Spear phish your boss to win more security cash

Websense CSO recommends fake attacks on suits to open their wallets


Despite weekly news of successful and nasty online attacks damaging organisations of every stripe, executive types remain blasé about security and don't pay it enough attention, says Jason Clark, chief security officer at Websense, who recommends fighting back by phishing CEOs and board members.

Clark's suggested attacks are controlled fakes, run by dedicated white hat outfits, and are designed to ensure suits get a brief jolt of fear rather than having to ask their personal assistants to arrange delivery of new platinum cards. Clark feels the experience of being phished is sobering because its delivery by email demonstrates how anyone in an organisation can be attacked.

Once suits understand that, Clark's hope is it becomes easier for security professionals to have meaningful conversations with business decision makers and those who hold the purse-strings.

Such discussions need to get deeper and more frequent, he feels, because today too few executives pay more than lip service to security. When they do, they ask for assurance that the organisations they lead are complying with legislation and can demonstrate they have appropriate security controls.

Once suits are properly scared, they'll be more interested in learning more about security, will ask more and more probing questions of their IT departments and eventually lead their organisations to a security regime that gives them the protection they need.

Clark's advice is otherwise mundane: he suggests organisations ensure they have advance malware repulsion tools, spear phishing blockers and data protection tools to ensure valuable documents can't leave the building. Few organisations he visits - Clark claims to meet 400 CSOs or CEOs a year – have all three in place. Around ten per cent of organisations he visits have used phake phishing.

Fewer still perform comprehensive threat modelling, a practice he recommends as the best route to understanding appropriate security investments. ®

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