The MHS Journals

Our blog archive of insights and intel


IT Security in Our Homes (Click Link)

Jun 15, 2018

Randall Webb: So we’ll go ahead and get started. My name is Randall Webb. I work for TARCSYS Corporation. We are a Southern-based IT company. I come from the great metropolis of Nashville, Tennessee. We focus on IT security. What the point of this is, is I really want to change your paradigm and change your mindset about what IT security is. Okay? All of us either are parents or we work with IT in our lives, and we know people that we may want to implement some of these things for, and so that’s what the goal is. The title of this is Household Incorporated, and we will explain what that is and why. It’s a roadmap for IT security in our homes.

Randall Webb: The overview for tonight is first, we want to define what the IT security problem is. Secondly, we want to actually create Household Incorporated. Thirdly, we want to begin implementing and sustaining a plan. So not just creating a plan, but creating one that can be sustainable because we work. We have jobs. We have lives, and adding this to our lives, it takes time, and it takes energy. You don’t want to invest time, and energy, and effort in trying to create something that is impossible to maintain. When that happens, many parents and many people, you just give up. If you’re trying to deal with IT security from the perspective of I’m going to keep up with the stuff — right — you’re setting yourself up for failure. Okay?

Randall Webb: When we think of security for our homes, it can’t just be solely about children because that is a very limited and very narrow view of what IT is in our homes. Okay? Number one, this may be hard to see, true, IT security is about more than apps and smartphones. Okay? The task that we have is we have to change our paradigm of IT security that is more universal across technology. Okay? If your idea of IT security is tech-specific, then you’re going to have to invoke a gazillion different rules and standards if it’s about each individual pc of technology. Our paradigm needs to shift away from the individual technical things and needs to be more broad and more universal.

Randall Webb: When you really get right down to it, IT is about the exchange of information. Period. That’s all that it is. We have sophisticated ways of doing it, but at the end of the day information technology, or IT, when you boil it down, it’s just about information. There’s some IT security you can do without being technical at all because it’s about information. Okay? In the IT world, if this phone, this is my phone, if it can’t turn on, and if it can’t do anything, we call this a brick because that’s essentially all that it’s worth. It’s just a thing that you can stack stuff on or throw. It’s brick. It has no value, and it’s the same thing with a cell phone or any other technical device. A device that can’t share information, it’s a brick, no matter how great it is.

Randall Webb: We will see that regardless of whether it’s an iPhone, it’s a droid, it’s a computer, it’s a laptop, it’s a tablet, it’s a video game, there are some rules, and policies, and restrictions that we can implement that aren’t technical whatsoever, and they’re effective. We mention here, someone being able to listen in on your phone conversation. Aren’t there ways that we could technically do the same thing? One way is, you go to your child, or you go to whoever’s in your house … I have a list of all the apps on this phone. I want passwords to every single one, and at random I can ask you for it, and I’m going to log into every single one and look at it. That is, we didn’t install anything. We didn’t do any type of sophisticated add-ons of technology. That’s just a simple, good old-fashioned adaptation of something that could’ve been done with the telephone, and that’s the reason why I brought it up, you’re on the phone and your parents listening to your conversation.

Randall Webb: Smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, they’re all computers so let’s cut out all that difficulty. I’ve got to have security for this, and I’ve got to have security for that. No, you’re having security for computers. Period. They’re all computers. I just brought some simple facts to drive home the fact that all of this tech, they’re computers, number one. They have processors, they have memory, and they have storage. A processor is, you may have heard of it as a CPU, but whether it’s your phone, or whether it’s your computer, or whether it’s your laptop, or whether it’s your tablet, they all have a processor. They all have memory, and they can all store stuff. They all have an operating system, whether it’s Windows, whether it’s Linux. If it’s a tablet, it’s going to use Android or IOS. They all, if they have any value, can get on the internet. Right? They all run some type of software. They all run some type of software, some type of application, and they all cost a lot.

Randall Webb: It drives me nuts how cheap people are when it comes to IT. I see people get really, really cheap when it comes to security. They get really cheap. In May, I did this presentation for someone and recommended a product, and they wouldn’t do it.  This product will, it will allow you to monitor seven accounts, $70 a year. That’s too expensive.

Randall Webb: But again, but everyone’s different. Again, resources, companies realize that they need to allocate resources to this effort, whether that’s personnel, whether that’s time and money. You can’t say you want a secure environment if you’re not willing to allocate time, effort, money, energy to this. Okay? We need to focus less on the aspects and more on the rules, policies, and guidelines. Let’s focus less on the tech and more on rules, more on policies, and more on guidelines. Number one, we need to know what we want to accomplish. Okay? We know that what we want to accomplish is far more valuable than figuring out how to get it done.

Randall Webb: I can’t stress that enough. Knowing in your mind what you want to do is far more important than trying to be the one to do it because you can find technical people to build it, but you have to tell them what you want to build. There’s nothing you are come up with that there is not a technical solution for it, but you have to know what it is that you want. Don’t spend the majority of your time trying to get something and accomplish something that is way out in left field. It’s not productive. Find an IT consultant or a company with the skillset to set up and implement the security. Again, this is going to be simple for them. It’s going to be easy. You’re small. You’re simple. They’ll love it. They’ll love it.

