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Managing Your Vulnerabilities: A Q&A with Jack Daniel

By The Open Group

With hacks and security breaches becoming more prevalent everyday, it’s incumbent on organizations to determine the areas where their systems may be vulnerable and take actions to better handle those vulnerabilities. Jack Daniel, a strategist with Tenable Network Security who has been active in securing networks and systems for more than 20 years, says that if companies start implementing vulnerability management on an incremental basis and use automation to help them, they can hopefully reach a point where they’re not constantly handling vulnerability crises.

Daniel will be speaking at The Open Group Baltimore event on July 20, presenting on “The Evolution of Vulnerability Management.” In advance of that event, we recently spoke to Daniel to get his perspective on hacker motivations, the state of vulnerability management in organizations today, the human problems that underlie security issues and why automation is key to better handling vulnerabilities.

How do you define vulnerability management?

Vulnerability detection is where this started. News would break years ago of some vulnerability, some weakness in a system—a fault in the configuration or software bug that allows bad things to happen. We used to really to do a hit-or-miss job of it, it didn’t have to be rushed at all. Depending on where you were or what you were doing, you might not be targeted—it would take months after something was released before bad people would start doing things with it. As criminals discovered there was money to be made in exploiting vulnerabilities, the attackers became more and more motivated by more than just notoriety. The early hacker scene that was disruptive or did criminal things was largely motivated by notoriety. As people realized they could make money, it became a problem, and that’s when we turned to management.

You have to manage finding vulnerabilities, detecting vulnerabilities and resolving them, which usually means patching but not always. There are a lot of ways to resolve or mitigate without actually patching, but the management aspect is discovering all the weaknesses in your environment—and that’s a really broad brush, depending on what you’re worried about. That could be you’re not compliant with PCI if you’re taking credit cards or it could be that bad guys can steal your database full of credit card numbers or intellectual property.

It’s finding all the weaknesses in your environment, the vulnerabilities, tracking them, resolving them and then continuing to track as new ones appear to make sure old ones don’t reappear. Or if they do reappear, what in your corporate process is allowing bad things to happen over and over again? It’s continuously doing this.

The pace of bad things has accelerated, the motivations of the actors have forked in a couple of directions, and to do a good job of vulnerability management really requires gathering data of different qualities and being able to make assessments about it and then applying what you know to what’s the most effective use of your resources—whether it’s time or money or employees to fix what you can.

What are the primary motivations you’re seeing with hacks today?

They fall into a couple big buckets, and there are a whole bunch of them. One common one is financial—these are the people that are stealing credit cards, stealing credentials so they can do bank wire fraud, or some other way to get at money. There are a variety of financial motivators.

There are also some others, depending on who you are. There’s the so-called ‘Hacktivist,’ which used to be a thing in the early days of hacking but has now become more widespread. These are folks like the Syrian Electronic Army or there’s various Turkish groups that through the years have done website defacements. These people are not trying to steal money, they’re trying to embarrass you, they’re trying to promote a message. It may be, as with the Syrian Electronic Army, they’re trying to support the ruler of whatever’s left of Syria. So there are political motivations. Anonymous did a lot of destructive things—or people calling themselves ‘Anonymous’—that’s a whole other conversation, but people do things under the banner of Anonymous as hacktivism that struck out at corporations they thought were unjust or unfair or they did political things.

Intellectual property theft would be the third big one, I think. Generally the finger is pointed at China, but it’s unfair to say they’re the only ones stealing trade secrets. People within your own country or your own market or region are stealing trade secrets continuously, too.

Those are the three big ones—money, hacktivism and intellectual property theft. It trickles down. One of the things that has come up more often over the past few years is people get attacked because of who they’re connected to. It’s a smaller portion of it and one that’s overlooked but is a message that people need to hear. For example, in the Target breach, it is claimed that the initial entry point was through the heating and air conditioning vendors’ computer systems and their access to the HVAC systems inside a Target facility, and, from there, they were able to get through. There are other stories about the companies where organizations have been targeted because of who they do business with. That’s usually a case of trying to attack somebody that’s well-secured and there’s not an easy way in, so you find out who does their heating and air-conditioning or who manages their remote data centers or something and you attack those people and then come in.

How is vulnerability management different from risk management?

It’s a subset of risk management. Risk management, when done well, gives a scope of a very large picture and helps you drill down into the details, but it has to factor in things above and beyond the more technical details of what we more typically think of as vulnerability management. Certainly they work together—you have to find what’s vulnerable and then you have to make assessments as to how you’re going to address your vulnerabilities, and that ideally should be done in a risk-based manner. Because as much as all of the reports from Verizon Data Breach Report and others say you have to fix everything, the reality is that not only can we not fix everything, we can’t fix a lot immediately so you really have to prioritize things. You have to have information to prioritize things, and that’s a challenge for many organizations.

Your session at The Open Group Baltimore event is on the evolution of vulnerability management—where does vulnerability management stand today and where does it need to go?

One of my opening slides sums it up—it used to be easy, and it’s not anymore. It’s like a lot of other things in security, it’s sort of a buzz phrase that’s never really taken off like it needs to at the enterprise level, which is as part of the operationalization of security. Security needs to be a component of running your organization and needs to be factored into a number of things.

The information security industry has a challenge and history of being a department in the middle and being obstructionist, which is I think is well deserved. But the real challenge is to cooperate more. We have to get a lot more information, which means working well with the rest of the organization, particularly networking and systems administrators and having conversations with them as far as the data and the environment and sharing and what we discover as problems without being the judgmental know-it-all security people. That is our stereotype. The adversaries are often far more cooperative than we are. In a lot of criminal forums, people will be fairly supportive of other people in their community—they’ll go up to where they reach the trade-secret level and stop—but if somebody’s not cutting into their profits, rumor is these people are cooperating and collaborating.

