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.
Our next installment of "Hackers vs. Executives" is just weeks away. Join us at the Forrester Security Forum and sit in on one of the most popular sessions of the event each year. We have a great panel lined up for you. In the Hackers corner, we have Chase Cunningham of Neustar and Brian Gorenc of HP Tippingpoint DVLabs. In his hacking demo, Chase will use social engineering, packaged exploit delivery, and credential harvesting to show you how open source data can create avenues for hackers to attack users and ultimately compromise your network. In his hacking demo, Brian will provide an in-depth look at what it takes to analyze a vulnerability and the steps required to weaponize it. Centering on a vulnerability in a Microsoft application, the demo will show you how an attacker can quickly move from proof-of-concept to remote code execution.
In the Executive corner, we have Richard Bejtlich of Mandiant and Steve Martino of Cisco Systems. Richard and Steve will discuss what these types of attacks mean to Security & Risk professionals, including how your organization can prepare and respond to them. John Kindervag and I will moderate the panel. There will be great discussion and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of all of our panelists. It will be a fantastic session; one you won't want to miss. Please join us in Las Vegas on May 25th from 11:05 to 12:40. Take a look at the Security Forum website for more details. John and I hope to see you there.
Last week saw news that yet another top GRC software vendor has been acquired, following in the footsteps of Paisley, Archer, OpenPages, among others. BWise has always been an impressive vendor in the GRC space, so first off I think congratulations are in order for both parties.
That said, if you didn’t foresee NASDAQ getting into the GRC software space coming, don’t beat yourself up… after seeing the large technology vendors and content providers enter the space over the past 3 years, this wasn’t an obvious move. But looking a little deeper, NASDAQ’s move makes sense for a couple reasons:
- NASDAQ’s target market cares about GRC. NASDAQ lists its target roles as marketing/corporate communications, board and corporate secretary, investor relations, and corporate finance. All of these roles have a vested interest in better controls, stronger risk management practices, and improved corporate governance.
- BWise has always focused on the “G” of GRC. More than any other of the top GRC software vendors, BWise targeted governance professionals with capabilities such as entity management.
- There are immediate integration possibilities. Among NASDAQ’s corporate solutions are products for board management, whistleblower reporting, and XBRL filing. BWise has a host of capabilities (issue management, process management, policy management, reporting, etc.) that could quickly add value to implementations of those products.
But, as always with a deal like this, both parties will have to show the market how they will address some key questions:
Even though it is not specific to security, this idea came to me while attending Dell’s Annual Analyst Conference (DAAC) in Austin, Texas two weeks ago. One of the hot topics discussed at the conference is the issue of bring your own device (BYOD). Dell recognizes this is a major trend and is looking for ways to remain true to its business-to-business DNA but still offer a competitive end-point solution with strong management and security capabilities. This is a problem for companies like Dell because a significant amount of revenue comes from corporate and not consumer sales, but BYOD is a consumer sale.
Not all is lost, however. As corporations move away from purchasing blocks of PCs for their employees, they will still have the capability to influence their employees to purchase certain equipment. The value for the employer is that they can still have some visibility to the types of equipment employees will use. The employee wins because they have assurances that the equipment they purchase has been vetted with some level of assurance that there is compliance with company systems.
What this means is that organizations will need to treat their former business customers as channel partners. I can envision scenarios where device makers provide their former customer marketing funds and special incentive funds (SPIFs) to encourage employees to buy their equipment. They will also be willing to offer the end user customer/employee a volume discount for employees for purchasing specific equipment. All of the major cell phone providers provide this type of program. PC makers, but also other types of device makers, need to start looking at their former customers as channel partners.
