Category Archives: Security

Top 3 attributes for businesses to benefit from Data Analytics – an Information Security & Business process perspective

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 4.08.18 PMBig Data introduces an opportunity that organizations see when merging silo product operations together forming a service layer or an enhanced hybrid product. Big Data also requires exceptional enterprise intelligence from the perspective of establishing the scaffolding for enterprise grwoth. That scaffolding requires advanced information technology system and business process matrix visibility.  My thesis … let me elaborate below on a single thread here given this is a subject I have been developing on recently…

In order for Big Data to work it requires abundant access to systems, data repositories, and the merging and tweaking of data beyond original data owner expectations or comprehension. The enterprise that balances the advantage of Big Data analytics with superior scaffolding will appreciate higher run rates and profitability without unfunded cost centers and above trend OpEx generally. The opportunity of Big Data without this business intelligence will be squandered and the benefits not realized as a direct result.

The CIO has this ownership and it is the purview of the Audit Committee to ensure that these risks are understood and tackled. The Board of Directors have proven to value equally the aggressiveness of Data Analytics with the ongoing revaluation of the risk tolerance and acceptance points of the business. As one can imagine, this is a familiar yet distinct activity within the executive structure, but three key attributes / activities that indicate a successful approach are as follows:

  1. Vertical awareness – product awareness, strategy, and full line of sight for each major revenue center
  2. Scrum topical teams – risk assessments and activities linked to the product market research initiatives
  3. Senior strategy alignment – what does the Board seek in this DA movement; What does the CEO/CIO envision on these product expansions; What is the audit committee observations (meaning that they must have visibility and mindfulness to the impact)

Think Big Data is not huge business? … consider these figures:

  • Gartner: Big Data Market is Worth $3.7 Trillion, Generating Over 4 Million Jobs by 2015 – article
  • Good short presentation on value of pattern based strategies, by Gartner
  • $29B will be spent on big data throughout 2012 by IT departments.  Of this figure (Forbes)

Or a classic business case example:

“The cornerstone of his [Sam Walton’s] company’s success ultimately lay in selling goods at the lowest possible price, something he was able to do by pushing aside the middlemen and directly haggling with manufacturers to bring costs down. The idea to “buy it low, stack it high, and sell it cheap” became a sustainable business model largely because Walton, at the behest of David Glass, his eventual successor, heavily invested in software that could track consumer behavior in real time from the bar codes read at Wal-Mart’s checkout counters.

“He shared the real-time data with suppliers to create partnerships that allowed Wal-Mart to exert significant pressure on manufacturers to improve their productivity and become ever more efficient. As Wal-Mart’s influence grew, so did its power to nearly dictate the price, volume, delivery, packaging, and quality of many of its suppliers’ products. The upshot: Walton flipped the supplier-retailer relationship upside down.”Changing The Industry Balance of Power

A good (no paywall) article on Forbes here breaks down the IT spent related directly to Big Data and compares against prior years up to 2012 & by industry.  

Also check out this MIT Sloan article co-developed with IBM entitled Big Data, Analytics and the path from Insight to Value  – most interesting for me was page 23 relating to Analytics trumping intuition.  This relates to EVERY business process, product, sales opportunity, accounting, fraud detection, compliance initiative, security analytics, defense and response capabilities, power management, etc …  A worthwhile read for each executive.

Think strategically act vertically and influence horizontally – scale!

James DeLuccia IV

*See me speak at RSA 2013 on the topic – Passwords are Dead

A call to reflect on your Risk Management & Security Program: UPnP vulnerabilities identified by Rapid7

The Rapid7 folks ran scans for 5+ months searching for and finding systems vulnerable to 3 different types of vulnerabilities that relate to UPnP.  The sheer volume, accessibility, diversity of vendor, and age of some of these systems is most interesting from an operational business standpoint.  First a few statistics from the report:

  • 23 million IPs are vulnerable to remote code execution through a single UDP packet
  • At least 6,900 product versions vulnerable through UPnP.
  • List encompasses over 1,500 vendors
  • 1 UDP packet can exploit any one of 8 vulnerabilities to libupnp
  • Some vulnerabilities were 2+ years old, yet 300+ products still are using insecure version 

A great write-up is available here by Darlene at ComputerWorld (chock full of links to additional facts & CERT) and of course all comments and feedback should be directed to HD Moore’s blog.  The report was worth the read, and while the technical details are important, I would challenge the executives reading this paper to consider operationally how they would seek to manage the vulnerable systems in their organizations and how their internal processes are designed to ensure such similar technical (symptoms) vulnerabilities across different types of products do no recur.  Or at least, devising a methodology to mitigate the risk to technology such as this that cannot be patched (vendor is gone; management tools non-existent, etc…) or addressed directly on the same system.

As our business processes further rely on network connected devices, the age and velocity of the industry is a risk that we must manage.  Acquisitions, businesses going under, kickstarters coming & going, and simply protocols losing support in the dev environments ALL are mitigated by governance and risk assessment methodologies.

  • How is your strategic program designed; is it effective to these shifts in business; how can it be enhanced?
  • How is the partnership with procurement, M&A, and business relations teams?   >> Consider the inputs as well as enhancing your program.

Thanks to Rapid7 for the research and raising this broader risk.

