Eight cyber security tips I learned from The Walking Dead
by Corey Nachreiner - Director of Security Strategy and Research, WatchGuard Technologies - Tuesday, 18 March 2014.
Many security professionals make the mistake of thinking their job is to keep their organization perfectly protected. They only focus on having the best possible security, without regard to anything else. Really, your job is about keeping your organization’s business running, while minimizing risk. Of course, you implement protection when it makes sense. But sometimes it’s not only ok, but also preferable to take an acceptable risk to ensure your business runs smoothly.

Take, for example, when Hershel decides to join the quarantined sick patients despite the risk to his own health. If he hadn’t taken this risk, he couldn’t have put his medical training into practice and saved some of those survivors, who might later save him (if only).

3. Suit-up your away team – Earlier, we covered perimeters. However, apocalypse survivors need constant resources, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll always find everything you need in one place. In TWD, our beloved survivors had to make many outings to scavenge for supplies or run a particular mission. For instance, when Shane and Otis go searching for medical supplies for Carl, or the many instances when Glenn and the team go searching for more food and supplies. In all these cases, the “away team” geared up with guns and protection, knowing they will be leaving their safe perimeter and entering an unfriendly environment. My favorite example of “suiting-up” is the recent episode where Glenn dons his trusty, and quite effective, riot gear.

The parallel is obvious. You need mobile security solutions to help protect your telecommuting workforce. Some of your employees will have to leave your perimeter; others may spend most of their time outside. Be sure to suit-up those employees’ devices with the appropriate cyber “riot gear” to ensure they survive the harsh Internet environment and don’t bring any contagions home.

4. Stay frosty – The characters who stay calm during life-or-death emergencies are the ones that seem to survive the longest in TWD. For me, Michonne exemplifies this trait the most (though Daryl is a close second). We’ve seen her stuck many times in the middle of a walker herd, hopelessly outnumbered 20 to one with nothing but her trusty katana. Yet somehow she quietly, coolly, and meticulously slices her way to freedom, with nary a bead of sweat on her brow. Calmness is her secret weapon. It frees her mind to remain analytical, allowing her to make the most advantageous decisions during a tough situation.

This applies equally to security incident response teams handling information breaches. Freaking out, and turning off or unplugging everything when you think you might have seen a sign of a breach is not a good security practice. Every good forensic examiner knows turning off systems wipes critical evidence. Rather, do your best to remain relaxed, gather evidence and methodically examine the situation to decide your best course of action.

5. A good team increases your survival odds – A poet/lawyer/cleric once said, “No man is an island.” While some fierce survivors in TWD may be able to technically survive on their own, none could flourish alone. They all have had their weak moments. Morgan is a perfect example of this. In season three of the TV series we find Morgan has isolated himself from the rest of the world. While he technically has survived on his own, he ultimately goes bat-guano insane. Meanwhile, we see Rick surrounding himself with a go-to, ace team of frosty warriors. You all know the ones: Michonne, Daryl, Glenn, Carl, and others. This team not only increases Rick’s odds of surviving the harsh zombie apocalypse, but it allows him to thrive in a dangerous environment because others have his back.


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