Breaches & Security Articles From Around The Web 12-2-11

If you missed my Twitter (Security_REC)  posts on Security News and breaches this week, here’s a recap:

AT&T and Sprint acknowledge use of Carrier IQ

Norwich Airport database breached

FBI Warns of Coordinated Malware and DDoS Attacks Designed to Drain Bank Accounts

Twitter snaps up Marlinspike’s mobile encryption startup

Carrier IQ Rootkit Logs Everything on Millions of Phones

Health Care Data Breaches Increase by 32 Percent: Ponemon Report

Hackers accessed city infrastructure via SCADA – FBI

Data breaches in healthcare organizations are rising more than 30 percent year 

Survey – More patient data breaches, less security, and more headaches for patients

Breach Response: Reputational Risk

RIM PlayBook Jailbroken, Researchers Claim

Two Million Requests from Infected Systems In Week After Ghost Click Takedown

One-quarter of firms hit by cybercrime, survey finds

Adobe issues security warning for Adobe Flex SDK

Twitter snaps up Marlinspike’s mobile encryption startup

Carrier IQ smartphone software logs your every move, says researcher

Is PCI Effectively Preventing Fraud?

Fraud Scheme Hits Grocer

Duqu hackers scrub evidence from command servers, shut down spying op

Criminals sabotaging Cyber Monday, security experts warn

Interviewing Advice

I hope everyone had a great and safe 4th of July holiday.  Our weather was wonderful here in central Florida and several friends joined my wife and me for a party around the pool followed by some great food off the new Weber grill. (It was great cooking over charcoal again after all the years of gas)

The Friday before the holiday, I had a candidate speak by phone with the CISO at a client of mine.  My client is a mid sized organization that realizes they are way behind in their Infrastructure Security and want to bring in a top talent to get them where they need to go.  They had already talked with two other candidates earlier in the week that I had presented and wanted to talk with the third and last person before heading out for the holiday.

 The Candidate Feedback

Friday afternoon, I got a call from my candidate telling me he thought the conversation had gone very well. He was able to answer many technical questions and provide ideas how they would handle the upgrade to new security and so forth. The client really liked his ideas and they seemed to hit it off very well. In fact, they even joked around a bit at the end of the conversation. He felt that my client would want to have him fly in for an interview.

 The Client Feedback

On Tuesday, when we all went back to work, the client called and said they would like to invite candidate #1 and #2 in for on site interviews.  This was great news and I then asked about candidate #3.  Would they also like to invite him in?

The short answer was not at this time.  The client said his skills and experience were great and were equal to the other candidates interviewed through me, but he had turned the client off at the end of their conversation.

Here’s What Happened

During the first 95% of the phone interview, he presented himself well in regards to his current and past duties. He was clear and detailed on the approach he would take to complete the task the position required. They were getting along very well, so well in fact that my candidate decided to share what he though were a couple of humorous anecdotes.

They were funny to the candidate, but the client was not as amused and felt the candidate’s professionalism left something to be desired.


When you are on a phone interview you are speaking with a hiring manager / authority.  They are not your friend or buddy today. They may become your boss soon and perhaps later a friend, but not today.  They are on the other end of the phone to learn about you, your experience and personality.

In this economy, most employers are going to phone interview multiple candidates to screen down to a couple to invite onsite for an interview.

Phone interviews need to be handled as professional as an on site interview since they are generally the first step in the process. To be eliminated from the interview process for telling what you think are humorous stories is purely a waste.

In coming days, I’ll right a posting about the no-no’s on interviews both phone and on site.

A Funny Thing Happened During the Interview

A Unique Security Interview

During a conversation today I was reminded of a situation that in some regards was funny and on the other hand was actually rude. It does have a lesson to those employees of companies involved in the interview process.

Here’s what happened. I had a position here in Florida for a senior hands-on technical Security candidate. The client was a solid company with operations around the USA, Caribbean and Central and South America. Even though this company had many bilingual employees due to their different business locations, it was not required on this particular position.

