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How to Prioritize Your Travel Bag

Cyber Bob, Principal Security Engineer and CTO at Forescout | July 17, 2019

Twitter: @MeetCyberBob

The other day, I was sitting in the kitchen after arriving home from a long road trip. I was taking a mental inventory of things I still needed to pack in preparation for my next trip:

  • small toothpaste tube;
  • more collar stiffeners;
  • different tie;
  • additional camera battery;
  • USB-C charging cable for my laptop.

As the list grew, I started to set the priorities of what I was actually going to do. Yes, I immediately put more toothpaste into my travel kit. Collar stiffeners, maybe, as they help to keep things sharp. Should I put a different tie in my bag? Probably not, I already have one in there that I wear, but not often. Camera battery? Questionable… as long as I have a Micro USB charger in my bag, then the extra battery is not needed. Will I really have time to take pictures on this trip? Top priority – after toothpaste – was to ensure the USB-C charging cable is packed, so I did that next. I got lucky on the last trip, one charge of my MacBook lasted long enough, but its battery life is definitely getting worse.

This got me reflecting on my meetings from the last trip. Each executive that I chatted with was presenting their list of items to put into their “travel bag of device visibility” – it must:

  • perform RADIUS authentication;
  • support EAP-TLS;
  • support Trustsec;
  • support my network vendors;
  • integrate with ServiceNow.

Does anyone see the priorities on this list? Any modifiers or things that are going to get dropped, or pushed out? Let me at least give you a view into the executive’s perspective.

RADIUS authentication is exactly like the tube of toothpaste. This is essential, but only a small portion of the travel kit. It’s just one of the basic items used to get ready every morning in the hotel. A necessity, but not useful without the other stuff.

Trustsec support? This is like the collar stiffeners and the tie – having it in your travel kit looks good, but only fits with some shirts (i.e. vendor lock-in) and isn’t worn all the time. Trustsec is a great target design, I actually like the implication for east/west threat protection, but it just doesn’t have the deployment history, scale, and broad multi-vendor support to actually be successful. Yes, it is available when required, but is only used in certain circumstances.

These last two requirements should be permanent fixtures and A MUST in your travel kit. If you don’t support the network, then how do you actually get visibility? Agents? Absolutely not.

Let’s pull at this thread a little… what is the network? Network visibility is not just the wired and wireless networks on your campus. Your enterprise is not just there. It is in your data center and in your cloud environment. Plus, all this contextual data MUST go somewhere. Why not leverage a great tool used by just about all parts of the organization? ServiceNow, aligned with real-time asset inventory, enables strategic force for a streamlined process and cost reduction.

The core things that are always on the packing list don’t change. Think of these as your deodorant and toothbrush. What does change is the fashion, and most likely the vendor making the tools. I do challenge you to hone the list to something manageable, but highly flexible to meet the needs of more than one group in your IT organization. This needs to service your organization by providing business-level visibility.

BTW, here is one of those photos I took on the road in Munich, Germany with only having one camera battery.

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