Rob Cheng's Blog
The Ten Biggest Lies in Cybersecurity

Biggest Lies in Cybersecurity

Prevention is futile
About 10 years ago, long before the ransomware pandemic began, the powers that be decided that cyber prevention was futile, and cyber security should exclusively focus on reaction. Development and improvements to legacy preventative solutions were halted in favor of reactive architectures such as next generation antivirus, Enhanced Detect and Respond (EDR), Extended Detect and Respond (XDR), and Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP). A more prudent and effective strategy is a hybrid between prevention and reaction, however abandoning prevention, maximized revenue for the cybersecurity industry.
Multifactor authentication is the answer
Although MFA is prevention, MFA is expensive with recurring maintenance costs. Not all ransomware enters through an authentication breach. Lately, the ransomware makers are offering insiders of a bounty of $100,000, to release ransomware onto a network. MFA is good but insufficient in itself to thwart ransomware.
Backing up data stops ransomware
When ransomware was in its infancy, good backups enabled quick restoration of operations and no ransomware payments. Today’s ransomware exfiltrates data, disables backup services, and encrypts the original data set and the backup too. Airgapping backups is useless, since the ransomware waits until the backup is not airgapped, and encrypts at that time. Restoring from backup is good for disaster recovery except for ransomware.
Reacting quickly is the key to stopping ransomware
While it is possible to monitor, detect and respond to malicious human activity, ransomware traverses a network at 100 to 1000 times the speed of humans. Ransomware infects a network in seconds or perhaps a few minutes. People cannot respond fast enough.
Ransomware is here to stay
Repeating this lie is job security for the sycophants of the cybersecurity industry. Ransomware is a business with revenues (ransom payments) and expenses. Proactively preventing the ransomware from entering the network simultaneously drives down revenue and increases the costs of the ransomware business model. Ransomware is a metastasizing cancer, but there is still time to suffocate its lifeblood, money.
The problem is Russia
Ransomware is the monetization of security holes. The purveyors of ransomware only need a fast internet connection, obfuscation tools, and a country outside of American law enforcement. Even if ransomware’s origin were Russia, ransomware could be made almost anywhere whose citizens are looking to make a quick million and get away with it.
The higher the budget, the better the cybersecurity
This one is up there with “lather, rinse, repeat” and “drinking alcohol daily improves life expectancy”, although you got to love the moxie. Cybersecurity giant, Accenture, was hit with a garden variety ransomware that stole terabytes of proprietary data, and a $40M ransom. Accenture had almost unlimited budget for cyber. The Accenture infection is analogous to the neighborhood fire department, fire trucks, and firemen burning to the ground.
Layered security is the right approach
This lie is the cybersecurity industry saying that they have no idea whether this widget works, and neither do you, so you might was well give it a try. This Frankenstein approach to cybersecurity makes it impossible to understand what works and what is useless. Paying for useless security maximizes revenue for the cybersecurity industry.
There are no silver bullets
Application whitelisting is the silver bullet. NIST advises organizations to use modern whitelisting programs, also known as application control programs, to stop cyber threats. The Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight Maturity Model has four levels (0-3) and levels 1, 2, and 3 require application whitelisting.
Cybersecurity is complicated
The cybersecurity industry’s ineffective, reactive, throw spaghetti at the wall, prevention be damned architecture is complicated and intellectually out of reach for businesses, lawmakers, and laypeople. There are many prevention paradigms in our society and none are complicated. Health care, fire prevention, tooth paste, home security and so on. Making cybersecurity unduly obtuse and complicated is part of the industry’s sales playbook but it doesn’t have to be this way.
What you can do
Stop repeating the lies. Use common sense. Keep an eye on Australia. When buying cyber products, ask your well dressed, attractive, articulate sales person whether any of their customers have been infected with ransomware lately.
The United States of Money

It is Christmas time and undoubtedly we will hear about the War on Christmas. This makes me sad, because the reality is that the war on Christmas was lost a long time ago to money and capitalism. Rather than celebrate the birth of the Savior, the meaning of Christmas has become consumer consumption, Santa Claus, trees, reindeer and snowmen. The meaning of the holiday has been lost.