Within an organization, you need to work cross-organizationally. Information sharing is a very real piece of it. That’s not necessarily vulnerability management, but when you step into risk analysis and how you manage your environment, knowing what vulnerabilities you have is one thing, but knowing what vulnerabilities people are actually going to do bad things to requires information sharing, and that’s an industry wide challenge. It’s a challenge within our organizations, and outside it’s a real challenge across the enterprise, across industry, across government.

Why has that happened in the Security industry?

One is the stereotype—a lot of teams are very siloed, a lot of teams have their fiefdoms—that’s just human nature.

Another problem that everyone in security and technology faces is that we talk to all sorts of people and have all sorts of great conversations, learn amazing things, see amazing things and a lot of it is under NDA, formal or informal NDAs. And if it weren’t for friend-of-a-friend contacts a lot of information sharing would be dramatically less. A lot of the sanitized information that comes out is too sanitized to be useful. The Verizon Data Breach Report pointed out that there are similarities in attacks but they don’t line up with industry verticals as you might expect them to, so we have that challenge.

Another serious challenge we have in security, especially in the research community, is that there’s total distrust of the government. The Snowden revelations have really severely damaged the technology and security community’s faith in the government and willingness to cooperate with them. Further damaging that are the discussions about criminalizing many security tools—because the people in Congress don’t understand these things. We have a president who claims to be technologically savvy, and he is more than any before him, but he still doesn’t get it and he’s got advisors that don’t get it. So we have a great distrust of the government, which has been earned, despite the fact that any one of us in the industry knows folks at various agencies—whether the FBI or intelligence agencies or military —who are fantastic people—brilliant, hardworking patriotic—but the entities themselves are political entities, and that causes a lot of distrust in information sharing.

And there are just a lot of people that have the idea that they want proprietary information. This is not unique to security. There are a couple of different types of managers—there are people in organizations who strive to make themselves irreplaceable. As a manager, you’ve got to get those people out of your environment because they’re just poisonous. There are other people who strive to make it so that they can walk away at any time and it will be a minor inconvenience for someone to pick up the notes and run. Those are the type of people you should hang onto for dear life because they share information, they build knowledge, they build relationships. That’s just human nature. In security I don’t think there are enough people who are about building those bridges, building those communications paths, sharing what they’ve learned and trying to advance the cause. I think there’s still too many who horde information as a tool or a weapon.

Security is fundamentally a human problem amplified by technology. If you don’t address the human factors in it, you can have technological controls, but it still has to be managed by people. Human nature is a big part of what we do.

You advocate for automation to help with vulnerability management. Can automation catch the threats when hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and use bots themselves? Will this become a war of bot vs. bot?

A couple of points about automation. Our adversaries are using automation against us. We need to use automation to fight them, and we need to use as much automation as we can rely on to improve our situation. But at some point, we need smart people working on hard problems, and that’s not unique to security at all. The more you automate, at some point in time you have to look at whether your automation processes are improving things or not. If you’ve ever seen a big retailer or grocery store that has a person working full-time to manage the self-checkout line, that’s failed automation. That’s just one example of failed automation. Or if there’s a power or network outage at a hospital where everything is regulated and medications are regulated and then nobody can get their medications because the network’s down. Then you have patients suffering until somebody does something. They have manual systems that they have to fall back on and eventually some poor nurse has to spend an entire shift doing data entry because the systems failed so badly.

Automation doesn’t solve the problems—you have to automate the right things in the right ways, and the goal is to do the menial tasks in an automated fashion so you have to spend less human cycles. As a system or network administrator, you run into the same repetitive tasks over and over and you write scripts to do it or buy a tool to automate it. They same applies here –you want to filter through as much of the data as you can because one of the things that modern vulnerability management requires is a lot of data. It requires a ton of data, and it’s very easy to fall into an information overload situation. Where the tools can help is by filtering it down and reducing the amount of stuff that gets put in front of people to make decisions about, and that’s challenging. It’s a balance that requires continuous tuning—you don’t want it to miss anything so you want it to tell you everything that’s questionable but it can’t throw too many things at you that aren’t actually problems or people give up and ignore the problems. That was allegedly part of a couple of the major breaches last year. Alerts were triggered but nobody paid attention because they get tens of thousands of alerts a day as opposed to one big alert. One alert is hard to ignore—40,000 alerts and you just turn it off.

What’s the state of automated solutions today?

It’s pretty good if you tune it, but it takes maintenance. There isn’t an Easy Button, to use the Staples tagline. There’s not an Easy Button, and anyone promising an Easy Button is probably not being honest with you. But if you understand your environment and tune the vulnerability management and patch management tools (and a lot of them are administrative tools), you can automate a lot of it and you can reduce the pain dramatically. It does require a couple of very hard first steps. The first step in all of it is knowing what’s in your environment and knowing what’s crucial in your environment and understanding what you have because if you don’t know what you’ve got, you won’t be able to defend it well. It is pretty good but it does take a fair amount of effort to get to where you can make the best of it. Some organizations are certainly there, and some are not.

What do organizations need to consider when putting together a vulnerability management system?

