Malware and How to Deal with It

The information security landscape is evolving daily and it seems like there are just as many products out there as there are exploits. For example, there are intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), file integrity monitoring (FIM), data loss prevention (DLP), next-generation firewalls, anti-virus, anti-malware, email gateways, honeypots, and even products that use artificial intelligence and behavioral analytics to find threats on your networks.

With all the potential solutions out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when all you really want to do is protect your network and ensure maximum availability. I’ve seen many approaches to securing a network, from the easy-but-extreme example of air-gapping a network, to going overboard and purchasing as many security products as possible. In security, as with anything, you must strike a comfortable balance between securing your network and not interrupting your users’ workflow while still balancing budgetary concerns and time constraints.

I saw a need for someone in security to strike that balance, cut through the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), which is why I submitted my article “Malware and How to Deal With It” to the ISSA journal. It was selected for publication for the Journal’s July 2015 issue as well as one of the four best articles of 2015 for the December issue. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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A Month with Project Fi

ProjectFi

I’ve been using the Google Nexus devices since the launch of the Galaxy Nexus. I’ve just found them to be exactly what I need, without the bloatware that other manufacturers install, and at a great price point. I recently purchased a Nexus 6p, as my Nexus 5 was feeling a little dated. With the purchase, I decided to try out Google’s new cellular service: Project Fi.

Prior to the switch, I had been using T-Mobile’s $30/mo plan that included unlimited data and texts, and 100 minutes of talk time. When I initially switched to T-Mobile about 2 years ago, the service was lacking in rural areas, but over the past year their coverage had vastly improved. The 100 minute limitation was beginning to be a problem, however, as I transitioned from working in an office to being 100% remote. This is what led me to give Project Fi a look.

With Project Fi, you get unlimited minutes and texts and pay $1/100MB. Their cheapest plan is $30 and gives you 1GB of data. Plans go up $10/GB from there. Additionally, if you don’t use the data that you pay for, they will refund you what you didn’t use.

My first issue with Project Fi is that it does not work with Google Apps accounts. My main Google account is a Google Apps account, so this is a slight annoyance in that now I have to have two accounts tied to my phone. However, this is minor. Signing up was a breeze, and within a couple days I had my SIM card. The initial activation is also very simple, the Project Fi app walks you through it and you should be up within 5 minutes with little to no interaction needed.

Project Fi does an excellent job of trying to send all data through a Wi-Fi connection. Since I work remotely, I’m almost always on Wi-Fi, so I don’t use that much cellular data at all. However, even when out and about, if your phone is near an open hotspot that Google deems “trusted”, it will automatically connect as well as fire up a VPN connection to keep your data secure while on the public Wi-Fi. This all happens seamlessly without any user interaction needed.

Halfway through the month, I installed an app called “Fi Spy” that allows you to not only see which network you are on (Sprint or T-Mobile), it also allows you to switch at any time by inputting a carrier code into your dialer. Now, Project Fi will do this automatically from time to time to ensure you get the best service, but I like having the ability to see which network I’m on, as well as switch manually if need be. I will say that the T-Mobile network is much faster than the Sprint network. I also had issues sending MMS messages when connected to the Sprint network.

At the end of the month, using the 1GB plan, Google actually owed me a refund for .27GB unused of my 1GB allotment. This resulted in a $2.70 refund. The Project Fi app will allow you to track your cellular data usage throughout the billing cycle. I’ve gotta say that I did my best to stay under that 1GB mark the first month, and it paid off (literally). This month, however, I’m going to be over.

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Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the service and support. I have no reason to go back to T-Mobile, nor switch to any other carrier at this time. If you have a Nexus device, I definitely recommend Project Fi.