Since the candidate (let’s call them Dave”) I recruited was available ASAP,  had recently relocated to Florida and was local, the employer scheduled an in-house interview for one afternoon. ( I’d known Dave for several years since I recruited him for another opportunity when he lived in the Carolina’s. Still has his Carolina accent.)

The day of the interview arrived and Dave was off to meet everyone. Dave called me on his drive home from the interview  to share his thoughts of the company, the position, the people, etc. He met with Human Resources and got all the HR information and was taken on a brief tour of the facility by another HR representative on the way to interview with the technical security staff  and manager. Dave was taken to a conference room where  the manager and 2 project managers were all waiting to conduct a group interview, even though the interview  itinerary was stated differently, but no big deal.

Here’s where it begin to get a little funny and rude at the same time.  All three employees of the client were asking Dave questions related to the job.  As usual, the questions started out relatively easy and progressed quickly to more difficult questions since Dave was able to answer correctly without any issues. He knew he were doing well. He knew he knew more than the project manager he would report too. He knew the manager thought he would not be challenged for long in the job. He knew he blew away all the other candidates  interviewed thus far, and many other insights.

Now you ask, why would these employees conducting the interview discuss these comments directly in front of Dave. Simple, they were speaking Spanish. Yes they were interviewing in English, but discussing amongst themselves their comments about the candidate. How rude was that, but the fact that Dave was able to understand about 75% of the Spanish was the funny part.

Yes, here’s someone with a Carolina accent that had a real good handle on understanding Spanish. He had worked for a firm in the past with many Latin American clients and  spent 5 years travelling south and picked up Spanish enough to understand people fairly well.

Dave thought it was a real insightful interview situation that most people would never experience, while also being rude.

One we jot to the actual job,  regardless of the rudeness factor, Dave stated that the client indeed had some real security  issues, as I had indicted. Once those issues were resolved over the next many months, the job would not be challenging.  Even though he was ready to go to work, this was not going to present a long-term opportunity. (The client still made him an offer, even though I said it was not necessary)

The overall  problem I saw was the client was discussing Dave and his answers and comments right in front of  him in a language they thought he did not understand. Whether he understood or not I felt and he felt it was rude. Would that have been the normal work environment and atmosphere. In fairness, I did share with the CIO that Dave turned down the position based on opportunity, but for future reference he night want to discuss with his managers their interview style.

I supposed the moral of the story would be never assume anything, like you are not being overheard or understood by those around you.

Have a great Wednesday.

A Cattle Call Approach to Recruitment

I Wish Employers Understood

A couple of months ago I heard about a company rebuilding their web presence and was in need of senior  Security Architect.  I called the CISO and left a voice mail  introducing myself and as a Security Search Firm. I indicated I would send my company Brochure and a link to the web site for their review. I was pleasantly surprised a few days later when I had a voice mail from the CISO (let’s call them John”) saying he would like to talk. When we spoke I had high hopes of picking up the search, which I hand already seen on their career page.

Well, I reach John and yes one of his managers was indeed still  looking for a security architect. They were frustrated in the fact this position had been open for over 7 weeks and the resumes from HR were not close to what was needed skills wise. I was sure my expertise could help identify quality talent, I told John. That’s when the shoe hit the ground. I was informed that all recruitment services must go through the HR department.  John had no control over that aspect of the process, but would  introduce me to the manager, which they connected me with while I was on the phone. Once John got off the call, the other shoe hit the ground. “I appreciate John introducing you, but we have a list of  approved vendors.  Please send your information and we’ll keep it on file” I was informed. I don’t go away that easy, so I let the HR manager know that I am not a general recruiter. I am president of and as the name implies we a  Security Search Firm. We have the ability and expertise to fill this job. Didn’t matter what I said. They had their vendors and they would let me know if I could help in the future. I let John know the outcome of the call.  He was also disappointed.

