So, You Are a Tech Manager Now…

** I want to start by saying that this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of things that can help you better manage, but simply a sharing of my personal experience and meant to help people step back and think about things a bit. **

 

So, now you’re a manager. You got that promotion that you probably either dreaded or worked very hard for. The question is, what now? Your whole career you’ve been a tech guy and now all of a sudden you’re a manager. First thing to remember is, don’t panic! (and perhaps carry a towel just in case)

While this can be a very spooky time, it’s also a great step in your career. You are going to have to look at things a little differently though. For one, instead of waiting for somebody to tell you what to do, you’re going to have to do the telling. That means now, all of a sudden, you are responsible for figuring out what needs to be done and assigning someone to the task. This may be new to you, but if you keep a cool head, it’s not that bad.  Remember that when you’re in management, the responsibility falls to you. You can delegate the work, but you are still responsible for the results.

 

Budgets

Being in management means looking at the big picture. You need to understand what it really cost per unit of XYZ, and you are going to need to start thinking about how much available labor you have versus how much you need to spend. It’s like budgeting with money, only with time instead.

Something to remember here is that unlike money, where a dollar is worth a dollar, labor varies in its value. Some folks are 85% efficient, others hover around 12%, some can even cause an efficiency/oxygen deficit by dragging others down (<- we all know that person, right?). Labor is generally referred to in a unit of measure called an FTE (Full Time Equivalent) which we consider to be a body working 40 hours per week. Don’t ever try to calculate projects based on straight FTEs though as this can result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth. You have to remember that just because a person is burning oxygen for 40 hours a week, they are not producing 40 hours worth of work. On the flip side, sometimes a person can be working on 2 things at once that overlap, so you have to consider that. For example, if it takes 2 hours to image a workstation, you can figure that much of that time can be spent doing something else while data copies, so it may only take .5 FTEs (30 minutes of actual labor) to do the job.

 

When it comes to financial planning, if you are going to have a budget or be a part of budget planning, learn about the difference between CAPEX and OPEX. Understand that in the technical word, a lot of CAPEX also requires significant OPEX. Likewise, you can move some CAPEX expenses to OPEX, for example by moving to that cloud thingie that is so popular with you youngsters.

 

Language

Another hurdle you may face is a different language used by leadership. They tend to speaking dollarese where we speak in techenese. In a truly cruel irony of the universe, these two languages have very little in common, and those words that are similar in pronunciation, mean polar opposite things. This can lead to anything from minor misunderstandings to World Wars.  To get a handle on this I recommend you spend a little time with some online management courses, maybe somewhere like Lynda.com, that can help you understand management basics and semantics.

 

Personnel 

This can be truly difficult if you were promoted from within the ranks. You may be dealing with folks that are jealous that they did not get the promotion, folks that were peers that you did not get along with, or even the feeling that you “sold out” to management. Regardless, you have to change the relationship. This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, but what that means will probably need to change how the friendship operates or is perceived. The days of partying after work with the team, sleeping in the parking garage and coming to work to hear stories that start with, “I can’t believe you did that!” are over. If that’s what you want, resign your leadership role now.

 

The best advice I can give when it comes to becoming a manager is to be humble, but firm. You are there to help the people you manage succeed and grow, and make the business a success. This is not about power, it’s not about bossing people around, it’s not about you, it’s about leading. That means getting your hands dirty as well and not just giving all the garbage jobs to the team. On the flip side, that does not mean you should do everything yourself. You have to allow others to do new things so they can grow, but don’t try to use them as your personal slaves. This may take some practice, but if you are honest with your team and humble about your role, people tend to respond well. You may have some folks push boundaries, this is normal as they figure out where your limits are. Don’t take this personally, listen to their suggestions, consider the argument, but remain firm in your decisions unless there is a compelling reason to change.

 

There are other things you may not have had to do, such as performance reviews for your old team members. This gets a little weird when you are managing people that you used to be peers with. It may not be easy, but this is one place where you really earn the title of manager. You may find yourself reviewing a person that you don’t like personally. Set the personal issues aside and judge them on the job requirements. It’s not always easy to do, but just because they shared that embarrassing picture from the Christmas party after a few too many eggnogs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great at the job. You need to be honest about it and fair to everyone. Don’t be afraid to say, “Tom, we haven’t always got along, but you are a great here.”

