Security Risk or Feature Request – Software due diligence – who controls your reputation?

If you can think of a business process nowadays, there’s probably either an outsourced service or off the shelf piece of software that will perform it for you. As part of any outsourcing arrangement, due diligence will be performed. However, what happens when you buy a piece of software?

If an organisation suffers a data breach thanks to an outsourcing partner not living up to their part of the bargain, there’s always the potential to mitigate reputational damage through plausible deniability. However, when you install and manage a piece of software, whatever happens is all your fault, so what can you do to make sure that software vendors take your reputation as seriously as you do?

Security Testing – In an ideal world, software would undergo a rigorous testing regime. Back in the real world though, software will usually undergo an element of functional testing with security testing either being an afterthought or the end user’s problem. Before you buy software that your trusting with your reputation, ask the vendor for their most recent security testing results. If they try to make it your problem, look elsewhere. If they are an open approach (CANVAS LMS is a good example here), stick with that vendor and don’t let them go.

Remediation Process – Ask the vendor for their documented process for actioning vulnerability reports. If the vendor shows your a full process documenting risk assessment and communication procedures including a liberal sprinkling of response timelines, give them a tick in the box for this one. If they give you a blank look, their competitors may want to help you.

Do your own testing – So, if you’ve found the unicorn that is a vendor taking information security seriously, why would you want to do your own testing? Penetration testing arranged by a vendor will often take place in a sterile environment that doesn’t necessarily resemble the real world. A real world configuration may introduce previously undiscovered flaws.

Show me – The cynical part of me strongly believes that if a vendor smells a sale, they’ll. tell you whatever you want to hear, so don’t take them at their word, have them show you that they take the security of your customers’ data seriously.

Performing due diligence is just as important for COTS that could have an impact n your sensitive data as it is for an outsourcing partner. Above all else, if you find a vendor who uses the term “Feature Request” instead of the more commonly used “Urgent Security Fix” run away as quickly as you can – they’re not taking security of your information as seriously as you are!

Bang for Bucks Security – 7 Reasons why Businesses are Insecure (Drazen Drazic CEO)

If we had to pick what the most frequently asked question is that we get asked by CEOs, CIOs, CSOs and other senior IT Management, it would be; what is the quickest way to find out what security risks and exposures their company has. We all know that it’s not that simple but to be fair, it’s a good question if you are starting from a base of nothing.

But you can’t get an decent answer to such a question unless you have decided that you are serious about protecting your information assets. Unless you have these “basics” in place.

Back in 2007 I wrote the post “The 7 Reasons why Businesses are Insecure” on Beast or Buddha. (http://beastorbuddha.com/2007/11/10/the-7-reasons-why-businesses-are-insecure/index.html)

I have rehashed today, as pertinent and timely as ever as it comes to attention this month in our newsletter “Bang for Bucks Security”.

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Bang for Bucks Security

I won’t start by saying that implementing a strong framework is going to solve all business IT security problems. It won’t, but with one, at least you have one big advantage over now – you have a better picture and understanding of where your problems may lie and you’re less likely to be taken by surprise.

At present, most organisations have little understanding of the risks they face – where they are exposed, what they are exposed to and how these exposures could impact the business! So what are the problems?
1. Management and Governance – If the CEO and Senior Officers of the business do not ultimately own the responsibility and accountability for the security of the business, then it just does not get the appropriate attention. When we do “State of Security” reviews for our clients, we pretty much have 90% of our report written after the first hour if we find this layer of the framework not in place. ie; you can be guaranteed that if there is not an effective and ongoing management and governance layer in place, overall security within the organisation is weak. Matt Jonkman in a previous interviews with me  iexplains it well;

“Security is the CEO’s problem. The security engineers are the tools the CEO should be employing. CEOs should be directly involved in the risk decisions far more than I see on average. They need to know not exactly what technically is going on, but exactly what risk is being introduced or mitigated. It’s security 101. They should be involved from the ground all the way to incident response. It is NOT the security engineer’s decision whether to spend money to mitigate a risk based on what the impact might be. It’s the CEO that should know what that impact would mean in dollars, and how many dollars are available to be expended. I think these things are far too often delegated from officers of a company to managers without the proper oversight and long term involvement.”

