Category Archives: Risk Management

Point of View Matters

Just a quick thought this morning as I'm reading the news on the attack against Italian oil services firm Saipem across Twitter and other news outlets. It struck me fairly quickly that much of what my security industry peers read is very one-sided, and perspective matters.

Allow me to illustrate.

This article shows up on most of the business wires, it's from Reuters:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saipem-cyber/saipem-revenues-will-not-be-impacted-by-cyber-attack-idUSKBN1OC1D4
It's short and gets to the point quickly.

  • the attack on the firm will have no impact on the group's revenues
  • a cyber attack crippled over 300 computers and servers in the middle east
Short. To the point. Leads with the big story first (no revenue impact).

This article was retweeted a bunch on the Twitter hacker and information security feeds: https://www.cyberscoop.com/shamoon-saipem-palo-alto-networks/
It paints a different story.
  • uses words like "notorious", and highlights an outage
  • it focuses on the negative impact (technologically) of the attack
  • likens to Saudi Aramco attack, and "one of the most destructive cyberattacks in history"

Saipem's own website, has this to say: http://www.saipem.com/sites/SAIPEM_en_IT/con-side-dx/Press%20releases/2018/Cyber%20attack%20update.page and is much more frank and simple in explanation.

Now, let's get perspective.

Corporate leadership likely reads the short version, on Reuters, which basically says "No financial impact, some computers got broken, move on." On the security side, we see a different, more in-depth (obviously) story develop. Now when you go to your CEO or CFO and say "We need to do more to protect ourselves so we're not the next Saipem" your CFO/CEO will likely look back at you and ask why. There was no revenue impact, the risk seems to have been appropriately handled.

Think about this, as you look at security risks to your organization.

SecurityWeek RSS Feed: How Well Are You Protecting Your Brand from Digital Risk?

Without an online presence an organization doesn’t exist, and having a website is just the baseline. Today, an organization’s Internet presence has expanded to include other digital channels. Companies of all sizes are actively using social media to engage with customers and build loyalty for their brand.

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Why You Need a Concrete Incident Response Plan (Not Strategy)

Recently, I had the privilege to be part of a four-person discussion panel at a security event in London where the topic was about incident response. The panel was hosted by another security professional, and over 50 professionals from the industry were present in the audience. I’ve worked in information security for 15 years, and […]… Read More

The post Why You Need a Concrete Incident Response Plan (Not Strategy) appeared first on The State of Security.

The State of Security: Why You Need a Concrete Incident Response Plan (Not Strategy)

Recently, I had the privilege to be part of a four-person discussion panel at a security event in London where the topic was about incident response. The panel was hosted by another security professional, and over 50 professionals from the industry were present in the audience. I’ve worked in information security for 15 years, and […]… Read More

The post Why You Need a Concrete Incident Response Plan (Not Strategy) appeared first on The State of Security.



The State of Security

Cyber risk management continues to grow more difficult

New research shows that cyber risk management is more difficult now than it was two years ago. Primary causes include increasing workloads, sophisticated threats, and more demanding business executives.Cyber risk

The post Cyber risk management continues to grow more difficult appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

5 More Retail Cybersecurity Practices to Keep Your Data Safe Beyond the Holidays

This is the second article in a two-part series about retail cybersecurity during the holidays. Read part one for the full list of recommendations.

The holiday shopping season offers myriad opportunities for threat actors to exploit human nature and piggyback on the rush to buy and sell products in massive quantities online. Our previous post covered some network security basics for retailers. Let’s take a closer look at how retailers can properly configure and monitor their networks to help mitigate cyberattacks and provide customers with a safe shopping experience during the holiday season.

1. Take a Baseline Measurement of Your Network Traffic

Baselining is the process of measuring normal amounts of traffic over a period of days or even weeks to discern any suspicious traffic peaks or patterns that could reveal an evolving attack.

Network traffic measurements should be taken during regular business hours as well as after hours to cover the organization’s varying activity phases. As long as the initial baseline is taken during a period when traffic is normal, the data can be considered reliable. An intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention system (IPS) can then assist with detecting abnormal traffic volumes — for example, when an intruder is exfiltrating large amounts of data when offices are closed.

Below are some factors to consider when performing a baseline measurement that could be helpful in detecting anomalies:

  • Baseline traffic on a regular basis.
  • Look for atypical traffic during both regular and irregular times (e.g., after hours).
  • Set alarms on an IDS/IPS for high and low thresholds to automate this process. Writing signatures specific to your company’s needs is a key element to an IDS/IPS working effectively and should be carried out by trained security specialists to avoid false alarms.
  • Investigate any discrepancies upon initial discovery and adjust thresholds accordingly.
  • Consider using an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution to help security teams better identify threats, and to allow operations teams to remediate endpoints quickly and at scale.

Listen to the podcast: Examining the State of Retail Security

2. Run a Penetration Test Before It’s Too Late

A key preventative measure for retailers with a more mature security posture is running a penetration test. Simply put, the organization’s security team can allow a white hat hacker, or penetration tester, to manually try to compromise assets using the same tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) as criminal attackers. This is done to ascertain whether protections applied by the organization are indeed working as planned and to find any unknown vulnerabilities that could enable a criminal to compromise a high-value asset.

Manual testing should be performed in addition to automated scanning. Whereas automated tools can find known vulnerabilities, manual testing finds the unknown vulnerabilities that tools alone cannot find. Manual testing also targets the systems, pieces of information and vulnerabilities most appealing to an attacker, and specifically focuses on attempting to exploit not just technical vulnerabilities within a system, but business logic errors and other functionality that, when used improperly, can grant unintended access and/or expose sensitive data.

The key to a penetration test is to begin by assessing vulnerabilities and addressing as many of them as possible prior to the test. Then, after controls are in place, decide on the type of test to carry out. Will it be a black box test, where the testers receive no information about the target’s code and schematics? Or will it be a white box test, where organizations fully disclose information about the target to give the tester full knowledge of how the system or application is intended to work? Will it be in a very specific scope and only include customer-facing applications?

It can be helpful to scope a penetration test by taking the following three steps prior to launching the testing period:

  1. Establish goals for the testing. Since penetration testing is intended to simulate a real-world attack, consider scenarios that are relevant to your organization. Giving thought to what type of data is at risk or what type of attacker you’re trying to simulate will allow the testers to more closely approximate threats relevant to your organization.
  2. Draft a thorough contract to state the expectations and scope of the project. For example, if there are specific areas a penetration tester should not access based on criticality or sensitivity, such as production servers or credit card data, outline these points in the contract. Also, define whether the penetration testers should attempt to compromise both physical access and remote access to compromise networks, or if just one is preferred. Consider if you wish to have social engineering included within the test as well.
  3. Have the vendor and its employees sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to keep their findings confidential and ensure their exclusive use by the organization.

Penetration testers from reputable companies are thoroughly vetted before being allowed to conduct these tests. The retail industry can benefit from this type of testing because it mimics the actions of a threat actor and can reveal specific weaknesses about an organization. It can even uncover deficiencies in staff training and operational procedures if social engineering is included within the scope of the testing.

3. Check Your Log Files for Anomalies

Log data collected by different systems throughout an organization is critical in investigating and responding to attacks. Bad actors know this and, if they manage to breach an organization and gain elevated privileges, will work to cover up their tracks by tampering with logs.

According to IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS) research, one of the most common tactics malicious actors employ is post-intrusion log manipulation. In looking to keep their actions concealed, attackers will attempt to manipulate or delete entries, or inject fake entries, from log files. Compromising the integrity of security logs can delay defenders’ efforts to find out about malicious activity. Additional controls and log monitoring can help security teams avoid this situation.

Below are some helpful tips and examples of security logs that must be checked to determine whether anything is out of the ordinary.

  • Are your logs being tampered with? Look for altered timestamps, missing entries, additional or duplicate entries, and anomalous login attempts.
  • Transfer old log files to a restricted zone on your network. This can help preserve the data and create space for logs being generated overnight.
  • Use a security information and event management (SIEM) tool to assist with analyzing logs and identifying anomalies reported by your organization’s security controls.
  • To include as many sources of information as possible, plug in endpoint, server, network, transaction and security logs for analysis by a SIEM system. Look for red flags such as multiple failed logins, denied access to sensitive areas, ping sweeps, etc.

Knowing which logs to investigate is also critical to successful log analysis. For example, point-of-sale (POS) systems are often installed on Microsoft Windows or Linux systems. It is therefore critical to review operating system logs for these particular endpoints. When it comes to POS networks, where many of the devices are decentralized, daily usage, security and application logs are good places to look for anomalies.

For network security, use logs from network appliances to determine failed or excessive login attempts, increases or decreases in traffic flow, and unauthorized access by users with inadequate privilege levels.

4. Balance Your Network and Website Traffic

According to the National Retail Federation, online sales from November and December 2017 generated more than $138.4 billion, topping 2016 sales by 11.5 percent. This year is likely going to set its own record. With internet traffic volumes expected to be at their highest, online retailers that are unprepared could see the loss of sales and damaged reputation in the aftermath of the holiday season.

But preparing for extra shoppers is the least of retailers’ worries; attackers may take advantage of the festive time of year to extort money by launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against retail websites. These attacks work by flooding a website or network with more traffic than it can handle, causing it to cease accepting requests and stop responding.

