UBS Explains Risk Management Gone Wrong

Chris McClean

Mary Beth Kemp

Big news in risk management this week as UBS released a report to shareholders describing the situation that has led to roughly $37 billion in write-downs so far related to the company's subprime exposures (see articles in Reuters , Forbes , the Wall Street Journal , and BusinessWeek).

Overarching causes described in the report are not surprising; control failures, an overly aggressive focus on short-term growth, and excessive risk taking are among the high level issues addressed. Also in the report, however, are scores of more detailed explanations of control failures in more than 20 different categories. Specific problems on the list include:

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IBM Buys Diligent As Its Deduplication Anchor

Stephanie Balaouras

Stephanie On April 18th, IBM announced its intent to acquire virtual tape library (VTL) and deduplication vendor Diligent Technologies. For IBM, Diligent is a good fit. The company offers both mainframe and open systems virtual tape libraries and they are a pioneer of deduplication. However, IBM already offers a market leading mainframe VTL based on its own intellectual property and an open systems VTL based on FalconStor technology — although the open systems VTL has very limited adoption — so there is also a lot of overlap. Because Diligent is a software solution, IBM can quickly integrate Diligent with any of its storage systems and bring new VTLs to market relatively quickly. It’s very likely that IBM will in fact pursue this route so it can bring an inline deduplicating VTL to market as quickly as possible.

 

 

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IBM Expands Replication Capabilities With Acquisition Of FilesX

Stephanie Balaouras

Stephanie On April 10, 2008, IBM announced its intent to acquire FilesX, a small startup that offers server-based replication and continuous data protection technology. The acquisition will become part of the Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) family of products.

 

 


This acquisition will help IBM Tivoli fill a gap in their current portfolio of offerings for data protection. The vendor currently offers Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), which is one of the leading enterprise-class backup software applications, and Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files, a product mostly used to protect PCs. In addition to traditional backup to tape or disk, TSM can also manage Microsoft Virtual Snapshots (VSS) and its own IBM storage-based snapshot technology in support of instant restore or snapshot assisted backup. But the company didn’t really have an offering for customers who wanted something that was better than backup but not as expensive as storage-based replication, this is where FilesX comes in. With FilesX, IBM can now address the recovery requirements of small enterprises that can’t afford storage-based replication. They can also meet the recovery requirements of large enterprises that want to protect more servers within their company with a more affordable replication offering as well as servers at the remote office.

 

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IBM Acquires Encentuate

Andras Cser

IBM acquired Encentuate for an undisclosed sum. This underscores the validity of Forrester's prediction that the enterprise single sign-on (E-SSO) market in identity and access management (IAM) will grow from E-SSO's $250 million in 2006 to $2 billion in 2014 - a CAGR of 28.5%. What are the likely implications of this acquisition in the E-SSO marketplace?

1.  After CA and Novell, now IBM will have a fully integrated IAM suite in which E-SSO will be first acquired, but later an organically grown product offering - provided that IBM is successful with integrating not only technologies, but the Encentuate engineering, support, and sales resources. Past experience with similar acquisitions show that this often sounds easier than it actually is.

2. Other E-SSO vendors (ActivIdentity and especially Passlogix) will lose some of their market share and will need to ramp up investment in product development to be able to keep their leading edge in product functionality.

Overall, IBM's move signals that E-SSO has become a mature and viable technology which - in conjunction with user account provisioning - will continue to drive the IAM market growth.

Ping Identity acquires Sxip Access

Andras Cser

Ping Identity announced that it acquired Sxip Access for an undisclosed sum. The rationale of the acquisition is to allow Ping Identity's products to meet enterprise-wide, typically SSO challenges. This is important to be able to further extend Ping's market share with software-as-a-service providers. Is it a breakthrough?  Hardly. Questions still remain as to how major enterprises can integrate Ping Identity's new extended product line with an existing infrastructure in identity management and provisioning. Forrester increasingly sees broken ladder steps in the progression from the SMB market to the enterprise market for those identity and access management (IAM) vendors that have incomplete IAM product lines. Ping Identity still needs to make substantial investments to build an IAM suite, or forge strategic partnerships with pure-play provisioning and role vendors to successfully compete long-term in the IAM arena of large vendors.

