3 key reasons why SOCs should implement policies over security standards

In the not-so-distant past, banking and healthcare industries were the main focus of security concerns as they were entrusted with guarding our most sensitive personal data. Over the past few years, security has become increasingly important for companies across all major industries. This is especially true since 2017 when the Economist reported that data has surpassed oil as the most valuable resource.

How do we respond to this increased focus on security? One option would be to simply increase the security standards being enforced. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this would create substantial improvements.

Instead, we should be talking about restructuring security policies. In this post, we’ll examine how security standards look today and 5 ways they can be dramatically improved with new approaches and tooling

How Security Standards Look Today

Security standards affect all aspects of a business, from directly affecting development requirements to regulating how data is handled across the entire organization. Still, those security standards are generally enforced by an individual, usually infosec or compliance officer.

There are many challenges that come with this approach, all rooted in 3 main flaws: 1) the gap between those building the technology and those responsible for enforcing security procedures within it, 2) the generic nature of infosec standards, and 3) security standards promote reactive issue handling versus proactive.

We can greatly improve the security landscape by directly addressing these key issues:

1. Information Security and Compliance is Siloed

In large companies, the people implementing security protocols and those governing security compliance are on separate teams, and may even be separated by several levels of organizational hierarchy.

Those monitoring for security compliance and breaches are generally non-technical and do not work directly with the development team at all. A serious implication of this is that there is a logical disconnect between the enforcers of security standards and those building systems that must uphold them.

If developers and compliance professionals do not have a clear and open line of communication, it’s nearly impossible to optimize security standards, which brings us to the next key issue.

2. Security Standards are Too Generic

Research has shown that security standards as a whole are too generic and are upheld by common practice more than they are by validation of their effectiveness.

With no regard for development methodology, organizational resources or structure, or the specific data types being handled, there’s no promise that adhering to these standards will lead to the highest possible level of security.

Fortunately, addressing the issue of silos between dev and compliance teams is the first step for resolving this issue as well. Once the two teams are working together, they can more easily collaborate and improve security protocols specific to the organization.

3. Current Practices are Reactive, Rather Than Proactive

The existing gap between dev and security teams along with the general nature of security standards, prevent organizations from being truly proactive when it comes to security measures.

Bridging the gap between development and security empowers both sides to adopt a shift-left mentality, making decisions about and implementing security features earlier in the development process.

The first step is to work on creating secure-by-design architecture and planning security elements earlier in the development lifecycle. This is key in breaking down the silos that security standards created.

Gartner analyst John Collins claims cultural and organizational structures are the biggest roadblocks to the progression of security operations. Following that logic, in restructuring security practices, security should be wrapped around DevOps practices, not just thrown on top. This brings us to the introduction of DevSecOps.

DevSecOps – A New Way Forward

The emergence of DevSecOps is showing that generic top-to-bottom security standards may soon be less important as they are now.

First, what does it mean to say, “security should be wrapped around DevOps practices”? It means not just allowing, but encouraging, the expertise of SecOps engineers and compliance professionals to impact development tasks in a constantly changing security and threat landscape.

In outlining the rise and success of DevSecOps, a recent article gave three defining criteria of a true DevSecOps environment:

  1. Developers are in charge of security testing.
  2. Security experts act as consultants to developers when additional knowledge is required.
  3. Fixing security issues are managed by the development team.

Ongoing security-related issues are owned by the development team..[…] Read more »….



How to prioritize security and avoid the top 10 IoT stress factors

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming our homes, businesses and public spaces – mostly for the better – but without proper precautions IoT devices can be an attractive target for malicious actors and cyberattacks.

Security threats involving IoT devices often stem from the fact that many IoT devices usually have single-purpose designs and may lack broader capabilities to defend themselves in a hostile environment. For example, a door bell, a toaster or a washing machine frequently do not contain as much storage, memory and processing capability as a typical laptop computer.

By some estimates, there will be more than 21 billion connected devices on the market by 2025, and the proliferation of this technology will only continue to impact our daily lives in a multitude of ways.

But as more connected products are invented and introduced for both business and consumer use, the security challenges related to these connected IoT devices continue to increase, in part due to a lack of consistent security controls. Even if the networks that the connected devices operate on are considered secure, IoT device security is still only as good as the security of the products themselves.

Because the IoT industry has predominantly lacked a globally recognized, repeatable standard for manufacturers, channel owners, regulators and other key parties to turn to, IoT device security continues to be a major challenge. It’s therefore especially important for companies to not only be aware of potential vulnerabilities, but also to take action to build more secure products – before they ever get into the hands of the end user.

Below are 10 design and development approaches/best practices that can help mitigate IoT security issues and ensure that IoT delivers on its promise to improve our lives.

10. Hiding live ports: The best practice for hiding live ports is to actually not hide them at all – and definitely to not use easy to peel off plastic covers. Live debug ports such as USB and JTAG may provide a hacker access into the firmware of the device. If live debug ports are required, they should be disabled so that only authorized systems/users can re-enable them. However, if hiding them is required, it’s important to make it as difficult as possible for someone to access them – and to avoid plastic caps whenever possible.

