

By Dan Hadaway | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - Leave a Comment

As information flows through our lives, it goes through (and can be copied to) many vulnerable places. This year, when we ramp up that risk assessment, let’s go beyond the normal checklists we’ve all been using. A formal process of walking through our day, paying attention to “where” we “go” will pay off in the additional threat vectors and vulnerabilities we recognize and then identify.

In this age, if we use information, we share information. Rather than focusing on where information is stored, let’s think about where it flows in this continuous act of sharing. Who do we share information with (and how)? What type of information do we share?

Of course these questions are best answered by your management team, so how do we get them to shift to this paradigm?

We’ve all worked through regular checklist items for our asset lists:  servers, endpoints, and dumpsters.  This is a “storage place” approach to generating asset vulnerabilities. Let’s now expand the brainstorm by not only looking around, but walking through our day. Where do we “go” when we communicate with our customers, colleagues, and vendors? Where does information flow to prepare us for meetings, decisions, and performance?

When I recently walked our own small organization through the asset identification process, we identified assets we hadn’t previously considered.  While I admit some were “what-you-see” assets, most of the surprises were in the “what-we-do” assets. 

No checklist was going to discover these assets. By taking a virtual tour through our virtual day, we identified several “places” in cyberspace, such as our teleconference room, a couple of blogs we hadn’t thought of during our recent interactions with social media, our cell call log, our text messages, and our virtual pbx.

Banker boxes, file cabinets, milk crates, cell phones, and computer printers are all in the river we call information flow.   We can see them.  But let’s walk through our day . . . . let’s see what else is “in there” that could expose ourselves to risk!

My friend Joe Cychosz, sent me an article illustrating how printers can make confidential data available to bad guys.  You can get to this article as well as other great finds that we and/or our clients and friends run across by following us on www.twitter.com/infotexnow.

This article, by Noor Javed of thestar.com, demonstrates how high-tech copy machines contain classified data.   I would say it is safe for your management team to read.  Let me know if you disagree by commenting this article.  I hope this article will help your management team brainstorm assets we should consider in our risk assessment process.

I look forward to your comments!

Dan Hadaway CISA,CISM
Managing Partner, Infotex, Inc.

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