2. Environment Awareness – It never ceases to amaze me how many organisations will promote being secure and having strong IT security practices and controls in place, yet not have a clear understanding of their environment. How can you say you are secure if you don’t know what it is that you supposedly protect? Most organisations have little idea about what they own – ie; IP address ranges, networks, systems and applications. Few have assigned data and system owners to all parts of the environment.

3. Policies and Standards – Most companies now have security policies and standards but are they of much value? If you don’t have an effective management and governance layer in place to own, manage, maintain and enforce good practice and if you have gaps in awareness of what makes up the corporate environment, how good are they?

4. Policy Compliance and Awareness – Policies and standards are all good and well but if you’re not doing what you say you should be doing, the security program is useless. Stating the obvious I know, but this is the story more often than not from our experience.

5 . Assurance Program – Few organisations “test” to confirm they are doing what they say they should be doing. ie; testing the effectiveness of the above mentioned layers of the framework. An ongoing assurance program helps to identify issues arising from the deployment of new technologies and problems from weak practices in existing technologies. Few organisations do:

1. Ongoing environmental scoping – mapping and keeping up to date records of what their environment is.
2. Ongoing vulnerability assessment and management – a proactive VA program helps identify issues before they become a problem.
3. Regular security testing of key systems and applications, including penetration testing and application reviews.
4. Security review of new systems before they go into testing and production. 90% of newly deployed web applications in our experience have critical security issues yet organisations still trust that their developers understand security and don’t test….scary!
5. Review of the their policies and standards – are they relevant, up to date and cover the scope of the complete business environment?
6. Review of the effectiveness of the compliance program(s). Testing to see if what the organisation says should be done is being done.

6. Incident Management and Response – If any of the above fails and an incident occurs. (Assuming the organisation knows an incident has actually taken place, and take the tip, most companies have no idea unless it’s one that has walked right up to them and slapped them in the face). Most organisations have little or nothing in the way of documented and tested response plans. (Lets add DR to this also). How can an organisation quickly and effectively respond to something if there is no plan?

7. Strategy and Performance Assessment – In any strategic planning cycle, performance and strategy re-assessments are a vital component in keeping a strategy effective and up to date. Few organisations take a holistic view when assessing the effectiveness of their IT security strategy. I know “metrics” and performance assessment in the IT security industry has been debated since day 1, but lets not confuse systems and detection metrics, as a couple of examples, with “strategy” level review.

An IT Security strategy should encompass a set of metrics that include benchmarks across the various phases and sub-phases of the strategy. The goal of the metrics is to help; define the strategy framework, communicate the strategy (by specifying performance measures), track performance (by collecting valuable information pertinent to the phase of strategy), increase accountability (by linking metrics to performance appraisals and business plans) and to align objectives of individuals, teams and the organisation itself. In most cases this is easier said than done but investigation should still be undertaken into the creation of a metrics and strategy re-assessment process that covers at a minimum;

1. Articulation of the Security Strategy.
2. Translating Strategy into Desired Outcomes.
3. Devising Metrics.
4. Linking Metrics to Leading and Lagging Indicators.
5. Calculating Current and Target Performance.
(based on work done by Rayport and Jaworski, eCommerce)

The 7 layers above form the Strategic Security Management Framework (SSMF). It’s a framework we developed some time ago to assess the effectiveness of IT Security practices in an organisation. It’s a framework that we still use today. It’s a framework that many of our clients now adopt.

By nature of doing business electronically, an organisation cannot remain secure without a proactive plan / strategy that takes a holistic and enterprise view of the risks the organisation faces.