9. Common/default passwords: Most people don’t change their passwords from the default, making it easy for hackers to gain access to devices. In the future, passwords may be replaced altogether, but for now, they should at least be unique, random and distinct for each consumer device. During setup, users should be prompted to change the password the device was shipped with to further bolster security.

8. Relying solely on network security: Introducing layers of security can be a great way to avoid compromised data. The security principle of defense in depth dictates that when multiple layers are in place, attacks are more effectively thwarted. While network security is helpful, if the device is solely reliant on this for communication, it can lead to further compromised information.

7. Sending without encryption: Avoid sending any information without encryption, because without it, communications between devices are simply not secure. Everything should be encrypted, with approved encryption algorithms, so that when information leaves the device and goes to the server, internet, or any other access point in a home, it is protected from unauthorized access and modification. For IoT devices communicating over wireless technologies, it is important to also encrypt application data within the network tunnel. Adding application security to the mix is highly recommended and preferred to help mitigate these issues.

6. Overriding security and certificate checks: Simply put – small, compact digital certificates are a proven way for IoT devices to trust each other and for servers to authenticate IoT devices. However, oftentimes, proper certificate validation at the IoT device is overridden, diluted or negated, nullifying the security provided by digital certificates. This can lead to undesired security consequences, such as man-in-the-middle attacks. Keep these checks as part of your security measures to ensure certificates are up to date, valid and issued by trusted authorities.

5. Public visibility: There is no need for a device to advertise unique information such as (but not limited to) serial number that will identify it and allow it to be identified over unsecure connections, whether Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or beacons. The best practice is to be incognito and employ randomization techniques over the airwaves. The “less is more” approach is necessary to protect privacy and prevent tracking. However, when device-identifying information is needed for device discovery, registration and verification, it should be used in a secure manner, only exchanging securely and with authenticated and authorized devices. Local display may need to be made available for configuration, which is obviously important to protect display configurations with secure unique passwords, tokens or other standardized security authenticating mechanisms.

4. Access of devices’ private key: The security of digital certificates is only guaranteed when the private key is sufficiently protected from disclosure and unauthorized modification. This can be difficult to accomplish on some IoT devices that lack specialized hardware to protect sensitive information. However, today, low-cost and secure elements are available and can be embedded into IoT devices to protect sensitive keys that are injected into these devices at manufacturing time. Today’s technology allows for the size of the key to be reduced and compressed, so that the devices can attest to their identity without revealing private information. Such private information should be kept in secure elements.

3. Blockchain for added security: Blockchain empowers IoT devices to defend themselves in hostile environments by making autonomous decisions with high degree of confidence. The cryptographically-signed transactions allow devices to determine the authenticity of the transactions before acting on them. Using such transactions, IoT devices can also assert their ownership, i.e., to whom they belong. So, if a rogue entity attempts to own the device, the IoT device can reject the access attempt. In addition, the distributed data contained in blockchain is cryptographically hashed and anonymized, providing “out-of-the-box” privacy for devices and the users who interact with them…[…] Read more »….



“Some Devices Allowed” – Secure Facilities Face New RF Threats

When secure facilities say “no devices allowed,” that’s not necessarily the case.

Exceptions are being granted for personal medical devices, health monitors and other operation-associated devices, especially in defense areas where human performance monitoring devices can be core to the mission.

The problem: most of these devices have radio frequency (RF) communication interfaces such as Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Wi-Fi, Cellular, IoT or proprietary protocols that can make them vulnerable to RF attacks, which by their nature are “remote attacks” from beyond the building’s physical perimeters.

Questions are now being asked about the ability to allow some devices in some areas, some of the time, resulting in the need for stratified policy and sophisticated technology which can accurately distinguish between approved and unapproved electronic devices in secure areas.

The invisible dangers of RF devices

RF-enabled devices are prevalent in the enterprise. According to Ericsson’s Internet of Things Forecast, there are 22 billion connected devices and 15 billions of these devices have radios. Furthermore, as the avalanche of IoT devices grows, cyber threats will become increasingly common.

Wireless devices in the enterprise today include light bulbs, headsets, building control systems, and HVAC systems. Increasingly vulnerable and risky are wearables. Wearables with data exfiltrating capabilities include Fitbits, smartwatches and other personal devices with embedded radios and variety of audio/video capture, pairing and transmission capabilities.

Understanding the current policy device landscape

The RF environment has become increasingly complicated over the past five years because more and more devices have RF interfaces that can’t be disabled. Secure facilities with very strict RF device policies are making exceptions to the “No Device Policy” into a more stratified approach: “Some Device Policy.” Examples of a stratified policy are whitelisting devices with RF interfaces such as medical wearables, Fitbits and vending machines. Some companies are geofencing certain areas in facilities, such as Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIFs) in defense facilities.