 

Check Your Pride at the Door

Embrace feedback from your leadership and your team as well. Be open to criticism and be willing to learn from it. You are doing something new and uncomfortable and you will make some mistakes along the way. Mistakes are OK if you own the goof up, learn from it and don’t repeat it. Apply this to your team members as well.

 

Dress Code

I decided to add this after just having lunch with a friend. You might need to dress differently. Embrace it, love it, live it and SUIT UP!  😀

 

 

 

TL;DR

You are responsible for people now, and you will need to act like it. Embrace the personal and professional growth, get serious about things and enjoy seeing your team grow. It will grow on you, and one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced is watching a person I led excel in their career and personal life.

 

 

 

Erich’s “What in the (cyber security) world is going on?” 12-29-16 edition

2016 Isn’t done with us yet

Screw 2016. That’s kind of what I’m feeling. I’m about tired of people passing away this year. The latest celebs are George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Richard Adams and Debbie Reynolds were all lost this week. Even closer to home is the wife of a person I have a lot of respect for, Jack Daniel, who lost his wife of 37 years on Tuesday. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and sadness the close friends and family of all of these people are feeling. I am praying for their peace as they go through these tough times.

I’m going to do something a little crazy

I’m going to run for a spot on the (ISC)2 Board of Directors in 2017. I worked for them for a couple of years as an advocate for the membership, among other things, and I still feel strongly about trying to help folks that carry the CISSP and other (ISC)2 certs so I’m going to make a run at it. I will need 500 emailed petitions be on the election slate. If you are an (ISC)2 member, please check out this link and help me out. It only takes a minute. Thanks

Disk-Killer Malware Adds Ransomware Feature And Charges 220 Bitcoins

Ouch! Your machine is infected by an email attachment. Now it encrypts the snot out of it, and exfiltrates data. I made a call earlier that I expected to see this sort of behavior, but I didn’t expect this kind of price tag. The back story is fascinating as it has evolved from ICS and SCADA attacks. This is worth reading.

 

Makes my neck hurt looking at it

Android ransomware hits a Smart TV

So, this poor souls family got hit with ransomware on their TV and are not happy about it. It seems LG won’t give him the process for a factory reset, and there is some talk about a charge for support. It’s an old set, still running Android, and it would almost certainly need to be sideloaded or rooted to install a 3rd party .apk. I’m not sure what I think about this as they say, “they downloaded an app to watch a movie. Halfway thru movie, tv froze. Now boots to this”. Now, call me crazy, but I have to wonder if the app was something called “Codec.apk” or something similar, and perhaps if the movie they were watching was um… not from trusted channels. Fact is kids, if you DL pirated movies, you might just be opening yourself up to something like this. Not sure if LG has a way for a user to fix this if it really encrypted the file system. Factory reset doesn’t help if the source is encrypted. Just sayin. I do wish there was more info out there, but I think we have heard the last of this.

New iTunes Phishing Emails on the Rise

Watch out for iTunes invoices bearing… attachments or links. If you get an email saying you paid $45 for the Netflix app or $25 for a song (not even a Kanye song is worth that!), don’t click the link. Instead, go directly to iTunes (no really, this link is legit, I promise!) and check your account from there.

How does she have that many followers and I only have about 150?

A Britney Spears Twitter account was hacked

It was an account controlled by her record label and has about 614,000 followers. Since the hackers did this at about 5:00am Eastern Time, nobody seemed to notice. I’m guessing most of the people that still listen to here were still sleeping off a bender at that time of day. Since all of the hacked tweets were gone by 9am, it practically didn’t happen.

Bitcoin hit over $930

That’s a lot for a unicorn/vapor cyber currency. Maybe I’m just old, but I’m not even sure how I feel about this, but I’m done talking about this imaginary money.

Erich’s “What in the (cyber security) world is going on?” 12-09-16 edition

Ok, I’m moving these updates to Fridays. Mondays are just, well, Mondays. If you are new to my posts, basically it’s a recap of some key infosec happenings in the past week. Having said that, let’s move ahead:

Infect 2 Others and Get Your Ransomed Files Back Free!

I posted about this earlier today, but the summary is that the jackholes that created the Popcorn Time ransomware strain are offering to decrypt your files free if you just get 2 more people infected and they pay the ransom. It looks like there will be an option to have the software start deleting files if 4
incorrect decryption keys are tried as well. This appears to be a proof of concept at this point, but these often end up in the wild once they get a buyer. I hope they die a slow festering death in the pits of an Alabama outhouse. This video sums up my feelings for these folks: Hanging’s too good for him…

 

Legal raids in five countries seize botnet servers, sinkhole 800,000+ domains… and then they release the leader who disappears. 

