Force Multipliers - What Security & Risk Professionals Can Learn From Special Forces

Rick Holland

Last week I read an article on wired.com’s Danger Room blog about the elite US military Special Forces command, JSOC.  The units within the Joint Special Operations Command (Delta Force and Seal Team 6) are responsible for the most clandestine and sensitive US military operations, including the Bin Laden raid into Pakistan last year. JSOC is very similar to elite Special Forces (SF) units across the globe including: the Russian Spetnaz, British SAS, French Naval Commandos, and the Israeli Shayetet 13.  These SF units are capable of addressing asymmetric threats that traditional military units aren’t prepared to handle.

In the article, Spencer Ackerman interviews Marc Ambinder, one of the authors of The Command about JSOC. The article piqued my interest and I just finished reading the eBook. Like almost everything I do, I considered the information security implications as I read it.  Today’s infosec threat landscape is dominated by unconventional threats that are difficult to address. How can we leverage the techniques utilized by SF to deal with the cyber threats we face today?  I realize that we have an international audience, and my point isn’t to focus on US policy, but rather to take a deeper look at the unique capabilities of SF units and what lessons we can apply in our roles as S&R professionals.

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MSSP Valuation - Information For Selecting An MSSP

Edward Ferrara

I attended two really great presentations at MSPWorld yesterday. This is a very interesting conference, sponsored by the MSPAlliance[i] and co-hosted with IT-Expo but focused on managed service providers. Both dealt with the issue of MSP (MSSP) valuation. Many of the attendees are SMB (MSP/MSSP) business owners and this was a hot topic.

So what is an MSSP worth and if someone wanted to buy a business like this how much should they pay?  This is an important question for Forrester’s IT clients because the rules of valuation can help IT clients evaluate potential partners.  Financial stability and the intermediate and long-term plans of the MSSP should factor into the decision of selecting an MSSP.  In any negotiation it’s also always good to know what the other side is thinking.  Here’s the list:

1.     Recurring Revenue – What is the firm’s recurring revenue profile? What are the sources of revenue and how much of this revenue comes from long-term (multi-year) contracts?

2.     Service Agreements – What is the nature of the service-level agreements the firm has in place with other clients?  Do they address risk management and risk sharing? How much liability is the MSSP willing to accept for regulatory compliance and information breaches?

3.     Service Revenues – What percentage of the MSSP’s revenue comes from what types of business?

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New Research: Develop Effective Security Metics - Published this Month

Edward Ferrara

This month I published a new report on information security metrics, best practices as well as a maturity model to measure your maturity in the reporting process.  This report outlines the future look of Forrester's solution for security and risk (S&R) professionals looking to build a high-performance security program and organization. We designed this report to help S&R pros develop and report the appropriate security metrics for their security organization. Security metrics are a key initiative for chief information security officers (CISOs) today, but many struggle with picking the right metrics. Some CISOs use a broad-brush approach, using operational metrics to demonstrate security. The problem with this approach is that most people don't understand what the metrics are saying, and they don't understand how these metrics make their lives easier or harder. Good metrics are easy-to-understand, incite actions, and change behavior by providing a clear idea of why the audience cares. When CISOs present metrics, they must be able to clarify "What it means" and "What's in it for me?" Use this paper as a set of guidelines to develop a well-formed security metrics strategy and to drive behavior change and improve performance.

Take a look at these links:

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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Virtualization Security, Better Late Than Never

Rick Holland

I am excited to announce my latest research, The CISO's Guide To Virtualization Security. This is the first report in a new series focusing on securing virtual environments.  The reduced costs and flexibility of virtualization have led to widespread adoption of the technology.  Despite this adoption, security and risk professionals haven't given their virtual environments the attention that is required.  Our research interviews revealed several themes:

  • Business as usual is the status quo. IT departments rely upon traditional security solutions (end point and network security) to secure their virtual environments.  Depending on the network architecture, virtualization can create blind spots in your network leaving you blind to intra-virtual-machine (VM) communication. 
  • Many security pros aren't aware of the virtualization aware solutions available on the market. One CISO we spoke with wasn't aware that his organization's current antivirus vendor offered a virtualization aware solution.  This isn't necessarily surprising; many of the virtualization aware security solutions are relatively new to the market.  Virtualization aware solutions afford us the ability to have potentially greater visibility into workloads than we might have in our traditional physical environment.
  • Many security pros have a general discomfort with virtualization. Security pros, especially CISOs and other security leaders who have risen up the technical ranks, aren't as confident in their virtualization knowledge as they would like to be. This is particularly the case when we compare virtualization with more mature security areas, such as network security.
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Xmas IAM Spending Spree: Quest Software Acquires BiTKOO, Enters IAM Suite Provider Market

Andras Cser

With only 4 stack players in Identity and Access Management, it is always welcoming news to see a new company joining the space. Quest Software is on a shopping spree: it acquired e-DMZ (privileged identity management), Völcker Informatik AG (provisioning), Symlabs (virtual directories), and now BiTKOO (XACML entitlement management). Forrester expects that in reaction to its main competitor NetIQ taking over Novell’s IAM portfolio, Quest will expand significantly into the non-Windows, heterogeneous IAM space. Forrester further expects that Symantec and to some degree Intel will follow suit, as both of these companies announced cloud-based IAM offerings.

