This is my first post as the new Research Director for the Security and Risk team here at Forrester. During my first quarter as RD, I spent a lot of time listening to our clients and working with the analysts and researchers on my team to create a research agenda for the rest of the year that will help our clients tackle their toughest challenges. It was a busy Q1 for the team. We hosted our Security Forum in London, fielded more than 443 end client inquiries, completed more than 18 research reports, and delivered numerous custom consulting engagements.
In the first quarter of 2010, clients were still struggling with the security ramifications of increased outsourcing, cloud computing, consumer devices and social networking. Trends have created a shift in data and device ownership that is usurping traditional IT control and eroding traditional security controls and protections.
We’re still dealing with this shift in 2010 — there’s no easy fix. This year there is a realization that the only way that the Security Organization can stay one step ahead of whatever business or technology shift happens next is to transform itself from a silo of technical expertise that is reactive and operationally focused to one that is focused on proactive information risk management. This requires a reexamination of the security program itself (strategy, policy, roles, skills, success metrics, etc.), its security processes, and its security architecture. In short, taking a step back and looking at the big picture before evaluating and deploying the next point protection product. Not surprisingly, our five most read docs since January 1, 2010 to today are having less to do with specific security technologies:
I was able to catch pieces of live testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee yesterday on the Lehman Brothers collapse (covered via live blog by the Wall Street Journal). It was interesting to watch former Lehman head Richard Fuld reluctantly attempt to explain to an understandably skeptical audience, “We were risk averse,” in the period leading up to the company’s collapse.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is back in the spotlight after the SEC leveled charges of fraud against the company last week related to alleged misstatements and omissions in the marketing of specific financial products. While this seems like a relatively small initial shot at the large financial firms, the SEC appears to be reasserting its authority after a series of embarrassing stories have come out about failures of oversight including Madoff, Stanford, and now Lehman.
So what does all this mean for governance, risk, and compliance professionals?
It’s hard to tell what might come of the fraud charges against Goldman Sachs, but if anything, this appears to build a case for more rigorous compliance policies and manual oversight. It’s hard to see how automated controls could have helped here, but the case could involve substantial e-discovery to determine how certain marketing decisions were made.
Even though the iPad is barely birthed, there is already a push to provide payment applications for the device. It's time to pull the emergency brake on this trend. Are these applications PA-DSS certified? Do they have swipe devices with crypto hardware built-in? Has the Pin Entry Device been rigorously tested and meet all the PIN Transaction Security Guidelines? There are so many things consumers should know about the security of these new methods of payments *before* they allow their credit card to be captured by an iPad or iPhone. Is the card's Personal Account Number (PAN) encrypted at the moment it is swiped by the device? Does the device establish an encrypted tunnel to transport the transaction to the payment gateway? Doe the iPad store the PAN? Is that storage encrypted or unencrypted? Does the processor support a tokenization scheme to keep the iPad out of PCI scope? Is the payment app the only thing running on the iPad?
As I close out my client inquiry records for the quarter, it’s interesting to review some of the common challenges risk management professionals are currently facing. I was impressed to see how closely the issues I deal with were covered in the month’s edition of Risk Management Magazine. In an article entitled, “10 Common ERM Challenges,” KPMG’s Jim Negus called out the following issues:
Assessing ERM’s value
Privilege (of access to risk information)
(Selecting a) risk assessment method
Qualitative versus quantitative (assessment metrics)
Time horizon (for risk assessments)
Multiple possible scenarios
Simulations and stress tests
Negus provides good perspective on these challenges as well as some ideas for solutions. The list is fairly comprehensive, but there are several other challenges that I would have included based on the inquiries I get. First and foremost, the role of technology in risk management – whether for assessments, aggregation, or analytics – comes up very frequently, and vendor selection initiatives have been plentiful since mid-Q4 of last year.
Defining risk management’s role within the business (and vice versa) is also an extremely common topic of conversation. As rules and standards keep changing, this will remain a top challenge. Other frequent issues include event/loss management, building a risk taxonomy, and evaluating vendor/partner risk.
I had a few great conversations yesterday about the increasing role analytics will play in risk and compliance programs, which brought to mind the article, For Some Firms, a Case of 'Quadrophobia' appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal and referenced yesterday by the NY Times’ Freakonomics blog.
