Ep.15 Chris Kubecka | The Coronavirus and Best Tech Practices

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In this episode of the Cybrary Podcast we sit down with Chris Kubecka, the CEO of HypaSec. Speaking with Leif Jackson, the VP of Content and Community for Cybrary, Chris explains how the Coronavirus has impacted the industry and describes some of the best security practices for companies to follow.

Hosted by: Leif Jackson, Chris Kubecka
Length: 13 minutes
Released on: March 18th, 2020
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In this podcast episode, Chris Kubeka, CEO of HypaSec, and Leif Jackson, Cybrary VP of Content & Community discuss the global situation caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, how it has affected countries, businesses, and the technology industry, and how individuals can continue to be productive during these challenging times.

The recent pandemic has initiated a necessary shift to the remote environment due to precautionary measures to enforce lockdowns in all countries around the world. This has enabled companies to adapt the work from home (WFH) concept and consider increasing Internet bandwidth speed for business continuity with the aim of allowing workers to carry on with efficiently performing operations even being physically away from the office. A new pathway of opportunity was also created to speed up the development of technologies in order to support the remote environment, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) for industries like manufacturing and logistics, and this will continue to expand further into other industries and areas.

Companies will need to be responsible for ensuring security of their assets as they are being shared over the Internet, while employees or individuals can take the opportunity to start learning basic networking and security courses online and/or continue to gain more technical knowledge from available online resources for training. Also, because of social distancing, it is expected for companies and individuals to have a more virtual online presence as the common method of reaching out to everyone. Therefore, individuals are encouraged to continue getting themselves involved with online events and communities to help keep themselves occupied and productive. Cybrary is both a learning and community platform where many professionals and enthusiasts work together in creating or helping to create learning content, and also have discussions on the latest trends or common interests. The platform continues to grow exponentially with an amazing and supportive community.


Leif: Leif Jackson here with Chris Kubecka. Welcome back, Chris. We have breaking news. There's this Coronavirus thing going on. You might've heard of it. It's all over the news. Today we're gonna cover a little bit about what that means and kinds of things you can do to stay productive while isolated or, you know, kind of issues happening. So, Chris, you mind telling us a little bit about your experience with viruses like this in the past where, you know, there's been a mass group and those kinds of things.

Chris: Well, basically my first professional job (not military-related) was actually disaster recovery and business continuity planning with the focus on pandemics, viruses, bacteria involving both human beings and animals, especially agricultural animals. And back then our focus were twofold. We were looking at anthrax, but we were also looking at different types of flus and what businesses could do to keep going while enabling remote work, shifting production and work to locations that were say, virus or bacteria-free (if there was some sort of outbreak) and to keep both their businesses, organizations. and economies going.

Leif: Interesting. So how do you stay productive in times like this?

Chris: Well, I think now we're seeing a lot more shift to the remote world and trying to, both stay at home and stay safe but at the same time, connect to our organizations’ systems back at say, central headquarters. And that's one of the things that we're going to be doing more and more, as this goes and as the public also realizes that these are actual real threats.

Leif: Interesting. And where are some areas where this is actually occurring right now? Like where people are, you mentioned that they're quarantined and, you know, working from home and those kinds of things.

Chris: Well, currently over 60 million people in Italy are now being isolated. The entire country of Italy is quarantined. Slovenia where I was going to be going in a few weeks, that area is starting to shut down because they border Northern Italy. Austria has closed their borders to Italians, for example. Micronesia and Israel have closed their borders to all incoming people. And in the case of Israel, have told tourists that they need to leave on a timely manner, but they need to leave. And more and more at least European countries, when you try to enter even to go back home, you are then under a self-isolation quarantining order where you have to stay home for at least 14 days.

Leif: And of course China.

Chris: Yes, absolutely.

Leif: So, I mean, I think the message is don't think this isn't going to happen to your country or your area, right? Like this might happen to you next week, next month, it could happen. So, you know, that being said, like in order to continue to develop your company, what are the kinds of things that you can do in the meantime?

Chris: Well, I think you're going to have to start looking at increasing bandwidth when it comes to Internet connectivity. This is actually a pretty big boon for more IoT and industrial systems that can be run and remotely managed, as well as looking at, you may want to keep up and running with workers, but what's the liability that is going to then be shifted to your organization if you happen to have infected individuals in your company. So, more and more people and more organizations are going to try to shift both remote and also look at where they happened to be producing and getting goods from. Europe has been very concerned with our over-reliance of Chinese production now because certain things are no longer being produced at very large numbers like we used to see before this. So, more and more IoT, remote industrial control systems, 5G, higher speed broadband access are going to be required. And I think that this is going to really start to accelerate those types of technologies.

Leif: So, in that sense, what technologies do you think will be growing as a part of this?

