Plague. What an ugly word. So ugly, indeed, it is rarely used to depict anything less than apocalyptic. Now another word has unmasked our distant socializing. COVID-19.

My daughter (now living in distant Texas) told me over the phone she is SICK of COVID-19. Not with. Of. She came down with a cold last week and had to get a COVID-19 test. Just to be sure. She was livid. She threw her steel water bottle at the tile floor.

I spoke to a friend in the medical field last week about how the COVID-19 vaccine works, and how our immune system uses it. He explained there are several layers of defense inside the body.

The first layer of defense is the skin. It keeps most pathogens out of the body. Problem is, there are a couple of orifices through which a pathogen may enter. Primarily the nose and mouth.

Once inside there are two main systems involved in eradicating the threat. The “innate” and the “adaptive”. Newborn babies are immediately protected by the innate immune cells. Innate immune cells recognize “general” danger. The other system is the “adaptive” system. It’s the one that recognizes specific pathogens.

There are sublayers of these two systems. Bone marrow, the spleen, the lymphatic system among others less well-known to the general public due to social distancing I’m sure. All are critical to our survival. If any of these additional layers malfunction, or cease to function, the results can be catastrophic.

By now you are wondering, this is all fine and good, but what does it have to do with computers? Let me explain. Our physiology uses two proven methodologies to protect us. Both of which are also applicable to computer, network, and information security. One is “Defense in Depth,” the other is “Zero Trust.” It’s kind of like this. Imagine if the only defense your body had against disease was your skin. How long do you think you’d survive?

Your skin is like the firewall of the body. You need it for sure. And it DOES keep out a lot of pathogens. But remember the two BIG weaknesses in that defensive layer of skin? You need to eat and breathe so you can’t close those ports. They have to remain open. And generally, that’s how pathogens get in and you get sick. In like manner, the firewall you use on your network has two gaping holes. One for internet, and one for email. And generally, that’s how malware gets in and you get ransomware.

Once inside your body, a virus is detected as foreign and immediately attacked. Then the antibodies build a memory so if that specific virus ever comes back, the time to eradication is significantly reduced. Your Immune system can also fight pathogens your body has never seen before. Anything that isn’t known by your body to be good is immediately attacked.

Imagine if your body only eliminated those pathogens it KNEW was BAD. The human race would never survive. Unfortunately, this is EXACTLY the approach we’ve taken with computer and information security. The expensive firewall you have at the edge of your network is like your skin. Complete with two gaping holes for internet and email access. Holes through which the pathogens enter your network. You have antivirus too. But it only stops what it KNOWS is bad. What about all the bad it doesn’t know about? There’s the problem. Because there are over 100,000 new malware variants EVERY DAY. 100,000 new malware variants your antivirus knows NOTHING about, cannot detect, and will not stop.

Just like the human race would never survive with that approach to pathogens, networks succumb to ransomware and other malware every day. For that very reason. They only stop what they know is bad. Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s sitting in your operating system already. It will stop about 95% of all the new malware. Even if it’s never seen it before. It’s the adaptive immune system of your computer. On Windows it’s called AppLocker. But you have to enable it. It’s turned off by default.

You can contact the CyberGuys from CyberEye at nabur.myherald.com, or via email at tom@cybereyeaw.com and gavin@cybereyeaw.com.