Current policies are outdated

While some government and commercial buildings have secure areas where no cell phones or other RF-emitting devices are allowed, detecting and locating radio-enabled devices is largely based on the honor system or one-time scans for devices. Bad actors do not follow the honor system and one-time scans are just that: one time and cannot monitor 24×7.

Benefits of implementing RF device security policy

In a world where security teams need to detect and locate unauthorized cellular, Bluetooth, BLE, Wi-Fi and IoT devices, there are solutions available and subsequent benefits to enforcing device security policies: ..[…] Read more »


“You can’t quantify business risk with RAG color coded scores”

A recent study by Forrester Research shows that 97% of Indian organizations experienced at least one business-impacting cyberattack in the past 12 months. Yet, only four in 10 security leaders in India have a clear picture of how much at risk, or how secure their organizations are. In a chat with CISO MAGAdam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist at Tenable, tells us how security leaders should quantify business risk and assess the attack surface, using accurate and more insightful metrics like the cyber exposure score.

Palmer has over 20 years of cybersecurity experience.  That includes executive positions at large cybersecurity vendors, leading the U.N. Global Program against cybercrime.  Before joining Tenable, Palmer held the position of Global Director, cybersecurity Risk & Controls for Banco Santander – the largest bank in the EU and Latin America.

Palmer began his career as a U.S. military officer focused on cybercrime cases.  After the military, he worked in a senior operational role by creating the [.]ORG top-level Internet domain cybersecurity program.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

By Brian Pereira, Principal Editor, CISO MAG

Your research shows that only 4 in 10 security leaders know how secure or at risk they are. How does an organization quantify business risk due to these business-impacting cyber attacks? Are there any frameworks or tools to do this?

I worked on this idea for two years and my prior job at the bank (Banco Santander) was trying to quantify risk — moving from qualitative to quantifiable analysis. Many security leaders use the heat matrices, the red, amber, green (RAG) scores to try to describe risk to the business leaders. This is really IT talk. Every organization I worked at did this. It doesn’t say anything to really quantify the risk or help people understand the reduction in risk. How can a business leader make a decision based on a color in RAG scores? There is a gap in communication between how IT people speak (technical or ambiguous), and the expectations of business leaders — quantitative understanding of risk.

A cyber exposure score, which is what Tenable creates, is a powerful tool because it gives you a quantifiable number.

Why haven’t security leaders been able to do accurate risk assessments for business-impacting cyberattacks?

The heart of it is really the lack of partnership between the security and the business leaders. There’s not enough alignment of metrics and objectives with business strategic priorities. I see that organizations report risk in a very qualitative language. This is not the language of business leaders. They have to consider industry benchmarking frameworks and accurately report it to the business, especially in times like today.

Organizations with security and business leaders who are aligned in measuring and managing cybersecurity as a strategic business risk deliver demonstrable results. What would be your recommendations to security leaders to do this security-business alignment? How do they weave cybersecurity into the fabric of business discussions?

The keys are a few things: linking the security program to business performance.  Making sure you have visibility across the entire attack surface. The attack surface has expanded with cloud and even operational technology. You can’t protect what you can’t see. And you have to apply a business context to your tactical decisions and express that in a quantifiable matrix that business leaders understand.

Looking at the global threat landscape, which countries are being targeted the most? And what could be the reasons?

We saw that all the markets had a high percentage of business-impacting events over the last 12 months. 97% of businesses in India reported a cyberattack within the last 12 months. And 74% expect an increase in cyberattacks. Today, we are in a very dynamic business environment, with business and technology closely woven together. The effective business-aligned CISO just can’t focus on technical issues or one part of that threat landscape. They really have to be aligned with the business and elevate themselves as a business-aligned security expert — and be aware of the entire expanded threat landscape.

Specific to India, what does your research show, with respect to the types of businesses being increasingly targeted?

We saw medium and large businesses being attacked. We know that these businesses make India a dynamic and exciting economy, with Digital India, and all the technology being used throughout India – in business and in government. Cybercriminals know where the money is, and they target technology and intellectual property. Given the monetary value and the damage that can be caused by a successful attack, across industries, telecom, health care, finance, all these industries are major targets. And what we found in this study is that all of these are equal opportunity targets for cybercriminals to attack a business.

Your research shows that 67% of security leaders in India say these attacks also involved an operational technology (OT) system. What kind of industries are being targeted within India? Does this also include critical infrastructures like nuclear plants and electricity grids?

This is really an issue of convergence. Automation is now common in the industrial environment. And that environment is converging with the IT environment. It is in critical infrastructure and manufacturing. But it can be in lots of different types of businesses. Think about automated access controls, with all kinds of smart connected devices, HVAC — some of these use smart connected industrial controllers. And we are finding that cybercriminals are attacking these devices and often, security teams aren’t monitoring these satisfactorily. They are using legacy approaches for vulnerability risk management, and they are not detecting these devices. And the criminals are attacking them..[…] Read more »…..

This article first appeared in CISO MAG.

<Link to CISO MAG site: www.cisomag.com>

How CTOs Can Innovate Through Disruption in 2020

CTOs and other IT leaders need to invest in innovation to emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis ready for the next opportunities.

