Peter Sandilands

Peter Sandilands

Peter Sandilands is an IBRS advisor who specialises in cyber security, risk and compliance. Peter has over 40 years’ experience in the IT industry with the last 20 years focused on security. He has spoken at conferences and industry briefings across Asia Pacific. Peter was instrumental in the introduction of Check Point Software to Australia, leading the operation for five years. Prior to that Peter was a key strategist in the broadening of Novell’s market across Asia Pacific. Since then he has spent nearly 10 years working for large Australian companies in banking, mining and transport delivering security strategy, security architecture and compliance assessments. Peter has also assisted overseas security vendors enter the Australian market with a focus on the strategic use of the products. As a casual academic at UTS for over 20 years, Peter lectured in network security, Cloud security and networking technologies. With his experience across vendors, channel and business, Peter brings a pragmatic approach to implementing and assessing cyber security. Peter has a Master's of Cyber Security from Charles Sturt University.

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Conclusion: People are and will be using passwords for the foreseeable future despite the numerous efforts underway to dispense with them. Managing them and particularly resetting them are ongoing costs for organisations.

Passwords are also a significant contributor to breaches. They are either captured during credential-grabbing efforts, leaked in a data breach or just too easy to guess.

Yet there are excellent guidelines in existence to assist people to minimise the possibility of passwords being cracked or guessed. Some involve implementing good policies, and most involve making it easier for users to create, remember and use passwords.


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Conclusion: Identity and access management is a crucial component of an organisation’s security posture. At its most basic, it is how an organisation determines whether an individual can access resources or not. In today’s world, it is also becoming the basis of how applications first identify then communicate with each other.

Assurance of identity is the cornerstone of managing access to information. An organisation must be confident in that assurance. One method of bolstering the strength of that assurance could be the deployment of multi-factor authentication – at a minimum to privileged users, but ideally to all users of the services and applications whether those users are staff or not.

As organisations move from office-bound networks to distributed workforces combined with Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, identity will evolve to be almost the sole element used to assess and grant access. Identity is certainly a central element of zero trust environments.


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Conclusion: Australian financial organisations have been bombarding their suppliers and partners with requests to complete security assessments. If servicing or dealing with financial organisations is part of the operational model for the organisation, this has probably already happened or is about to happen.

Those financial bodies are being driven by an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) issued prudential standard CPS 234 (Cross-industry Prudential Standard). This document lays out how a financial body should manage its cyber security with particular emphasis on extending that management to parties that support or supply the financial body.

These assessments can be tedious and raise concerns about cyber security maturity within the organisation. On the other hand, they bring a clear high-level focus on areas that all organisations should either be covering or working towards covering. This makes CPS 234 a valuable reference for senior executives building a cyber security program.


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Conclusion: In the current COVID-19-driven environment, video conference calls have become the stuff of life. They are used for school, family, leisure and even work. Numbers of call attendees have jumped from tens of millions to more than 300 million worldwide. As is normal in technology, there are a plethora of options to choose from.

One of those, Zoom, has made the news repeatedly over the period of April-May, initially because of its popularity but then because security flaws were being discovered. With the flaws seemingly serious, commentators were recommending organisations abandon Zoom. Many organisations did so, given the amount of coverage the flaws received.

But the product was and is popular. It is one of the easiest video conferencing products to use. It works well and is simple to deploy. A valid question to ask is whether Zoom is safe to use for business purposes. Taking a realistic view of the flaws combined with efforts Zoom has made to correct some of them leads to the conclusion that Zoom is safe for general business usage.


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Conclusion: Many vendors, consultants and managed service providers are pushing ‘security information and event management’ (SIEM) as a panacea to security failings. The intent is correct. Having visibility of what is or has happened in the infrastructure is essential to detecting and responding to intrusions.

What often gets glossed over is that SIEM is a tool, not a complete solution in itself. Deployment requires deep engagement with the IT operations team and a clear vision of what is expected from the SIEM. The vision will be driven by how SIEM will be used, what outcomes would be expected and how its use would evolve over time.

With careful planning prior to deployment, some, if not most, of these issues can be addressed.


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Conclusion: Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately with Toll, Talman, Travelex and Manheim Auctions all having their day-to-day operations completely shattered. Many pundits and security product vendors are touting their initiatives to help an organisation defend itself against such an attack.

Despite all best efforts, there is no 100 % guaranteed defence against succumbing to a ransomware attack. So rather than investing still more funds in defensive products, it is well worthwhile creating a strategy to allow a rapid recovery or reestablishment of service after being struck by an attack.

It is possible to develop some strategies, all relatively inexpensive apart from time, that will position an organisation to have an excellent chance of quickly returning to normal productivity after a ransomware attack.


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"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done; it is an ongoing evolution within any organisation and requires constant care and feeding," IBRS adviser Peter Sandilands said.

"The big four has done a lot of their security work using fresh grads. They can use the tools but don't necessarily understand the real world implications."