One word: visibility. They need to understand that they need to be able to see and know what’s in the environment—everything that’s in their environment—and get good information on those systems. There needs to be visibility into a lot of systems that you don’t always have good visibility into. That means your mobile workforce with their laptops, that means mobile devices that are on the network, which are probably somewhere whether they belong there or not, that means understanding what’s on your network that’s not being managed actively, like Windows systems that might not be in active directory or RedHat systems that aren’t being managed by satellite or whatever systems you use to manage it.

Knowing everything that’s in the environment and its roles in the system—that’s a starting point. Then understanding what’s critical in the environment and how to prioritize that. The first step is really understanding your own environment and having visibility into the entire network—and that can extend to Cloud services if you’re using a lot of Cloud services. One of the conversations I’ve been having lately since the latest Akamai report was about IPv6. Most Americans are ignoring it even at the corporate level, and a lot of folks think you can ignore it still because we’re still routing most of our traffic over the IPv4 protocol. But IPv6 is active on just about every network out there. It’s just whether or not we actively measure and monitor it. The Akamai Report said something that a lot of folks have been saying for years and that’s that this is really a problem. Even though the adoption is pretty low, what you see if you start monitoring for it is people communicating in IPv6 whether intentionally or unintentionally. Often unintentionally because everythings’s enabled, so there’s often a whole swath of your network that people are ignoring. And you can’t have those huge blind spots in the environment, you just can’t. The vulnerability management program has to take into account that sort of overall view of the environment. Then once you’re there, you need a lot of help to solve the vulnerabilities, and that’s back to the human problem.

What should Enterprise Architects look for in an automated solution?

It really depends on the corporate need. They need to figure out whether or not the systems they’re looking at are going to find most or all of their network and discover all of the weakness, and then help them prioritize those. For example, can your systems do vulnerability analysis on newly discovered systems with little or no input? Can you automate detection? Can you automate confirmation of findings somehow? Can you interact with other systems? There’s a piece, too—what’s the rest of your environment look like? Are there ways into it? Does your vulnerability management system work with or understand all the things you’ve got? What if you have some unique network gear that your vulnerability management systems not going to tell you what the vulnerability’s in? There are German companies that like to use operating systems other than Windows and garden variety Linux distributions. Does it work in your environment and will it give you good coverage in your environment and can it take a lot of the mundane out of it?

How can companies maintain Boundaryless Information Flow™–particularly in an era of the Internet of Things–but still manage their vulnerabilities?

The challenge is a lot of people push back against high information flow because they can’t make sense of it; they can’t ingest the data, they can’t do anything with it. It’s the challenge of accepting and sharing a lot of information. It doesn’t matter whether vulnerability management or lot analysis or patch management or systems administration or back up or anything—the challenge is that networks have systems that share a lot of data but until you add context, it’s not really information. What we’re interested in in vulnerability management is different than what you’re automated backup is. The challenge is having systems that can share information outbound, share information inbound and then act rationally on only that which is relevant to them. That’s a real challenge because information overload is a problem that people have been complaining about for years, and it’s accelerating at a stunning rate.

You say Internet of Things, and I get a little frustrated when people treat that as a monolith because at one end an Internet enabled microwave or stove has one set of challenges, and they’re built on garbage commodity hardware with no maintenance ability at all. There are other things that people consider Internet of Things because they’re Internet enabled and they’re running Windows or a more mature Linux stack that has full management and somebody’s managing it. So there’s a huge gap between the managed IoT and the unmanaged, and the unmanaged is just adding low power machines in environments that will just amplify things like distributed denial of service (DoS). As it is, a lot of consumers have home routers that are being used to attack other people and do DoS attacks. A lot of the commercial stuff is being cleaned up, but a lot of the inexpensive home routers that people have are being used, and if those are used and misused or misconfigured or attacked with worms that can change the settings for things to have everything in the network participate in.

The thing with the evolution of vulnerability management is that we’re trying to drive people to a continuous monitoring situation. That’s where the federal government has gone, that’s where a lot of industries are, and it’s a challenge to go from infrequent or even frequent big scans to watching things continuously. The key is to take incremental steps, and the goal is, instead of having a big massive vulnerability project every quarter or every month, the goal is to get down to where it’s part of the routine, you’re taking small remediated measures on a daily or regular basis. There’s still going to be things when Microsoft or Oracle come out with a big patch that will require a bigger tool-up but you’re going to need to do this continuously and reach that point where you do small pieces of the task continuously rather than one big task. That’s the goal is to get to where you’re doing this continuously so you get to where you’re blowing out birthday candles rather than putting out forest fires.

Jack Daniel, a strategist at Tenable Network Security, has over 20 years experience in network and system administration and security, and has worked in a variety of practitioner and management positions. A technology community activist, he supports several information security and technology organizations. Jack is a co-founder of Security BSides, serves on the boards of three Security BSides non-profit corporations, and helps organize Security B-Sides events. Jack is a regular, featured speaker at ShmooCon, SOURCE Boston, DEF CON, RSA and other marque conferences. Jack is a CISSP, holds CCSK, and is a Microsoft MVP for Enterprise Security.

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Filed under Boundaryless Information Flow™, Internet of Things, RISK Management, Security, the open group, The Open Group Baltimore 2015

The Open Group Philadelphia – Day Three Highlights

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications at The Open Group.

We are winding down Day 3 and gearing up for the next two days of training and workshops.  Today’s subject areas included TOGAF®, ArchiMate®, Risk Management, Innovation Management, Open Platform 3.0™ and Future Trends.

The objective of the Future Trends session was to discuss “emerging business and technical trends that will shape enterprise IT”, according to Dave Lounsbury, Chief Technical Officer of The Open Group.