Are you ready for 2021’s opportunities? Are you ready for the new business models that will emerge once the COVID-19 coronavirus is behind us? What strategic technology moves will your organization make today to invest in the innovation to bring your enterprise out of the current crisis, stronger and better?

CTOs and other senior technology leaders should now be focusing on these key questions as we enter the second half of 2020. Sure, it was critically important to pivot instantly to enable working from home in the first half of this year. Yes, there’s still work to be done improving the systems that enable employees to work from home, especially since organizations are making many of these arrangements permanent. However, the strategic longer term moves that senior leaders make today are what will help their organizations emerge stronger on the other side of this crisis.

CTOs are at risk now of focusing solely on short-term needs when it is equally important to plan for technology and innovation initiatives to help their organizations come out of the crisis and meet post-coronavirus challenges, according to a new report from Gartner, How CTOs Should Lead in Times of Disruptions and Uncertain.

Read all our coverage on how IT leaders are responding to the conditions caused by the pandemic.

Disruption is nothing new for technology leaders. In Gartner’s survey of IT leaders, conducted in early 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic struck, 90% said they had faced a “turn” or disruption in the last 4 years, and 100% said they face ongoing disruption and uncertainty. The current crisis may just be the biggest test of the resiliency they have developed in response to those challenges.

“We are hearing from a lot of clients about innovation budgets being slashed, but it’s really important not to throw innovation out the window,” said Gartner senior principal analyst Samantha Searle, one of the report’s authors, who spoke to InformationWeek. “Innovation techniques are well-suited to reducing uncertainty. This is critical in a crisis.”

The impact of the crisis on your technology budget is likely dependent on your industry, Searle said. For instance, technology and financial companies tend to be farther ahead of other companies when it comes to response to the crisis and consideration of investments for the future.

Other businesses, such as retail and hospitality, just now may be considering how to reopen. These organizations are still focused on fulfilling the initial needs around ensuring employees and customers are safe. In response to the short-term crisis, CTOs and other IT leaders were likely to focus on things like customer and employee safety, employee productivity, supply chain stabilization, and providing the optimal customer experience. But the innovation pipeline is also a crucial component.

Innovation doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money. Budgets are tight, after all. Searle suggests incremental innovations and cost optimizations, gaining efficiencies where they are achievable.

Consider whether you’ve already made some investments in AI, chatbots, or other platforms. Those are tools that you can use to improve customer experience during the ongoing crisis or even assist with better decision making as you navigate to the future.

Remember, investments will pay off on the other side. For instance, companies that thought more about employing customer safety measures are the ones that will come out better in terms of brand reputation.

In a retail environment, for instance, an innovation for employee and customer safety might be replacing touch type with voice interactions.

Searle said that the crisis has also altered acceptance of technologies that may not have been desirable in the past. For instance, before the pandemic people generally preferred seeing a doctor face-to-face rather than via a telemedicine appointment.

“That’s an example of where societal acceptance of the technology has changed a lot,” she said.

Another example that was not quite ready for prime time as the crisis hit is the idea of drones and autonomous vehicles making deliveries of groceries, take-out orders, and other orders. However, those are technologies that companies can continue to invest in for the longer term benefits.

Another key action CTOs and other IT leaders should take is trendspotting, Searle said. Trends can be around emerging technologies such as AI, but they can also be economic or political, too. The current pandemic is an example that disruption is the new order, and that just focusing on emerging technology as the only perceived catalyst of disruption has been a a misstep by many organizations, according to Searle. She recommends that organizations use trendspotting efforts to assemble a big picture of trends that will impact technology strategic decisions as your organization begins to rebuild and renew.

In terms of challenges in the next 6 months, CTOs remain focused on the near term. In an online poll during a recent webinar, Searle asked CTOs just that question. The biggest percentage said that their challenge was improving customer experience at 31%. Other challenges were maintaining employee productivity (28%), infrastructure resilience (22%), supply chain stability (8%), and combatting security attacks (8%)…[…] Read more »…..


Democratizing Cybersecurity Protects Us All

Cybersecurity is a sophisticated art. It can truly consume the time and resources of IT teams as they work to safeguard valuable data from the growing risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. The technical nature of it, along with the specific expertise it requires, has created a workforce gap that many fear is nearly impossible to bridge.

By Akshay Bhargava, Chief Product Officer at Malwarebytes

In fact, the cybersecurity workforce gap has been reported to be over four million globally, causing an alarming void of security experts who are fit to protect business and consumer data. This gap is particularly painful for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) where recruiting cybersecurity expertise may be particularly costly or challenging. Unfortunately, with the average cost of a breach weighing in at a hefty $3.92 million, cybersecurity is not something any business – no matter the size – can afford to get wrong. This is especially concerning for SMBs where estimates have found that as many as 60% are forced to shut their doors after a cyberattack.

But the damage caused by a successful attack can extend beyond the SMB itself.