James DeLuccia

*See me at RSA 2013 speaking on – Passwords are Dead

The Enterprise Compliance and Security Game board

Questions that must be managed by the COO and CIO of every business relates to dedicating finite resources across the company. The products and services sold the by the business are developed and delivered to market as rapidly as possible in a race to be competitive. In the startup realm the concept of building in security, compliance, and privacy elements is very low priority. In most cases startups (and skunkworks within larger enterprises) depend upon the security of the libraries (ruby on rails, java libraries, etc…) and product components (UL Certified) to deliver security. Unfortunately depending upon the security and safety of the individual pieces is insufficient and inadequate when the elements (from here forward meant to refer to technology code and physical product components) are brought together in a new and non-obvious way. The emergence of these new products and services introduces dependencies, communication channels, new operating environments, and custom elements that reduce or eliminate the security-compliance-privacy elements that existed individually.

Leadership must then prioritize as immediately possible to introduce security-compliance-privacy. Companies certainly benefit by building these natively within the products and services at the Design & Build stage, as it is cheaper to build once then to re-design / re-code to meet the market expectation of security-compliance-privacy. The case when the organization must review its existing portfolio and decide what should be done, is the focus of this article. An analysis is necessary to evaluate the landscape of necessary and appropriate security-compliance-privacy requirements, and which products or services should be updated.

Or stated another way …

Where on the game board do the services and products of our company get prioritized to receive compliance, security, and privacy ‘attention’?

Such an analysis should at least include:

  1. Listing of all required regulations and business best practices
  2. Listing of all legal and contractual obligations
  3. Discovery of similar product / services in the market and list any requirements outlined resulting from litigation and similar government agency enforcement actions
  4. Strategic roadmap review – identify any likely near term requirements
  5. Listing of all requirements the individual products & services will be subject to from the customer’s perspective

At this point a robust listing exists on what the products and services should support. A cross-map of these requirements should then be produced for optimized adoption and sustained operation. The cross map will also provide the design specifications that will contribute to the use cases and product development life cycle.  An example of such is below:

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 4.01.26 PM

The above then (in sequence 1 to 5) are placed on your product / services game board and prioritization and risk management are possible. This is a process I designed in 2008 and have enhanced based on experience and client feedback building global security and compliance programs. Your program may need to consider additional facts and realities. I would love to hear your thoughts to enhance and challenge this method.

Best,

James DeLuccia

Latest report shows top attacking companies, 60x increases in attack intensity..

Latest report shows significant changes in the scale and type of attacks being executed, as recorded by one of the largest internet  infrastructure companies that includes additional data sources.  Akamai published their quarterly report today (January 23, 2013) and I am nearly through it … a few striking details that shift how I will recommend clients to identify; consider; and mitigate risks.  The top two items that are significant (one obvious) and important include:

  • China held its spot as the #1 source of observed attack traffic at 33%, with the United States at #2 at 13% (Not a huge surprise but an affirmation for many)
  • The amount of attack traffic that was seen during the activist (Operation Ababil) DDoS attacks was ~60x larger than the greatest amount of traffic that it had seen before for similar activist-related attacks (The volume, intensity, and strategy of the attacks is important as most do not consider a SIXTY TIMES in factor in risk mitigation calculations)

About the Akamai State of the Internet report 
Each quarter, Akamai publishes a “State of the Internet” report. This report includes data gathered from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform about attack traffic, broadband adoption, mobile connectivity and other relevant topics concerning the Internet and its usage, as well as trends seen in this data over time. Please visit www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet

You can request access to (registration) the report here, and the individual images from the report available here.  There is also a great set of write-ups coming out here and here.

Senior leadership (board of directors, audit committee members, CIO, COO) must ensure these realities are absorbed into the organization’s business processes.  Leadership and strategy shifts required to tackle these evolutions remains an executive responsibility.

Best,

James DeLuccia IV

*See me speak at RSA 2013 in February on – The Death of Passwords

Industrial Control Systems – the new security frontier, a call for Org change

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 10.42.40 AM

A quote similar stated that SCADA and basically systems controlling physical machines is the new attack surface.  It struck me as obvious and non-obvious upon reflection.  The security of these systems tends to be Facilities and not under the scope of concern of most CISO and certainly not the CIO.  That is unless the organization is structured where such operating roles are under the General Legal Counsel or the COO.  The structure of the organization as it relates to operational integrity, competitiveness, and ultimately compliance – security depends upon the organizational structures being adapted to the technology age. To often we forget the value of organizational strategy shifts, and this is one that will be necessary and provide valuable returns.

How can this trickle into the tactical operations of the business?

Consider this single example?

  • What controls do you have on checking the version of the HVAC units (software version) powering your data center and or corporate offices?
  • Is there a security control in place to have it; be sure it can handle the load, and testing to ensure it works?  I imagine yes to all 3, as these are ABC of operations

However ….

  • What is the version of the HVAC PLC / SCADA element that is being utilized by the vendor and monitoring teams that is accessible remotely?
  • When audits occur, do they check to be sure the device isn’t the Siemens or other manufacturer that was just highlighted at Defcon or on the news?

If this is the new frontier, we need to start structuring organizations in a manner that are designed to care for these considerations to allow for business to be agile and competitive.

Thoughts (a bit of latitude on the above terminology is requested, given I am simplifying the example to avoid to much technical specification and confusion)?

James