During the past three years, you may have noticed that security and risk professionals have added a new term to their lexicon – business resiliency. Is this just an attempt by vendors to rebrand business continuity (BC) and IT disaster recovery (DR) in much the same way that vendors rebranded information security as cybersecurity to make it seem sexier and to sell more of their existing products? Some of it certainly is rebranding. However, like the shift in the threat landscape from lone hackers to well-funded crime syndicates and state sponsored agents that precipitated the use of the term cybersecurity, a real shift has also taken place in BC/DR.
If you look up the term “resiliency” in the dictionary, it’s defined as “an occurrence of rebounding or springing back”. Thus, business resiliency refers to the ability of a business to spring back from a disruption to its operations. Historically, BC/DR focused on the ability of the business to recover from a disruption. Recovery implies that there was in fact a disruption, that for some period of time, business operations were unavailable, there was downtime as the business strove to recover. Resiliency, on the other hand, implies that an event may have affected the business’ operations, perhaps the business operated in a diminished state for some period of time, but operations were never completely unavailable, the business was never down.
We hear a lot about cloud IAM vendors offering metadirectories or user repositories in the cloud. We predict that in 1-2 years we'll see AD being moved from on-premises installations into cloud based services. This has a benefit of simpler provisioning, higher availability, muc, much easier support for federation both into SaaS applications and with business partners. Today the only technical difficulty is latency of access to AD in the cloud from on-premises applications, but we believe this will be resolved by some type of customer premises equipment (much like the reverse of Symplified's Identity Router today). Moving AD into the cloud will also have a huge impact on reducing the cost of AD management and improving delegated administration by providing easy-to-use web interfaces.
The current state of business continuity management (BCM) standards? Abysmal. According to a joint Forrester/DRJ study, 69% of respondents said that British Standard (BS) 25999 did not influence or only somewhat influenced BCM at their company. It’s not much better for NFPA 1600, 70% of respondents said that it did not, or only somewhat, influenced BCM at their company. I find this shocking. BS 25999 is one of the most widely recognized standards for BCM worldwide and NFPA 1600 has been popular in the US for years. In addition, the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Private Sector Preparedness Program (PS‑Prep) recognizes both of these standards for assessing preparedness. If you’re wondering what standards respondents named in the “Other” category, it was mostly the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and NIST. Not surprising but also a little disheartening, it’s clear that unless compelled to do so, most BC professional would not adopt or follow a BCM standard.
Even if you don’t intend to certify to these standards, they should strongly influence your BCM program. Why? It’s because:
They provide a foundation and a common vocabulary for BCM best practices and processes. This is important if you need to implement BCM across a geographically dispersed enterprise or you have to work with a multitude of global partners on joint preparedness.
In a recent Forrester/DRJ joint survey on BC preparedness, of organizations that have invoked a BC plan in the last five years, 37% said that their BC plans had not adequately addressed communication. In my experience, I’ve found that many organizations:
Don’t appreciate the importance of effective communication. Many organizations focus the content of their BC plans and the goals of their BC exercises on the details of recovery procedures but don’t focus on how they will contact and coordinate response teams, employees, partners, first responders and customers. If you can’t communicate, you can’t respond to anything.
Rely on manual procedures like call lists or email alone. By themselves, manual procedures are unreliable, they don’t scale for organizations with thousands of employees (or citizens) and they don’t provide any kind of reporting.
Underestimate the difficulty of communicating effectively under stress. During the incident is not the time to attempt to craft effective communication messages or look for a secondary mode of communication because your first mode of communication (land lines and email) is no longer available.
Calculating the cost of a data breach should be a part of every organization’s information security risk management strategy. It’s not an easy task by any means, but making efforts to do so upfront — as opposed to after a breach, when calculating cost is the last thing on the to-do list! — for your organization can help to assess risk and justify security investments. But where does one begin, and what should be considered in cost estimates? There are the usual suspects, or direct costs, relating to discovery, response, notification, and damage control such as:
In-house time and labor (IT, legal, PR, incident response, call center, etc)
New technologies or services implemented as a result of the breach to change or repair systems
External consultants or services for incident response