I get criticised occasionally for long and detailed posts that some readers complain treat them like beginners, but sadly if I don't I get comments such as this in reply
Data Loss is something you prevent; you enforce controls to prevent data
leakage, DLP can be a programme, but , I find very difficult to support
with a policy.
Does one have visions of chasing escaping data over the net with a three-ring binder labelled "Policy"?
Let me try again.
Policy comes first.
Without policy giving direction, purpose and justification, supplying the basis for measurement, quality and applicability (never mind issues such as configuration) then you are working on an ad-hoc basis.
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.
Take a look at this article.
You're back? What did you think of it?
OK, now look again, scroll down the section titled "Risk Management". It picks up on a number of themes I've discussed and has this interesting observation:
Prioritization of security efforts is a prudent step, naturally. The problem is that when risk management is done strictly by the numbers, it does deceptively little to actually understand, contain, and manage real-world problems. Instead, it introduces a dangerous fallacy: that structured inadequacy is almost as good as adequacy, and that underfunded security efforts plus risk management are about as good as properly funded security work.
Guess what? No dice:
The author goes on to illustrate a number of ways that the approach we as the InfoSec community have preached and practised makes no sense.
It seems that to make better cybersecurity-related decisions a senior FBI official recommends considering a simple algebraic equation:
rather than solely focusing on threat vectors and actors.
To be honest, I sometimes wonder why people obsess about threat vectors in the first place. There seems to be a beleive that the more threats you face, the higher your risk, regardless of your controls and regardless of the classification of the threats.
Look at it this way: what do you have control over?
Why do you think that people like auditors refer to the protective and detective mechanisms as "controls"?
Yes, if you're a 600,000 lb gorilla like Microsoft you can take down one - insignificant - botnet, but the rest of us don't have control over the threat vectors and threat actors.
What do we have control over?
Vulnerabilities, to some extent. We can patch; we can choose to run alternative software; we can mask off access by the threats to the vulnerabilities. We can do things to reduce the the "vulnerability surface" such as partitioning our networks, restricting access, not exposing more than is absolutely necessary to the Internet (why oh why is your SqlServer visible to the net, why isn't it behind the web server, which in turn is behind a firewall).
Asset to a large extent. Document them. Identify who should be using them and implement IAM.
And very import: we have control over RESPONSE.
Did the FBI equation mention response? I suppose you could say that 'awareness' is a part of a response package. Personally I think that response is a very, very important part of this equation, and its the one you have MOST control over.
And response is - or should be - totally independent of the threats
since it focuses on preserving and recovering the assets.
I think they have it very, very confused and this isn't the most productive, most effective way of going about it. But then the FBI's view of policing is to go after the criminals, and if you consider the criminals to be the threat then that makes sense.
But lest face it, most corporations and are not in the business of policing. neither are home users.
Which is why I focus on the issue of "what you have control over".
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