To stay ahead of such attacks, online retailers can opt to use designated controls such as load balancers. Load balancers are an integral part of preventing DDoS attacks, which can affect POS systems storewide. With a well-coordinated DDoS attack, a malicious actor could shut down large parts of their target’s networks.

One best practice is to prepare before traffic peaks. Below are some additional tips for a more balanced holiday season.

  • Preventing a DDoS attack can be an imposing undertaking, but with a load balancing device, most of this work can be automated.
  • Load balancers can be either hardware devices or virtual balancers that work to distribute traffic as efficiently as possible and route it to the server or node that can best serve the customer at that given moment. In cases of high traffic, it may take several load balancers to do the work, so evaluate and balance accordingly.
  • Load balancers can be programmed to direct traffic to servers dedicated to customer-facing traffic. Using them can also enable you to move traffic to the proper location instead of inadvertently allowing access to forbidden areas.

Load balancers are typically employed by larger companies with a prominent web footprint. However, smaller companies should still consider employing them because they serve a multitude of purposes. Keeping the load on your servers balanced can help network and website activity run smoothly year-round and prevent DDoS attacks from doing serious damage to your organization’s operations or web presence.

5. Plan and Practice Your Incident Response Strategy

An incident response (IR) plan is essential to identifying and recovering from a security incident. Security incidents should be investigated until they have been classified as true or false positives. The more timely and coordinated an organization’s response is to an incident, the faster it can limit and manage the impact. A solid IR plan can help contain an incident rapidly and result in better protection of customer data, reduction of breach costs and preservation of the organization’s reputation.

If your enterprise does not have an IR plan, now is the time to create one. In the event that your enterprise already has a plan, take the time to get key stakeholders together to review it and ensure it is up-to-date. Most importantly, test and drill the plan and document its effectiveness so you’re prepared for the attack scenarios most relevant to your organization.

When evaluating an IR plan, consider the following tips to help accelerate your organization’s response time:

  • Threat actors who compromise retail cybersecurity will typically turn stolen data around quickly for a profit on the dark web. Use dark web search tools to look for customer data that may have been compromised. Sometimes, data can be identified by the vendor that lost it, leading to the detection of an ongoing attack.
  • Before an attack occurs, establish a dedicated IR team with members from different departments in the organization.
  • Make sure each team member knows his or her precise role in the case of an incident.
  • Keep escalation charts and runbooks readily available to responders, and make sure copies are available offline and duplicated in different physical locations.
  • Test your IR strategy under pressure in an immersive cyberattack simulation to find out where the team is strong and what may still need some fine-tuning.

Make Retail Cybersecurity a Year-Round Priority

Increased vigilance is important for retailers during the holiday season, but these network security basics and practices can, and should, be maintained throughout the year. Remember, attackers don’t just wait until the holiday season to strike. With year-round preparation, security teams can mitigate the majority of threats that come their way.

Read the latest IBM X-Force Research

The post 5 More Retail Cybersecurity Practices to Keep Your Data Safe Beyond the Holidays appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Researchers: GDPR Already Having Positive Effect on Cybersecurity in EU

The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) seems to already be having a positive effect on the state of cybersecurity in Europe less than seven months after it was enacted, showing that policy indeed can have a direct effect on organizations' security practices, security researchers said.

The post Researchers: GDPR Already Having Positive Effect...

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SecurityWeek RSS Feed: M2M Protocols Expose Industrial Systems to Attacks

Some machine-to-machine (M2M) protocols can be abused by malicious actors in attacks aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems, according to research conducted by Trend Micro and the Polytechnic University of Milan.

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A New Privacy Frontier: Protect Your Organization’s Gold With These 5 Data Risk Management Tips

This is the third and final blog in a series about the new digital frontier for data risk management. For the full picture, be sure to read part 1 and part 2.

Mining customer information for valuable nuggets that enable new business opportunities gets riskier by the day — not only because cyberthieves constantly find new ways to steal that gold, but also due to the growing number of privacy regulations for corporations that handle increasingly valuable data.

The enactment of the European Union (EU)’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May of this year was just the start. Beginning in early 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) will fundamentally change the way businesses manage the personal information they collect from California residents. Among other changes, organizations will find a much broader definition of personal information in the CCPA compared to other state data breach regulations. Pundits expect this legislation to be followed by a wave of additional data privacy laws aimed at shoring up consumers’ online privacy.

One major factor behind these new regulations is the widely perceived mishandling of personal information, whether intentionally or unintentionally as a result of a serious data breach perpetrated by cybercriminals or malicious insiders.

Taming the Wild West With New Privacy Laws

The first GDPR enforcement action happened in September, when the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office charged Canadian data analytics firm AggregateIQ with violating the GDPR in its handling of personal data for U.K. political organizations. This action highlights the consequences that come with GDPR enforcement beyond the regulation’s potential penalty of up to 20 million euros, or 4 percent of a company’s annual revenues worldwide, whichever is higher. It can also require the violator to cease processing the personal information of affected EU citizens.

Although the CCPA does not take effect until January 2020, companies that handle the personal information of Californians will need to begin keeping records no later than January 2019 to comply with the new mandate, thanks to a 12-month look-back requirement. The act calls for new transparency and disclosure processes to address consumer rights, including the ability to opt in and out, access and erase personal data, and prevent its sale. It applies to most organizations that handle the data of California residents, even if the business does not reside in the state, and greatly expands the definition of personal information to include IP addresses, geolocation data, internet activity, households, devices and more.

While it’s called the Consumer Privacy Act, it really applies to any resident, whether they are a consumer, employee or business contact. There may still be corrections or clarifications to come for the CCPA — possibly including some exclusions for smaller organizations as well as health and financial information — but the basic tenants are expected to hold.

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn more

Potential Civil Lawsuits and Statutory Penalties

The operational impact of these new regulations will be significant for businesses. For example, unlike other regulations, companies will be required to give consumers a “do not sell” button at the point of collecting personal information. Companies will also be required to include at least two methods to submit requests, including a toll-free number, in their privacy statements.

The cost of failure to comply with data privacy regulations is steep. Organizations could face the prospect of civil penalties levied by the attorney general, from $2,500 for each unintentional violation up to $7,500 for each intentional violation, with no upper limit. Consumers can also sue organizations that fail to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices and receive statutory payments between $100 and $750 per California resident and incident or actual damages, whichever is greater. As one of the most populous states in the nation, representing the fifth-largest economy in the world, a major breach affecting California residents could be disastrous.

5 Tips to Help Protect Your Claim

The need to comply with data privacy regulations has obviously taken on greater urgency. To do it effectively requires a holistic approach, rather than one-off efforts aimed at each specific set of regulations. Organizations need a comprehensive program that spans multiple units, disciplines and departments. Creating such a program can be a daunting, multiyear effort for larger organizations, one that requires leadership from the executive suite to be successful. The following five tips can help guide a coordinated effort to comply with data privacy regulations.

1. Locate All Personal and Sensitive Data

This information is not just locked up in a well-secured, centralized database. It exists in a variety of formats, endpoints and applications as both structured and unstructured data. It is handled in a range of systems, from human resources (HR) to customer relationship management (CRM), and even in transactional systems if they contain personally identifiable data.

Determining where this information exists and its usage, purpose and business context will require the help of the owners or custodians of the sensitive data. This phase can take a significant amount of time to complete, so take advantage of available tools to help discover sensitive data.

2. Assess Your Security Controls

Once personal data is identified, stakeholders involved in creating a risk management program must assess the security controls applied to that data to learn whether they are adequate and up-to-date. As part of this activity, it is crucial to proactively conduct threshold assessments to determine whether the business and operating units are under the purview of the CCPA.

At the same time, it’s important to assess how personal information is handled and by whom to determine whether processes for manipulating the data need to change and whether the access rights of data handlers are appropriate.

3. Collaborate Across the Enterprise

Managing data risk is a team effort that requires collaboration across multiple groups within the organization. The tasks listed here require the involvement of data owners, line-of-business managers, IT operations and security professionals, top executives, legal, HR, marketing, and even finance teams. Coordination is required between data owners and custodians, who must establish appropriate policies for who can access data, how it should be handled, the legal basis for processing, where it should be stored, and how IT security professionals should be responsible for enforcing those policies.

4. Communicate With Business Leaders

Effectively communicating data risk, including whether existing controls are adequate or require additional resources and how effectively the organization is protecting customer and other sensitive data, requires a common language that can be understood by business executives. Traditional IT security performance metrics, such as block rates, vulnerabilities patched and so on, don’t convey what the real business risks are to C-level executives or board members. It’s critical to use the language of risk and convey data security metrics in the context of the business.

5. Develop a Remediation Plan

Once the business’s compliance posture with the CCPA is assessed, organizations should develop risk remediation plans that account for all the processes that need to change and all the relevant stakeholders involved in executing the plan.

Such a plan should include a map of all relevant personal information that takes into account where the data is stored, how it is used and what controls around that data need to be updated. It should also describe how the organization will safely enable access, deletion and portability requests of California residents, as well as process opt-out requests for sharing their data.

Automate Your Data Risk Management Program

Thankfully, there are tools available to help automate some of the steps required in developing and maintaining a holistic data risk management initiative. Useful data from security information and event management (SIEM), data loss prevention (DLP), application security, and other IT tools can be combined with advanced integration platforms to streamline efforts.

