Wednesday, January 27, 2016

AUPs and Mandatory Vacations

Companies frequently develop policies such as mandatory vacation rules and acceptable use policies (AUPs) to define and clarify issues related to personnel. Do you know the differences between an AUP and a mandatory vacation? You should if you plan to take the Security+ exam.

Check out this sample Security+ question. Can you answer it correctly? 

Q. A security manager needs to identify a policy that will reduce the risk of personnel within an organization colluding to embezzle company funds. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

B. Training
C. Mandatory vacations
D. Time-of-day restrictions

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? Answer and explanation available here.

Personnel Policies

Companies frequently develop policies to specifically define and clarify issues related to personnel. This includes personnel behavior, expectations, and possible consequences. Personnel learn these policies when they are hired and as changes occur. Some of the policies directly related to personnel are acceptable use, mandatory vacations, separation of duties, job rotation, and clean desk policies.

Mandatory Vacation

Mandatory vacation policies help detect when employees are involved in malicious activity, such as fraud or embezzlement. As an example, employees in positions of fiscal trust, such as stock traders or bank employees, are often required to take an annual vacation of at least five consecutive workdays.

For embezzlement actions of any substantial size to succeed, an employee would need to be constantly present in order to manipulate records and respond to different inquiries. On the other hand, if an employee is forced to be absent for at least five consecutive workdays, the likelihood of any illegal actions succeeding is reduced because someone else would be required to answer the queries during the employee’s absence.

Mandatory Vacation

Mandatory vacations aren’t limited to only financial institutions, though. Many organizations require similar policies for administrators. For example, an administrator may be the only person required to perform sensitive activities such as reviewing logs. A malicious administrator can overlook or cover up certain activities revealed in the logs. However, a mandatory vacation would require someone else to perform these activities, which increases the chance of discovery.

Of course, mandatory vacations by themselves won’t prevent fraud. Most companies will implement the principle of defense in depth by using multiple layers of protection. Additional policies may include separation of duties and job rotation to provide as much protection as possible.

Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy

An acceptable use policy (AUP) defines proper system usage. It often describes the purpose of computer systems and networks, how users can access them, and the responsibilities of users when accessing the systems. Many organizations monitor user activities, such as what web sites they visit, and data they send out via email. The AUP typically includes statements informing users that systems are in place monitoring their activities. For example, a proxy server logs all websites that a user visits.

In some cases, the AUP might include privacy statements informing users what computer activities they can consider private. Many users have an expectation of privacy when using an organization’s computer systems and network that isn’t justified. The privacy policy statement helps to clarify the organization’s stance.

The AUP often includes definitions and examples of unacceptable use. For example, it may prohibit employees from using company resources to access peer-to-peer (P2P) sites or social media sites.

Many organizations require users to read and sign a document indicating they understand the acceptable use policy when they’re hired and in conjunction with annual security training. In many cases, organizations post the policy on an intranet site and sign it electronically. Other methods, such as logon banners or emails, help reinforce an acceptable use policy.

Remember this
Mandatory vacation policies require employees to take time away from their job. These policies help to deter fraud and discover malicious activities while the employee is away.
So, can you answer this sample question?
Q. A security manager needs to identify a policy that will reduce the risk of personnel within an organization colluding to embezzle company funds. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

B. Training
C. Mandatory vacations
D. Time-of-day restrictions

You can read the answer and the full explanation here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Networking Configuration and the N10-006 Net+ Exam

Can you spot incorrect networking configuration settings such as an incorrect IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, or DNS server setting?

You should if you plan to take the N10-006 Network+ exam. You can expect to see networking configuration settings questions as performance-based questions and/or multiple choice questions. 

Note: I recently added some new questions including new performance-based questions to the Network+CASP, and Security+ practice test banks. The "What's New" page lists additions for all the test banks on the site.

Check out this partial networking configuration diagram. It shows four users (Homer, Lisa, Bart, and Marge) and some servers, all in separate subnets.

Is Bart's Networking Configuration Correct?

Bart is complaining that he can't connect to any servers in the network. You need to find out why so you check his networking configuration as shown in the following graphic.

 Is this correct?

If not, what is wrong with this picture?

The answer is below.


Network+ Study Resources

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Networking Configuration and the Network+ Exam

The correct configuration for Bart’s computer is:
  • Subnet mask:
  • Default gateway:
  • DNS:
Subnet mask: The currently configured subnet mask is set to, which is incorrect. It should match the subnet mask of the default gateway, which is /24 (or

Default gateway: The default gateway is the IP address of the router interface for the network. It is labeled F0/3 and the table shows that F0/3 has an IP address of

DNS: The address of the Domain Name System (DNS) server is, as identified in the diagram.