Skip to main content

Security Lessons Learned From the Zombie Apocalypse

October 29, 2015

Disclaimer: Some of this is true and some is fiction, I’ll leave it up to the reader to determine which is which.

I'll admit it, I love anything to do with zombies: films, books, you name it. Be honest, have you ever thought of what you'll do when the zombie apocalypse happens? Of course you have. I know I’ve personally spent hours contemplating the best strategy to increase my chance of survival. Luckily, my knowledge and experience as a security professional has helped me think through the best course of action.

As much as I'd like to be prepared when the zombies arrive, I can't seem to bring myself to fortify our house. Window bars would be great for keeping rotting zombies from infiltrating the living room, but let's face it, they just don't go with the decor. A stout fence would likewise be useful, but I don't want my house to look like a prison. 

Given that I’m left with using the house pretty much as-is, let's explore how zombies might think (ok, we all know zombies don't think, but you know what I mean). Some zombies could remember what doors are and try to push their way through, thereby straining the hinges and my deadbolt. What if zombies could see me through my window and break through to enter the house? Fortunately my windows in most rooms are higher than normal so I'm not too worried about zombies breaking in that way. 

I do have two rooms that are pretty tough to secure. My living room has a pretty pathetic door and windows that are only waist-high. Clearly if enough zombies pile against the door or press against those windows, we're in trouble. The mud room also has a weak door which I'll replace one of these years, but what if tomorrow is the day the zombies start arriving for dinner?

Fortunately, each of these rooms is easily sealed off from the main house by a stout door. In the military we call this defense-in-depth. I also have two safe rooms which likewise have stout doors and a means of escape, should zombies make it into the interior of the house.

It would be better if we could see them coming and deter or distract them (i.e. active recon). After all, I'd rather send the zombies on a wild goose chase than have to fight them inside my own home. If we banded together with our neighbors and extended our perimeter out away from the walls of our homes we could better protect our neighborhood and families. Each person could cover a certain area, and we could back each other up by ensuring that the areas intersect. 

Where is all this leading? Well, there are a number of similarities between the zombie scenario and cyber security. The zombies are clearly equivalent to threat actors who try to infiltrate our network and cause harm (although hackers are much smarter and imaginative than zombies!). The house represents our company perimeter, with the doors representing firewalls and the windows illustrating alternate means of entry, such as covert channels, backdoors or even poor security procedures. 

The idea of conducting active reconnaissance was recently discussed in an article I wrote for SC Magazine  on Colonial Ranger units. If you didn’t read it, the bottom line is that we need to have visibility at least at the very edge of our perimeters and preferably a lot further out so we can be more proactive. The same theme holds true for this zombie example. 

So, while thinking about the inevitable zombie apocalypse is certainly more entertaining than discussing the specifics of firewall configuration, many principles remain. And you thought network security was boring!

Happy Halloween!

    Michael Spencer

By: Michael Spencer

Senior Consultant

See More

Related Blogs

March 15, 2018


Pass-the-hash (PtH) is an all too common form of credentials attack, especially since the advent of a tool called Mimikatz. Using PtH to extract from ...

See Details

February 13, 2018

Using Micro-Segmentation to Protect Your Data – Part 2

While micro-segmentation, software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined data center (SDDC) technology providers VMWare, Cisco and Amazon Web ...

See Details

December 13, 2017

Cyber Threat Intelligence Requires Commitment

It’s been said that in a breakfast of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. This saying is relevant when implementing a cy...

See Details

How Can We Help?

Let us know what you need, and we will have an Optiv professional contact you shortly.

Privacy Policy


July 21, 2015

Network Security Solutions

Learn how we help protect your environment while maintaining connectivity.

See Details

July 21, 2015

Data Security Solutions

Learn how we can help secure your date throughout its lifecycle.

See Details

December 05, 2014

Know Your Firewall

Firewalls have been around for decades, and many organizations have had the same firewall technology in place for just as long. Even with the evolutio...

See Details

Stay in the Know

For all the latest cybersecurity and Optiv news, subscribe to our blog and connect with us on Social.


Join our Email List

We take your privacy seriously and promise never to share your email with anyone.

Stay Connected

Find cyber security Events in your area.