Securing Mobile Development: Nontechnical Solutions

Tyler Shields

It takes a lot more than a static analysis tool, a web scanning service, and a few paid hackers to make your mobile development lifecycle, team, and eventually, your applications secure. Finding flaws in an individual mobile application is easy (assuming you have the right technical skill set). What is a lot harder is actually stopping the creation of mobile application security flaws in the first place.

To achieve the lofty goal of a truly secure mobile application development program takes a rethinking of how we have traditionally secured our applications in the past. Mobile development brings many changes to enterprise engineering teams including additional new device sensors, privacy impacting behaviors that cross the security chasm between consumer and enterprise isolation, and even faster release cycles on the order of days instead of months. Smaller teams with little to no experience in security are cranking out mobile applications at a fevered pace. The result is an accumulation of security debt that will eventually be paid by the enterprises and consumers that use these applications.

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Pet The Unicorns And Think Of Protecting Customer Data As A Corporate Social Responsibility

Heidi Shey

In a research world where we collect data on security technology (and services!) adoption, security spending, workforce attitudes about security, and more, there’s one type of data that I get asked about from Forrester clients in inquiry that makes me pause: breach cost data. I pause not because we don’t have it, but because it’s pretty useless for what S&R pros want to use it for (usually to justify investment). Here’s why:

  1. What we see, and what is publicly available data, is not a complete picture. In fact, it’s often a tiny sliver of the actual costs incurred, or an estimate of a part of the cost that an organization opts to reveal.
  2. What an organization may know or estimate as the cost (assuming they have done a cost analysis, which is also rare), and do not have to share, is typically not shared. After all, they would like to put this behind them as quickly as possible, and not draw further unnecessary attention.
  3. What an organization may believe is an estimate of the cost can change over time as events related to the breach crop up. For example, in the case of the Sony PlayStation Network Platform hack in April 2011, a lot of costs were incurred in the weeks and months following the breach, but they were also getting slapped with fines in 2013 relating to the breach. In other breaches, legal actions and settlements can also draw out over the course of many years.
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Choose Your Own Adventure With The 2014 Verizon DBIR

Rick Holland

In a world where every single security vendor has their own annual threat report, the Verizon Databreach Investigations Report (DBIR) is the gold standard, and this year is no different. Last year I began blogging my initial analysis (Observations on the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report), and I wanted to continue that again this year.  Here are some of the high-level details on this year's report: 

  • Fifty organizations representing 95 countries were included in the data set. This included 1,367 confirmed data breaches. By comparison, last year’s report included 19 organizations and 621 confirmed data breaches.
  • In a significant change, Verizon expanded the analysis beyond breaches to include security incidents. As a result, this year’s dataset has 63,437 incidents. This is a great change, recognizes that incidents are about more than just data exfiltration, and also allows for security incidents like DoS attacks to be included.
  • The structure of the report itself has also evolved; it is no longer threat overview, actors, actions and so on. One of the drivers for this format change was an astounding discovery. Verizon found that over the past 10 years, 92% of all incidents they analyzed could be described by just nine attack patterns. The 2014 report is structured around these nine attack patterns.  
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Key Lesson From The US Airways #Fail: Marketers Need Help Managing Risk

Nick Hayes

Everyone makes mistakes, but for social media teams, one wrong click can mean catastrophe. @USAirways experienced this yesterday when it responded to a customer complaint on Twitter with a pornographic image, quickly escalating into every social media manager’s worst nightmare.

Not only is this one of the most obscene social media #fails to date, but the marketers operating the airline’s Twitter handle left the post online for close to an hour. In the age of social media, it might as well have remained up there for a decade. Regardless of how or why this happened, this event immediately paints a picture of incompetence at US Airways, as well as the newly merged American Airlines brand.

It also indicates a lack of effective oversight and governance.

While details are still emerging, initial reports indicate that human error was the cause of the errant US Airways tweet, which likely means it was a copy and paste mistake or the image was saved incorrectly and selected from the wrong stream. In any case, basic controls could have prevented this brand disaster:

  • US Airways could have built a process where all outgoing posts that contain an image must be reviewed by a secondary reviewer or manager;
  • It could have segregated its social content library so that posts flagged for spam don’t appear for outgoing posts;
  • It could have leveraged technology that previews the full post and image before publishing.
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Target Breach: Vendors, You're Not Wrestlers, And This Isn't The WWE

Rick Holland

Yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story providing some alarming details on the Target breach.  The article, “Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It,” didn’t paint a pretty picture of Target’s response. 