Privacy mandates such as the GDPR and the CCPA are just the start; a California-style gold rush of data privacy regulations is on the horizon. Countries such as Brazil and India are already at work on new data privacy laws. A comprehensive data risk management program established before more regulations go into effect is well worth its weight in gold.

Watch the on-demand webinar

The post A New Privacy Frontier: Protect Your Organization’s Gold With These 5 Data Risk Management Tips appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Cross-Industry Approaches to Managing Potentially Catastrophic Cyber Risks

The other day I was reading a history of the events leading up to the Challenger space shuttle disaster, which got me thinking of the ways different industries manage risk. In that tragic case, the design of the O-ring seals in the right rocket booster presented a known risk that nontechnical executives downplayed and did not fully comprehend when they made the decision to move forward with the launch.

Similarly, the security industry contends with a range of cyber risks that can cause catastrophic damage to a business, such as large-scale disclosure of personal data, failure of power infrastructure caused by rogue threat actors and the interruption of critical emergency service systems.

Having worked with many clients in various industries over the years, I have observed myriad approaches to risk management. But the fact remains that many organizations are still immature in this area because best practices are not typically shared across industries. Organizations are often wed to their method of managing risk and do not look outside for ways to improve.

Assurance and Traceability Are Key

In the 1990s — around the time when I first completed a security evaluation of the Advanced Interactive eXecutive (AIX) operating system — the Information Technology Security Evaluation Criteria (ITSEC) was considered a best practice in the U.K. Today, we have the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation (CC) and the companion Common Methodology for Information Technology Security Evaluation (CEM).

The security evaluation process considers the functionality of security controls and the assurance of those controls. Depending on what the solution protects, there is a requirement for increased levels of assurance through additional documentation and testing — with an associated cost.

To provide assurance, security requirements were traced from the initial requirements through the different levels of design to testing in a traceability matrix. Outside the public sector, the architectural thinking process used today uses some traceability, but without rigor or consideration of the differing levels of detail required depending on the risk to the business.

Today, the “NASA Systems Engineering Handbook” highlights the need for bidirectional traceability of requirements in solutions.

The Difference Between Verification and Validation

In pharmaceuticals, there is the concept of verification and validation of a solution. Verification means ensuring that the solution is built according to the requirements and design. Traceability supports this principle — together with reviews of the solution — to ensure that functionality has been implemented and will be tested.

Validation means ensuring the solution meets users’ needs. In security, it’s not just testing that the product will enforce the control, but making sure the users’ needs are met within the environment where it is being used. Having a security control that requires a user to log in every 30 minutes may improve security, but if the user takes 20 minutes to log in through another three logins and can only perform 10 minutes of productive work, it does not meet the needs of the user or the business.

Today, NASA uses the verification and validation approach in its Systems Engineering Handbook, and I am sure other industries can make use of these principles.

Minimize Risk With a Layered Defense Strategy

Financial and banking institutions are increasingly adopting approaches to risk management that outline three lines of defense to ensure ownership, oversight and governance. The second line of defense looks at the overall aggregate risk for the organization. In the case of the space shuttle program, the challenge was how to effectively communicate that the material risks could be catastrophic.

Originating from the oil and gas industry in the 90s, military and aviation have adopted the use of barrier risk models to visualize risk, such as the bowtie model. We know that incidents will happen, so it’s important to pay the same level of attention to the preparation and prevention controls as the detection, response and recovery controls. At the center of the bowtie model is the catastrophic event that may happen, with the controls preventing the event from happening on the left, and the controls that contain the consequences of the event on the right.

Combining the five stages of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework with the bowtie model is a great way to represent the depth and strength of security controls to employees with a less technical background. It also allows engineering staff to better demonstrate that additional controls are not required when the current security controls are appropriate to the risk.

There are many different ways to represent the controls. Below is an example for data-at-rest encryption:

Bow Tie Diagram

How Strong and Mature Are Your Security Controls?

Each of the controls an organization uses can have a different strength of mechanism. If I use the six-character password “123456,” it is very weak compared to one that is enforced by software when a password is changed. A single strong control is better than many controls that have a low strength of mechanism.

The context of how a security mechanism is implemented or deployed may also alter its strength. Using a large encryption key may be weakened by the randomness of the key, and inspecting a TLS session may weaken the effectiveness of encryption. Think about the context of the implementation.

Each control may also have a different level of maturity. If I use a firewall that has been installed without a formal design, without testing and with no documented procedures to manage the life cycle, the maturity is low with an increased likelihood that the controls will be inadequate. Having one very mature process that is enforced rigorously may be better than having many controls that are poorly maintained. Using the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) can help organizations assess the maturity of a process. Without the right balance of procedural, organizational and technical controls, the maturity may not be adequate.

Tips for Managing Cyber Risks

The next time you have a risk that is considered material to the operation of your business — especially one that could result in a catastrophic incident — consider what you can learn from how other industries manage risk. Below are some best practices for managing cyber risks:

  • Ensure traceability of controls with assurance appropriate to the risk.
  • Consider both verification and validation in the assurance of a solution.
  • Use multiple levels of risk review with three lines of defense.
  • Examine defense in depth with an appropriate strength of mechanism.
  • Assess and drive continuous improvement in the maturity of control mechanisms.

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you communicate these principles to staff and suppliers to get them on board and garner their support in managing risk effectively.

What is your industry’s primary security challenge?

The post Cross-Industry Approaches to Managing Potentially Catastrophic Cyber Risks appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Fight Evolving Cybersecurity Threats With a One-Two-Three Punch

When I became vice president and general manager for IBM Security North America, the staff gave me an eye-opening look at the malicious hackers who are infiltrating everything from enterprises to government agencies to political parties. The number of new cybersecurity threats is distressing, doubling from four to eight new malware samples per second between the third and fourth quarters of 2017, according to McAfee Labs.

Yet that inside view only increased my desire to help security professionals fulfill their mission of securing organizations against cyberattacks through client and industry partnerships, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and incident response (IR) training on the cyber range.

Cybersecurity Is Shifting From Prevention to Remediation

Today, the volume of threats is so overwhelming that getting ahead is often unrealistic. It’s not a matter of if you’ll have a breach, it’s a matter of when — and how quickly you can detect and resolve it to minimize damage. With chief information security officers (CISOs) facing a shortage of individuals with the necessary skills to design environments and fend off threats, the focus has shifted from prevention to remediation.

To identify the areas of highest risk, just follow the money to financial institutions, retailers and government entities. Developed countries also face greater risks. The U.S. may have advanced cybersecurity technology, for example, but we also have assets that translate into greater payoffs for attackers.

Remediation comes down to visibility into your environment that allows you to notice not only external threats, but internal ones as well. In fact, internal threats create arguably the greatest vulnerabilities. Users on the inside know where the networks, databases and critical information are, and often have access to areas that are seldom monitored.

Bring the Power of Partnerships to Bear

Once you identify a breach, you’ll typically have minutes or even seconds to quarantine it and remediate the damage. You need to be able to leverage the data available and make immediate decisions. Yet frequently, the tools that security professionals use aren’t appropriately implemented, managed, monitored or tuned. In fact, 44 percent of organizations lack an overall information security strategy, according to PwC’s “The Global State of Information Security Survey 2018.”

Organizations are beginning to recognize that they cannot manage cybersecurity threats alone. You need a partner that can aggregate data from multiple clients and make that information accessible to everyone, from customers to competitors, to help prevent breaches. It’s like the railroad industry: Union Pacific, BNSF and CSX may battle for business, but they all have a vested interest in keeping the tracks safe, no matter who is using them.

Harden the Expanding Attack Surface

Along with trying to counteract increasingly sophisticated threats, enterprises must also learn how to manage the data coming from a burgeoning number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This data improves our lives, but the devices give attackers even more access points into the corporate environment. That’s where technology that manages a full spectrum of challenges comes into play. IBM provides an immune system for security from threat intelligence to endpoint management, with a host of solutions that harden your organization.

Even with advanced tools, analysts don’t always have enough hours in the day to keep the enterprise secure. One solution is incorporating automation and AI into the security operations center (SOC). We layer IBM Watson on top of our cybersecurity solutions to analyze data and make recommendations. And as beneficial as AI might be on day one, it delivers even more value as it learns from your data. With increasing threats and fewer resources, any automation you can implement in your cybersecurity environment helps get the work done faster and smarter.

Make Incident Response Like Muscle Memory

I mentioned malicious insider threats, but users who don’t know their behavior creates vulnerabilities are equally dangerous — even if they have no ill intent. At IBM, for example, we no longer allow the use of thumb drives since they’re an easy way to compromise an organization. We also train users from myriad organizations on how to react to threats, such as phishing scams or bogus links, so that their automatic reaction is the right reaction.

This is even more critical for incident response. We practice with clients just like you’d practice a golf swing. By developing that muscle memory, it becomes second nature to respond in the appropriate way. If you’ve had a breach in which the personally identifiable information (PII) of 100,000 customers is at risk — and the attackers are demanding payment — what do you say? What do you do? Just like fire drills, you must practice your IR plan.

Additionally, security teams need training to build discipline and processes, react appropriately and avoid making mistakes that could cost the organization millions of dollars. Response is not just a cybersecurity task, but a companywide communications effort. Everyone needs to train regularly to know how to respond.

