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Cybercrime: More Bite Than a Bottle of 100 Proof

Wine About Cybercrime is a cybersecurity podcast where we invite cyber experts to take a break, enjoy some wine, and discuss the latest challenges and pain points in their field. In this special BOURBON EDITION, our guests broke with tradition and opted for spirits instead, with Angels’ Envy Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, finished in ruby port wine casks, as their drink of choice.

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Episode #3: Whiskey Business

In this episode of Wine About Cybercrime, we sit down with Rick Gonzalez and Jeffrey Urlwin, vice presidents of Federal Managed Services at ECS, to whine about the many ways new and emerging cyber threats can complicate the work of IT Operations. We explore how IT Ops keeps up with a rapidly evolving threat landscape, the delicate balance of frequent patching and software updates without disrupting end users, and the value of offloading such challenges onto a managed service provider while simultaneously reducing costs.

Watch along with a tumbler of your favorite whiskey!

See Full Episode Transcript

Rick: So, what is IT Ops?

Jeff: You don’t know by now??

[explosion of laughter]

[opening rolls]

Rick:  Welcome to another edition of Wine about Cybercrime. I’m Rick Gonzalez from the IT Ops COE and I have about 30 years in the industry providing IT solutions to the federal government. And with me today is my partner in crime, Jeff Urlwin.

Jeff: Hi, I’m Jeff Urlwin. I’m with ECS and I’m a co-lead of the IT Ops COE with Rick. Cheers!

[both clink and drink]

[chapter 1: Intro]

Rick: You probably noticed that we’re not drinking wine. In IT Ops, we have to drink something a little bit stronger. Right, Jeff?

Jeff: Yes, our days are fun.

Rick: So, this is the Bourbon edition.

Jeff: Today, I’m happy to show that we have Angel’s Envy, which is one of my favorite bourbons.

Rick: There are five rules for bourbon. Bourbon can only be made in the United States of America. It also has to be made in brand new, charred, oak barrels.

Jeff: And it has to be 51% corn mash. And it can’t be more than 125 proof before it’s poured into the barrel.

Rick: And lastly, only water can be added to it in order to make sure that it stays underneath the 125% proof.

Jeff: Cheers again, Rick!

Rick: Cheers!

[both clink and drink]

Jeff: So, what are we whining about today?

Rick: Today? We’re whining about Cybercrime and its impact on IT operations. You wouldn’t believe how many times a cyber event actually impacts the IT operations delivery of services.

Jeff: We’re constantly making changes to the system. We’re constantly trying to protect the systems while people are using them. So, it’s like changing an airplane’s wings on while you’re flying.

[chapter 2: What is IT Ops?]

Rick: Well, IT operations is a big synergistic move between the services that are being delivered and those processes and practices that are within IT operations and the tools…

[motions towards Jeff]

Jeff: You saying I’m a tool??

[chuckles and scoffs]

Rick: No… you’re the tools expert.

Jeff: I’ve been called a tool… But I’ve been called a tool by a lot better people than you, I hate to say.

Rick: It’s those tools that actually help prevent a lot of the bad things that happen within an IT environment. But because of the attacks, there are numerous patches and updates and  changes; and that’s the frustration. But there are ways to alleviate that.

[chapter 3: Reactive vs. Proactive]

Rick: There is a rapidly changing landscape of internal and external attacks, and it’s usually causing the IT operations folks to be reactionary in nature.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean, there’s constant software updates every time they change Microsoft Office. Boy, do we hear some complaints, whether it’s good or bad, right? It’s a change. We have to update things. We have to patch them. We have to make those changes transparently to the users while at the same time trying to keep them avoiding the disruption for their business because, you know, ultimately… we’re all here to make sure that people can still do their jobs every day.

[chapter 4: Utility of IT Ops]

Rick: I like the way you said that, whether they… they’re patches to… to prevent a cybercrime, or sometimes even changes that are recommendations for improvement. All of that has an impact on IT Operations.

Jeff: “Improvement” is not what our users always call it. That’s what we call them when the users complain, saying, “Where’d my button go?”

