Introducing Forrester's Cyber Threat Intelligence Research

Rick Holland

We have started a new report series on Cyber Threat Intelligence.  The first report, "Five Steps To Build An Effective Threat Intelligence Capability," is designed to help organizations understand what threat intelligence is and how to establish a program. If you're not a Forrester client and would like the report, Proofpoint is providing a complementary copy. On Thursday March 28th, I will be conducting a Forrester webinar on the report.  Please join me if you'd like to get a deeper perspective on it.  In the future, we will expand on sections of this intial report with additional research including:

  • A collaborative report with Ed Ferrara looking at the cyber threat intelligence vendor landscape
  • An in depth report on "Step No. 5: Derive Intel" 
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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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Incident Response Isn’t About Point Solutions; It’s About An Ecosystem

Rick Holland

Today EMC announced the acquisition of Silicium Security.  Silicium’s ECAT product is a malware threat detection and response solution.  ECAT did not adopt the failed signature based approach to malware detection and instead leveraged whitelisting and anomaly detection.  Incident response teams can leverage ECAT to quickly identify and remediate compromised hosts.  ECAT joins NetWitness and enVision.  

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Observations From Black Hat - More Defense Please

Rick Holland

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 15th annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. I have attended DEFCON in the past, but never Black Hat. The conference has grown significantly each year, and judging by the size of the expo floor, the vendors understand its significance. I enjoyed the conference and had great conversations with practitioners and vendors alike. Here are some observations from two of the sessions that I attended:

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Kim Kardashian And APTs

Rick Holland

On Wednesday, American footwear company Skechers agreed to pay the US Federal Trade Commission $40 million. This settlement resulted from a series of commercials that deceived consumers claiming that the Shape-Ups shoe line would “help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles.”  Professional celebrity Kim Kardashian appeared in a 2011 Super Bowl commercial personally endorsing the health benefits of these shoes.  

This settlement was part of an ongoing FTC campaign to “stop overhyped advertising claims.”  A similar effort would serve the information security community well.  For example, one particular claim that causes me frequent grief is: “solution X detects and prevents advanced persistent threats.”  It is hard, dare I say impossible, to work in information security and not have heard similar assertions. I have heard it twice this week already, and these claims make my brain hurt.

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Open & Honest - Should Breach Disclosure Be Mandatory?

Andrew Rose

A few months ago I shared a flight with a very pleasant lady from a European regulatory body.  After shoulder surfing her papers and seeing we were both interested in information security (ironic paradox acknowledged!) we had a long chat about how enterprises could stand a chance against the hacktivist and criminal hordes so intent on stealing their data.

My flight-buddy felt that the future lay in open and honest sharing between organisations – i.e. when one is hacked they would immediately share details of both the breach and the method with their peers and wider industry; this would allow the group to look for similar exploits and prepare to deflect similar attacks. Being somewhat cynical, and having worked in industry, I felt that such a concept was idealised and that organisations would refuse to share such information for fear of reputational or brand damage – she acknowledged that it was proving tougher than she had expected to get her organisations to  join in with this voluntary disclosure!

Across the US and Europe we are seeing a move toward ‘mandatory’breach disclosure; however they have seemingly disparate intentions.  US requirements focus on breaches that may impact an organisations financial condition or integrity, whilst EU breach notification is very focussed on cases where there may have been an exposure of personal data.  Neither of these seem to be pushing us toward this nirvana of ‘collaborative protection’.

In the UK, I’m aware that the certain organizations, within specific sectors, will share information within their small closed communities, unfortunately this is not widespread and certainly does not reflect the concept of ‘open and honest’ as my flight-buddy would have envisaged.

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Planning For Failure, Personal Edition -- Strategies To Protect Yourself In 2012

Rick Holland

This week I did a webcast, Planning for Failure, which makes the assumption that if you haven't been breached, it is inevitable, and you must be able to quickly detect and respond to incidents.  An effective response can be the difference between your organization's recovery and future success or irreparable damage.  While I was working on the slides for the webcast, I started to reflect back on the 2011 security breaches that personally impacted me.   Three breaches immediately came to mind:

  1. Texas Teacher Retirement System -  My personal data was stored unencrypted on a public server
  2. Epsilon - Email compromise that resulted in increased phishing attempts
  3. STRATFOR - My personal information, credit card and password hash were stolen
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