About 2 weeks ago I got a call from someone in HR (not the manager) asking if I could be available that afternoon for a conference call with the HR Manager and 2 Security managers to discuss the position since they were not getting the resumes they needed. Of course, I could and I was emailed the details to call for the CC.

At 2 pm I called in to enter the CC, but the code number to join the conference I was given was wrong.  I quickly reached the HR rep from earlier and was given the corrected code and called again. It was now 3 minutes after 2pm and when the automated system let me into the conference it announced to me “You are caller number 14  in the conference”.  You have to be kidding I thought. Am I just one of lots of recruiters on this call?  I must be part of a  “Recruiting Cattle Call”. What a waste of my time, but since I was already there I’ll listen.  The  HR Manager was already discussing  salary and other HR information before the  Security Managers detailed the job. It was good information, but nothing I didn’t already understand from a technical standpoint. The Security managers then asked for questions from those listening. I had a couple questions, but  I thought I would sit back and listen to what others asked. Like I suspected about 8 people (recruiters) asked question that made it so clear they had no idea what a security architect is and how to screen their skills.  At this, why would I want to spend valuable recruiting time on a search for an employer that utilizes the Cattle Call recruiting method. I did conduct a quick follow up call with the HR rep and was informed the others on the call were their approved vendors, the same ones that have not filled the job yet.

Time is money and the recruiting process is no different. Employers should try to fill their open jobs on their own if possible, but after 3 months of the efforts of the approved vendors with no success, perhaps it’s time to engage a “Security Headhunter” to fill the position.  In this case, it appears that the approved vendors just are not specialized in getting the correct talent  and I would not work on a search with 10 plus other firms. My time is to valuable to spend in a cattle call search process.

If you are not getting qualified resumes in your recruiting process, then you should change your process.

Moral of the story:  Make the decision to bring a “Security Search Firm” into your process at this point. You’ve given your other resources plenty of time with no success. Sometimes, as employers, you need to make an investment in your search with an exclusive search  that will actually results in a “search assignment” where candidates are recruited for your specific  job, not simply posting jobs to the Internet and see who replies.

I shared these thoughts with the HR manger and the CISO, but nothing yet. (the position is still open)  Perhaps next month the employer will decide to move forward on a real search assignment.

Have a great Monday!

Security Breaches – A Short List

Security Breaches

Here are a basic sampling of Security Breaches that have been gathered from across the Internet. Who’s really winning this cyber war?

Hackers bait Zeus botnet trap with dead celeb tales

UPDATE: Idaho Power says Mercer breach affected over 375,000

UK insurer hit with biggest ever data loss fine

Judge approves Countrywide Financial ID theft settlement

Laptop stolen from U Kentucky had info on newborns and mothers

UConn notifies 10,174 applicants of laptop theft

Bank of America settles Countrywide data theft suits

College students slowest to respond to ID theft

Look for a weekly list from this point forward.

Wils Bell
President, Inc.
POB 620298 * Oviedo, FL 32762
Direct: 407-365-2404

Phone Interviews are “Very Important”

Phone Interview are a Key Part of the Interviewing Process

As you can imagine, I speak with many security candidates every day in the process of doing my job for client companies.  Over the years, these 1,000’s of phone interviews have allowed me to become somewhat of an authority on phone interviewing and I wanted to share  some tips, observations and stories that may help you during this aspect of the  interviewing  process. These tips are for both talking with a recruiter or an employer. Hope they help.

1) Keep your scheduled appointment or contact ASAP

Yes, I know that we are all really busy, but if we have a scheduled time to speak please try to keep it. Many times this is the first impression I have of you. I understand that your schedule can change at the last second due to problems at work, but please try reaching me thru email, text, or phone just to give me a heads up. We can reschedule,  just let me know. Also, there’s no worse feeling than having you scheduled to speak to a client of mine at say 1 pm and I see the client’s # come up my caller ID at 1:05 only to hear them say you were not at your phone when they called.

2) Cell phone charged, conference room available, Etc.