Rick: Exactly.

Jeff: You know, we’re like a utility company. If we’re running along and everything’s smooth, nobody really notices us. But when something goes wrong, that’s when everybody notices it. And we drink.

Rick: I need more.

Jeff: In truth, the attacks are only getting better or stronger every day because there are clever people out there trying to fight the systems that we’re trying to put up and prevent.

Rick: What we need to do is work on putting those tools and tweaking them in such a way that they provide us a leading indicator rather than a lagging indicator.

Jeff: And that’s where tools like ECS’ Pathfinder help us identify the problems that are in the world and which ones are the leading indicators of problems that can cause a breach or issue with data integrity.

Rick: Or a partnership with ServiceNow that allows us to put in iTOM that we can tweak those tools and those integration points to identify when things are going to happen before they happen.

Jeff: Part of the balance, though, is to make sure that the workforce isn’t frustrated, right? We have to make sure that they can do their jobs. They’re not frustrated because that impacts productivity. And, you know…

Rick: How do you do that?

Jeff: Well, actually… That’s your expertise, I’m a tool!

[both laugh effusively]

Rick: How do we do that? How do we let them know?

Jeff: Well… Communication, Rick. I mean, that’s the key to making sure that our users understand what’s going on. We need to test, evaluate, understand the changes that we’re about to make, so we can effectively communicate it to their customers.

Rick: I think you’re absolutely right. It’s that communication.

Jeff: …that’s a first!

[laughter erupts]

Rick: That is true. And to that, I’ll drink.

[both clink and drink]

Rick [cont’d]: That’s probably the most critical component is communicating now that the change is coming, what that change is going to do. What effect it’s going to have. And when it’s going to take place.

Jeff: Yeah, and that’s going to avoid frustration… That is the key thing, Rick, is to make sure they know. Everybody’s expected to do more with less these days… So, how do we help them? How do they help us? We all communicate.

[chapter 5: Striking a Balance]

Jeff: You know, Rick, we have to really balance productivity and security. We can’t tighten things down so that people can’t work. The most secure computer is the one that’s not connected to anything, right? So, we can’t do that. We have to make sure people are productive. And we do that by managing the risk of connections and what the value is of connecting to the Internet for your business. You can’t afford to not connect to the Internet today.

Rick: I totally agree. I think it’s creating that balance, right? That balance of risk management that you talk about. In order to be able to make sure that they are productive as possible, yet secure as we can get it.

Jeff: That’s right. And communicating what those risks are so that your senior management can sign off on those, right? Accept those risks and understand them. That’s a key part to keeping the work going.

[chapter 6: Benefits of an IT Ops Managed Service]

Jeff: We want you to focus on your mission. We focus on the mission of keeping you operating. That’s what we can do for you.

Rick: And by doing that, we’re able to, as a COE, help the business unit scale up, provide that consistent quality through SLAs, minimize costs… because we have the people within the COE or know where they’re at within the company and the COE in order to provide that as a value service to them. That’s going to minimize any cost to the client.

Jeff: And because we have coverage… Because we have staff already… It’s easier and cheaper for us to bring in extra people to solve a problem or prevent a problem than it is for you to go out and hire them yourselves.

Rick: Including training! Training is expensive, and as a COE, we know where the trained people are.

Jeff: That’s right. Minimize your costs on IT Ops by outsourcing it to a team that’s doing this at scale.

[chapter 7: Conclusion]

Rick: And with that, we’d like to close this episode of Wine about Cybercrime: Bourbon Edition.

Jeff: If you want to meet the challenge and make a difference…

Rick: Visit and join our team.

Jeff: Because we’re a lot of fun!

[laughter fades to logo]


Rick: That’s like managing your own IT when you’re not an IT professional.

Jeff: I’ll drink to that.

Rick: So, provide your IT services, move over to a managed service, and then sit back and enjoy a nice old fashioned.

Jeff: Or at least, blame somebody else.

Rick: That’s a good one!!!!

[laughs into fade]


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