Feds Catalogue Exceptionally Risky Security for Organizations and Individuals
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced the agency has begun cataloging cyber security bad practices. By highlighting bad practices CISA wants organizations to not only focus on best security practices but also mitigate those that are dangerous and risky.
The goal of the catalog is to encourage organizations and individuals to make a concerted effort to end everyday practices that could threaten the security of their enterprises – like allowing weak passwords or using older versions of apps.
“Risky, dangerous technology practices that are too often accepted because of competing priorities, lack of incentives, or resource limitations that preclude sound risk management decisions but result in untenable risks to our national security, economy, critical infrastructure, and public safety,” writes Eric Goldstein, Executive Assistant Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
CISA is a standalone United States federal agency that operates under the Department of Homeland Security’s oversight.
Bad Practice 1: Using outdated hardware or apps
The first bad practice listed by CISA is the use of unsupported software. Any app software or hardware that is sunset (reached its end-of-life) is a danger to an organization. This is especially true if an organization is involved in critical infrastructure, public health, or national security.
End of life apps and hardware are unsupported by their manufacturers- meaning there are no security updates. They are a prime target for cybercriminals.
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Bad Practice 2: Using default passwords
The next bad practice listed by CISA is the continued use of default or known passwords. Manufacturers of software and hardware often set a default password at the factory before shipping a product. Downloadable software may also install with a default user login.
It’s up to the end user to change the admin username and default password during installation to a secure combination.
The now infamous SolarWinds breach which compromised tens of thousands of networks was due to an incredibly weak password, “solarwinds123” set as the default login. Several US Federal agencies – including the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Department of Commerce were compromised.
For example, WiFi router manufacturers often reuse the exact same default password for a single model. These passwords are published online to for use during setup or a rest back to factory settings.
Continuing to use a factory set default and publicly available password presents a huge cyber security risk
Keep in mind that there is a distinction between implementing best practices and mitigating bad practices. This is not substitute for seeking and mitigating security risks. Likewise eliminating security risks is no excuse for not developing a solid security plan.
CISA’s list of cyber security bad practices can be seen here.