Randall Webb: I mean it’s easy. Okay? Some of this may include using hardware that you’re not going to get at Best Buy, and it may be a little more sophisticated, but it’s going to enable you to implement and carry out the things that you want to come up with. Again, it’s just like insurance. When it comes to insurance, give the heavy stuff to the insurance company, but the smaller things that you can handle, handle that yourself. There’s only one person who can come up with what needs to happen in your home, and that’s you. Okay? A less technical approach within the family is more geared on the what and the why, rather than the how. Okay? What are we trying to do? Why are we trying to do it? You can get the how with help.

Randall Webb: You’ve got to sit down and really think about for my family, or for my household, or for a business, for an organization, you really have to think about what is it that all of our effort of us being together, what is our goal. What drives those things that you’re talking about, and it’s true, I know this almost seems simplistic, but the reason why I’m going way high is because as we start peeling these things, and we start coming with things that branch off of that, that’s where you can start becoming more specific about the material, and the content, and the who, and so on, and so forth.

Randall Webb: There’s software out there that you can install on their phones where … There’s one I really like called Qustodio. It will show you every app that’s installed and you can lock it down to where they can use certain apps for a certain amount of time. You can block it, and this works across phones, tablets, PCs. Again, people get stuck, “I don’t know what to install. I don’t know what to install.” There’s plenty of things that you can install, and they all do a lot of great and wonderful stuff, but if you know what it is that you want to do, that will help you be able to pick what it is that you want to get.

Randall Webb: Again, it’s funny, but again when you really need to think about who owns this stuff. On a business perspective, it’s the executives who own it. Period. Not only do they own it, they own everything that’s done on it, and they own all the intellectual property that goes along with it. They own it all. Whether it’s one parent, or two parents, or however, it needs to be clearly known and stated that in our household or in our business, we own all this stuff. It’s all ours and we can get it, or take it, or do anything we want with it. By the way, legally if something were to happen, they’re not coming to the kids. They’re coming to you. I mean legally. They legally cannot own anything. Again, the only way you’re going to move forward is you have to start.

Randall Webb: You have to start. For the things that, you know what, I could’ve done this better. I probably should’ve looked at this differently. You know what? It’s all water under the bridge. Again, if you’re a company, if you say, “This quarter we lost money.” No, I’m serious. This is the reason why I use this as the paradigm. “We lost money this quarter, but this next quarter, we’re going to try to …” Again, it takes you out of trying to get so emotionally invested and wrapped up in it and to think more logically. Again, if you weren’t as disciplined as you would have liked to have been, so what?

Randall Webb: Companies do it all the time. If you install a program that has higher administrative privileges, then your users, they can’t get rid of it. They can’t take it off. These programs actually go in and make changes to the registry and other things in the computer they cannot change. What Qustodio does, again, when you first install it, they’re going to be pissed because their usage is going to drop. But what it does, it goes out and it finds every single app installed. It shows you every single one. You start, “I’m good with this one, I’m good with this one, I’m good with this one. I know how to monitor this, and so … ” Again, text messages, it’ll allow you to see their text messages, and who, but your number one, primary goal is to protect them from themselves. Period. If you err too much in that, that’s actually better than introducing a level of risk that you, and again, this is your decision, that you are not comfortable with. It’s not them. It’s you.

Randall Webb: Now, again, if you get to a point where you want to give them more privilege, then again that’s something that you sit down, you think about, you articulate, but again, come up with it, write it down, and make it concrete, and be very specific about privileges, expectations, and consequences. So you could, so here’s the thing, so-

Randall Webb: … the way Qustodio works is you can install it on anything, but Qustodio is going to go out to your account and it’s going to see, well, what are the profiles that are there. Then I’m going to base my restrictions on those profiles. Does that make sense? You can install it on as many phones, as many tablets, and as a matter of fact, Qustodio has a free version that will allow you to just block basic porn and stuff that you can try it out. Without getting technical, we were really talking about is if I write a program to create a new way to share data, no one can really know what that is.

Randall Webb: It’s kind of like if someone creates a new virus and it, no one has the time to build protection against it because it’s new, so if someone builds something or writes a program where data is shared in some proprietary way, then unless you go out and buy something for it, you’re not going to be able to see what’s in it. Again, this why I stress, again, going back to it, set up certain apps that are used for certain communication, allow the ones that you control. Otherwise, you’ll be always trying to play catch-up. Allow the ones that you control allow the ones that you feel comfortable with. I can’t do anything. Well, you know, well you just can’t.

Randall Webb: But that’s your responsibility. Again, I want to … I really see a lot of parents, you just feel so beat down. You feel so beat down. You feel sad. You feel like you’re being irresponsible, that you’re being a tyrant, and none of that’s true. It’s absolutely not true. Whether you’re a therapist, or if you’re a parent, your number one responsibility is to create a safe, productive environment where they can thrive. That is always paramount to anything else.