Check out the IBM X-Force Command Cyber Tactical Operations Center (C-TOC)

Fighting Cybersecurity Threats Alongside You

IBM considers cybersecurity a strategic imperative and, as such, has invested extensive money and time in developing a best-of-breed security portfolio. I’m grateful for the opportunity to put it to work to make the cyber world a safer place. As the leader of the North American security unit, I’m committed to helping you secure your environments and achieve better business outcomes.

The post Fight Evolving Cybersecurity Threats With a One-Two-Three Punch appeared first on Security Intelligence.

Kaspersky’s U.S. Government Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

The U.S. government’s ban on software made by Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab remains in place, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, ruled on Friday.

The court said Kaspersky had failed to demonstrate that the ban was an unconstitutional legislative punishment.

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SecurityWeek RSS Feed: Kaspersky’s U.S. Government Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

The U.S. government’s ban on software made by Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab remains in place, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, ruled on Friday.

The court said Kaspersky had failed to demonstrate that the ban was an unconstitutional legislative punishment.

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Massive Marriott Breach Underscores Risk of overlooking Data Liability

The Marriott breach underscores how companies fail to price in the risk of poor data security. In the age of GDPR, that could be an expensive failure. 

The post Massive Marriott Breach Underscores Risk of overlooking Data Liability appeared first on The Security Ledger.

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5 Recommendations to Improve Retail Cybersecurity This Holiday Season

This is the first installment in a two-part series about how retailers can help protect their enterprises this holiday season.

With the holiday season upon us, retailers have an opportunity to boost revenues before the end of the year. Any increase in profit at the expense of retail cybersecurity, however, can cost a company more in the long run, given the rising size and costs of data breaches and associated revenue and reputational loss. With extra web traffic and high order volumes coming in, the holiday shopping season can be a particularly perilous time for businesses seeking to safeguard customer information.

A Timely Cause for Retail Cybersecurity Concerns

Tis the season for retailers to buckle down on security, since data breaches typically peak just prior to and during the holiday shopping season. IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS)’s assessment of X-Force Interactive Security Incident data recorded between 2012 and 2017 revealed that 41 percent of all retail and consumer product breaches occurred between September and December, elevating the risk for enterprise network breaches during that time of year. More than two-thirds of all records in the consumer products sector were leaked, lost or stolen during these last four months of the year — that’s nearly 180 million records each year.

Don’t Reward the Naughty

A growing number of retailers now offer rewards programs to retain and nurture their customer bases. For shoppers to join these programs, most retailers ask for personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, address, phone number and email address. If ever compromised, an attacker can correlate this customer PII to payment data and use it to aggregate information to compromise the user’s identity.

In line with recent regulatory laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), retailers should collect the least possible amount of PII on customers, have a clear purpose for each data element, and make sure to always keep data encrypted and safeguarded, both in transit and at rest.

Phishing Is in Season

Attackers don’t wait for the holiday season to begin launching spam campaigns, which are often employed as the first stage of their overall fraud and attack campaigns. Analysis of X-Force spam honeypot data collected between 2015 and 2018 revealed a notable rise in the average volume of spam emails beginning in August, with September slightly lower and October ranking third.

Average Spam per Month

Figure 1: Total volume of spam emails recorded, 2015–2018 (Source: IBM X-Force)

Preventing and responding to data breaches leading up to and during the holiday shopping season has become imperative. It is incumbent on retail security professionals to perform due diligence during this time, and there are several ways to accomplish this goal.

Below are five holiday season tips for retailers to help make your enterprise a safer shopping environment. These techniques can help retailers identify impending data breaches and sidestep the costs associated with a major data breach.

While I’ve listed these tips in the order of what I generally consider to be top-of-mind for retailers, this list can be customized to serve your organization’s specific needs.

1. Mitigate the POS Malware Threat

After a popular big box retailer suffered a breach in 2013, public awareness around the vulnerability of point-of-sale (POS) systems grew exponentially. That breach was facilitated by malware that infected POS machines and helped threat actors access a large volume of credit card information to sell to other criminals on the dark web. This intrusion resulted in the theft of more than 110 million records.

Five years later, POS malware continues to plague retailers. According to IBM X-Force, 74 percent of publicly reported POS malware breaches in 2017 impacted the retail sector. X-Force IRIS has observed malicious actors using POS malware, such as FrameworkPOS and PoSeidon, to siphon credit card data from POS terminals. Web-based malware, which steals credit card data on the fly as online transactions are processed, is also gaining steam.

To help mitigate these risks, both in physical and virtual realms, retailers should take the following steps:

  • Use some form of malware detection on your entire network to include the network of POS systems.
  • Test the devices’ hardware and software (more to come on penetration testing in the second installment of this series) and keep devices up-to-date through regular patching.
  • Work with a supplier that will contractually adhere to both your regulatory standards and security requirements.
  • When using mobile POS, have controls in place to ensure the integrity of the hand-held device and the encryption of its communication channels with the server that processes and stores card data.
  • Ensure any mobile payment system is from a trusted provider that supplies regular updates, patches, and equipment upgrades to comply with advances in encryption requirements and evolving threats.

Cybercriminals also commonly steal credit card data through payment card skimmers. These physical devices are fitted into the mouth of card readers and work by copying track data from the credit card and storing it on a memory chip inside the skimming device. In addition to retail establishments, skimmers are often found in ATMs, restaurants and gas stations.

As a precaution, retailers should frequently search for devices on their POS terminals and swiping equipment. Attackers typically attach skimmers to the device by sliding them onto the scanners and collecting them later. To check for a skimmer, examine devices daily and pull on the scanner if anything appears different. If part of the device comes off, it may be a skimming device. Call your service provider and IT security team to report it before resuming activity with that terminal or device.

With security controls and practices becoming more efficient, threat actors have resorted to gluing card skimmers to machines. This makes it difficult to detach by simply pulling it off the affected device. Retailers should train employees in all locations to recognize the proper look and components of their POS terminals and swiping devices. Employees should also know how to report suspicious devices.

2. A Clean Network Is a Safe Network

Payment card data carries immediate monetary value to criminals, and there are many methods by which they aim to steal it.

One tactic IBM X-Force researchers have seen increasingly often is the injection of malicious code into legitimate e-commerce websites. By compromising websites where people shop online, attackers can send payment data submitted during customer checkout to their own infrastructure.

To help reduce the likelihood of becoming a feeding ground for criminals, online retailers should take the following steps:

  • Harden the security of underlying web servers.
  • Limit access to critical assets and properly manage the privileges of those that maintain them.
  • Ensure that web applications are secure, harden them against threats like SQL injections and other common attacks, and have them tested regularly.
  • Deploy a change monitoring and detection solution to spot unauthorized modifications to your e-commerce platform’s web hosting directories. If this is not feasible, schedule periodic, manual reviews of these assets.

Account takeover (ATO), which occurs when a threat actor gains unauthorized access to an online account that belongs to someone else, can also affect e-commerce customers. With access to shoppers’ accounts, fraudsters can wreak havoc by stealing stored payment data, making fraudulent purchases and rerouting existing orders to a different address, for example.

Unauthorized access requires the use of legitimate credentials, which criminals can attain through a variety of tactics. The most common methods include phishing, brute-forcing weak passwords and launching SQL injection attacks on the web application itself.

You can help mitigate these threats by practicing good network hygiene. Here are some useful tips retailers can apply today to lower the risk of user account compromises:

  • Employ the most recent patches for all hardware, internal and external software, network communication protocols, and database security protocols.
  • Sanitize user input to prevent injection attacks.
  • Prioritize patching for the threats most relevant to your organization. Look out for the most-exploited vulnerabilities and ensure that internet-facing servers and systems are up to date.
  • Always consult your local computer emergency response team (CERT), IBM X-Force Exchange and other threat intelligence sources to gather the latest news on vulnerabilities and mitigation techniques.
  • Enforce multifactor authentication (MFA) for employees.

3. Go to Your Separate Corners

Cybercriminals are always leveraging new ways to steal payment card data and correlate it with PII. Elevated volumes of web traffic during the holiday season provide attackers with even more targets and opportunities.

To help keep customer data safe, even in cases where criminals manage to infiltrate assets, security teams should keep PII, financial data and POS information separate by segmenting enterprise networks. By keeping this information separated and encrypted, attackers will find it much harder to correlate data on customers. While segmenting a network can be an intensive process, it’s a small price to pay to keep customer data safe.

In network segmentation, allow only one IP address per segment to communicate at a time to detect suspicious traffic. While an attacker may spoof his or her IP address, this control can allow defenders to find out about most intruders rather easily. Here are some other best practices to consider:

  • Conduct internal audits for segment crossover to ensure that segregated data sets do not get mixed over time and appear in other places on the network, which can help attackers with identity theft.
  • Deploy web application firewalls (WAFs) to help ensure that incoming traffic is filtered, monitored and blocked to and from web applications to mitigate threats such as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection.
  • As a secondary measure, a firewall should be implemented to effectively govern all traffic coming in and out of the network. Firewall configuration is a key element in its effectiveness and should be performed by a certified network technician.
  • Have administrative users log in with a lower privilege level before escalating their privileges to perform updates and maintenance.
  • Prevent sensitive users and systems from communicating with the internet.

4. Learn From History and Educate Users

Nearly every company has some kind of data protection training in place. To make employee training programs more effective, organizations must understand that training materials are sometimes clicked through at a rapid pace to complete them as quickly as possible in favor of getting back to work. So how can an organization effectively educate their users?

