An article on Linked entitled 'The Truth about Practices" started a discussion thread with some of my colleagues.
The most pertinent comment came from Alan Rocker:
I'm not sure whether to quote "Up the Organisation", ("If you must have a policy manual, reprint the Ten Commandments"), or "Catch-22" (about the nice "tidy bomb pattern" that unfortunately failed to hit the target), in support of the article. Industry-wide metrics can nevertheless be useful, though it's fatal to confuse a speedometer and a motor.
However not everyone in the group agreed with our skepricism and the observations of the autor of the article.
And Anton aren't the controls you advocate so passionately best practices? >
NOT. Make that *N*O*T*!*!*! Even allowing for the lowercase!
From the left hand doesn't know what the right hands is doing department:
Ngair Teow Hin, CEO of SecureAge, noted that smaller companies
tend to be "hard-pressed" to invest or focus on IT-related resources
such as security tools due to the lack of capital. This financial
situation is further worsened by the tightening global and local
economic climates, which has forced SMBs to focus on surviving
above everything else, he added.
Well, lets leave the vested interests of security sales aside for a moment.
I read recently an article about the "IT Doesn't matter" thread that basically said part of that case was that staying at the bleeding edge of IT did not give enough of a competitive advantage. Considering that most small (and many large) companies don't fully utilise their resources, don't fully understand the capabilities of the technology they have, don't follow good practices (never mind good security), this is all a moot point.
And this doesn't actually stop them form making use of 'insider information' they just have to declare it within 30 days.
No, wait, sorry ... you mean that the legislators are saying that legislators shouldn't do something that is illegal anyway? Or that, if they do something that is already illegal, it is OK as long as they declare it within 30 days? ...
It gets worse:
I'd like to claim the system is rigged so 'the rich get richer' but if I did that some people who claim they are right wing would accuse me of being left wing. Indeed, this tells me that their political outlook has not progressed since 20 June 1789. This one-dimensional view fails to describe the rich variety of political attitudes in the Washington, never mind the rest of the USA and points elsewhere on the physical compass.
Just those two show we need more that 4 axes to describe a political stance. But as I mentioned in a previous post, journalists are simple-minded and expect the rest of the world to be as limited in outlook and understanding.
Try this test:
How does this all relate to InfoSec, you ask.
Well part of that Political Compass is a view of 'how authoritarian'.
And that gets back to issues we have to deal with such as Policy and Enforcement, Do We Let Employees have Access to the Internet, and the like.
Hans Eysenk pointed out that the right wing (e.g. Fascism and Nazism) had a lot in common with the left wing (communism). Both are repressive, undemocratic and anti-Semitic. So on these issues, at least, the left-right distinction is meaningless.
How many more such simplistic distinctions such as those foisted on us by journalists are equally meaningless.
Some while ago my Australian fellow ex-pat Les Bell, who apart from being a CISSP is also a pilot, pointed out to me that the method of 'root cause analysis' is no longer used in analysing plane crashes. The reality is that "its not just one thing", its many factors. We all know that applies in most areas of life.
I suspect most people know that too; its not restricted to the digerati.
There is the old ditty that explains how because of a nail an empire was lost, but no-one is proposing that we fix the failing of the "American Empire" by manufacturing more nails.
Except possibly Journalists.
You gotta love the low-tech solution. It's really never NOT about people, is it?
Darn tooting right!
Its always people. Any way you look at it.
Which is why I go on about The 11th Domain.
Why the CBK places so much emphasis on technology when the (ISC)2's motto is "Security transends technology" and why the "people" aspect, social structures of organizations, behavioural psychology, group psychology and lot more, all of which are "about people" and probably have a greater leverage as far as InfoSec "Getting Things Done" (Especially in a stress-free manner_.
As I said previously, I think we're doing it wrong; and I don't mean just Risk Assessment!
Apparently (ISC)2 did this survey ... which means they asked the likes of us ....
Faced with an attack surface that seems to be growing at an overwhelming
rate, many security professionals are beginning to wonder whether their
jobs are too much for them, according to a study published last week.
Right. If you view this from a technical, bottom-up POV, then yes.
Conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the 2011 (ISC)2 Global Information
Security Workforce Study (GISWS) says new threats stemming from mobile
devices, the cloud, social networking, and insecure applications have
led to "information security professionals being stretched thin, and
like a series of small leaks in a dam, the current overworked workforce
may be showing signs of strain."
Patching madness, all the hands-on ... Yes I can see that even the octopoid whiz-kids are going to feel like the proverbial one-armed paper-hanger.
Which tells me they are doing it wrong!
Two decades ago a significant part of my job was installing and configuring firewalls and putting in AV. But the only firewall I've touched in the last decade is the one under my desk at home, and that was when I was installing a new desk. Being a Linux user here I don't bother with AV.
"Hands on"? Well yes, I installed a new server on my LAN yesterday.
No, I think I'll scrub it, I don't like Ubuntu after all. I'm putting
in Asterix. That means re-doing my VLAN and the firewall rules.
So yes, I do "hands on". Sometimes.
At client sites I do proper security work. Configuring firewalls, installing Windows patches, that's no longer "security work". The IT department does that. Its evolved into the job of the network admin and the Windows/host admin. They do the hands-on. We work with the policy and translate that into what has to be done.
Application vulnerabilities ranked as the No. 1 threat to organizations
among 72 percent of respondents, while only 20 percent said they are
involved in secure software development.
Which illustrates my point.
I can code; many of us came to security via paths that involved being coders, system and network admins. I was a good coder, but as a coder I had little "leverage" to "Get Things Done Right". If I was "involved" in secure software development I would not have as much leverage as I might have if I took a 'hands off' roles and worked with management to set up and environment for producing secure software by the use of training and orientation, policy, tools, testing and so forth. BTDT.
There simply are not enough of us - and never will be - to make security work "bottom up" the way the US government seems to be trying We can only succeed "top down", by convincing the board and management that it matters, by building a "culture of security".
This is not news. I'm not saying anything new or revolutionary, no matter how many "geeks" I may upset by saying that Policy and Culture and Management matter "more". But if you are one of those people who are overworked, think about this:
Wouldn't your job be easier if the upper echelons of your organizations, the managers, VPs and Directors, were committed to InfoSec, took it seriously, allocated budget and resources, and worked strategically instead of only waking up in response to some incident, and even then just "patching over" instead of doing things properly?
Information Security should be Business Driven, not Technology Driven.
 Or devolved, depending on how you look at it.
- Information Security By the Numbers (michaelpeters.org)
- Malware in Medical Equipment Poses Serious Threat to Hospital Security (eweek.com)
- Re: CISO Challenges: The Build vs. Buy Problem (1:2) (h30499.www3.hp.com)
- Information Security Awareness Through Analogy (clerkendweller.com)
Talk about difficult to read! I hate sites like this, only slightly more than ones that use a completely black background.
A large part of my "11th Domain" bleating is about communication - thinking in terms of the other person, their needs and views and how the 'message' you're sending will be received and interpreted.