This track also featured a presentation by Dr. William Lafontaine, VP High Performance Computing, Analytics & Cognitive Markets, IBM Research, who gave an overview of the “Global Technology Outlook 2013”.  He stated the Mega Trends are:  Growing Scale/Lower Barrier of Entry; Increasing Complexity/Yet More Consumable; Fast Pace; Contextual Overload.  Mike Walker, Strategies & Enterprise Architecture Advisor for HP, noted the key disrupters that will affect our future are the business of IT, technology itself, expectation of consumers and globalization.

The session concluded with an in-depth Q&A with Bill, Dave, Mike (as shown below) and Allen Brown, CEO of The Open Group.Philly Day 3

Other sessions included presentations by TJ Virdi (Senior Enterprise Architect, Boeing) on Innovation Management, Jack Jones (President, CXOWARE, Inc.) on Risk Management and Stephen Bennett (Executive Principal, Oracle) on Big Data.

A special thanks goes to our many sponsors during this dynamic conference: Windstream, Architecting the Enterprise, Metaplexity, BIZZdesign, Corso, Avolution, CXOWARE, Penn State – Online Program in Enterprise Architecture, and Association of Enterprise Architects.

Stay tuned for post-conference proceedings to be posted soon!  See you at our conference in London, October 21-24.

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Filed under ArchiMate®, Conference, Cybersecurity, Data management, Enterprise Architecture, Enterprise Transformation, Open Platform 3.0, RISK Management, Security Architecture, Standards, TOGAF®

Open Group Panel Explores Changing Field of Risk Management and Analysis in the Era of Big Data

By Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solutions

Listen to the recorded podcast here: The Open Group Panel Explores Changing Field of Risk Management and Analysis in Era of Big Data

This is a transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on the threats from and promise of Big Data in securing enterprise information assets in conjunction with the The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special thought leadership interview series coming to you in conjunction with The Open Group Conference on January 28 in Newport Beach, California.

I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I’ll be your host and moderator throughout these business transformation discussions. The conference itself is focusing on Big Data the transformation we need to embrace today.

We’re here now with a panel of experts to explore new trends and solutions in the area of risk management and analysis. We’ll learn how large enterprises are delivering risk assessments and risk analysis, and we’ll see how Big Data can be both an area to protect from in form of risks, but also as a tool for better understanding and mitigating risks.

With that, please join me in welcoming our panel. We’re here with Jack Freund, PhD, the Information Security Risk Assessment Manager at TIAA-CREF. Welcome, Jack.

Jack Freund: Hello Dana, how are you?

Gardner: I’m great. Glad you could join us.

We are also here with Jack Jones, Principal of CXOWARE. He has more than nine years of experience as a Chief Information Security Officer, is the inventor of the Factor Analysis Information Risk (FAIR) framework. Welcome, Jack.

Jack Jones: Thank you. And we’re also here with Jim Hietala, Vice President, Security for The Open Group. Welcome, Jim.

Jim Hietala: Thanks, Dana.

Gardner: All right, let’s start out with looking at this from a position of trends. Why is the issue of risk analysis so prominent now? What’s different from, say, five years ago? And we’ll start with you, Jack Jones.

Jones: The information security industry has struggled with getting the attention of and support from management and businesses for a long time, and it has finally come around to the fact that the executives care about loss exposure — the likelihood of bad things happening and how bad those things are likely to be.

It’s only when we speak of those terms or those issues in terms of risk, that we make sense to those executives. And once we do that, we begin to gain some credibility and traction in terms of getting things done.

Gardner: So we really need to talk about this in the terms that a business executive would appreciate, not necessarily an IT executive.

Effects on business

Jones: Absolutely. They’re tired of hearing about vulnerabilities, hackers, and that sort of thing. It’s only when we can talk in terms of the effect on the business that it makes sense to them.

Gardner: Jack Freund, I should also point out that you have more than 14 years in enterprise IT experience. You’re a visiting professor at DeVry University and you chair a risk-management subcommittee for ISACA? Is that correct?

Freund: ISACA, yes.

Gardner: And do you agree?

Freund: The problem that we have as a profession, and I think it’s a big problem, is that we have allowed ourselves to escape the natural trend that the other IT professionals have already taken.

There was a time, years ago, when you could code in the basement, and nobody cared much about what you were doing. But now, largely speaking, developers and systems administrators are very focused on meeting the goals of the organization.

Security has been allowed to miss that boat a little. We have been allowed to hide behind this aura of a protector and of an alerter of terrible things that could happen, without really tying ourselves to the problem that the organizations are facing and how can we help them succeed in what they’re doing.

Gardner: Jim Hietala, how do you see things that are different now than a few years ago when it comes to risk assessment?

Hietala: There are certainly changes on the threat side of the landscape. Five years ago, you didn’t really have hacktivism or this notion of an advanced persistent threat (APT).

That highly skilled attacker taking aim at governments and large organizations didn’t really exist -– or didn’t exist to the degree it does today. So that has changed.

You also have big changes to the IT platform landscape, all of which bring new risks that organizations need to really think about. The mobility trend, the Cloud trend, the big-data trend that we are talking about today, all of those things bring new risk to the organization.

As Jack Jones mentioned, business executives don’t want to hear about, “I’ve got 15 vulnerabilities in the mobility part of my organization.” They want to understand what’s the risk of bad things happening because of mobility, what we’re doing about it, and what’s happening to risk over time?

So it’s a combination of changes in the threats and attackers, as well as just changes to the IT landscape, that we have to take a different look at how we measure and present risk to the business.