  • Plan for role-based training of all employees in the organization.
  • Train employees on both physical and digital security.
  • Conduct short training sessions and field-test them by asking for employee feedback.
  • Launch an internal phishing campaign: Send a spoofed email from a dummy account with official-sounding names, titles and subjects, and track the number of users who click on the links or attachments. Offer additional training according to the conclusions from the campaign.
  • Identify users who need remedial training and retest as needed.
  • Most importantly, provide all users with an easily accessible resource to report issues. Users should be able to contact IT security with any question or suspicion.

For education to be effective, it has to be repetitive and stay top-of-mind for users across the entire organization. Get management to support awareness campaigns and find opportunities to educate users. Having vigilant employees makes mitigating attacks during the holiday season that much more effective. Frequent email reminders, illustrative posters and communicating best practices during team meetings can demonstrate your organization’s commitment to secure day-to-day conduct. Giving users personalized attention can go a long way toward making the message resonate with them — for example, you might consider gifting a security-themed mug for the holiday season.

5. Use Network IP Whitelists and Blacklists

Whitelists are IP addresses or domains used specifically for allowing access, whereas blacklists are used to help prevent IP addresses or domains from entering a network. Whitelists and blacklists are useful for keeping unauthorized and authorized connections within or outside the network. Keeping these lists up-to-date demands some diligence, but they can be crucial to boosting network security.

Filtering IPs according to these lists is more suitable for enterprises that do not manage e-commerce activity, since e-commerce companies have to accept inbound requests from all over the world, especially during the holiday shopping season.

These lists are much easier to maintain for networks that do not face external customers because blacklists can be used on both inbound and outbound access to help block known malicious hosts from communicating or accessing the organization’s data and assets. Below are some basic tips for filtering hosts:

  • Blacklist any IP addresses known to be malicious. Constantly updated lists can be fed into security solutions directly from threat intelligence platforms.
  • Should a blacklisted IP address have legitimate reasons for communicating with the network, investigate, confirm and allow access via the whitelist.
  • Whitelists should include any internal company addresses.
  • Whitelists should exclude any websites that are not relevant for employees carrying out their daily tasks (e.g., social media, webmail, etc.).
  • It is imperative to verify these lists periodically to help ensure that all information is accurate.
  • Should any IP addresses on the whitelist become outdated, it should be promptly removed or moved to the blacklist.
  • Keeping allowed and banned IP addresses from becoming intermingled is a basic premise of effective whitelist/blacklist practices.

Stay Tuned for More Holiday Season Tips for Retailers

There is no such thing as unimportant data. Take every necessary precaution to help protect enterprise and customer data by implementing strong retail cybersecurity controls, educating users and following current best practices. Maintaining customer confidence in your ability to protect their PII can result in more business, increased customer loyalty and stronger organizational reputation.

Stay tuned for five more tips to help retailers stay secure this holiday season.

Read the latest IBM X-Force Research

The post 5 Recommendations to Improve Retail Cybersecurity This Holiday Season appeared first on Security Intelligence.

The Importance of “S” in “CISO”

A Chief Information Security Officer is the brigadier general of the security force of an organization. While the c-suite normally looks at the financial and overall management of an organization,

The post The Importance of “S” in “CISO” appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

The Challenges of Managing Third-Party Vendor Security Risk

It’s no longer enough to secure your own company’s infrastructure; you now must also evaluate the risk of third-party vendors and plan and monitor for breaches there, too. Data breaches are reported in the news all the time, and more than 60 percent of them are linked to a third-party. When you’re a business owner, […]… Read More

The post The Challenges of Managing Third-Party Vendor Security Risk appeared first on The State of Security.

Don’t accept risk with a pocket veto

We who live risk management know there are four responses when confronted with a credible risk to our organizations. We can treat the risk to reduce it. We can avoid the risk by altering our organization’s behavior. We can transfer the risk with insurance or outsourcing, though the transfer is rarely complete. Lastly, we can accept risk and hope for the best. Let’s get this out of the way first: no security professional wants to … More

The post Don’t accept risk with a pocket veto appeared first on Help Net Security.

Beyond governance, risk and compliance: privacy, ethics and trust

We are currently experiencing the fourth industrial revolution (FIR), characterised by a blurred fusion of all things physical, digital and genomic. Each revolution has been accompanied by a privacy legislation wave, linking its governance to the accelerating pace of change. So we find ourselves in the fourth privacy wave, where technological changes outpace regulation – causing consumer fear and digital distrust, and resulting in strong ethical arguments for aggressive improvements in organisations’ privacy practices.

One of those arguments is consumer trust. The 2017 Edelman Trust-Barometer reveals that trust is in crisis around the world. To rebuild trust, Edelman argues that organisations must step outside their traditional roles and work towards a new, more integrated operating model that positions consumers and their trust concerns, at the centre of the organisations’ activities. Organisations should address data protection not just because legislation mandates it, but because empowering customers to control their data engenders trust, creates shared ‘value’, and wins consumer loyalty.

“The trust dynamic between consumers and organisations is on a knife’s edge, with consumers reporting that the values of honesty and integrity have been eroded when it comes to personal data – leaving them feeling cynical and increasingly unwilling to share their data at all”     –        Whose Data Is It Anyway? CIM Survey 2016               

Although many FIR technologies are positively transforming consumer lives, they still depend hugely on large quantities of consumer data, giving rise to increased personal data sharing. A recent study by Columbia Business School found that 75% of consumers are willing to share their data if they trust the brand and are more willing to do so in exchange for benefits, such as reward points and personalisation – but only if it’s on ethical, fair and transparent terms.

Big data = big ethics?

The more data consumers share, the more an organisation can leverage that data for personalisation and innovation, which leads to increased share value. However, according to Gartner, in 2018 half of business ethics violations will occur through improper use of big data analytics. The exponential growth in adblocking over recent years shows how consumers feel about improper use of their data (with Irish and Greek consumers topping the European average, at over 50%).

Just as consumers are known to share more information when they trust an organisation, the opposite is true with distrust. Boston Consulting Group has found that consumers radically reduce data sharing when they distrust an organisation.

Digital ethics and privacy are one of Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2019.  It writes: “any discussion on privacy must be grounded in the broader topic of digital ethics and the trust of consumers, constituents and employees. Ultimately an organisation’s position on privacy must be driven by its broader position on ethics and trust”.

Doing rights vs doing right

Shifting from privacy to ethics moves the conversation beyond ‘doing rights’ toward ‘doing right’ This ethical approach to data privacy recognises that feasible, useful or profitable does not equal sustainable, and emphasizes accountability over compliance with the letter-of-the-law. In the digital economy, the existence of, and compliance to regulation will no longer be enough to engender consumer trust.

Organisations need to find ways to let their consumers know that they use consumer data in a law-abiding and ethical manner. Organisations that ethically manage data and solve the consumer-privacy-trust equation are more likely to win loyal consumers who pay a premium for their products and services. For example, Lego has placed the protection of children’s data at the heart of its information protection strategy. It limits integration with social media, shows strong corporate responsibility regarding use of customer data by suppliers and partners, and it forbids third-party cookies on websites aimed at children under 13. Apple too, mandates that any new use of its customer data requires sign-off from a committee of three “privacy czars” and a c-suite executive.

Sustaining trust

As data stewards, organisations should understand the dynamics and profile of their consumers and the factors that lead to their trust. Organisations can then communicate their compliance initiatives in a way that can more openly nurture and sustain the trust relationship with the consumer.

This in turn will enable them to better design how and where they should communicate their data protection activities to maximum effect. It also results in a more socially responsible and sustainable privacy protection regime for the fourth privacy legislation wave.

Valerie Lyons is chief operations officer at BH Consulting and IRC PhD Scholar at DCU Business School

The post Beyond governance, risk and compliance: privacy, ethics and trust appeared first on BH Consulting.

Securing your company’s supply chain with objective information

By Ewen O’Brien, EMEA Director at  BitSight Understanding the risk posed by third- and fourth-party companies can help mitigate security problems In light of the almost daily news of companies

The post Securing your company’s supply chain with objective information appeared first on The Cyber Security Place.

Third parties: Fast-growing risk to an organization’s sensitive data

The Ponemon Institute surveyed more than 1,000 CISOs and other security and risk professionals across the US and UK to understand the challenges companies face in protecting sensitive and confidential information shared with third-party vendors and partners. According to the findings, 59 percent of companies said they have experienced a data breach caused by one of their vendors or third parties. In the U.S., that percentage is even higher at 61 percent — up 5 … More

The post Third parties: Fast-growing risk to an organization’s sensitive data appeared first on Help Net Security.

How to Choose the Right Artificial Intelligence Solution for Your Security Problems

Artificial intelligence (AI) brings a powerful new set of tools to the fight against threat actors, but choosing the right combination of libraries, test suites and trading models when building AI security systems is highly dependent on the situation. If you’re thinking about adopting AI in your security operations center (SOC), the following questions and considerations can help guide your decision-making.

What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

Spam detection, intrusion detection, malware detection and natural language-based threat hunting are all very different problem sets that require different AI tools. Begin by considering what kind of AI security systems you need.

