Operation Security

The following scenario is based on an actual attack deconstructed at a seminar I attended last year. The names and locations have been removed to preserve the privacy of the organization in question.


  • No-Internal-Controls, LLC is a mid-sized pharmaceutical sales company in the Midwest of the US employing around 150 personnel. It has grown over the past decade by merging with other pharmaceutical sales companies and purchasing smaller firms.
  • Recently No-Internal-Controls, LLC suffered a ransomware attack. The company was able to recover from the attack with the assistance of a third party IT Services Company.

Attack Analysis:

  • After collecting evidence and analyzing the attack, the third party was able to recreate the attack.
  • No-Internal-Controls, LLC has a number of PCs configured for employee training
  • These training computers use generic logins such as “training1”, “training2”, etc. with passwords of “training1”, “training2”, etc.
  • The logins were not subject to lock out due to repeated incorrect logins
  • One of the firms purchased by No-Internal-Controls, LLC allowed Remote Desktop connections from the Internet through the firewall to the internal network for remote employees
  • Due to high employee turnover and lack of documentation none of the IT staff were aware of the legacy remote access
  • The main office has only a single firewall and no DMZ or bastion host exists to mediate incoming remote connections
  • The internal network utilized a flat architecture
  • An attacker discovered the access by use of a port scan and used a dictionary attack to gain access to one of the training computers
  • The attacker ran a script on the compromised machine to elevate his access privileges and gain administrator access
  • The attacker installed tools on the compromised host to scan the network and identify network shares
  • The attacker copied ransomware into the network shares for the accounting department allowing it spread through the network and encrypt accounting files
  • Critical accounting files were backed up and were recovered, but some incidental department and personal files were lost


You have been hired by No-Internal-Controls, LLC in the newly created role of CISO and have been asked to place priority on mitigating further attacks of this type. Keep in mind that No-Internal-Controls, LLC is a mid-sized company with a small IT staff and limited budget.

All Questions are worth 3 points each – 12 points total for the assignment. Assignment is due on January 29th, at 11:59 pm, EPT.

Question 1:

Suggest a policy that would help mitigate against attacks similar to this one in the future. Justify your choice in one paragraph.

Question 2:

Good policies begin with an overview section that summarizes the policy for senior management. Write a summary paragraph for the Board that explains what the policy intends to do and how. Do not attempt to write a full policy, simply summarize it for the Board.

Question 3:

Suggest at least two different controls to support your policy and explain how they will support the policy. Identify each of the controls as physical, administrative, or technicaland as preventative, detective, or corrective. Justify why you classified them the way you did.

Question 4:

Suggest an employee position to be responsible for your policy and what metrics they might use to measure compliance with the policy.

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