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Conclusions: Patching systems is regularly touted as the panacea for security breaches, yet many organisations continue to struggle with that seemingly simple process. There is obviously more to the problem than just buying and deploying a patch management system.

Most organisations are well-intentioned; it is not that they do not want to patch. As one delves deeper into the tasks around patching, it soon becomes clear that many unintentional, and some intentional, roadblocks exist in almost every organisation.

This note attempts to sort through some of those roadblocks and offer some approaches to diminish their impact. Some resources are identified to help with the design and build of a patch service. There is a real dearth of well-structured information around the patching process overall.


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Peter Sandilands, an advisor at analyst firm IBRS, called the discussion paper “a pre-judged survey” that is mostly looking for answers. He also questioned if the resulting recommendations would be published for review and commentary: “Is this window dressing, or are they going to do something out of this?”

The Australian government is charting its next cyber security strategy following an earlier A$230m blueprint laid out in 2016 to foster a safer cyber space for Australians.

In a discussion paper on Australia’s 2020 cyber security strategy, which is being led by an industry panel, minister for home affairs Peter Dutton said despite making strong progress against the goals set in 2016, the threat environment has changed significantly.

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Conclusion: As detailed in part one of this pair of notes, the Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight (E8) are detailed technical recommendations for securing an information infrastructure. Implementing them has been touted as being effective against over 85 % of potential attacks. It is hard to ignore that benefit to an organisation’s security stance.

The first note went on to highlight the real-world implications of attempting to implement the E8; in particular, listing the prerequisites for the implementation. Each of the E8 assumes that an organisation has in place the underlying capabilities and information that provide the supporting base for each element of the E8.

While at first glance that appears to put a negative connotation on deploying the E8, in many ways it points to some basic processes and capabilities that any organisation should have in place to use its information infrastructure effectively. This note will explore those implications. It will help any organisation build the basics of an effective security regime.


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Conclusion: The Essential Eight from the Australian Signals Directorate constitutes a recommended set of strategies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusion. They are said to prevent up to 85% of potential attacks. They are certainly worth assessing as a strategy to apply as an organisation plans out its security strategy.

However, while they may seem simple at first glance, the prerequisites for their implementation are far reaching. These add significant cost and effort to any attempt to take advantage of the E8. In fact, the effort and planning can easily exceed the effort in seemingly just doing the E8.

This will be a two-part article. The first part will explain the question at hand and describe the premise being explored. The second part will work through the implications for an organisation and list the strategies to deal with them.


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Conclusion: Current network and security deployments make many assumptions about the threat environment and which controls are effective. Many of these assumptions are predicated on an older security architecture that emphasised the perimeter. This perimeter then segregated the outside from the inside with an associated perception that inside was good or trustworthy and outside was bad and untrustworthy.

It is easy to see that for many, if not most organisations, the perimeter is no longer just considered a solid demarcation point between outside and inside. The internal network hosts contractors and consultants as well as integrates external services as if they are native to the network. Staff operate from partner and customer locations as well as from public networks via wi-fi hotspots in cafes, airport lounges and hotels.

This evolution requires a fresh security architecture to assist organisations to operate in the evolving network and service paradigms. The zero trust network (ZTN) philosophy lays out an architectural approach to deploying services, enabling staff and supporting customers. ZTN should be assessed by any organisation looking to move to an internet-driven, Cloud-supported and secure operating schema.


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Conclusion: Organisations would hope that their data protection policies are in place and effective. Data loss protection is active on the email channel and data is encrypted while at rest within the organisation. Staff are often trying to share data with others or move data to where it may be easily accessible. A very common channel for this is one of the many Cloud-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive.

These services conflict with data protection in several ways. In many cases the services used by staff are personal accounts owned by the staff member, not the organisation. This immediately places the data outside the control of the operation.
The sharing of the data can be open-ended where a) even the staff member loses control over who can access the data, and b) it is uncertain where the data is stored and in which jurisdiction.

If the data contains personal information, credit card details or confidential finance information, the organisation may find itself in breach of regulations such as the Notifiable Data Breach Regulation or Payment Card Industry requirements.


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Conclusion: Many organisations are finding themselves being defrauded, especially when making or receiving payments electronically. It is not that the end systems are compromised but rather the payment information itself is being subverted in between the payer and the payee.

This is hard to defeat via technical means as the messages themselves look the same as any other payment request or invoice. A quality email filtering service will remove many of the clumsy attempts thus allowing more focus on the well-constructed efforts.

This article aims to help improve understanding of the threat and identify effective strategies to lessen the possibility of a business being impacted. Security defence consists of more than just technology. A well-rounded defence is composed of people, process and technology. Defeating business email compromise (BEC) is primarily achieved by the people and process segments.

The staff of a business are in the best position to detect attempts to compromise a payment, provided they have been armed with some knowledge of the types of attacks and permission to halt and question the details.

Many fraud attempts can be prevented by implementing a simple business process that allows all staff to question transactions that change payment details and use secondary channels to confirm those details.


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