Understanding the outputs helps you test data. Ask yourself whether you’re solving a classification or regression problem, building a recommendation engine or detecting anomalies. Depending on the answers to those questions, you can apply one of four basic types of machine learning:

  1. Supervised learning trains an algorithm based on example sets of input/output pairs. The goal is to develop new inferences based on patterns inferred from the sample results. Sample data must be available and labeled. For example, designing a spam detection model by learning from samples labeled spam/nonspam is a good application of supervised learning.
  2. Unsupervised learning uses data that has not been labeled, classified or categorized. The machine is challenged to identify patterns through processes such as cluster analysis, and the outcome is usually unknown. Unsupervised machine learning is good at discovering underlying patterns and data, but is a poor choice for a regression or classification problem. Network anomaly detection is a security problem that fits well in this category.
  3. Semisupervised learning uses a combination of labeled and unlabeled data, typically with the majority being unlabeled. It is primarily used to improve the quality of training sets. For exploit kit identification problems, we can find some known exploit kits to train our model, but there are many variants and unknown kits that can’t be labeled. We can use semisupervised learning to address the problem.
  4. Reinforcement learning seeks the optimal path to a desired result by continually rewarding improvement. The problem set is generally small, and the training data well-understood. An example of reinforcement learning is a generative adversarial network (GAN), such as this experiment from Cornell University in which distance, measured in the form of correct and incorrect bits, is used as a loss function to encrypt messages between two neural networks and avoid eavesdropping by an unauthorized third neural network.

Artificial Intelligence Depends on Good Data

Machine learning is predicated on learning from data, so having the right quantity and quality is essential. Security leaders should ask the following questions about their data sources to optimize their machine learning deployments:

  • Is there enough data? You’ll need a sufficient amount to represent all possible scenarios that a system will encounter.
  • Does the data contain patterns that machine learning systems can learn from? Good data sets should have frequently recurring values, clear and obvious meanings, few out-of-range values and persistence, meaning that they change little over time.
  • Is the data sparse? Are certain expected values missing? This can create misleading results.
  • Is the data categorical or numeric in nature? This dictates the choice of the classifier we can use.
  • Are labels available?
  • Is the data current? This is particularly important in AI security systems because threats change so quickly. For example, a malware detection system that has been trained on old samples will have difficulty detecting new malware variations.
  • Is the source of the data trusted? You don’t want to train your model from publicly available data of origins you don’t trust. Data sample poisoning is just one attack vector through which machine learning-based security models are compromised.

Choosing the Right Platforms and Tools

There is a wide variety of platforms and tools available on the market, but how do you know which is the right one for you? Ask the following questions to help inform your choice:

  • How comfortable are you in a given language?
  • Does the tool integrate well with your existing environment?
  • Is the tool well-suited for big data analytics?
  • Does it provide built-in data parsing capabilities that enable the model to understand the structure of data?
  • Does it use a graphical or command-line interface?
  • Is it a complete machine learning platform or just a set of libraries that you can use to build models? The latter provides more flexibility, but also has a steeper learning curve.

What About the Algorithm?

You’ll also need to select an algorithm to employ. Try a few different algorithms and compare to determine which delivers the most accurate results. Here are some factors that can help you decide which algorithm to start with:

  • How much data do you have, and is it of good quality? Data with many missing values will deliver lower-quality results.
  • Is the learning problem supervised, unsupervised or reinforcement learning? You’ll want to match the data set to the use case as described above.
  • Determine the type of problem being solved, such as classification, regression, anomaly detection or dimensionality reduction. There are different AI algorithms that work best for each type of problem.
  • How important is accuracy versus speed? If approximations are acceptable, you can get by with smaller data sets and lower-quality data. If accuracy is paramount, you’ll need higher quality data and more time to run the machine learning algorithms.
  • How much visibility do you need into the process? Algorithms that provide decision trees show you clearly how the model reached a decision, while neural networks are a bit of a black box.

How to Train, Test and Evaluate AI Security Systems

Training samples should be constantly updated as new exploits are discovered, so it’s often necessary to perform training on the fly. However, training in real time opens up the risk of adversarial machine learning attacks in which bad actors attempt to disrupt the results by introducing misleading input data.

While it is often impossible to perform training offline, it is desirable to do so when possible so the quality of the data can be regulated. Once the training process is complete, the model can be deployed into production.

One common method of testing trained models is to split the data set and devote a portion of the data — say, 70 percent — to training and the rest to testing. If the model is robust, the output from both data sets should be similar.

A somewhat more refined approach called cross-validation divides the data set into groups of equal sizes and trains on all but one of the groups. For example, if the number of groups is “n,” then you would train on n-1 groups and test with the one set that is left out. This process is repeated many times, leaving out a different group for testing each time. Performance is measured by averaging results across all repetitions.

Choice of evaluation metrics also depends on the type of problem you’re trying to solve. For example, a regression problem tries to find the range of error between the actual value and the predicted value, so the metrics you might use include mean absolute error, root mean absolute error, relative absolute error and relative squared error.

For a classification problem, the objective is to determine which categories new observations belong in — which requires a different set of quality metrics, such as accuracy, precision, recall, F1 score and area under the curve (AUC).

Deployment on the Cloud or On-Premises?

Lastly, you’ll need to select a location for deployment. Cloud machine learning platforms certainly have advantages, such as speed of provisioning, choice of tools and the availability of third-party training data. However, you may not want to share data in the cloud for security and compliance reasons. Consider these factors before choosing whether to deploy on-premises or in a public cloud.

These are just a few of the many factors to consider when building security systems with artificial intelligence. Remember, the best solution for one organization or security problem is not necessarily the best solution for everyone or every situation.

The post How to Choose the Right Artificial Intelligence Solution for Your Security Problems appeared first on Security Intelligence.

CVSS Scores Often Misleading for ICS Vulnerabilities: Experts

While the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) can be useful for rating vulnerabilities, the scores assigned to flaws affecting industrial control systems (ICS) may be misleading, which can have negative consequences for organizations, particularly if they rely solely on CVSS for prioritizing patches.

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4 Tips to Make the Most of Your Security Budget

Despite frequent news headlines describing large-scale data breaches around the globe, chief information security officers (CISOs) still struggle to justify security investments to top leadership. According to Gartner, security spending makes up only about 5.6 percent of overall IT funds.

Whatever security budget is ultimately approved by enterprise leadership, it’s up to CISOs to optimize the allocation of that money. More funds might help, but only if they know how to spend it effectively — and that planning starts before the first pitch. Let’s take a closer look at four key steps security leaders can take to maximize their return on security investment.

1. Assess Risks, Assets and Resources

A CISO should first thoroughly evaluate the systems, data and other business assets that are both valuable and potentially at risk in the organization. Today, this makes up an ever-evolving network, and priorities will shift over time to reflect changes in the business and the threat landscape.

“You should first identify and document the assets you need to protect most,” said Jo-Ann Smith, director of technology risk management and data privacy at Absolute. “What’s important to your business, and what are the main threats to your systems and data?”

That evaluation needs to take place before you even set foot in the executive office or boardroom to advocate for security. Its findings will be foundational to the security program’s goals and budget recommendations. Technologies purchased and the needs they serve will be unique to each business.

In other words, the results of the initial review could mean many different things for different CISOs. The general models provided by industry frameworks can help security leaders shape priorities and identify gaps specific to their businesses.

Kip Boyle, CEO of Cyber Risk Opportunities, noted that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is the best method to assess cyber risk.

“We find that most companies are underinvested in such key mitigations as indemnity contractual provisions with suppliers and customers, antiphishing training, cyber insurance coverage and crisis management planning,” he said. “Yet these are all crucial to mitigating modern cyberthreats.”

2. Align the Security Budget With Business Goals

When demonstrating the return on security investment to executives and board directors, security leaders must speak the language of money. How does security serve the business?

“CISOs should always align with the business when evaluating how to spend,” said Larry Friedman, CISO at Carbonite. “Security spend should be calculated based on the risk associated with assuring continuity with important business processes.”

This goes beyond protecting data and maintaining regulatory compliance. Seeking opportunities to use security funding not just for risk mitigation, but also to boost revenue and accomplish other business wins such as enhanced productivity, helps the CISO position security as a dynamic business enabler rather than a static cost center.

The CISO should implement automated security intelligence and analytics tools to reduce the security team’s busywork and help it focus on more strategic projects. As you analyze opportunities for investment, consider not only how much they cost, but also how much they could save the company or add in value.

3. Hire and Train Good People

The oft-lamented cybersecurity skills gap shows few signs of closing. A recent report from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) placed the worldwide cybersecurity skills gap at almost 3 million unfilled positions, and about two-thirds of businesses believe they have inadequately staffed security teams.

It stands to reason that one of the best investments in a security program is an effective staff. However, in a tight market for employers seeking talent, organizations may have to look inward and invest in training employees who otherwise might not have considered a security career.

By training people that are already part of the organization and recruiting them to work in security, CISOs can offer opportunities for professional growth and build their security teams while taking advantage of the employees’ institutional knowledge.

4. Invest in Security Culture

An effective cybersecurity strategy must include a corporate culture in which every employee values security. But the “2018 Cybersecurity Culture Report” from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Institute found that most organizations still struggle with establishing a security culture. In addition, 95 percent of survey respondents noted a gap between their current and desired organizational culture of cybersecurity.

What does it mean to build security culture into business? It’s means getting all employees — from the security team to the executive suite — to feel invested in the company’s security and risk posture and to engage in secure behavior. Investments in security culture could include initiatives such as awareness training, a secure development life cycle program, and rewards for employees who demonstrate compliance and report incidents.