Not only will the SMB suffer in the event of a cyberattack, but the larger enterprises it partners with are also put at risk. Take the 2019 Quest Diagnostics data breach as an example. Nearly 12 million patients were exposed after hackers took control of a payments page for one of Quest’s billing collection vendors, AMCA, exposing account data, social security numbers and health information. The same attack also impacted 7.7 million customers of LabCorp. AMCA has since filed bankruptcy.

It’s also been reported that it was an email attack on a vendor of Target Corp. that exposed the credit card and personal data of more than 110 million consumers in 2013. The Target breach has been traced back to network credentials stolen from an email malware attack on a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration firm used by Target.

In each instance, the exposure of a smaller organization put a much larger enterprise at risk. There is hope though, that if we can democratize cybersecurity, SMBs could realize the same protections enterprises require, and we’d all be much safer as a result.

So, what can be done? How can SMBs achieve a cybersecure environment like their enterprise competitors? The key lies in automation and empowering employees.

Automation Unlocks Cybersecurity Democratization

Adopting security automation is an effective way to achieve cyber resilience without adding staff or cost burden. It’s the core of cybersecurity democratization. In fact, companies that fully deploy security automation realize an average $1.55 million in incremental savings when handling a data breach. Not only will automation relieve the pressure from continued staff and skills resource constraints, it’s also dynamically scalable, always on, and enables a more proactive security approach that makes the business exponentially more secure. When applying automation, consider each of these three critical security process areas:

1. Threat detection and prevention. Technologies including advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning give SMBs the ability to apply adaptive threat detection and prevention capabilities so that they can stay one step ahead of cybercriminals without added staff. By automating threat detection, powered by strong threat intelligence, SMBs can detect new, emerging threats while also increasing the detection and prevention of known threats that may have previously slipped past corporate defenses. Furthermore, they can reduce the noise from incident alerts and false positives from detection systems, improving overall threat detection and prevention success rates.

2. Incident responseIf a successful cyberattack does break through, it can move throughout an environment like wildfire. Incident response time is critical to mitigating the severity of the damage, and for those SMBs impacted by the security skills shortage, having the response team needed to react fast is likely a problem. By automating incident response, organizations can greatly improve their cyber resilience. Adopt solutions that will automatically isolate, remediate and recover from a cyberattack:

  •  Isolate. By automating endpoint isolation SMBs are able to rapidly contain an infection while also minimizing disruption to the user. Effective isolation includes the automated containment of network, device and process levels. Advanced solutions will also impede malware from “phoning home” which will restrict further damage to the environment.
  • Remediate. Automating remediation will quickly and effectively restore systems without requiring staff resource time or expertise. It will also allow CISOs to remediate endpoints at scale to significantly reduce the company’s mean-time-to-response.
  • Recover. Finally, incident response should also provide automated restore capabilities to return endpoints to their pre-infected, trusted state. During this recovery process it’s also wise to enable automated detection and removal of artifacts that may have been left behind during the incident. This is essential to preventing malware from re-infecting the network.

3. Security task orchestrationTo further relieve security staff while ensuring cyber resiliency, low-level tasks should be automated, including the orchestration between complex, distributed security ecosystems and services. This will ensure a more nimble and responsive environment in the event a cyberattack is successful. Cloud-based management of endpoints can help, specifically if it provides deep visibility with remediation maps[…] Read more »…..

This article first appeared in CISO MAG.

<Link to CISO MAG site: www.cisomag.com>

Leveraging packet data to improve network agility and reduce costs

Global enterprises spend over $100 billion a year on cybersecurity, but multi-vector threats can still find a way to invade network infrastructures. IT teams need to protect numerous and varied entry points, including mobile devices, and new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), virtualization, Wi-Fi hotspots and cloud applications.

At the same time, service providers need secure access to data centers, equipment and campus environments with near-zero network performance latencies. They must also gain visibility into encrypted traffic so they can safeguard their resources.

However, the most vital of these assets is packet data, which offers a shortcut to a comprehensive visibility-driven security program encompassing threat detection and precise investigative capabilities. IT teams can also add controls, flexibility and scalability by delivering the right packets to tools as needed. Throughout this process, they will improve recovery times and increase the return on investment for their cybersecurity budget.

The current landscape

Network administrators are working hard to meet the continuous demands for higher bandwidth while delivering a superior user experience. To do so, they need to gather real-time insights, improve productivity, and stay within monetary constraints. That’s a tough balance to strike, especially given the increased number of vulnerabilities affecting safety, governance, and compliance.

Over 20 billion connected devices are in use worldwide, and cybercriminals are updating their strategies to fit this new environment. Attackers exploit faster internet speeds, next-generation tools, and bad actor hosting sites, to create a wide range of sophisticated attacks. These can include malware, spam services, encrypted attacks to exfiltrate data, potential beaconing and C2 (Command and Control) communications, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, and other malicious communications. They target networks and collect sensitive data from right under victims’ noses. With increased targeting of edge services, organizations must adopt a holistic approach to securing their entire distributed security visibility network to deliver the right packet data to their security systems. That begins with a comprehensive security visibility fabric architecture.