Chris: Well, I can see industrial IoT. I can also see drones being more and more in our life and included in our lifestyle for things like delivery and so forth. That way you don't have to have so much human contact, but also it's a savings in many other ways as well. So, if I had loads of money to put into stock, I would definitely be looking at some of those particular areas.

Leif: Okay. So, as a company, like I have all these people that are now going to work from home. So from a security perspective, what do I need to be concerned with? Like what changes? Because these people are now working at home and aren't now at the office.

Chris: Well, that means that you're going to have to open up systems to the Internet and you need to do so securely. That also means you need to know what assets you have on the Internet. One of the more common things I've seen, both in the past and even today when I was looking up some information is, when you use a VPN, some organizations just plug it in and put it in. And unfortunately that doesn't mean it's configured with any sort of security in mind. They didn't turn on authentication or encryption. So, knowing what you have and making sure that it's actually configured correctly. And I also think that open source intelligence gathering systems space will also help with that quite a bit because you're going to expose lots of systems and it only takes one mistake to expose way more things than you meant to.

Leif: I mean, so basically like, the landscape is much wider now, right? Because people are at home using their home Internet, as opposed to the secure network in your company, There are precautions put in place, but probably not at this scale, right? Like you're used to a few people going home and working, as opposed to like this number, right? And so are there other, you know, I guess systems to put in place, protocols, like what can I do as an employee, right, to make sure that I'm not making those mistakes on behalf of my company.

Chris: Well, it kind of provides us a bit of an opportunity right now, since there's so much closure and isolation that people can look at starting a track on at least some basic digital security education and micro-certifications because social gatherings are being cut down. The past week and a half, I now have had seven events canceled on me. I'm not going to be visiting really, really large gathering locations because of various risks. And so, going out socially is going to be trimmed down and I hate getting bored but also don't want to be, that say, vector, even if it's for the Coronavirus or for some other reason. And if I were an employee, this would be a very, very good opportunity (as it would be for an employer to provide a very, very good opportunity for distance learning.

Leif: Awesome. Well, we're a safer distance learning, right? So, I'm fortunate I lead the community in the content side. So, one of the things that we hear from our community is you never feel like you're learning alone, right? And so, unlike a lot of online learning where it's just about the content, we are very much about creating a community atmosphere, so you're working together on both your development and also others, right? As you're going along. And so, what are the kinds of things that, you know, I could take right now to be able to improve myself in these kinds of situations?

Chris: Well, I would take a look at an overview of networking to ensure that your home network is set up correctly since you're also going to be opening it up to your business network. And what that means is if your employer has not set up their stuff correctly, it could actually expose your home information, which a lot of people don't particularly think is a good idea. In addition to that, trying to talk to people, because this current time that we're in, it can be quite isolating. So, talking to other people and keeping that community going when it gets stressful, when the kids are now no longer in school, when the universities are being closed (even Harvard is now closed). So, trying to keep talking, and learning, and growing, it's not going to be such a difficult time period.

Leif: And I think opportunities like this come along and then it seems like a bad thing, you know? But it might change how you look at learning, like, so it might change your outlook on how to structure your own learning, right? And forcing people to actually learn in a different way, might actually improve them, right? Like, because now they have that capability in a different sense.

Chris: Absolutely.

Leif: So, also from like the creation side, you create a great course for us and you continue to build awesome content. Can you talk a little bit about like, you know, your experience with our creator network and how you see it kind of growing and those kinds of things?

Chris: I've been pretty impressed because it's a very, very active creator community. And I also try to engage (although now it'll just be online) with some of the community members, and I really enjoy that because people are excited to belong. People are excited to participate. Now, it's not the easiest thing as an instructor to set up course content because it's a different way of delivering, learning, and knowledge. However, there's a lot of help that I've been given and this fact, because people are eager, people want to learn, and people want to grow. So I have been extremely impressed with it.

Leif: That's awesome. So, if you're thinking of creating a course or if you want to help out with a course in some way, we’re the place, right? And so, yeah, a great way to connect with people online in a different way. And yeah, like you said, now's the time.

Chris: You know, I'm usually traveling around the world almost non-stop. I usually have maybe a day in between another country or another continent. And I'm still trying to find out when I return from the U.S at the Netherlands if I'll have to self isolate for 14 days. But, if so, it's going to give me a very good opportunity to refine and keep going with the course content here. So I'm trying to turn that, oh darn, can't sleepily get on and off an aircraft to wherever I might be going to actually focusing, concentrating, getting to know even more members of the creator community. And it'll be the first time in a very long time that I will have been home for longer than, I don't know, 5 days, so I'm using that opportunity.

Leif: That's fantastic. We appreciate that. That's gonna continually grow everyone across the board. So, thanks so much, Chris. Any last thoughts for our group here?

Chris: Well, I would say try to stay as active as possible, online with good people during a time of stress and try to turn this into an unfortunate, but good opportunity.

Leif: Fantastic. I appreciate it, Chris.

Chris: Thank you so much. Cheers.