Some numbers bear out the benefit: According to the ISACA/CMMI study, organizations that reported an inadequate security culture are spending 19 percent of their annual cybersecurity budget on training and awareness. Firms that report stronger cultures spent a share more than twice as large on average (43 percent).

In an ISACA blog post about the study results, Heather Wilde, chief technology officer (CTO) at ROCeteer, noted that the benefits of security culture investment go beyond security. A majority of respondents (66 percent) said their organization experienced a reduction in cyber incidents, but Wilde noted that many other benefits were customer-facing: improved trust, stronger reputation and increased revenue, to name a few.

There is no simple answer to the question of how best to allocate security budget dollars, and the optimal course will vary widely from business to business. But a thorough assessment of a company’s current security posture and culture, along with an evaluation of how security can benefit business goals and enable the company mission, gives the CISO a road map for prioritizing investments.

The post 4 Tips to Make the Most of Your Security Budget appeared first on Security Intelligence.

OPM Security Improves, But Many Issues Still Unresolved: GAO

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has improved its security posture since the data breaches disclosed in 2015, but many issues are still unresolved, according to a report published this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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The value in vulnerability assessments: closing gaps to improve security

Vulnerability assessments usually involve using automated tools such as Nessus or Qualys to carry out a passive scan of an organisation’s systems. The process produces a list of security gaps and ranks them in order of risk. It gives an organisation clear data to guide the process of deciding which issues to prioritise first based on budget, available resources, or likelihood of the threat.

If forewarned is forearmed, then the value of a vulnerability assessment is that it identifies weaknesses in your systems proactively. It’s different to a penetration test which not only finds security gaps but actively exploits them to replicate the damage a malicious attacker could do without the repercussions.

Why check for vulnerabilities?

Lately, we’re seeing organisations carry out vulnerability assessments, or get an independent provider to do it for them, much more frequently. I think there are two reasons for this. One is the increasing adoption of the ISO 27001 information security standard. We advise organisations that want to get certified or stay compliant to check for vulnerabilities at least twice a year and perform a penetration test at least once a year.

The second driver is – surprise, surprise – GDPR. Growing numbers of businesses and public sector agencies are now aware that they need to protect data. Checking for weak points can help them put safeguards in place to avoid breaches. In the event of a breach, an organisation may avoid heavier penalties if it can prove to the regulator that it has been carrying out vulnerability assessments and doing their due diligence. On the other hand, the authorities won’t look too kindly on breach victims that were running old operating systems with no security controls or patching mechanisms in place.

What to fix

I carry out vulnerability assessments every week, and many of the risks I find are very common. Many of them fall into the categories of medium or high risk. For example, many websites still use old versions of SSL or TLS for encrypting data transfers. Some people might assume that a brochure website doesn’t need this level of protection, but I think that’s a mistake. Even a static page may have a function that calls another function that talks to the database or another application. This is a relatively easy issue to fix, and it addresses a potentially large security hole.

Even for a brochure website, it’s worth doing this upgrade since it’s a big gain for relatively little effort. Implementing TLS carries little cost and eliminates a lot of potential weaknesses. Since SSL was deprecated, it’s a matter of changing to TLS 1.1 or 1.2 which in some cases is as simple as checking a box.

To upgrade or not to upgrade

Another common issue that vulnerability assessments will uncover is out of date software like Apache or OpenSSH. (I recently found one site using a five-year-old version of OpenSSH!) As with the risks I referred to above, fixing them is often a matter of clicking the ‘update’ button in the application.

Whether an organisation updates or not will depend on its attitude to risk. Some choose not to do so because they are concerned about affecting their production environment. Or, they might not have time and resources to test the stability of an application on the new version. I would always argue in favour of acting, but at the very least, a vulnerability assessment will highlight areas that you can rank in order of priority.

The length of time it takes to conduct the assessment will vary. It’s not necessarily as simple a calculation as adding up the number of IP addresses to check. I’ve seen three IP addresses take four hours to scan. It also depends what software the organisation uses, and whether it’s patched or unpatched.

Taking action afterwards

Let’s say the testing lasts a day. Writing the report then involves taking the findings from the automated scanning tool and translating that into language that will allow a client to weigh up its business risk. Some companies take the report and fix the issues that it covers. Some use it as a talking point with their software development teams, to make them aware of certain vulnerabilities. Best practice advises that those organisations run an assessment a few months later to check that any fixes they implemented were successful.

However, I’ve also seen the opposite, where I have carried out monthly vulnerability checks and the client chooses not to fix the issues that the report raises. That goes to the heart of security: making decisions based on the level of risk you’re prepared to bear. Good security practice suggests looking for weak points in your security before someone with malicious intentions does it for you.

 

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Why User Behavior Analytics Is an Application, Not a Cybersecurity Platform

Last year, a cybersecurity manager at a bank near me brought in a user behavior analytics (UBA) solution based on a vendor’s pitch that UBA was the next generation of security analytics. The company had been using a security information and event management (SIEM) tool to monitor its systems and networks, but abandoned it in favor of UBA, which promised a simpler approach powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

One year later, that security manager was looking for a job. Sure, the UBA package did a good job of telling him what his users were doing on the network, but it didn’t do a very good job of telling him about threats that didn’t involve abnormal behavior. I can only speculate about what triggered his departure, but my guess is it wasn’t pretty.

UBA hit the peak of the Gartner hype cycle last year around the same time as AI. The timing isn’t surprising given that many UBA vendors tout their use of machine learning to detect anomalies in log data. UBA is a good application of SIEM, but it isn’t a replacement for it. In fact, UBA is more accurately described as a cybersecurity application that rides on top of SIEM — but you wouldn’t know that the way it’s sometimes marketed.

User Behavior Analytics Versus Security Information and Event Management

While SIEM and UBA do have some similar features, they perform very different functions. Most SIEM offerings are essentially log management tools that help security operators make sense of a deluge of information. They are a necessary foundation for targeted analysis.

UBA is a set of algorithms that analyze log activity to spot abnormal behavior, such as repeated login attempts from a single IP address or large file downloads. Buried in gigabytes of data, these patterns are easy for humans to miss. UBA can help security teams combat insider threats, brute-force attacks, account takeovers and data loss.

UBA applications require data from an SIEM tool and may include basic log management features, but they aren’t a replacement for a general-purpose SIEM solution. In fact, if your SIEM system has anomaly detection capabilities or can identify whether user access activity matches typical behavior based on the user’s role, you may already have UBA.

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that, although SIEM has been around for a long time, there is no one set of standard features. Many systems are only capable of rule-based alerting or limited to canned rules. If you don’t have a rule for a new threat, you won’t be alerted to it.

Analytical applications such as UBA are intended to address certain types of cybersecurity threat detection and remediation. Choosing point applications without a unified log manager creates silos of data and taxes your security operations center (SOC), which is probably short-staffed to begin with. Many UBA solutions also require the use of software agents, which is something every IT organization would like to avoid.

Start With a Well-Rounded SIEM Solution

A robust, well-rounded SIEM solution should cross-correlate log data, threat intelligence feeds, geolocation coordinates, vulnerability scan data, and both internal and external user activity. When combined with rule-based alerts, an SIEM tool alone is sufficient for many organizations. Applications such as UBA can be added on top for more robust reporting.

Gartner’s latest “Market Guide for User and Entity Behavior Analytics” forecast significant disruption in the market. Noting that the technology is headed downward into Gartner’s “Trough of Disillusionment,” researchers explained that some pure-play UBA vendors “are now focusing their route to market strategy on embedding their core technology in other vendors’ more traditional security solutions.”

In my view, that’s where it belongs. User behavior analytics is a great technology for identifying insider threats, but that’s a use case, not a security platform. A robust SIEM tool gives you a great foundation for protection and options to grow as your needs demand.

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HITRUST Common Security Framework – Improving Cyber Resilience?

A few weeks ago, Anthem agreed to a record $16 million HIPPA settlement with federal regulators to close the chapter on a data breach that exposed data on nearly 79 million individuals in 2015. This payment is in addition to the $115 million Anthem shelled out as part of a class-action lawsuit over the same breach in 2017.

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How Can Companies Move the Needle on Enterprise Cloud Security Risks and Compliance?

More than ever, customers understand their right to data privacy. As major brands continue to lose sensitive data to cybercriminals in high-profile cloud security failures, customer trust in companies across industries is fading. Only 25 percent of consumers believe most companies handle their data responsibly, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). As a result, secure, transparent data handling practices are more imperative than ever.

New regulations signal that governing bodies are also taking the enterprise’s responsibility for data privacy very seriously. The Brazil Privacy Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act support the consumer’s right to understand how their data is collected and used, and the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) requirements are among the first regulations to address cloud security risks. Proposed rules require financial institutions to conduct vulnerability assessments and practice data classification and safe data management, whether the data resides on-premises or in the cloud.

Misconfigurations Cause Database Security Mayhem

Despite increased pressure to protect customer data, security teams are still struggling to address database security risks. Misconfigured servers, networked backup incidents and other system misconfigurations resulted in the exposure of 2 billion data records in 2017, according to the “IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2018” — that’s a 424 percent increase in such data breaches over last year’s total.