The article covers a study of quarterly earnings reports over a nearly 30 year period, which found a statistically low number of results ending in four-tenths of a cent. The implication here is that companies fudge their numbers slightly to report earnings ending in five-tenths, which can then be rounded up... clever. Even more interesting, authors of the study found that these “quadrophobes” are “more likely to restate financials and to be named as defendants in SEC Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Releases (AAER)”... not clever.
The report encourages the SEC to enhance its oversight with a new department dedicated solely to detailed quantitative analysis that might catch this type of behavior. It also occurs to me that many corporations would like to identify such trends within their four walls to detect and prevent potentially damaging behavior.
Clearly, the cultural/human aspects of risk management and compliance – policies, attestations, training, awareness, whistleblowing, etc. – are essential. But as the number and complexity of business transactions continue to grow, companies will be looking more and more for ways to analyze massive amounts of data for damaging patterns and trends.
Visa just announced the expansion of their No Signature program. Citing its "popularity", Visa notes that: "According to a Visa Inc. survey, 69 percent of participants surveyed cited either convenience or speed as the primary reason for using their credit or debit card." Wow.
What this seems to signal is that Visa, and perhaps the other card brands, feel that they will make more money by eliminating barriers to the sale, such as the 2.2 seconds needed to sign your name, than it would lose in fraudulent transactions, considering this program is for transactions of US$25 or less. Also, it appears that people no longer know how to sign their names.
I have often heard (in low, barely audible whispers) that US consumers were too lazy to care about security, which is why the US will probably never have CHIP and PIN transactions for enhanced credit card authentication. We Americans are too darn busy to push 4 numbers on a key pad (4.3 second). This drives folks in the other parts of the world crazy as they are in love with CHIP and PIN and, mistakenly, think that this technology eliminates all transaction risk. CHIP and PIN cards still have a mag stripe that can be scanned, and skimming is still a problem. It's a great authentication method, however, and would really help reduce some of the smaller, card-present CC frauds were we to adopt it.
Americans need more paranoia about credit card theft. We are much more likely to suffer some type of credit card fraud or be affected by a major credit card breach than a terrorist attack, but for some reason we are unwilling to punch in a few numbers to help protect ourselves.
The Attorney General of New York is investigating a large group of online retailers to see if they have been sharing your credit card data with third parties without your knowledge or permission. In a press release, the AG's Office details the scheme, including the fact that you may unknowingly be giving someone other than the retailer you are shopping with your credit card number:
"Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text."
My gut tells me that this violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the PCI Data Security Standard. According to the PCI DSS:
"Additionally, merchants and service providers must manage and monitor the PCI DSS compliance of all associated third parties with access to cardholder data."
It is probably safe to assume that the business agreement around the data sharing identified by the New York AG's office did not include language surrounding PCI compliance.
An MSNBC story on the investigation puts it this way:
Wireless hacking Guru, Josh Wright,has just announced that he has created havoc with a MiFi personal access point.MiFi is a little device that turns 3G wireless signals into WiFi. The cool thing is that the wireless signal can be shared with other nearby computers. According to Josh, he has found a way that, "An attacker can recover the default password from any MiFi device." This is big news because anyone who is involved with wireless ne
In my ongoing work with clients, I try as often as possible to stress the importance of flexibility in GRC programs. Internal processes and technology implementations must be able to accommodate the perpetually fluctuating aspects of business, compliance requirements, and risk factors. If GRC investments are made without consideration for likely requirements 1 to 2 years down the road, decision makers aren’t doing their job. And if vendors don’t offer that flexibility, they shouldn’t be on the shortlist.
News outlets over the past year have given us almost daily examples of change in the GRC landscape. The recent stories coming out of Davos have been no exception... giving us some truly fascinating debates on the necessity and detriment of regulations. As quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on Sunday, Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Josef Ackermann argued against heavy-handed regulation, saying, "We should stop the blame game and we should start looking forward... if you don't have a strong financial sector to support the this recovery... you're making a huge mistake and you will regret that later on," he said. French President Nicholas Sarkozy summed up the opposing argument in his keynote, explaining, "There is indecent behavior that will no longer be tolerated by public opinion in any country of the world... That those who create jobs and wealth may earn a lot of money is not shocking. But that those who contribute to destroying jobs and wealth also earn a lot of money is morally indefensible."