Gardner: Because we’re at a big-data conference, do you share my perception, Jack Jones, that Big Data can be a source of risk and vulnerability, but also the analytics and the business intelligence (BI) tools that we’re employing with Big Data can be used to alert you to risks or provide a strong tool for better understanding your true risk setting or environment.

Crown jewels

Jones: You are absolutely right. You think of Big Data and, by definition, it’s where your crown jewels, and everything that leads to crown jewels from an information perspective, are going to be found. It’s like one-stop shopping for the bad guy, if you want to look at it in that context. It definitely needs to be protected. The architecture surrounding it and its integration across a lot of different platforms and such, can be leveraged and probably result in a complex landscape to try and secure.

There are a lot of ways into that data and such, but at least if you can leverage that same Big Data architecture, it’s an approach to information security. With log data and other threat and vulnerability data and such, you should be able to make some significant gains in terms of how well-informed your analyses and your decisions are, based on that data.

Gardner: Jack Freund, do you share that? How does Big Data fit into your understanding of the evolving arena of risk assessment and analysis?

Freund: If we fast-forward it five years, and this is even true today, a lot of people on the cutting edge of Big Data will tell you the problem isn’t so much building everything together and figuring out what it can do. They are going to tell you that the problem is what we do once we figure out everything that we have. This is the problem that we have traditionally had on a much smaller scale in information security. When everything is important, nothing is important.

Gardner: To follow up on that, where do you see the gaps in risk analysis in large organizations? In other words, what parts of organizations aren’t being assessed for risk and should be?

Freund: The big problems that exist largely today in the way that risk assessments are done, is the focus on labels. We want to quickly address the low, medium, and high things and know where they are. But the problem is that there are inherent problems in the way that we think about those labels, without doing any of the analysis legwork.

I think that’s what’s really missing is that true analysis. If the system goes offline, do we lose money? If the system becomes compromised, what are the cost-accounting things that will happen that allow us to figure out how much money we’re going to lose.

That analysis work is largely missing. That’s the gap. The gap is if the control is not in place, then there’s a risk that must be addressed in some fashion. So we end up with these very long lists of horrible, terrible things that can be done to us in all sorts of different ways, without any relevance to the overall business of the organization.

Every day, our organizations are out there selling products, offering services, which is and of itself, its own risky venture. So tying what we do from an information security perspective to that is critical for not just the success of the organization, but the success of our profession.

Gardner: So we can safely say that large companies are probably pretty good at a cost-benefit analysis or they wouldn’t be successful. Now, I guess we need to ask them to take that a step further and do a cost-risk analysis, but in business terms, being mindful that their IT systems might be a much larger part of that than they had at once considered. Is that fair, Jack?

Risk implications

Jones: Businesses have been making these decisions, chasing the opportunity, but generally, without any clear understanding of the risk implications, at least from the information security perspective. They will have us in the corner screaming and throwing red flags in there, and talking about vulnerabilities and threats from one thing or another.

But, we come to the table with red, yellow, and green indicators, and on the other side of the table, they’ve got numbers. Well, here is what we expect to earn in revenue from this initiative, and the information security people are saying it’s crazy. How do you normalize the quantitative revenue gain versus red, yellow, and green?

Gardner: Jim Hietala, do you see it in the same red, yellow, green or are there some other frameworks or standard methodologies that The Open Group is looking at to make this a bit more of a science?

Hietala: Probably four years ago, we published what we call the Risk Taxonomy Standard which is based upon FAIR, the management framework that Jack Jones invented. So, we’re big believers in bringing that level of precision to doing risk analysis. Having just gone through training for FAIR myself, as part of the standards effort that we’re doing around certification, I can say that it really brings a level of precision and a depth of analysis to risk analysis that’s been lacking frequently in IT security and risk management.

Gardner: We’ve talked about how organizations need to be mindful that their risks are higher and different than in the past and we’ve talked about how standardization and methodologies are important, helping them better understand this from a business perspective, instead of just a technology perspective.

But, I’m curious about a cultural and organizational perspective. Whose job should this fall under? Who is wearing the white hat in the company and can rally the forces of good and make all the bad things managed? Is this a single person, a cultural, an organizational mission? How do you make this work in the enterprise in a real-world way? Let’s go to you, Jack Freund.

Freund: The profession of IT risk management is changing. That profession will have to sit between the business and information security inclusive of all the other IT functions that make that happen.

In order to be successful sitting between these two groups, you have to be able to speak the language of both of those groups. You have to be able to understand profit and loss and capital expenditure on the business side. On the IT risk side, you have to be technical enough to do all those sorts of things.

But I think the sum total of those two things is probably only about 50 percent of the job of IT risk management today. The other 50 percent is communication. Finding ways to translate that language and to understand the needs and concerns of each side of that relationship is really the job of IT risk management.

To answer your question, I think it’s absolutely the job of IT risk management to do that. From my own experiences with the FAIR framework, I can say that using FAIR is the Rosetta Stone for speaking between those two groups.

Necessary tools

It gives you the tools necessary to speak in the insurance and risk terms that business appreciate. And it gives you the ability to be as technical and just nerdy, if you will, as you need to be in order to talk to IT security and the other IT functions in order to make sure everybody is on the same page and everyone feels like their concerns are represented in the risk-assessment functions that are happening.

Gardner: Jack Jones, can you add to that?

Jones: I agree with what Jack said wholeheartedly. I would add, though, that integration or adoption of something like this is a lot easier the higher up in the organization you go.

For CFOs traditionally, their neck is most clearly on the line for risk-related issues within most organizations. At least in my experience, if you get their ear on this and present the information security data analyses to them, they jump on board, they drive it through the organization, and it’s just brain-dead easy.