Cybercriminals are innovating quickly to take advantage of enterprise cloud security challenges. Many are using and creating open source tools to scan the web for unprotected cloud storage and, in some cases, locking these systems for ransom. Results from a Threat Stack study indicated that the majority of cloud databases are unprotected or otherwise misconfigured. Researchers attributed the prevalence of misconfigurations to employee negligence and insufficient IT policies.

Why the Enterprise Cloud Is Vulnerable

Still, it would be unfair to blame the current state of enterprise cloud security on employee negligence — at least, not entirely. Critical misconfigurations are technically the result of inadvertent insider error, but the reality is a bit more complex. Correcting configurations and compliance risks is difficult because security teams lack actionable visibility into cloud risks. There’s a glut of security risk to deal with, and traditional approaches to assessing risk result in an abundance of data with little actionable intelligence.

The enterprise cloud environment is complex and difficult to capture with vulnerability assessment tools designed for physical network and endpoint risk assessments. The unstructured, NoSQL landscape of the big data on cloud evolves on a near-daily basis to accommodate new forms of unstructured data. It’s no wonder that trying to assess database security risk across heterogeneous environments is often compared to finding a needle in a haystack.

Layered vulnerability assessments are crucial to protect against cloud security and compliance risks. Under some recent regulatory requirements, in fact, vulnerability assessments are mandatory. However, the enterprise needs vulnerability solutions that can support the scale of cloud database-as-a-service (DBaaS), traditional on-premises databases, warehouses and big data environments in a meaningful way.

Advanced analytics are necessary to sort through complex event data to correlate patterns and find true outliers that are associated with meaningful risk of data loss or advanced threats. The sheer volume and variety of data in the enterprise cloud requires proactive vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability assessment solution should automate risk prioritization, recommend remediation and simplify complex compliance requirements.

How to Achieve Real-Time Security and Compliance in Cloud or Hybrid Environments

Reducing risk requires visibility and control with an adaptive, real-time approach to understanding exposure. In a database environment, assessments should actively examine privileges, authentication, configuration, versioning and patching. Finding and remediating advanced threats from insiders, ransomware and data breaches requires advanced analytics. Your vulnerability assessment solution should rank risks based on the importance of data and breach likelihood and recommend remediation actions.

Security and risk are convening in the enterprise, and vulnerability tools should deliver risk intelligence that can be shared with the chief information officer (CIO), chief security officer (CSO) and chief risk officer (CRO). Enterprise cloud environments are complex, but a vulnerability assessment tool can provide a consolidated and actionable view into risk, remediation, compliance and policy. To drive continued value, however, a vulnerability assessment solution must scale to new services as new applications, databases and cloud services are deployed over time.

The cloud has shifted the landscape and created the need for a new approach to assessing risks. If understanding compliance and configurations feels like finding needles in a haystack, it may be time to automate. Data privacy is now a compliance and customer imperative, and understanding the state of your databases is critical, so aim to scale your security assessments with a solution designed for the complexities of the enterprise cloud environment.

Learn more about vulnerability assessment for cloud databases

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Plan for potential incidents and breach scenarios, cybersecurity conference hears

Businesses should prepare an incident plan for security breaches in advance to know what resources they’ll need to deal with it. Speaking at the Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet Cybercrime Conference earlier today, Brian Honan said that running different scenarios can help businesses identify whether they’ll need assistance from IT, legal, HR or public relations.

Research from the Institute of Directors in Ireland has found that 69 per cent of SMBs claim they’re prepared for a data breach. Brian flipped that statistic to point out that this means almost one third of business owners have no such plan.

Never mind cyber; it’s crime

He also encouraged companies to report incidents like ransomware, CEO fraud or a website infection. “Don’t forget you’re the victim of a crime. In most cases, a cybersecurity incident is treated as an IT problem, not even a business issue or a crime. It’s a mindset change. It’s not separate to your business, it’s integral to it.” To help make that change, he suggested: “we should drop the name ‘cyber’.”

When businesses have to disclose an incident, Brian called on them not to use the phrase ‘we suffered a sophisticated breach’ – because most times, it’s not true. In many cases, incidents are due human error, or to bad practices like poor passwords. “If you’re using cloud email, enable two-factor authentication and educate people in using secure passwords. Encourage them not to click on suspicious links,” he said.

Other attacks exploit platforms like WordPress and Joomla. Businesses using those tools to run their websites need to continuously manage and update them, Brian said. “Many web vulnerabilities and threats like attack types like SQL injection are known about for over 10 years,” he said.

Steps to better security

Companies can take several steps to improve their security, such as establishing policies. “They’re very important – they set the strategy for the business and help everybody to meet it,” said Brian. Having systems to monitor and respond to suspicious activity is also essential. “Look at the physical world: you can’t guarantee your business won’t be burgled. It’s the same in online world, but we need to be able to detect when it happens,” he said.

The best security investment a business can make is in awareness training for employees, Brian added. These programmes educate staff about how to identify potential attacks, and how to handle information in a secure way.

He also encouraged businesses to disclose when they have suffered an incident, to help improve overall security. “Everybody will have a breach, there’s no shame in that, so let’s get over that and share information to help each other,” he said.

Tackling the cybersecurity skills gap

Research shows a high proportion of security breaches take months to recover from, which is partly due to an industry skills shortage. “The biggest problem we have is a lack of skilled staff in cybersecurity,” Brian said. The conference saw the launch of a new programme to train 5,000 people in cybersecurity over the next three years. The Cybersecurity Skills Initiative aims to address the shortage in skilled security personnel.

It’s worth asking whether the industry is open to candidates without formal degrees in cybersecurity or computer science. Brian said some companies may need to relax restrictive HR policies such as requiring formal degrees in security or computer science to attract the right people into security roles. Otherwise, they could be missing out on enthusiastic, experienced and skilled people.

 

 

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Forget C-I-A, Availability Is King

In the traditional parlance of infosec, we've been taught repeatedly that the C-I-A triad (confidentiality, integrity, availability) must be balanced in accordance with the needs of the business. This concept is foundational to all of infosec, ensconced in standards and certification exams and policies. Yet, today, it's essentially wrong, and moreover isn't a helpful starting point for a security discussion.

The simple fact is this: availability is king, while confidentiality and integrity are secondary considerations that rarely have a default predisposition. We've reached this point thanks in large part to the cloud and the advent of utility computing. That is, we've reached a point where we assume uptime and availability will always be optimal, and thus we don't need to think about it much, if at all. And, when we do think about it, it falls under the domain of site reliability engineering (SRE) rather than being a security function. And that's a good thing!

If you remove availability from the C-I-A triad, you're then left with confidentiality and integrity, which can be boiled down to two main questions:
1) What are the data protection requirements for each dataset?
2) What are the anti-corruption requirements for each dataset and environment?

In the first case you quickly go down the data governance path (inclusive of data security), which must factor in requirements for control, retention, protection (including encryption), and masking/redaction, to name a few things. From an overall "big picture" perspective, we can then more clearly view data protection from an inforisk perspective, and interestingly enough it now makes it much easier to drill down in a quantitative risk analysis process to evaluate the overall exposure to the business.

As for anti-corruption (integrity) requirements, this is where we can see traditional security practices entering the picture, such as through ensuring systems are reasonably hardened against compromise, as well as appsec testing (to protect the app), but then also dovetailing back into data governance considerations to determine the potential impact of data corruption on the business (whether that be fraudulent orders/transactions; or, tampering with data, like a student changing grades or an employee changing pay rates; or, even data corruption in the form of injection attacks).

What's particularly interesting about integrity is applying it to cloud-based systems and viewing it through a cost control lens. Consider, if you will, a cloud resource being compromised in order to run cryptocurrency mining. That's a violation of system integrity, which in turn may translate into sizable opex burn due to unexpected resource utilization. This example, of course, once again highlights how you can view things through a quantitative risk assessment perspective, too.

At the end of the day, C-I-A are still useful concepts, but we're beyond the point of thinking about them in balance. In a utility compute model, availability is assumed to approach 100%, which means it can largely be left to operations teams to own and manage. Even considerations like DDoS mitigations frequently fall to ops teams these days, rather than security. Making the shift here then allows one to more easily talk about inforisk assessment and management within each particular vertical (confidentiality and integrity), and in so doing makes it much easier to apply quantitative risk analysis, which in turn makes it much easier to articulate business exposure to executives in order to more clearly manage the risk portfolio.

(PS: Yes, I realize business continuity is often lumped under infosec, but I would challenge people to think about this differently. In many cases, business continuity is a standalone entity that blends together a number of different areas. The overarching point here is that the traditional status quo is a failed model. We must start doing things differently, which means flipping things around to identify better approaches. SRE is a perfect example of what happens when you move to a utility computing model and then apply systems and software engineering principles. We should be looking at other ways to change our perspective rather than continuing to do the same old broken things.)

Ground Control to Major Thom

I recently finished a book called “Into the Black” by Roland White, charting the birth of the space shuttle from the beginnings of the space race through to it’s untimely retirement. It is a fascinating account of why “space is hard” and exemplifies the need for compromise and balance of risks in even the harshest … Read More

Security is Not, and Should not be Treated as, a Special Flower

My normal Wednesday lunch yesterday was rudely interrupted by my adequate friend and reasonable security advocate Javvad calling me to ask my opinion on something. This in itself was surprising enough, but the fact that I immediately gave a strong and impassioned response told me this might be something I needed to explore further… The UK … Read More