The most crucial preventive measure is rapidly addressing application performance issues through actionable insights. Operators can mitigate DDoS attacks at the edge quickly with automated solutions that protect packet data while minimizing risk. They should move storage workloads to the cloud as an extra layer of security.

IT teams who can’t see encrypted traffic face dangerous blind spots in their security, which could lead to financial losses, data breaches, and heaps of bad press. Because of this, it’s essential to protect networks and get smart visibility into these issues.

Regulatory bodies and organizations are shifting to the use of – and even mandating – ephemeral key encryption and forward secrecy (FS) to address the need for greater user security. The monitoring infrastructure will require companies to look at offloading Secure Socket Layer (SSL) decryption to allow tool capacity to keep up and to reduce latency by performing SSL decryption once and inspecting many times to scale the security infrastructure. Having a network packet broker in place to direct specific traffic to your SSL decryption appliance will allow for that decryption step. It will also enable the use of security service chaining to deliver the decrypted packet data to various security systems to maintain and monitor for optimal performance.

What the industry needs 

Many organizations don’t have the proper protective measures in place to fight attackers. They need to embed that capability into workflows because it allows for the rapid detection of issues within both physical and virtual infrastructures.

Enterprises are adopting emerging technologies to handle growing traffic volumes and network speeds. The increase in web applications and multimedia content has spurred a growing demand for simplified data center management, automation and cloud services. As a result, the packet broker market is flourishing with research predicting that the segment will be worth $849 million by 2023.

At the same time, network administrators must provide smart and flexible security solutions while reducing capital expenditures. IT teams can simplify these processes using distributed architecture. To do so, they need a cost-effective, scalable solution with no blind spots, which allows them to evolve packet data storage.

Operators and security administrators who base their actions on up-to-the-minute traffic reports can make decisions in real-time. Devices, applications and public and private clouds all aid in this mission by detecting threats throughout the network.

Why visibility is essential

Security is about controlling risk, and risk is defined by loss exposure. How can a business identify and manage risk? Companies need to be crystal clear on what they think about risk and have a thorough understanding of what they consider as assets. Having control is only possible with visibility into the network that provides access to those assets. Overcoming challenges and maximizing security requires a pervasive visibility layer that reduces downtime while increasing return on investment and enabling efficient operations.

The good news is enterprises are improving visibility as they analyze more information. IT departments need to follow suit by obtaining high-quality packet data and real-time insights. Tech teams can then protect systems from cyberattacks, provide reliable service assurance and comply with regulations.

Enterprises should monitor their infrastructure continuously so they can detect threats before they happen..[…] Read more »….



The ever changing role of a CSO with David Levine

With a wide and diverse variety of positions during his 23-year tenure with the Ricoh, Vice President Corporate and Information Security and CSO David Levine shares his perspective on the role of the CISO,  how he stays abreast of industry trends and in the current COVID-19 era, what it means to have a remote team. 


Q: How has the role of the CISO changed over your career?

A:  The CISO role has continued to grow in organizational and strategic importance within many businesses, including Ricoh. What was once a blended function in IT is now its own critical function with its leader (CISO/CSO) having a seat at the table and reporting, if applicable, to the board on a regular basis. That’s a significant transformation!

Q: What is the biggest challenge for a CISO today?

A: This ties into my answer above, the security budget and staffing has not necessarily kept pace with increasing demands and importance. As more and more of the organization as well as customers and partners realize they need to engage and include security the team gets spread thinner. This can put a real strain on the organization and its effectiveness. Prioritization and risk assessment become critical to help determine what needs to be focused on. You also cannot ignore the fundamental challenge of just keeping pace with operational fundamentals like vulnerability remediation, patching, alert response and trying to stay ahead of highly skilled adversaries. 

Q: How do you stay abreast of the trends and what your peers are doing?

A: I use a variety of approaches to track what’s going on relative to trends and my peers. Daily security email feeds are a great source to get a quick recap on the last 24 hours, leveraging one or more of the big research firms and being active in their councils is a great mix of access to analysts and peers. I am also active in the CISO community and participate in events run by great organizations like Apex. 

Q: What advice would you give an early stage CIO or CISO joining an enterprise organization?

A: Although I have been with Ricoh for many years, if I was moving to a new organization, I would take the time to ensure I understand:


  • the company’s objectives and priorities; 
  • what’s in place today and why;
  • what security’s role in the organization has been;
  • what’s working and what isn’t.


I’d also commit to completing initial benchmarking and make sure I spent time, upfront, to start to build solid relationships with key stakeholders.

Q: Have you been putting cloud migration first in your organization’s transformation strategies?

A: We adopted a cloud first mentality a few years ago. The cloud isn’t perfect for everything but in many cases it’s a great solution with a lot of tangible advantages.

Q: What are your Cloud Security Challenges?