But the sad fact is that Christmas is just one of the many casualties of how money dominates and pollutes all sectors of American life. To be honest, it wasn’t always this bad, but as time goes on, each year gets worse and worse.

Sports in general and college sports in particular are polluted by money. It is indeed a sad fact that the dean of the university makes about 1/4th of what the coach of the football team makes. On the professional level, the dirty secret is that the most successful and hence highest paid athletes are doing drugs to ply their trade. Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong are just the tip of the iceberg.

The American health care system exists to make money for the large pharmaceuticals and insurance companies. All other pieces of the health care system such as doctors, hospitals and so on, only exist to serve these masters. Lost in the entire equation is the health of the patient, and the only goal is for the doctor to sell more pharmaceuticals and to assuage any concerns about side effects of these bizarre drugs.

When we look at the Iraqi war, one must ask the question. Who has benefited? Certainly not the Iraqi people. Not the average American. And certainly not our soldiers that have come home dead, mangled or emotionally traumatized. There appears to be one and only one constituent that has won and that is the American military industry complex headed up by publicly traded companies such as Haliburton and Black Rock. These wars are not about terrorism or American security but padding the bottom line of these corporations. The military industry complex tries to hide behind the flag and patriotism to justify their activities but they are really nothing more than high priced mercenaries.

The incredible merger mania hitting corporate America is driven by money. The result of these mergers is to 1) increase consumer prices in a monopolistic way and 2) reduce jobs by laying off workers. None of these benefit the average American, but our SEC is so in the pocket of Wall Street that they turn a blind eye to the very people that are supposed to server and whose tax dollars pay their salaries.

Our government is now run by money and the companies and people that control the money. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are controlled by money. The president and all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives spend all their time raising money to get reelected in the next election cycle. Lost are the needs of the citizens that they supposedly are there to represent. Of course, once they are reelected they only serve their masters that donated to their campaign coffers. The entire election process is a charade to make us feel like we have a democracy when in reality we have an oligarchy that ignores the needs of the voters in favor of the rich moneyed interest.

Our entire food system is now contaminated by money. Have you ever wondered why you can only purchase drinks in almost any restaurant that contain high glucose corn syrup? Did you know that Monsanto now has a patent on soy bean seeds and suing farmers that violate its patent?

The problem with the United States is that it is no longer united. In fact, the money is so strong in both the Republican and Democrat party that we allow these artificial wedge issues to divide us. I believe that the fact that money runs the country and is ruining it will be the one ultimate issue that will unite us all against ALL the special interest that pollute our lives and our government.

Divided We Fall

In my lifetime, I have never seen the United States as divided as it is right now. And also in my lifetime, the country has never been in as bad a shape as right now. The two are related, correlated and even causal. I believe that the more divide the country, the less prosperous the country we will be. We as a country must focus on the issues that unite us and run away from the special interests and lobbyists that attempt to divide us.

America is the greatest nation in the history of the world. American ingenuity ushered many of the most important developments of mankind including the television, the car, the airplane, the radio, the computer and the internet. There are many others as well, but suffice it to say that many of these innovations greatly increased the productivity of the world creating enormous economic profits to one nation. Behind all of this are two key tenants of America. Capitalism and Democracy.

The problem in the United States and we are watching it fade right before our eyes, is that we no longer have Capitalism nor Democracy. It is sad to see capitalism fade in the United States. It has transformed itself into what is called crony capitalism. Success is not defined by how hard you work nor the quality of your innovations, but access to the right people in our federal government. This is defined by plowing money into the myriad of lobby organizations that pollute Washington DC. To be successful in American society today is to run a company that has a lobby organization in Washington DC. So American business is dominated by telecomunications, pharmaceuticals, banking, and the military industrial complex. Perhaps the most egregious of all is our banking system. The government as well all know is highly in debt and growing larger and more in debt every year. But there is nothing to be done because all of the moneyed interest want a large yet weak government that is afraid to regulate the very industries it must control.

Worse yet, the United States is no longer a true democracy on the federal level. Both parties Republican and Democrat have been seduced by all the money. Elections have become a high priced show where the outcome is irrelevant. Perhaps the largest hypocrisy was the election of Barack Obama who ran on a platform of Hope and Change. The sad reality is that Obama has done almost nothing to change the trajectory of our country. In fact, most would agree, he has accelerated the downfall.