InfoSec: Enterprise Architecture Building Codes

Edward Ferrara

There are many types of criminals. These include thrill-seeking hackers, politically motivated hackers, organized criminals after financial gain, and state-sponsored groups after financial gain and intellectual property or both.  Any of these have the potential to break these capabilities through information loss, or denial of service. Business processes and their associated transactions need to look at information security as a key component of any architectural design we might create as Enterprise Architects.

Security architecture is dependent on the idea of “security.”  Security by some definitions is the trade-off of convenience for protection.  When I am unloading the car and have an armful of groceries, it's challenging to unlock the front door at the same time. Alternatively I could just leave the front door unlocked but that might invite guests I had not planned for. So I trade convenience for protection.

  • Security is often seen as in conflict with business users; however, security is a process that protects the business and allows it to effectively operate.
  • Security is in response to perceived business risks.
  • Security can be seen as a benefit and a business enabler and can aid organizations to achieve their business objectives.
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Enterprises Continue To Drive Adoption Of Advanced Endpoint Security Tools, But SMBs Are Not Far Behind

Stephanie Balaouras

Guest post from S&R Researcher Chris Sherman. 

Host-based intrusion prevention systems, host-based data leak protection, full disk and file level encryption . . . all are important tools used on the frontline of endpoint security. They all offer added levels of protection when used with traditional client AV and patch management systems, but at what cost? In order for these tools to be used correctly, organizations must be prepared to invest in increased IT staffing and product training for administrators. This generally proves to be too high of an obstacle for many SMBs, leaving a majority of the market to comprise of enterprises customers and big spenders. With their higher budgets and dedicated IT staff, enterprises are better positioned to take advantage of these advanced security technologies.

However, according to recent Forrester survey data, SMBs are just as interested in using these advanced security technologies. In our latest report "Endpoint Security Adoption Trends, Q2 2011 To Q4 2012," we present data showing adoption patterns of the various endpoint technologies in both SMBs and enterprises, while offering some analysis on what this means for security professionals looking to support current and future trends.

For those of you who are already planning on increasing your investment in endpoint security next year, which tools specifically are you looking at? What are your decision criteria?

@ChrisShermanFR

Announcing Two New Forrester Waves: Enterprise GRC And IT GRC

Chris McClean

After months of diligent product and vendor evaluations, today we published The Forrester Wave: Enterprise GRC Platforms, Q4 2011. In the next few days, we will also publish The Forrester Wave: IT GRC Platforms, Q4 2011. These two reports feature a total of 20 vendors, all with proven capabilities to help customers tackle their continuously mounting regulatory challenges and manage their complicated risk profiles.

Why two Forrester Waves?

Governance, risk, and compliance functions within large and medium enterprises demonstrate tighter collaboration all the time... audit is working more closely with risk, and compliance programs are consolidating under more centralized control. However, Forrester still sees a gap between the requirements of those responsible for IT risk and compliance and the requirements of those managing risk and compliance outside of IT. No doubt, there is often substantial overlap between these groups, and many of the vendors evaluated have customers using their products to supports both IT and enterprise GRC functions. You’ll notice that of the roughly 60 evaluation criteria for each Wave, there are only 3-4 that differ between them. For now though, they remain basically two distinct markets.

So, what did we learn from the countless hours of briefings, demos, customer surveys, and other research we did for this Wave?

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Dusting Off Our Content Security Crystal Ball

Rick Holland

Winter is coming; the year is quickly drawing to a close, and its time to a look back and see how accurate our content security crystal ball was for 2011.  Last year we predicted three trends; two were accurate and one was partially correct. Let's take a closer look.

1)  Content security spending will slow down - We were right. According to our latest survey data, the content security budget represented 6% of the total IT security budget; this is a 1% decrease from 2010. Content security remains one of the lowest budgeted technology areas in IT.

2)  Consolidation will continue to drive suite offerings - We were partially correct. In 2011, we didn't see any significant M&A activity in the content security space.  While we were wrong on the vendor consolidation prediction, we were correct on the prediction that market leaders would increase their data loss prevention and mobile capabilities to further solidify their market positions.

3)  Mobile filtering will enter mainstream IT - We were correct. Laptop filtering is mainstream, and mobile device filtering is gaining momentum and getting significant attention. Content security vendors are currently testing content filtering on mobile phones and tablets.

What about 2012?  To see what five trends we predict will impact your strategy next year, check out the full document: "Content Security: 2012 Budget And Planning Guide."  Here's a teaser, is your content security strategy ready for the extended enterprise?