If you try to drive it up through the ranks, maybe you get an enthusiastic supporter in the information security organization, especially if it’s below the CISO level, and they try a grassroots sort of effort to bring it in, it’s a tougher thing. It can still work. I’ve seen it work very well, but, it’s a longer row to hoe.

Gardner: There have been a lot of research, studies, and surveys on data breaches. What are some of the best sources, or maybe not so good sources, for actually measuring this? How do you know if you’re doing it right? How do you know if you’re moving from yellow to green, instead of to red? To you, Jack Freund.

Freund: There are a couple of things in that question. The first is there’s this inherent assumption in a lot of organizations that we need to move from yellow to green, and that may not be the case. So, becoming very knowledgeable about the risk posture and the risk tolerance of the organization is a key.

That’s part of the official mindset of IT security. When you graduate an information security person today, they are minted knowing that there are a lot of bad things out there, and their goal in life is to reduce them. But, that may not be the case. The case may very well be that things are okay now, but we have bigger things to fry over here that we’re going to focus on. So, that’s one thing.

The second thing, and it’s a very good question, is how we know that we’re getting better? How do we trend that over time? Overall, measuring that value for the organization has to be able to show a reduction of a risk or at least reduction of risk to the risk-tolerance levels of the organization.

Calculating and understanding that requires something that I always phrase as we have to become comfortable with uncertainty. When you are talking about risk in general, you’re talking about forward-looking statements about things that may or may not happen. So, becoming comfortable with the fact that they may or may not happen means that when you measure them today, you have to be willing to be a little bit squishy in how you’re representing that.

In FAIR and in other academic works, they talk about using ranges to do that. So, things like high, medium, and low, could be represented in terms of a minimum, maximum, and most likely. And that tends to be very, very effective. People can respond to that fairly well.

Gathering data

Jones: With regard to the data sources, there are a lot of people out there doing these sorts of studies, gathering data. The problem that’s hamstringing that effort is the lack of a common set of definitions, nomenclature, and even taxonomy around the problem itself.

You will have one study that will have defined threat, vulnerability, or whatever differently from some other study, and so the data can’t be normalized. It really harms the utility of it. I see data out there and I think, “That looks like that can be really useful.” But, I hesitate to use it because I don’t understand. They don’t publish their definitions, approach, and how they went after it.

There’s just so much superficial thinking in the profession on this that we now have dug under the covers. Too often, I run into stuff that just can’t be defended. It doesn’t make sense, and therefore the data can’t be used. It’s an unfortunate situation.

I do think we’re heading in a positive direction. FAIR can provide a normalizing structure for that sort of thing. The VERIS framework, which by the way, is also derived in part from FAIR, also has gained real attraction in terms of the quality of the research they have done and the data they’re generating. We’re headed in the right direction, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Gardner: Jim Hietala, we’re seemingly looking at this on a company-by-company basis. But, is there a vertical industry slice or industry-wide slice where we could look at what’s happening to everyone and put some standard understanding, or measurement around what’s going on in the overall market, maybe by region, maybe by country?

Hietala: There are some industry-specific initiatives and what’s really needed, as Jack Jones mentioned, are common definitions for things like breach, exposure, loss, all those, so that the data sources from one organization can be used in another, and so forth. I think about the financial services industry. I know that there is some information sharing through an organization called the FS-ISAC about what’s happening to financial services organizations in terms of attacks, loss, and those sorts of things.

There’s an opportunity for that on a vertical-by-vertical basis. But, like Jack said, there is a long way to go on that. In some industries, healthcare for instance, you are so far from that, it’s ridiculous. In the US here, the HIPAA security rule says you must do a risk assessment. So, hospitals have done annual risk assessments, will stick the binder on the shelf, and they don’t think much about information security in between those annual risk assessments. That’s a generalization, but various industries are at different places on a continuum of maturity of their risk management approaches.

Gardner: As we get better with having a common understanding of the terms and the measurements and we share more data, let’s go back to this notion of how to communicate this effectively to those people that can use it and exercise change management as a result. That could be the CFO, the CEO, what have you, depending on the organization.

Do you have any examples? Can we look to an organization that’s done this right, and examine their practices, the way they’ve communicated it, some of the tools they’ve used and say, “Aha, they’re headed in the right direction maybe we could follow a little bit.” Let’s start with you, Jack Freund.

Freund: I have worked and consulted for various organizations that have done risk management at different levels. The ones that have embraced FAIR tend to be the ones that overall feel that risk is an integral part of their business strategy. And I can give a couple of examples of scenarios that have played out that I think have been successful in the way they have been communicated.

Coming to terms

The key to keep in mind with this is that one of the really important things is that when you’re a security professional, you’re again trained to feel like you need results. But, the results for the IT risk management professional are different. The results are “I’ve communicated this effectively, so I am done.” And then whatever the results are, are the results that needed to be. And that’s a really hard thing to come to terms with.

I’ve been involved in large-scale efforts to assess risk for a Cloud venture. We needed to move virtually every confidential record that we have to the Cloud in order to be competitive with the rest of our industry. If our competitors are finding ways to utilize the Cloud before us, we can lose out. So, we need to find a way to do that, and to be secure and compliant with all the laws and regulations and such.

Through that scenario, one of the things that came out was that key ownership became really, really important. We had the opportunity to look at the various control structures and we analyzed them using FAIR. What we ended up with was sort of a long-tail risk. Most people will probably do their job right over a long enough period of time. But, over that same long period of time, the odds of somebody making a mistake not in your favor are probably likely, but, not significantly enough so that you can’t make the move.