A strategic framework is vital in the field of security management because it provides a structure to help analyse the complex requirements and highlights the dimensions of importance. An effective strategic security management framework is vital in describing the business’ short and long term plans to; secure its environment, what its goals are, how it plans to achieve those goals and how it will continue to achieve new goals required to keep pace with evolving security challenges. It should be linked to other strategies within the business such as relevant components of the overall corporate strategy and the IT strategy and functional strategies that will evolve from the security strategy itself.

As I said, managing security around a framework will not in itself solve all the problems but it is the start. Without one, organisations will continue to flounder around a bunch of disjointed practices, rarely relating to other practices and with little context to the overall objectives of securing a whole business environment.

This is where busineses are failing today.

SIM card vulnerability ‘puts mobile phones at risk’

Millions of mobile phones across the world could have their security threatened as an expert from Germany claims to have found a SIM card vulnerability.

Karsten Nohl, founder of Security Research Labs in Berlin, explained to the New York Times that the encryption hole meant that hackers could gain access to a SIM card's digital key.

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Apple admits developer site hacked

Apple has been forced to take its developer site offline after it revealed that a hacker attempted to steal personal information during an attack last week.

In a message on the site, the technology giant announced that the intruder instigated the breach last Thursday (July 18), where the information of registered developers was put under threat.

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Google Glass QR codes vulnerable to attack?

A security vulnerability has been detected in Google Glass – more specifically the QR codes that are used to give the system instructions.

Lookout, a security technology firm, found that it could create malicious QR codes, which when seen by a Google Glass user, could encourage the system to connect to a hostile WiFi access point controlled by hackers.

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Californian businesses under pressure to better protect data

Businesses throughout the US state of California are being encouraged to carry out a security audit and make sure their systems are up to scratch, as 2.5 million data have been compromised since 2010.

Attorney-general Kamala Harris explained that last year alone, 1.4 million of these attacks occurred, many of which could have been averted.

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Hiring – Business Development Manager

TITLE: Client Relationship / Business Development Manager – Securus Global

LOCATION: Sydney, Australia

SALARY: Dependent upon successful applicant (plus over 6 weeks leave per year).

JOB DESCRIPTION:

This year marked 10 years that Securus Global has been in business. From the outset, we started competing with large global companies and we did so with a vision to raise the bar and expectations on what security consultancies should be providing businesses. We believe we have done this and made them raise their game to compete with us.

We have never had a full-time Business Development Manager in all this time – our work, through reputation, word of mouth and strong client relationships has seen Securus Global grow to become one of Australia’s most respected security consulting businesses. So why change now?

The person we are looking for is someone who has the following key attributes:

  • An established network of contacts relevant to Securus Global and our services
  • Can grow new relationships and further business in our existing client bases
  • Be viewed by our clients as a trusted adviser, not just another sales person

KEY REQUIREMENTS:

The following are the key mandatory skill and experience requirements for the role. Please only serious applicants who can fulfill this selection criteria.

  • Demonstrable success in information security product and/or service sales
  • A passion for Information Security (you actively follow and/or participate in the industry)
  • Excellent communication skills (oral and written)
  • An ability to work unsupervised and in a team environment
  • High personal standards and expectations of quality and high results
  • High personal ethical standards
  • Australian citizenship or permanent residency

Securus Global is a dynamic organisation that requires each and every person to step up to the plate. We have a strong reputation for excellence in delivery and expect quality in all we do. You will not get lost in the crowd here and you will have opportunities for growth that are only limited by yourself.

Sell yourself to us in plain text to: jobs@securusglobal.com

No recruiters please. We have a PSL that we’re currently working with and are not looking to add to it at this time. If we receive unsolicited CVs other than directly from a candidate, we reserve the right to contact the candidate directly and initiate discussions without payment of any agency fee.

Are managers failing to understand security risks?

Organisations could be at risk of data security breaches because managers are failing to understand metrics set out by IT professionals, a new survey has shown.

More than half (59 per cent) of those working in IT security, IT operations, IT risk management, business operations, compliance/internal audit and enterprise risk management said that the information they provide is simply too technical.

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