We must unite behind the principles of free markets and democracy. We must restore these two fundamentals of our great country. The government must play an active role in promoted free markets but right now they are doing the opposite. The government picks the winners in back rooms rather than letting the market decide. Worse yet, the government allows large companies to merge without regard to we the people whom they represent. We must restore democracy so that the federal government represents the joint desires of the people who elect them and not the money that filled their campaign coffers.

The federal government must be reinvented under the original principles that made it great in the first place.

Promote Competition

As I get older, I am truly fearing for the future of the United States of America. One of the key reasons is that the federal government has been derelict in its responsibilities to promote competition. In fact, in recent years, it has been doing the opposite and doing everything in its power to reduce competition.

We can remember as little as 15 years ago, that Clinton went after Microsoft because of its dominant position in the market place. Then about 30 years ago, Ronand Reagan succeeded in breaking up AT&T into what was known at the time as the Baby Bells. Whether you agree with these federal actions or not, it is clear that government should play a role in promoting competition in the market place. In fact, going back well over 100 years, Teddy Roosevelt ran and won the presidency with the singular message to Bust the Trusts. Some of the most important federal anti trust regulations still in effect today came from that era.

Competition is essential for capitalism. Competition lower prices for goods and services and gives consumers a multitude of choices for their purchasing dollar. Furthermore, competition creates jobs. The sad fact however is that the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to promote competition. In fact, the federal government is playing a role in stifling competition to the detriment of the very people they supposedly represent.

A good example is the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner. From a consumer perspective, there is absolutely no benefit to this merger. Both Comcast and Time Warner are considered to be among the worst in customer satisfaction. As a Time Warner customer, I am stunned on how bad their services, billing, and customer support are and their utter disregard for customer satisfaction. Of course, Time Warner has a monopoly in my area so there are no options.

The reason that Time Warner and Comcast can justify this merger is because the reduced company will enjoy economies of scale. Which is their fancy way of saying that they will start cutting heads. For every head they cut, their stock price will go up another $.01, so they have every incentive to cut as many “redundant” resources as possible. It would have been awesome if Comcast had come into my area and competed with Time Warner, but our federal government is essentially taking that outcome off the table.

Another example are the airlines. It makes me sad that American Airlines has now merged with US Airways. The reality that virtually every frequent flyer knows is that airline travel has turned from a pleasant experience into a mind numbing exercise in greed and stupidity. It was only 10 years ago before all the airlines began to merge, that meals were included in flights, blankets and pillows were available in all classes of services, no change fees, no baggage fees and on and on. When they merged, the airlines promised the government they wouldn’t raise price, so instead they reduced services. There is no good for the anyone except for the stock holders of these airlines and they don’t care since they all fly private airplanes anyhow.

This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. The trend started under George W Bush and has beome even more severe under Obama. Both the Democrat and Republican parties have become slaves to corporate interest and their mega lobbies and the concept of democracy has been temporarily suspended.


Last week I visited one of my banks in South Carolina and they informed me that my interest rate had been lowered to .05%. This is stark contrast to my bank accounts in Brazil where the interest rate has been raised to 10%. To be clear, interest rates in Brazil are 200 times that of the United States. This is not some bizarre Hollywood movie, this is our sad reality in the country that we love. Here are the top 17 reasons why cheap money is ruining the United States and large parts of the world.


You cannot base an economy on cheap money for a sustainable period of time. Furthermore, once a country / central bank goes down the cheap money road, and it is like a drug, and there is no simple way to reverse course without severe withdrawal symptoms.


By pumping too much money into the economy, it creates inflation where ever you look. It is most pronounced in food prices and other domestic items. The government intentionally excludes food, energy and health care costs from their monthly inflation calculation to further the lie that inflation is moderate.


A good economy is based on the work of its citizens that provide value to itself and that can be exported to the rest of the world. But now, our government wants us to believe that we don’t have to work. Just sit in your house, sign a mortgage and the price will rise, and you don’t have to work to make money. We are in the process of raising a whole generation of young people who don’t understand the value of work.