But, the problem became that the loss side, the side that typically gets ignored with traditional risk-assessment methodologies, was so significant that the organization needed to make some judgment around that, and they needed to have a sense of what we needed to do in order to minimize that.

That became a big point of discussion for us and it drove the conversation away from bad things could happen. We didn’t bury the lead. The lead was that this is the most important thing to this organization in this particular scenario.

So, let’s talk about things we can do. Are we comfortable with it? Do we need to make any sort of changes? What are some control opportunities? How much do they cost? This is a significantly more productive conversation than just, “Here is a bunch of bad things that happen. I’m going to cross my arms and say no.”

Gardner: Jack Jones, examples at work?

Jones: In an organization that I’ve been working with recently, their board of directors said they wanted a quantitative view of information security risk. They just weren’t happy with the red, yellow, green. So, they came to us, and there were really two things that drove them there. One was that they were looking at cyber insurance. They wanted to know how much cyber insurance they should take out, and how do you figure that out when you’ve got a red, yellow, green scale?

They were able to do a series of analyses on a population of the scenarios that they thought were relevant in their world, get an aggregate view of their annualized loss exposure, and make a better informed decision about that particular problem.

Gardner: I’m curious how prevalent cyber insurance is, and is that going to be a leveling effect in the industry where people speak a common language the equivalent of actuarial tables, but for security in enterprise and cyber security?

Jones: One would dream and hope, but at this point, what I’ve seen out there in terms of the basis on which insurance companies are setting their premiums and such is essentially the same old “risk assessment” stuff that the industry has been doing poorly for years. It’s not based on data or any real analysis per se, at least what I’ve run into. What they do is set their premiums high to buffer themselves and typically cover as few things as possible. The question of how much value it’s providing the customers becomes a problem.

Looking to the future

Gardner: We’re coming up on our time limit. So, let’s quickly look to the future. Is there such thing as risk management as a service? Can we outsource this? Is there a way in which moving more of IT into Cloud or hybrid models would mitigate risk, because the Cloud provider would standardize? Then, many players in that environment, those who were buying those services, would be under that same umbrella? Let’s start with you Jim Hietala. What’s the future of this and what do the Cloud trends bring to the table?

Hietala: I’d start with a maxim that comes out of the financial services industry, which is that you can outsource the function, but you still own the risk. That’s an unfortunate reality. You can throw things out in the Cloud, but it doesn’t absolve you from understanding your risk and then doing things to manage it to transfer it if there’s insurance or whatever the case may be.

That’s just a reality. Organizations in the risky world we live in are going to have to get more serious about doing effective risk analysis. From The Open Group standpoint, we see this as an opportunity area.

As I mentioned, we’ve standardized the taxonomy piece of FAIR. And we really see an opportunity around the profession going forward to help the risk-analysis community by further standardizing FAIR and launching a certification program for a FAIR-certified risk analyst. That’s in demand from large organizations that are looking for evidence that people understand how to apply FAIR and use it in doing risk analyses.

Gardner: Jack Freund, looking into your crystal ball, how do you see this discipline evolving?

Freund: I always try to consider things as they exist within other systems. Risk is a system of systems. There are a series of pressures that are applied, and a series of levers that are thrown in order to release that sort of pressure.

Risk will always be owned by the organization that is offering that service. If we decide at some point that we can move to the Cloud and all these other things, we need to look to the legal system. There is a series of pressures that they are going to apply, and who is going to own that, and how that plays itself out.

If we look to the Europeans and the way that they’re managing risk and compliance, they’re still as strict as we in United States think that they may be about things, but there’s still a lot of leeway in a lot of the ways that laws are written. You’re still being asked to do things that are reasonable. You’re still being asked to do things that are standard for your industry. But, we’d still like the ability to know what that is, and I don’t think that’s going to go away anytime soon.

Judgment calls

We’re still going to have to make judgment calls. We’re still going to have to do 100 things with a budget for 10 things. Whenever that happens, you have to make a judgment call. What’s the most important thing that I care about? And that’s why risk management exists, because there’s a certain series of things that we have to deal with. We don’t have the resources to do them all, and I don’t think that’s going to change over time. Regardless of whether the landscape changes, that’s the one that remains true.

Gardner: The last word to you, Jack Jones. It sounds as if we’re continuing down the path of being mostly reactive. Is there anything you can see on the horizon that would perhaps tip the scales, so that the risk management and analysis practitioners can really become proactive and head things off before they become a big problem?

Jones: If we were to take a snapshot at any given point in time of an organization’s loss exposure, how much risk they have right then, that’s a lagging indicator of the decisions they’ve made in the past, and their ability to execute against those decisions.

We can do some great root-cause analysis around that and ask how we got there. But, we can also turn that coin around and ask how good we are at making well-informed decisions, and then executing against them, the asking what that implies from a risk perspective downstream.

If we understand the relationship between our current state, and past and future states, we have those linkages defined, especially, if we have an analytic framework underneath it. We can do some marvelous what-if analysis.

What if this variable changed in our landscape? Let’s run a few thousand Monte Carlo simulations against that and see what comes up. What does that look like? Well, then let’s change this other variable and then see which combination of dials, when we turn them, make us most robust to change in our landscape.

But again, we can’t begin to get there, until we have this foundational set of definitions, frameworks, and such to do that sort of analysis. That’s what we’re doing with FAIR, but without some sort of framework like that, there’s no way you can get there.