Legislators to the rescue

Chris McClean

One of the most substantial trends we expected to see in governance, risk, and compliance in 2008 is the tightening of regulations in response to major risk management failures. Yesterday, we saw a clear example of that, as the US Senate approved a bill that would nearly double the size of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, largely in response to the massive toy recalls that took place last year.

Also this week, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed signs of cracking down on disclosure of drug trial results after problems persisted with certain anti-depressant drugs in relation to teenage suicide (even though criminal charges will not be filed).

The sub-prime issue may likely be the next major target for legislative changes, although most discussion seems to be focused on consumer protection at this point, not tighter control over lenders.

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US Government planning to spend 10% of its IT budget on cyber-security by 2009.

Khalid Kark

This article in GSN caught my attention on the proposed IT budget numbers released by OMB (Office of Management and Budgets). The 10% spending on cyber-security may seem surprising to some, especially when compared to an average 8% of IT spend in the commercial sector across North America and Europe. As many of us have seen stagnation in our security budgets, the US government has increased its cyber-security budget by a whopping 73% since 2004. The media has picked up on things such as DOT (Department of Transportation) more than doubling its budget while DHS (Department of Homeland Security) had less than a 5% increase, they don’t have their priorities right or that we should fund federal agencies based on how well they do on FISMA. These numbers may seem a little out of whack, but here is why I think the US government is headed in the right direction.

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Reward: $68 million for ratting out your employer

Chris McClean

It has been a busy few weeks of news for whistleblowers.  Earlier this month, former Merck sales manager H. Dean Steinke was awarded $68 million of the roughly $400 million recovered by states and federal agencies when the company settled a lawsuit he brought against it seven years ago. (This was part of a larger $671 million Merck paid to settle complaints of overcharging government health plans and offering inappropriate incentives to doctors to prescribe its products.)

While a number of whistleblowers have been lauded by the press over the years, Steinke’s $68 million presents the possibility of more tangible incentives to those aspiring to expose corporate crimes. Other recent, related news includes:

- Court extends SOX whistleblower protection. Last week, a US District Court judge in New York found that whistleblower protection under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applies to employees outside the United States, helping empower virtual armies of international employees that may have something to report.

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What can CISOs learn from the Societe Generale debacle

Khalid Kark

It is astounding, and in the words of Societe Generale's chairman and chief executive, Daniel Bouton “unbelievable” that a person could single-handedly circumvent the security of France’s second largest bank to cause so much damage. This event brings to bear what security professionals have been saying for years – focus on the insider threat. Mr. Kerviel cost the bank $7.2 billion by making huge unauthorized trades that he hid for months by allegedly hacking into the computers of the bank and creating fraudulent transactions to hide his tracks. The combined trading positions he built up totaled some €50 billion, or $73 billion. While this level of exposure going unnoticed boggles the mind, none of it could have happened without a fundamental failure of information security controls.

Here are ten lessons for us security folks to pass on to our executive teams.

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Recession brings a downturn in security spending and jobs

Khalid Kark

Many financial indicators are pointing to a looming global recession. This means that companies will be tightening their belts and drastically cutting down on their discretionary spending. What does this mean for information security industry? And what can CISOs do to recession proof their security programs?

This means leaner security organizations (yes that means lay offs), significantly reduced spending on security consultants and contractors, and squeezing the most out of every buck that is spent for information security. This would also mean longer sales cycles for security vendors, cost taking precedence over functionality. From a CISO perspective, it means more justification for security budgets, begging other parts of the business to fund security projects, and pushing existing vendors to provide more for the same amount of dollars.

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