On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a story on hacking back titled, “Support Grows to Let Cybertheft Victims Hack Back.” The article describes a growing desire to permit the private sector to retaliate against attackers. Being proactive is one thing, but the notion of enterprises retaliating against attackers is ludicrous. I honestly cannot understand why this topic is still in the public discourse. I thought debating this was so 2012. Legality is an issue, but so is the ability of companies to successfully conduct these types of operations without blowback.
The article explains, “… companies that experience cybertheft ought to be able to retrieve their electronic files or prevent the exploitation of their stolen information." I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for most organizations, once the data has left your environment the chances of you retrieving it are very slim. Your data has left the building and it isn’t going to “re-spawn.” If you couldn’t prevent exfiltration of this data in the first place, what would make you think that you could prevent the subsequent exploitation of it?
I was very excited to finally get a copy of the much-anticipated 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR.) I have found the report to be valuable year after year. This is the 6th iteration and this year’s report includes 621 confirmed data breaches, as well as over 47,000 reported security incidents. 18 organizations from across the globe contributed to the report this year. The full report is 63 pages, and I have to say that Wade Baker and company did a great job making it an enjoyable read. I enjoyed the tone, and I found myself laughing several times as I read through it (Laughing and infosec aren't commonly said in the same breath.) There are tons of great references as well, ranging from NASCAR, to Biggie Smalls, the Violent Femmes and more. The mantra of this year’s report is “Understand Your Adversary’ is Critical to Effective Defense and Response.” Here are a few observations:
The focus on the adversary answers customer questions. Who is the adversary? This is a frequent question from Forrester clients. The Mandiant APT1 report stirred up much debate on state sponsored actors and Verizon's data and analysis gives us more perspective on this class of threat actor. The first table in the report profiles the threat actors that are targeting organizations. It provides a high level view that I suggest you include in any type of executive engagement activity you participate in. This 3rd party snapshot of the threat actors should resonate with a wide degree of audiences.
"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.
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
This Forrester-moderated panel of top security executives from Allergan, Zappos and Humana will discuss the impact of scale in solving Big Security challenges. Issues from the importance of scale in detecting advanced threats to benefits to the average user will be debated. Drawing on their experiences, these experts will share their views on why scale matters in the era of big data.
David Hannigan, Zappos, Information Security Officer
Stephen Moloney, Humana Inc., Manager, Enterprise Information Security
Jerry Sto. Tomas, Allergan, Inc., Director, IS Global Information Security
Predicting what malware will look like five years from now requires more than a crystal ball. In order to fully understand future threats and challenges, you need a finger on the broader pulse of technological innovation. Our panel of esteemed experts will attempt to guide a better understanding of where we may need to target our defensive efforts in the coming months and years.
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."
When you fly nearly every week, you can get pretty bored on a plane. When I am sick of working, playing games, or watching movies, my latest distraction is checking out laptop screens. Sometimes I'm curious what movie you are watching but other times I am interested in what type of confidential company information you are displaying for the world to see. In the past few weeks I have seen the following types of information on my fellow flyer's screens:
End of year/end of quarter sales numbers
Disciplinary emails regarding employee peformance
Pre launch marketing information (which I presumed to be under embargo)
Competitive displacement information
Most of the time I suggest that my fellow traveler invest in a privacy screen, and most of the time they are receptive to the suggestion. It really is astounding how many people don't spend the approximate $30 on one. If your company doesn't issue them, I suggest you work to change that stance. World readable aren't the permissions you want on your laptop screen, time for chmod (UNIX joke).
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.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the completion of my first Forrester Wave™: Email Content Security, Q4 2012. I’d like to thank the research associates (Jessica McKee and Kelley Mak) who assisted me with this project. We performed a 47-criteria evaluation of nine email content security vendors. Given my background as a practitioner and solutions engineer, one of the key requirements to participate was unsupervised access to a demo environment. I had access to the environments throughout the evaluation process and found them to be a great option for validating features and “getting to know” the user interfaces. Here are some of the key findings:
Email security is a critical component of your portfolio
Email is a key component of business processes within enterprises and must be secured. Despite the fact that email security is low on the spending priority list, it’s critical that organizations safeguard email. Email is a popular attack vector for targeted attacks, and HIPAA and PCI mandate that emails containing confidential data be secured.
Vendors are delivering enhanced capabilities in response to the threat and compliance landscape. Big data analytics are leveraged to combat targeted attacks. Encryption capabilities have been improved and simplified. Channel DLP is now robust and feature-rich.
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.