A: For us, one of the biggest challenges is keeping pace with the business from a security and governance standpoint. We are currently working on putting in comprehensive policies and requirements, along with tools like a checklist, which will make it clear what’s needed and also enable the various teams to do some of the upfront work without needing to engage my team. That’s a win-win for everyone and reduces the likelihood of a bottleneck.

Q: What are your top data priorities: business growth, data security/privacy, legal/regulatory concerns, expense reduction?

A: YES! In all seriousness, those are all relevant priorities my team and I need to focus on. This further adds to the prior points around more work than hours and resources. 

Q: Did you have specific projects or initiatives that have been shelved due to COVID-19 and current realities?

A: Like most of my peers that I have talked to, we have put on hold most “net new” spending for now. The expectation is we will get back to those efforts a bit down the road. We are also taking a look to see what opportunities we have to streamline expenses.

Q: Has security been more of a challenge to manage while your teams have shifted to a Work From Home structure?

A: I am proud of my teams and the ecosystem we put in place. All in all, it’s been a pretty smooth transition. My team is geographically dispersed and a few key resources were already remote. However, that is not to say there aren’t any challenges – not being able to put hands on devices has made some investigations and project work more difficult but we’ve found safe ways to complete the tasks. Ensuring the teams stay connected and communicate is also important. 

Q: What were/are the most significant areas of change due to COVID-19?

A: We certainly had to make some exceptions to allow access and connectivity that we would not have done under normal circumstances, but it was the right thing to do for our business and our customers. We also had to shift some users to work from home who typically would not and as such, didn’t have the right resources. Both of these highlighted areas to focus on in the next revisions of our Business Continuity Plans which contemplated the need to shift work and locations but not necessarily everyone working from home. There is also a need to reemphasize security, policies, training when working from home.

Data Privacy and Data Security: Outsourcing to Third Parties and the Effect on Consumers, Companies, and the Cybersecurity Industry as a Whole

With the recent increase of global data privacy regulations and their ramifications on multinational organizations, it is crucial to examine the differences between data privacy and data security, why these nuances matter, and the impact they have on cybersecurity trends for not only organizations, but consumers.

Twenty years ago, data protection and information security were largely viewed as complementary activities. In today’s environment, data protection is rarely articulated without its privacy counterpart, and information security has transformed into “cybersecurity” to consider that data contains multiple threat factors.

Typically, cybersecurity is described as an intersection of three principles: confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA). If one of these core components is to fail or otherwise be wrongly configured, the resulting vulnerability could be a breach of information, commonly by means of unauthorized access, leakage, or wrongful deletion due to poor policy, risk management, or immature security practice.

Data privacy is often defined as the protection of sensitive data, typically referencing personally identifiable information (PII), such as a social security number, race, ethnicity, and age. Depending on the sector, regulation, or jurisdiction, the definition of which data is considered “sensitive” will vary and can expand beyond personal types of information to assets like trade secrets, intellectual property, or financial and operational data. The problem with this definition of data privacy is that the protection of this information is viewed more as a security attribute, lending to the longstanding proverb that you cannot have privacy without security.

If you reflect on the information trends since the turn of the last millennium, we experienced a shift to the cloud in the early 2000s, where organizations moved servers and other hardware assets to centralized vendors that maintain data center environments at scale. With this migration, the world’s first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies came online at the height of the dot-com bubble.

The “as a service” business model placed a new dependence on service organizations when their customers outsourced critical elements of their supply chain for operational efficiencies or for the ability to scale quickly without having to gain expertise in an industry not core to their product. This reliance on third parties created increased security risks since more companies would now have access to the same information that was previously received, managed, and maintained all under the same roof.

The effect on consumers

Beginning in the 2010s, data breaches that affected consumers due to stolen credit card data, like those disclosed by Adobe, Target, and Home Depot all occurring within the same year, made data security a hot topic for consumers for the first time, causing boards and regulators to inquire about the controls in place to mitigate these threats. However, it was not until recently that consumers shifted that mindset to include data privacy, after public breaches exposed health and personal information at Anthem, Uber, Adult Friend Finder, and Marriott. These data breaches made headlines, and consumers began to ask, ‘what data are you storing for me, how do you plan to use this data, and how long will it be retained?’.

Lawmakers and regulators took notice of this shift to consumer protectionism and began to mandate public changes in normal business operations in lieu of federal privacy laws.

The effect on companies

With so many checkpoints to consider when engaging a new vendor, and the stakes for proper due diligence higher than ever, organizations began to turn to assessment firms for assurance around these security controls. Assistance is needed because companies are unable to audit every service provider that might interact with user or customer data. In the United States, an organization may request a System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 report, an examination by a competent Certified Public Accountant (CPA) of their security controls based on set criteria. Or they may seek ISO 27001 certification, an accredited, point-in-time report on the conformity of their activities to requisite management processes and control objectives, establishing a baseline for what is considered a minimum state of security maturity.

Due to the shift in consumer focus on privacy considerations, globally recognized assurance programs have only recently been developed. In August 2019, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released the ISO 27701 standard – requirements and guidance for establishing a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS) for organizations that are controllers and/or processors of sensitive information like PII. While data privacy legislation had been around for several years through mechanisms like the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and, more recently, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ISO 27701 is the first assurance program that organizations could certify demonstrating their commitment to privacy based on the legal context affecting their data subjects.

