Avoid The Information Security Squirrel

Rick Holland

"My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!"  

In the Pixar film Up, squirrels frequently distract Dug the talking dog. In our space, we are frequently distracted by technology. "I am a good and smart security professional; I must protect my enterprise so that we are secure. APT defense in a box!"  

The expo floors at industry events such as the RSA Conference and Blackhat contribute to this. Signage touts the next great piece of technology that will solve all of our security problems. We allow Big Data, security analytics, threat intelligence, and APT defense in a box to distract us.  It is easy to do; there is no shortage of challenges for today’s security and risk professional. The threat landscape is overwhelming. We have problems recruiting and retaining the right staff.  Day-to-day operational duties take up too much time. Our environments are complex, and we struggle to get the appropriate budget.

These “security technology du jour” solutions are very appetizing.  They compel us much like IDS, IPS, and SIM did in the past. We want and need the “easy” button.  Sadly, there is no “easy” button and we must understand that threat protection doesn't equal a product or service; there is no single solution. Technology alone isn't the answer we are looking for. 

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Bit9’s Operational Oversight Is Probably Your Operational Reality

Rick Holland

You are now no doubt aware that Boston-based security firm Bit9 suffered an alarming compromise, which resulted in attackers gaining access to code-signing certificates that were then used to sign malicious software. See Brian Kreb’s article for more details. (Symantec breathes a quiet sigh of relief to see a different security vendor in the headlines.)

The embarrassing breach comes at a time when the company has been seen as one of the security vendor landscape’s rising stars. Bit9 has actually been around for more than a decade, but the rise of targeted attacks and advanced malware has resulted in significant interest in Bit9’s technology. In late July, Bit9 secured $34.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital. Bit9’s future was bright. 

On Friday afternoon, Bit9 CEO Patrick Morley published a blog providing some initial details on the breach. A few of his comments stood out:  “Due to an operational oversight within Bit9, we failed to install our own product on a handful of computers within our network … We simply did not follow the best practices we recommend to our customers by making certain our product was on all physical and virtual machines within Bit9."

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Expense In Depth And The Trouble With The Tribbles

Rick Holland

You remember the tribbles don't you? The cute, harmless looking alien species from the second season of the original Star Trek that turn out to be anything but benign. They are born pregnant and reproduce at an alarming rate. The tribbles threaten the ship, but fortunately Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is able to transport all of the furry creatures to a departing Klingon ship.  The tribbles remind me of technology investments:

  • You start out small, but before you realize it the technology is everywhere and you are overwhelmed.  It ends up in places you never intended. 
  • Like the relaxing purr of the tribbles, the flashing lights of racks and stacks of gear gives us warm comfort at night 
  • Tribbles consume everything, just like the operational requirements of much of our technology investment: resources, budget, and productivity are all devoured.
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Security Forum 2010: Day 2 Keynotes-At-A-Glance

Stephanie Balaouras

Last week, I wrote a blog post summarizing the Day 1 opening keynotes at Forrester’s Security Forum.  This week, I’d like to recap the Day 2 opening keynotes. The second or last day at any event is always a challenge; attendees are always tempted to leave early or to stay in their hotel rooms to get some work done or if the event is in Vegas, squeeze in some craps (my favorite) or drop a few coins in a nearby slot. Luckily, we held the event in Boston and the lobsters have nowhere to run, so most attendees were happy to stick around until the end of the day. Not only did we have great attendance on Day 2, but there was a palpable buzz in the air. The audience asked tough questions and no one was spared — Forrester analysts, industry guest speakers, and vendors. While the main topic of Day 1 seemed to focus on risk and overall strategy, governance, and oversight, Day 2 focused on coming up with the specifics — the specific plans, the specific policies. As Andrew Jaquith stated in his keynote, to provide better data security, “you don’t need more widgets, what you need is a plan.”

Below are some of the highlights from the Day 2 keynotes: 

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