So, after taking down the largest malware/phishing ring in recent history, a judge in the city of Poltava, Ukraine released the leader because the prosecutor forget to mention that during the arrest, the leader shot at the cops, including popping a round through the front door. Without that little detail, and the associated “attempted murder of a police officer” charge, he got to walk. In a shocking turn of events, Kapkanov disappeared just as quickly as the Poltava’s prosecutor’s career.


3.2M home routers seized via malicious firmware update

A hacker by the name of BestBuy claims to have used a Mirai botnet to infect 3.2 million home routers on the TalkTalk and Post Office networks. I haven’t heard of any independently confirmed reports of routers actually being infected, but they may not be easy to identify. In the words of security researcher Darren Martyn, “What they just pulled is shenanigans of the highest quality”

 

US Navy Admits To Data Breach, 130,000 Exposed

Yeah, the US Navy exposed info for 130,000 current and previous sailors.  Wonderful. If I’m one of them, I’ll just put it in the stack of other notifications from the government. Maybe I’ll put it right next to my OPM notification.

 

 

Ransomware suspect Pornopoker nabbed in Russia

Let’s hope they don’t screw up and release him as well, although he doesn’t seem to be near the same level as Kapkanov above. He was nabbed while returning from Thailand.

 

Infect 2 Others and Get Your Ransomed Files Back Free!

What a great deal from the writers of “Popcorn Time”. If you just infect 2 other people and they pay the ransom, you can get your files back free.  Indicators also show that there may also be a provision where if you enter an incorrect decryption key more than 4 times, it starts killing your files.  I would love to get ahold of some of these folks and plug their toenails out with with rusty pliers. This video clip pretty much sums up how I feel about these vermin…

New Approach to the Same-Ol Phishing Emails

This is an interesting way to try to get folks to open malicious documents. I really like the macro warning screen angle they use on this. It’s designed to get you to click the button to enable the macro when it’s opened. They also make the email look like you are being brought in to an existing conversation. Pretty slick.

Check it all out at: https://blog.knowbe4.com/phishing-from-the-middle-social-engineering-refined

 

 

 

 

The People Factor: Dealing With Non-Tech Users in a Tech-Heavy World

Me as a Child
Me as a Child

As a tech person, I am pretty comfortable with tech things. My mind works in such a way that I can understand most gadgets and technology with a minimum of effort. I can almost literally picture the mechanics (or electronics) behind the functioning of stuff. It comes very naturally to me. What i have discovered in my years of living in tech is, not everyone sees things the same way as me. I know it’s a fundamental thing, very simple in retrospect, but it has been, and continues to be, a blind spot for me. I have to work to remember this when dealing with non-techies, or I can easily get frustrated.

If you look around, you can see the world being enveloped in tech. VR is going mainstream, we carry around pocket computers that also happen to make phone calls, our cars are rolling, digitally controlled entertainment systems. Some of us embrace and dare I say, enjoy, it. But what about those that do not?

These poor folks are having a heck of a time. Their families, especially the younger ones, are communicating at the speed of light, often times through push communications such as twitter, instagram, etc. Then there is email… so many emails! Gone are the days of licking a stamp and spending $ to communicate with people, now it’s free and every marketer on the planet is sending emails about by the 1000’s without spending a penny on postage. These poor non-tech folks are getting inundated by emails. To compound the problem, the scammers are out there in force as well, filling up the folks email account with scams, malicious links and attachments. These folks are also some of your users.

These folks are fatigued by tech, and now it’s hitting them hard in the workplace as well. Emails require almost immediate response, IM is becoming a productivity tool and the business world is

tire-tracks
 Rubber, Road, Disaster

running at 100 miles an hour. Those same scammers are hard at work here too, only in this case, there is a feeling that they can’t ignore emails like they might in a personal email account. What if it really is an order or a customer service issue? This is the point where potentially disastrous decisions are made. Where the rubber meets the road, if you will.

So what do we do about it? Well, we need to show some empathy to start. While they may not have tech skills, hopefully they have

some other skills that keep them employed. Don’t look down your nose at luddites, it’s just a person with a different set of priorities. We also need to understand that it is our job as security professionals to reduce this risk and own the responsibility. If these folks are falling for phishing, we need to fix it, and we are responsible for teaching them good practices.