In the months following the release of ISO 27701, organizations such as Alibaba, Huawei, Microsoft, Accenture, Blackhawk Network, and OneTrust have certified to the new standard; however, these certified organizations plus a multitude of others looking to match the achievement have quickly realized that privacy hygiene requires different resources and in-house skill sets than were needed with their security program.

The challenges of incorporating data privacy

One of the top challenges security teams face when building a privacy program on top of their existing security management system is how to expand the enterprise risk assessment to include risks that threaten the protection of PII. They inherently gravitate towards thinking about this new taxonomy of risk in terms of the foundational CIA principles, but neglect to consider the rights of the data subject. As a result, they have been forced to merge security personnel with privacy personnel to complete this task, which now exposes a new problem – many organizations do not have privacy personnel.

Looking at some Fortune 500 organizations, job titles such as Chief Security Officer or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) are far more commonplace than Chief Privacy Officer. Often, the privacy function of an organization is absorbed by General Counsel or outsourced to law firms kept on retainer. Early ISO 27701 certification plans at the largest processors of personal information in the world have been halted after discovering their security departments have little to no connection to their in-house privacy teams, if they exist at all. This results in a remediation only possible through a major shift in the organizational chart or hiring of competent personnel…[…] Read more »


Cyber Work Podcast: Growing the number of women in cybersecurity with Olivia Rose


Cybersecurity is a field on the cutting edge, yet when it comes to gender parity, there’s still much progress to be made. For women, breaking into a male-dominated field like cybersecurity comes with a unique set of challenges.

Data from the (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Report reveals that the landscape of women in cybersecurity is complex and — at least in some ways — evolving:

  • Women make up 24% of the cybersecurity workforce — a major increase from 11% in 2017
  • Women earn more degrees and cybersecurity certifications on average
  • More women than men hold leadership roles like IT Director, CISO and CIO

Seeing these numbers on the rise is exciting and encouraging. However, not all of the statistics are positive:

  • Of women in cybersecurity, 56% will leave to pursue jobs in another field
  • 17% of women earn salaries between $50,000 and $99,999, compared to 29% of men
  • Women in security management roles earn an average of $5,000 less than men in the same roles

In Infosec’s podcast “Growing the Number of Women in Cybersecurity,” Oliva Rose, the director of global executive risk solutions at Kudelski Security, shares her experiences as a woman in the field and shares some valuable advice with women considering a career in the cybersecurity world.

What can companies do to encourage women and minorities to take cybersecurity jobs? And just as important, how can companies encourage them to stay?

Network to overcome isolation

For many women working in cybersecurity, it’s unfortunately easy to feel like a stranger in a strange land. It’s not uncommon to be the only woman on a team or in an entire department, and the feeling of being the “odd woman out” can be enough to drive women to look for jobs in fields with better minority representation.

This leads us to the million-dollar question: what can cybersecurity companies do to make women feel less isolated at work? In this case, the most obvious answer (hire more women) is only one part of the equation, since retention rates for women in cybersecurity are also quite low.

According to Rose, access to networking opportunities is vital. Encouraging women to participate in conferences and professional groups can help them meet other women in the field and foster the sense of community they’ve been missing at work. For women trying to get their foot in the door, Rose suggests volunteering at conferences because it waives the fee! RSA, SecureWorld and ISACA are just a few of the many conferences available to women in information security.

Close the confidence gap

Self-doubt and insecurity can loom over women’s cybersecurity careers like storm clouds on an otherwise sunny day. Many women experience Imposter Syndrome, which is the perception that they’re not as skilled or as smart as their colleagues or that they’re not good enough for the job.

Although men can also experience extreme self-doubt at work, women and minorities are much more susceptible to it. Why? It largely stems from feeling like an outsider. This feeling of being on the outside looking in has ramifications on women’s careers in cybersecurity.

Many women feel the need to prove their skills with certifications and degrees. On average, women in cybersecurity hold more certifications than their male colleagues. They’re also more likely to earn a postgraduate degree, according to the (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Report. Rose has experienced this herself, saying, “You have to know your stuff. You may have to know your stuff more than the five other guys in the room.”

How can we help women feel more confident in cybersecurity jobs? Networking and mentorship are two powerful strategies. Since self-doubt is something that can’t be fought in isolation, connecting women with peers who understand what they’re going through can be immensely beneficial.

Recruit from non-traditional backgrounds

Despite the long-running debate on the value of a college degree in cybersecurity, many recruiters still prefer to hire people with degrees in STEM. That alone disqualifies a huge number of professionals, many of them women, who would make a big contribution to the field.

To hire more women in information security roles, recruiters will have to break the mold and look beyond traditional education requirements. Why? Because women don’t graduate from STEM programs at the same rate as men. In the 2015-2016 school year, women earned only 18.7% of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences..[…] Read more »….