Thursday, November 8, 2018

Top-N List "Frameworks" and Why They Will Fail You

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of prioritizing security program activities using Top-N security issue lists under the guise of using them as ‘a framework’. While possibly a useful input to decision making, Top-N lists amount to someone else’s risk assessment, one that doesn’t necessarily address your business objectives, operating model, technical environment, and industry specific issues. They are also rarely the type of all-encompassing catalog or taxonomy of considerations that are denoted by “framework.”

I see the overuse of generalized external risk assessments (Top-N “frameworks”) as the result of two issues. First, the entirely poor state of basic cybersecurity hygiene which is a result of cybersecurity and information technology technical debt, the kind of debt which now requires a defensible approach for being only partially paid down. Second, the failure to use risk assessment in the context of business decision making supported communicating technical risks in business risk terms. Not coincidentally, the second issue is the root of the first.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Everything Old is New Again, or Why Firewalls Were Always Supplemental

Those who I have spoken to who entered the security field in the last 15 years have often expressed the notion of cybersecurity as a network-first endeavor: firewalls, DMZs, perimeter controls, and so on. Those that have been in the field for 30 years or more will likely remember that firewalls were created as backstop for host security at a time when host-based security protection from the network was scarcely on the radar of most OS designers.

As the network-first approach continues to show the limits of its usefulness in environments where network boundaries are becoming less definable and where advanced persistent threats are common, it makes sense to advocate for a shift back to the host-centric mindset.

I suspect that this will be widely viewed as cost prohibitive, burdensome, unrealistic, and so on. Most good ideas are characterized this way until effective approaches and efficient methods are developed.