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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Big Data for Fraud Management

Andras Cser

We will be conducting research to look into how big data can be used for better fraud management. We define big data as data of Volume, Velocity and Variety. Our premise is that more and more granular data from more sources allows banks, insurers, government agencies, e-Retailers to cut fraud losses more aggressively.We are interested in your thoughts around this topic.

A 'BYO' Too Far?

Andrew Rose

Undoubtedly, most of you will have seen the amazing story about the developer who secretly outsourced his own role to China, investing 20% of his annual salary to free up almost all his work time. The ruse came to light when the firm, who were pushing forward with a more flexible working package, noticed anomalous VPN activity and called in their telecom provider to investigate. The logs indicated that their lead programmer, "Bob," was apparently regularly telecommuting from Shenyang despite being peacefully sat at his desk surfing the Internet for amusing cat videos.

It transpires that "Bob" had FedExed his SecurID token to China and was allowing the remote development company VPN access to his employer's network so that they could do his day job for him.

Irrespective of the terrible security implications here, and they are pretty horrid, "Bob" was delivering high-quality code to schedule.  In fact, his performance review regularly identified him as the best developer they had!  And what "Bob" did here was not difficult – many sites offer the services of dedicated professionals such as developers, designers, proofreaders, even lawyers, for a small price.

In a business environment where we encourage flexible working, allow personal devices, and seek to incentivize workers for innovation, excellence, and performance, "Bob" could be held up as a role model, but at what cost to the enterprise?

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The Atlantic Ocean Divides Financial Aspirations For CISOs In 2013

Andrew Rose

 

As 2012 came to a close, we studied the financial position of many CISOs and asked about their expectations for 2013. Unsurprisingly, it was apparent that 2012 was another difficult year and that CISOs had been keeping their belts tight once again. When compared with the other IT departments, however, it became clear that this budgetary flat-line actually represented quite a success, as 2012 had seen most other teams face further cutbacks and spending restrictions.

When we looked ahead to 2013, we saw the usual hopeful optimism from the CISOs – proving once again that any allegation of a correlation between ‘pessimists’ and ‘security professionals’ is complete nonsense.  It was interesting, however, to note a marked difference in attitudes dependent upon which side of the Atlantic the respondent was located.  Put simply, North American based CISOs had a much more buoyant view of security related finances in 2013 than their European peers.

 

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A 2012 Security Incident Recap By The Numbers

Heidi Shey

Before we get too far along into 2013, I’d like to take a moment to reflect back on the events of 2012. Thanks to our friends at CyberFactors*, this is what we saw:

Overall

  • 1,468 (publicly reported) incidents. This includes everything from stolen laptops to external hacks to third party partners mishandling data to employees accidentally disclosing data via email.
  • 274,129,444 (known) records compromised. In the 608 cases where there was a record count reported, this was the total count. 

Types of data lost/compromised

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) was compromised in 53% of cases. This also includes credit card or bank account information, as well as medical or health insurance information.
  • Company confidential information (CCI) was compromised in 4% of cases. This includes things like proprietary intellectual property (IP), compensation data, business plans, corporate financial data, and information subject to a non-disclosure agreement with a third party. These types of incidents may not always be publicly reported, assuming that organizations are even aware that it has occurred or is happening. IP is a valuable asset, and must be protected
  • Governmental information was compromised in 42% of cases. This includes things like address, voting data, driver’s license numbers, state or Federal tax IDs, Social Security numbers, and passport information.
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Security Vendors You Should Know

Heidi Shey

One of the really cool things about this analyst gig is that we get to field client inquiry calls – 30 minutes where we hop onto the phone to speak with our clients and answer their questions about the topics that we cover. As of the week before Christmas, analysts on the security and risk team have jumped onto over 300 inquiries so far this quarter when not on a plane or on site with a client (and this is a slow quarter given all the holidays!). Vendors are one topic that we discuss quite a bit with S&R pros because, let’s face it, there’s are vendors that are really good at marketing and there are also vendors that just haven’t shown up on your radar.

Research report ideas are often born from inquiries as we notice trends in the types of questions that are asked. As we continue to hammer out research agendas for 2013, we’re thinking of adding a new stream of research for our security playbooks: Vendors You Should Know. It would not be the same as a Forrester Wave which compares established vendors, but rather a report which highlights smaller, emerging vendors that are disrupting the existing market with a unique, innovative technology or service to solve a client’s painful challenge or perhaps alter current approaches to information security. It’s a report to recognize emerging vendors who raise the bar, but may not necessarily raise the most buzz. These would be living research documents that are updated periodically as market events and technological developments warrant changes.

S&R pros, does this type of research appeal to you? Which areas would you like for us to identify vendors you should know? What business and security challenges are you grappling with where you would like to see us profile emerging vendors that could help?

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Shoulder Surfing The Friendly Skies

Rick Holland

FAIL at 30,000ish feet 

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).

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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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How Do You Maintain Your Security Edge?

Heidi Shey

Keeping up with the threat and IT landscape, looking ahead to future technology and disruptive technologies, and keeping up with the regulatory landscape to identify what it means to your organization is no small task. It’s also not a technology issue, but one that involves your most valuable asset: people. S&R pros, call it maintaining your security edge: keeping skills fresh, encouraging new ideas to flow, and preventing the security group from getting stale and set in their ways and habits. Fail to invest in your people, and an exodus of talent will the least of your concerns as a new type of internal threat is born. A security team and an organization that maintains their security edge will be better equipped to protect the organization and its assets through better decision making at all levels.

I’m kicking off research on this topic in the coming weeks, and would love to hear what you think it means to maintain your security edge. My initial ideas approach the topic from three angles:

  • Individual security contributors. These are the folks that need to keep their skills fresh and network with peers. Consider opening up opportunities for them to take continuing education courses, achieve certifications, or attend conferences. Encourage participation in online communities or social networks to connect with peers.
  • The security group as a whole. This is where group think may occur, and lead to less than optimal decisions, especially if there hasn’t been much focus given to the development of individual security contributors. Bringing in new blood and a fresh perspective with an external advisor can be beneficial. Or, perhaps, engage in information sharing with other organizations where appropriate.
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Yes, Social Media Is Risky — Find A Way To Make It Work

Nick Hayes

We just published a report explaining all the risks inherent in the use of social media and presenting best practice tools and techniques to manage those risks effectively.

Social media is one of the top three concerns for enterprises in 2012, according to our recent Forrsights Security Survey, and it’s easy to see why: Malware, social account hijacking, data leakage, HR concerns, regulatory compliance — these are just some of the most frequently cited challenges. And with new social media gaffes coming up all the time, like KitchenAid’s offensive tweet during one of the US presidential debates, American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy Sale, and news of Twitter user accounts getting hacked recently (as well as LinkedIn accounts earlier this year), companies have good reason to worry about their workforce having free, unrestricted access to social networks.

Here’s the problem: You can’t stop it. Sure, you can institute a zero-use policy and completely forbid your workforce from using social media at your company, but we found this is an impractical and ineffective solution.

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