NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society

You may have read about the recent NASA fail several days ago where a thief stole an unencrypted laptop containing PII for over 10,000 workers. Now in a traditional reactive approach, officials are rushing to ensure full disk encryption (FDE) is enabled on all agency laptops. I’m surprised though as NASA overall has long been one of the leaders in pushing infosec through the years. Forgetting something as simple as enabling the encryption feature present on most modern day OSs seems a bit beneath them.

Of course I think the media is over blowing the effectiveness of FDE as the silver bullet like in the story above. Yeah it’s better than nothing at all however most products only provide protection if a user fully shuts the computer down. The top tier vendors do offer protection for computers in sleep or hibernate modes though so do your research and stick with them. However if a user is working on their laptop connected to wifi … say like some other agency employees at a conference like BlackHat, FDE is useless if the bad guys can get in over the network and thereafter wreak havoc. And if the user is not using one of the top tier FDE products, they also run the risk of others accessing the contents of their hard drive anyway unless they always shut their computers down (which most people don’t). FDE is useful … however only in concert with other security controls … and where is the mention of firewalls, HIDS, AV and the many other standard controls that should already exist on those NASA laptops.

Lastly, why the heck does everyone wait for something bad to happen before doing something they should have been doing all along? I know … I know … we all do it … including in our personal lives too. It seems like being reactive (versus proactive) is the default human trait. We may try to be more proactive but that is something we actively need to do. As soon as we lay off a bit we become more passive and thus more reactive. So we have the option of either getting better a reacting faster (a la the OODA loop) or being more proactive (which serves to forgive slower reaction speeds before total pwnage).

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Today’s post pic is from Nemsis.org. See ya!

6 comments for “NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society

  1. November 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    BLOGGED: NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society http://t.co/W9NXYHEy //Just rambling today..

  2. November 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    BLOGGED: NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society http://t.co/WPsp2W7A

  3. November 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    #NoVABloggers NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society http://t.co/n0rdpmAh

  4. November 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    #NOVABLOGGER: NASA, FDE Weaknesses, & Our Reactive Society http://t.co/WPsp2W7A http://t.co/X49pUwFA

  5. November 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Why the heck do we wait for something bad to happen before doing something we should have been doing all along? http://t.co/WPsp2W7A

  6. November 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Why the heck do we wait for something bad to happen before doing something we should have been doing all along? http://t.co/W9NXYHEy

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