The Coalfire Blog

Welcome to the Coalfire Blog, a resource covering the most important issues in IT security and compliance. You'll also find information on Coalfire's insights into the unique cybersecurity issues that impact the industries we serve, including Cloud Service Providers, RetailFinancial Services, Healthcare, Higher Education, Payments, Government, Restaurants, and Utilities.

The Coalfire blog is written by the company's leadership team and our highly-credentialed security assessment experts. We look forward to your comments, so please join the conversation.

  • Information Governance: Get Data Classification Right First

    March 21, 2013, Dirk Anderson, Managing Director, Professional Services

    Data classification is one of the most crucial elements of an effective information governance process—yet it’s also one that many companies fail to implement well. In its simplest terms, data classification is the process of categorizing data based on its level of sensitivity. When done properly, the classification of data helps a company determine the most appropriate level of safeguards and controls that need to be in place.

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  • War on Passwords? Check with Your QSA First!

    March 14, 2013, Matt Getzelman, PCI Practice Director

    Passwords have long been the workhorse of user authentication schemes, and many security experts are speaking out on the need for more effective controls. It seems like hardly a week goes by when we don’t see a password breach in the news.

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  • Whether you are a large or small business, beware of these 5 common security problems

    March 11, 2013, Mike Weber, Vice President, Coalfire Labs

    Every January, the trade press if full of new year’s resolution-like advice… things to do in the coming year, even Coalfire made a few predictions for 2013. I work at Coalfire Labs, and since our business is IT security and testing, we want to share some advice on how to avoid your systems and accounts from being breached.  While larger companies may feel they can skip some of these steps, and still remain safe, TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls learned the hard way the damages a breach can cause.  Information from up to tens of millions of credit and debit cards was stolen costing TJX millions of dollars to get the problem under control.  With this in mind, here is a list of five issues companies are prone to make, and ways to avoid negative ramifications.

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  • Creative Ideas for Replacing Passwords

    March 08, 2013, Mike Weber, Vice President, Coalfire Labs

    Passwords have been the de facto manner of providing security for IT systems.  They’ve got a bad reputation, but it’s not the passwords themselves that deserve the reputation – it’s the individuals using them and the weak standards to which these passwords are managed.  In fact, a password system implemented in a secure manner – long and complex passwords that change periodically – can be (virtually) uncrackable.  However, a typical user isn’t apt to embrace a system that requires 15 characters or more (including numbers, upper and lower case, and special characters) and needs to change every two to four weeks.  

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  • The FFIEC proposes guidance on social media - can you stay two steps ahead?

    March 06, 2013, Dirk Anderson, Managing Director, Professional Services

    On January 22, 2013, the FFIEC put out a press release called “Financial Regulators Propose Guidance on Social Media”.  We should begin by saying that even without a social media presence, every company should address social media risks in their annual risk assessment. In this day and age where the average person has a smartphone, laptop, and a tablet, everyone is aware of social media. But what exactly is social media?

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