Tag Archives: Free Software

Sharing security information

fragmentationI think fragmentation of knowledge is a root cause of data breaches.

It’s almost a cliche to say that the  security and compliance industry has done a poor job in preventing data breaches of over 245 million personal records in the past 5 years.

It is apparent that government regulation is  ineffective in preventing identity theft and major data loss events.

Given: direct data security countermeasures go a long way;  data loss prevention and network surveillance work well inside a  feedback loop to improve security of systems, increase employee awareness and support management accountability.

However: I believe that even if every business deployed Fidelis XPS Extrusion Prevention system or Verdays Digital Guardian or Websense Data Security suite – we would still have major data loss events.

This is because a major data loss event has three characteristics:

1.Appears as a complete surprise to the organization
2.Has a major impact to the point of maiming or destroying the company
3.Event, after it has appeared, is ‘explained’ by human hindsight.

The root cause of the surprise is, in most cases, a lack of knowledge – not knowing what is the current range of data security threat scenarios in the wild or not even knowing what are the top 10 in your type of business.

The root cause of the lack of knowledge is fragmentation of knowledge.

Every business from SME to Global 2000 deals with security issues and amass their own best practices and knowledge base of how to protect their information.  But, the knowledge is fragmented, since business organizations don’t share their loss data, and the dozens or maybe hundreds of vendor web sites that do disclose and categorize attacks don’t provide the business context of a loss event.

Fragmentation leads to waste and duplication, as well as frustrating, expensive and sometimes dangerous experiences for companies facing a data loss event.

So what’s the solution?

With our clients, we see growing evidence that the more organized a company is with their security operation – having a single security organization responsible for digital assets, physical security, permissions management and compliance – the better security they deliver. What’s more, they may be able to reduce value at risk at lower costs due to higher levels of competence, knowledge and economy of scale.

The concept of sharing best practices  and  aggregating support so that companies of all sizes can access knowledge and support resources is not new, it’s a common theme in  industrial safety and Free Open Source worlds – to name two. I imagine that there are a few more examples I am not familiar with.

But what’s in it for security professionals? In addition to the satisfaction and prestige in helping colleagues, how about learning from the biggest and best practioners in the world; having access to resources to improve your own systems and procedures and having the ability to analyze the history of a data loss event from disclosure to analysis to remediation? How about having peers with a common goal of providing the best security for customers?

It’s time for policymakers and large commercial organizations to support organized security knowledge sharing systems, starting with compensation to employees and independent consultants that rewards high-quality, coordinated, customer-centric security  across the full continuum of security, not just point technology solutions or professional regulatory services. And it’s time for firms to recognize that sharing some data may be worth the benefits to them and their customers.

That’s my opinion. I’m Danny Lieberman.

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Return on security investment

The Control Policy Group is presenting a series of 6 free online workshops starting Sep 3, 2009 at 15:00GMT. The first workshop, “Using data security metrics and a value-based approach”,  will teach measurement of how well  security tools reduce Value at Risk in dollars (or in Euro) and how well they will do 3 years from now.

The Control Policy Group is providing these workshops as a free service to the security and risk professionals community after having identified a gap between the security practioner and the management board.

The gap is this: the management speaks the language of money and security practioners speak the language of technical security countermeasures like DLP, database security and messaging security.

From a management board perspective, budgets for security projects like DLP are a capital cost in a down GFC economy – Control Policy Group clients in Europe and the Middle East have slashed down security and risk budgets about 50% since the beginning of the year.

From a security and risk practioner perspective, data breaches went up almost 50% in 2008, there is more phishing, more web defacing, more Web applications to secure and yet – less head-count and capital budget to do the job.

In order to close the gap – the Control Policy Group have built a model that helps an organization measure how well a new security product reduces Value at Risk in dollars (or in Euro) and how well it will do 3 years after you buy the technology.

Modern security tools are good at discovering exploitable vulnerabilities in the network, Web servers and applications.  However – since these tools have no notion of your business context and how much you value your information assets,  it is likely that a company’s security spending is misdirected.

This series of workshops is designed to help the security and risk team  take a  leadership role in the board room instead of waiting for vendor proposals. Through specific Business Threat Modeling(TM) tactical methods, you will learn how to quantify threats, valuate your risk and choose the most cost-effective security technologies to protect your data.

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Open document interchange

I read today that the South African government is more committed to ODF than ever.

(ODF – is Open Document Format – for the unwashed…) As someone who has been involved with open source since 1998 – I believe that the support and adoption of ODF by the South African government would never have happened if Open Office had not reached it’s current level of maturity.

Ostensibly, support for ODF is a public policy position with declaratory, functional and political aspects. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that Microsoft in South Africa is a powerful competitor for government business with excellent products.

Therefore – I believe that this is primarily an economic decision.

The Rand has depreciated from 7 to almost 12 on the US Dollar since last June.   A committment to ODF is  also support for Open Office and Ubuntu – all excellent, free Open Source products that  save the South African tax-payer millions of Rand a year on license fees to Microsoft.

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