Some of the highlights in case you haven't read it yet: 

  • Six months before the incident, Target invested $1.6 million in FireEye technology.
  • Target had a team of security specialists in Bangalore monitoring the environment.
  • On Saturday November 30, FireEye identified and alerted on the exfiltration malware. By all accounts this wasn't sophisticated malware; the article states that even Symantec Endpoint Protection detected it. 
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You Should Attend Next Year’s RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox

Rick Holland

Last week I attended the RSA Conference (RSAC) Innovation Sandbox for the first time.  Not only was I an attendee, but I also was fortunate enough to host a CTO panel during the event. For those that aren’t aware, the Innovation Sandbox is one of the more popular programs of the RSAC week.  The highlight of the Innovation Sandbox is the competition for the coveted “Most Innovative Company at the RSA Conference” award.  This is basically the information security version of ABC’s Shark Tank.  If you want to learn about the up-and-coming vendors and technologies, this is one place to do it. To participate, companies had to meet the following criteria: 

  • The product has been in the market for less than one year (launched after February 2013).
  • The company must be privately held, with less than $5M in revenue in 2013.
  • The product has the potential to make a significant impact on the information security space.
  • The product can be demonstrated live and on-site during Innovation Sandbox.
  • The company has a management team that has proven successful in the delivery of products to market.
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The Shuttle Challenger Anniversary Still Offers Risk Management Lessons, If We Are Willing to Learn Them

Renee Murphy

January 28th was the anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The Rogers Commission detailed the official account of the disaster, laying bare all of the failures that lead to the loss of a shuttle and its crew. Officially known as The Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident - The Tragedy of Mission 51, the report is five volumes long and covers every possible angle starting with how NASA chose its vendor, to the psychological traps that plagued the decision making that lead to that fateful morning.  There are many lessons to be learned in those five volumes and now, I am going to share the ones that made a great impact on my approach to risk management. The first is the lesson of overconfidence.

In the late 1970’s, NASA was assessing the likelihood and risk associated with the catastrophic loss of their new, reusable, orbiter. NASA commissioned a study where research showed that based on NASA’s prior launches there was the chance for a catastrophic failure approximately once every 24 launches. NASA, who was planning on using several shuttles with payloads to help pay for the program, decided that the number was too conservative. They then asked the United States Air Force (USAF) to re-perform the study. The USAF concluded that the likelihood was once every 52 launches.

In the end, NASA believed that because of the lessons they learned since the moon missions and the advances in technology, the true likelihood of an event was 1 in 100,000 launches. Think about that; it would be over 4100 years before there would be a catastrophic event. In the end, Challenger flew 10 missions before it’s catastrophic event and Colombia flew 28 missions before its catastrophic event, during reentry, after the loss of heat tiles during take off. During the life of a program that lasted 30 years, they lost two of five shuttles.

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Actionable Intelligence, Meet Terry Tate, Office Linebacker

Rick Holland
sdfasdfaasdfThe #Forrester Security & Risk team is hiring. We are looking for consultants to join our team bit.ly/M9gWS5 #infosecasdfasdasdfasdddsadfas

We are now less than two weeks away from our annual sojourn to the RSA security conference. RSAC is a great time for learning, meeting and making friends. (Please hold cynical remarks; RSAC is what you make of it.)  As the date grows near and my excitement grows, I am preparing my mind and patience for the ubiquitous silver bullet marketing that is predestined to appear.  

One of these silver bullets will be the term "actionable intelligence." You will be surrounded by actionable intelligence. You will bask in the glory of actionable intelligence. In fact, the Moscone expo floor will have so much actionable intelligence per capita you will leave the conference feeling like the threat landscape challenge has been solved. Achievement unlocked, check that off the list. Woot!

Well not so fast. I frequently talk to vendors that espouse the greatness of their actionable intelligence. Whenever I hear the term actionable intelligence I want to introduce them to Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.  Terry Tate first appeared in a 2003 Reebok Super Bowl commercial. 

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Master Has Presented MDM With Clothes! MDM Is FREE!

Tyler Shields

Mobile device management is a fully commoditized market. In the strictest definition of MDM, the available functionality is limited to those application programmer interfaces that are made available by the operating system vendor (Google or Apple). There is very little that traditional MDM offerings can do to differentiate themselves from the other 100+ vendors in the market. This causes significant price pressure on the offerings. Value for MDM is rapidly approaching zero. As we have seen over the past year-and-a-half, core MDM component offerings have been continuously lowering their prices in an attempt to maintain market share. There is a transition by the major MDM players to expand well beyond the traditional "wipe," "lock," and "locate" concepts available to them into more advanced technologies such as content and collaboration systems, security components at the network and application layer, as well as partnerships and integrations with secondary market offerings. These features have value. MDM at its core does not.

I think it's about time someone came out and said it. Just like Dobby from the Harry Potter books, MDM should be free. I've been telling all of the vendors that I work with that if they don't put out their MDM offering in a freemium model very shortly, the other vendors will beat them to the punch. Traditional MDM offerings are a land grab for enterprise market share and should be used as an upsell or wedge into more advanced and differentiable offerings. I predict that in the next 6 to 9 months we will see most, if not all, of the leading MDM vendors giving away their core functionality.

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Just Let Me Fling Birds At Pigs Already! Thoughts On The Snowden/Angry Birds Revelations

Tyler Shields

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, 'I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,' that person cannot say, 'I choose otherwise.'” 

― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

"Privacy is a decision best left in the hands of the professionals."

- Tyler Shields, Senior Analyst Forrester Research

This posting is in reference to the recent Snowden revelations that mobile applications are a conduit for governments to spy on citizens. New York Times article HERE.

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