It is a virtue to save money. It teaches us discipline and forces us to prioritize and make choices that make us all better people. But this value has been lost in America. No longer is it important to save money, if we can go into debt. In today’s world, we encourage debt and consumption at the expense of savings.


By definition, setting interest rates at 0%, puts no value on the future. We are discounting the future of our children and grand children so that we can party like there is no tomorrow. We live under the false notion that if our future is more pleasant that somehow that translates to a brighter future for our young people. NOT.


Cheap money enables our humongous federal government that can mercilessly attack foreign countries without provocation, and create sophisticated spying technologies and progams, all while lower taxes to the richest Americans. The ugly part is that the less the bone headed 0% interest rate plans work, the larger the government becomes in safety nets and bizarre jobs programs like the Orwellian body scanners at your local airport.


When you sign a mortgage document, the bank almost like magic gives you money to buy a house. Behind the scenes, the bank takes title to your house. This is happening in business too. So the American dream is a clever ruse for the banks to own virtually all of the residential and commercial property in the country.


The stories are legendary of American entrepreneurs that became incredible successes building a business in a garage. This is no longer true. To start a business today,, the entrepreneur goes to a VC firm, bank or hedge fund, and does a Power Point presentation. They either get their seed money or not. If you are unsuccessful in getting seed money, and you persevere, be aware that your primary competition will be companies that have a healthy dose of cheap money.

When I was a boy, small business was genuinely the engine of the economy. The hardware store, the record store, restaurants and on and on were all small businesses, and now all these segments are owned by Wall Street on a national level.


To be clear, the banks by that I mean the entire financial system is risk averse. It was once the responsibility of the financial sector to analyze and value risk. They no longer do that.


When you have so much cheap money flying around, it is almost begging for open corruption. We need look no further than the ratings agency fiasco to understand how deep the corruption lies. And the federal government decides to regulate LESS. This means that the entire system is corrupt to its very core.


The problem in the United States is that we no longer have capitalism. We only need to look at health insurance, energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and on and on. The winners and losers in the market place are predetermined by the companies that funnel cheap money into lobbyists in Washington DC.


One by product of the cheap money and zero regulation is that we have created a new societal rung of wealth represented primarily by our financial sector. America has a rich history of creating wealth through innovation and the rewards fell to those companies that profoundly improved the productivity of the world. Think Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and more recently Bill Gates, Andy Grove, Michael Dell and so on. The problem with the new banking elite is that they extract their riches from society rather than improving it.


There is a panic mentality in the world today. We have been programmed to religiously watch the news, as if the next tidbit will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and throws the economy and potentially the world into a tail spin. There are two flaws. America is still strong but our banks are weak. Second, people normally make poor decisions in a panic. A good example is the monstrous bail out in 2008.


What is the dollar represent? Or any currency for that matter. The dollar represents the future productivity of all the people and companies that transact in it. In China, the RMB translates to the People’s Money. Imagine that. A Communist nation recognizing the fact that the currency is a reflection of the productivity of its people.

When Greenspan, Bernnake, and now Yellen, print enormous amount of money to “stimulate the economy”, they are not taking the money from us. They are moving the money from the future where it would have been used for future productivity. The problem is that many of the citizens of these future generations have not been born yet. Who if not us the citizens are responsible for preventing this type of theft? Each time they print more money, they make the future a little less bright.


The financial sector is pleased with the present state of affairs. The last thing they want is change. And we have a grid locked Congress, and an inept president. The media focuses on any other issue other than this one. We focus on abortion, gay marriage, et al, instead of the one issue that will impact us and the future of the country itself. The media owned by Wall Street and the federal government does everything in its power to focus the public on any issue other than this. Think about it. In the last two presidential elections, how much time was spent debating or discussing how cheap money is ruining the country?

The people must UNITE for America to work.


The truly scary part is that the people are not united but the banks are. The banks control the American Congress, but the American Central Bank called the Fed, is colluding with other banks throughout the world. Worse yet, there are three banks called the IMF, the World Bank, and the BIS that attempt to control other countries and other banks.

I am speculating here, but the power and money grab is not a problem isolated to the United States. It is happening on a world wide basis, and we the citizens of the world will have to find a solution or there will be an out right war of the magnitude we have not seen in the history of humanity.