Once we own the problem, we can begin to address it. Here are 5 things you can do to be successful:

  1. Be patient. Non-tech folks don’t always have the basic tech skills and experience that we take for granted.
  2. Be positive. These folks are probably a little intimidated by what you are trying to teach them. Encourage them when they do well, but be kind if they mess up.
  3. Give them training and tools. Good awareness training and something as simple as a printed copy of a reminder like this can pay big dividends.
  4. Make them feel like part of a team. Stress that you are all in this together and part of something bigger than the individual
  5. Smile. Remember to smile, especially when teaching them new things. This will put them at ease and build confidence.

If you do these 5 things, it will go a long way to helping non-tech users embrace their role defending the organization against modern threats like Phishing. Good Luck!

looks-like-some-z52hnr

 

Had a great webinar yesterday

I had a great webinar on SecureWorld yesterday alongside Shawn Tuma (Partner, Cybersecurity Attorney, Scheef & Stone, L.L.P.) and Aliki Liadis-Hall (Director of Compliance, North American Bancard) with Craig Spiezle (Executive Director & President, Online Trust Alliance) moderating. We talked about some of the 2016 breaches and how things have changed.

It’s available on-demand now at:

https://www.secureworldexpo.com/resources/2016-breaches-lessons-learned

Check it out!

Tis the Season: Overtime is Authorized!

blocked

That seems to be the current trend for the scammers and bad guys as is evidenced by the above screenshot from one of my Gmail accounts. Between the hustle of the season and the too-good-to-be-true deals, the bad guys are hitting the emails pretty hard. Perhaps it’s for a noble cause such as buying a new hearing aid for dear ol mom, but more than likely, it’s just that they want to take your money for their own personal gain. Either way, it pays to keep your eyes peeled more than ever during this time of year.

 

This means doing some basic things such as looking for the padlock in your browser on sites you are going to make a purchase from. No lock, no buy! See these examples and look for the lock!

secure1    screenshot_2016-11-28-12-55-11

Also, if you receive emails about package delays and/or delivery status with an attachment, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT. Instead, if you are really concerned, log in to the account you placed the order from and see if there is an updated order status there. In 99% of cases, if there is a delay, they will include a tracking number in the email (not the attachment). Copy that tracking number (don’t click the link!) and paste it in to Google. It will usually point you in the right direction. If not, go to the website for the shipping company (not from a link in the email) and track it there.

track

Stay safe and have a great holiday season!

Erich’s “What in the (cyber) world is going on?” 11-28-16 edition

i-regret-nothing-nothing_7853

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend, US peeps or not. I’ve been a bit busy working on my Raspberry Pi powered music-synced Christmas light project and have made some headway in that department. It’s going to be fun seeing if I can muster the time to get that up and running. That being said, let’s move on to events of the last week or so:

San Francisco’s SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) Popped with Mamba Ransomware

Sucks to be them. Word is over 2112 machines were impacted by the MBR encrypting ransomware. Customers got free rides since the ticketing system was offline and they couldn’t just shut down the system. On a another note, the uber-cool Javvad Malik was quoted in the article as well.

 

father-frost-566x1024

 

Santa (well, the Russian version) got hacked

It looks like a bunch of kiddo’s that just wanted new toys, or food, or heat, or whatever in Russia have had their info (name, address, phone#, etc.) posted online thanks to 55 compromised websites. Oops. Just a friendly reminder to be careful what info you put out there. I’m not sure why the sites would need all this info as Santa already knows where everyone is (perhaps the Russian version is behind the times?) and what they want. The dude is kind of creepy and looks like he belongs in a windowless van with “Free Candy” written on the side of you ask me, but I’m just one guy.

 

 

 

Homeland Security Chief Cites Phishing as Top Hacking Threat

Looks like my message got through to Jeh Johnson as he stated that phishing is the top hacking threat. Not groundbreaking I know, but it’s nice to see the leadership acknowledging it. I’m sure he heard it from me and I’m available for interviews if you need me.  😉

 

Madison Square Garden Was Breached… For a Flippin Year.

So, yeah, “Cards used to purchase merchandise and food and beverage items at Madison Square Garden, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theater and Chicago Theater between Nov. 9, 2015, and Oct. 24, 2016, may have been affected“. C’mon man!  SMH

 

UPCOMING STUFF:

So, I figured I’d put this out there as a shameless plug for my, myself and I. These are the things I’m up to in the next week or 2:

As always, if you have an event and need a speaker that can talk about ransomware, phishing and other similar fraud, let me know.

 

Have a great week