Yes this happens more times that I like to admit. I’ll be talking on a scheduled call and the candidate says that their cell is going dead. Ouch.  I also have people chased out of conferences rooms since they failed to check the availability. Also, when talking on a cell if you go outside the building, please be aware that many times traffic and / or wind noise can be a real issue to the person on  the other end. Try sitting in your car. That generally works well as long as you have a good signal.

3) Never ever eat while interviewing!

Yes this does happen. I’ll be interviewing a potential candidate and they are eating.  Not only does this sound bad on the phone, it really give a bad impression to me or an interviewer.

4) Give the interviewer your full attention.

Many times I speak to candidates while they are home or in the car driving.  I understand that you may need to ask me to hold on while attending to children or other issues, but doing it several times is not good.

5) Interrupting the interviewer is never good.

Let’s face it, we all interrupt each other from time to time. It must be human nature, but constantly interrupting an interviewer is one of the worst things you can do. It happens to me on many occasions. I can barely get a sentence out before someone starts talking again. They don’t listen to my entire question before trying to answer and many times I have to ask the question again. This is incredibly annoying.

As I stated above, I have done 1000’s of telephone interviews over my career. Probably over 25,000, so I can speak on the subject with authority.

Remember, there are several candidates to interview for an open position. Several are interviewed by phone to determine who will get a second interview and / or in house interview. When you look at it this way, it’s obvious to see that a phone interview by me or an employer is a method of eliminating candidates for a particular job. That’s why so much is based on the conversation.

Whether the call is for 15 minutes or a full blown hour or two call, I learn a great deal about you and how you conduct yourself, how you share your skills, and how you will represent yourself to a client of mine if I get you an interview.

Wils Bell
Information Security Recruiter, Inc.
POB 620298
Oviedo, FL 32762
Desk: 407-365-2404
LinkedIn Profile:
Twitter: security_REC

Top 10 Cyber Crime Jobs

The  Cyber Crime Organization

This morning while reading my daily dose of security breaches to post to my Twitter account I came across a great article from an FBI study that discusses the make up of a Cyber Crime organization. The Top 10 Positions, if you will.

It really made me think back to the days that hackers where young kids, bored, sitting at a computer seeing what mischief they could cause. Oh, how things have changed.

As I talk to clients daily and discuss the issues of Cyber security it makes me really wonder how many firms really think about hackers being in a “Cyber Crime Organization”. Clients have their internal IT and Security departments with a variety of talent who create applications and those that protect the applications, and data and networks and so forth. Well, so do Cyber Criminals.

As I tell my clients, Cyber Criminals are very smart and sophisticated. You need to be smarter and more sophisticated. These criminal enterprises are run like a business. They are staffed with top talent that are dedicated to the job, yes their criminal job! By having these enterprises setup and running, they can and do strike within hours of an opportunity making itself available.

Here is a look at how the” Top 10″ positions within a Cyber Criminal Organizations according to the FBI.

1. Coders/programmers, who write the exploits and malware used by the criminal enterprise.

2. Distributors, who trade and sell stolen data and act as vouchers for the goods provided by other specialists.

3. Tech experts, who maintain the criminal enterprise’s IT infrastructure, including servers, encryption technologies, databases, and the like.

4. Hackers, who search for and exploit applications, systems and network vulnerabilities.

5. Fraudsters, who create and deploy various social engineering schemes, such as phishing and spam.

6. Hosted systems providers, who offer safe hosting of illicit content servers and sites.

7. Cashiers, who control drop accounts and provide names and accounts to other criminals for a fee.

8. Money mules, who complete wire transfers between bank accounts. The money mules may use student and work visas to travel to the U.S. to open bank accounts.

9. Tellers, who are charged with transferring and laundering illicitly gained proceeds through digital currency services and different world currencies.

10. Organization Leaders, often “people persons” without technical skills. The leaders assemble the team and choose the targets.

As I said earlier, this is no longer a bored teenager looking for mischief.

Wils Bell

Information Security Recruiter, Inc.
POB 620298
Oviedo, FL 32762
Desk: 407-365-2404