Gardner: I am afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We’ve been talking with a panel of experts on how new trends and solutions are emerging in the area of risk management and analysis. And we’ve seen how new tools for communication and using Big Data to understand risks are also being brought to the table.

This special BriefingsDirect discussion comes to you in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach, California. I’d like to thank our panel: Jack Freund, PhD, Information Security Risk Assessment Manager at TIAA-CREF. Thanks so much Jack.

Freund: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: We’ve also been speaking with Jack Jones, Principal at CXOWARE.

Jones: Thank you. Thank you, pleasure to be here.

Gardner: And last, Jim Hietala, the Vice President for Security at The Open Group. Thanks.

Hietala: Thanks, Dana.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions; your host and moderator through these thought leadership interviews. Thanks again for listening and come back next time.

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Filed under Security Architecture

Improving Signal-to-Noise in Risk Management

By Jack Jones, CXOWARE

One of the most important responsibilities of the information security professional (or any IT professional, for that matter) is to help management make well-informed decisions. Unfortunately, this has been an illusive objective when it comes to risk. Although we’re great at identifying control deficiencies, and we can talk all day long about the various threats we face, we have historically had a poor track record when it comes to risk. There are a number of reasons for this, but in this article I’ll focus on just one — definition.

You’ve probably heard the old adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  Well, I’d add to that by saying, “You can’t measure what you haven’t defined.” The unfortunate fact is that the information security profession has been inconsistent in how it defines and uses the term “risk.” Ask a number of professionals to define the term, and you will get a variety of definitions.

Besides inconsistency, another problem regarding the term “risk” is that many of the common definitions don’t fit the information security problem space or simply aren’t practical. For example, the ISO27000 standard defines risk as, “the effect of uncertainty on objectives.” What does that mean? Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), I must not be the only one with that reaction because the ISO standard goes on to define “effect,” “uncertainty,” and “objectives,” as follows:

  • Effect: A deviation from the expected — positive and/or negative
  • Uncertainty: The state, even partial, of deficiency of information related to, understanding or knowledge of, an event, its consequence or likelihood
  • Objectives: Can have different aspects (such as financial, health and safety, information security, and environmental goals) and can apply at different levels (such as strategic, organization-wide, project, product and process)

NOTE: Their definition for ”objectives” doesn’t appear to be a definition at all, but rather an example. 

Although I understand, conceptually, the point this definition is getting at, my first concern is practical in nature. As a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), I invariably have more to do than I have resources to apply. Therefore, I must prioritize and prioritization requires comparison and comparison requires measurement. It isn’t clear to me how “uncertainty regarding deviation from the expected (positive and/or negative) that might affect my organization’s objectives” can be applied to measure, and thus compare and prioritize, the issues I’m responsible for dealing with.

This is just an example though, and I don’t mean to pick on ISO because much of their work is stellar. I could have chosen any of several definitions in our industry and expressed varied concerns.

In my experience, information security is about managing how often loss takes place, and how much loss will be realized when/if it occurs. That is our profession’s value proposition, and it’s what management cares about. Consequently, whatever definition we use needs to align with this purpose.

The Open Group’s Risk Taxonomy (shown below), based on Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR), helps to solve this problem by providing a clear and practical definition for risk. In this taxonomy, Risk is defined as, “the probable frequency and probable magnitude of future loss.”

Taxonomy image

The elements below risk in the taxonomy form a Bayesian network that models risk factors and acts as a framework for critically evaluating risk. This framework has been evolving for more than a decade now and is helping information security professionals across many industries understand, measure, communicate and manage risk more effectively.

In the communications context, you have to have a very clear understanding of what constitutes signal before you can effectively and reliably filter it out from noise. The Open Group’s Risk Taxonomy gives us an important foundation for achieving a much clearer signal.

I will be discussing this topic in more detail next week at The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach. For more information on my session or the conference, visit: http://www.opengroup.org/newportbeach2013.

Jack Jones HeadshotJack Jones has been employed in technology for the past twenty-nine years, and has specialized in information security and risk management for twenty-two years.  During this time, he’s worked in the United States military, government intelligence, consulting, as well as the financial and insurance industries.  Jack has over nine years of experience as a CISO, with five of those years at a Fortune 100 financial services company.  His work there was recognized in 2006 when he received the 2006 ISSA Excellence in the Field of Security Practices award at that year’s RSA conference.  In 2007, he was selected as a finalist for the Information Security Executive of the Year, Central United States, and in 2012 was honored with the CSO Compass award for leadership in risk management.  He is also the author and creator of the Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) framework.

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Filed under Cybersecurity

Operational Resilience through Managing External Dependencies

By Ian Dobson & Jim Hietala, The Open Group

These days, organizations are rarely self-contained. Businesses collaborate through partnerships and close links with suppliers and customers. Outsourcing services and business processes, including into Cloud Computing, means that key operations that an organization depends on are often fulfilled outside their control.

The challenge here is how to manage the dependencies your operations have on factors that are outside your control. The goal is to perform your risk management so it optimizes your operational success through being resilient against external dependencies.

The Open Group’s Dependency Modeling (O-DM) standard specifies how to construct a dependency model to manage risk and build trust over organizational dependencies between enterprises – and between operational divisions within a large organization. The standard involves constructing a model of the operations necessary for an organization’s success, including the dependencies that can affect each operation. Then, applying quantitative risk sensitivities to each dependency reveals those operations that have highest exposure to risk of not being successful, informing business decision-makers where investment in reducing their organization’s exposure to external risks will result in best return.

O-DM helps you to plan for success through operational resilience, assured business continuity, and effective new controls and contingencies, enabling you to:

  • Cut costs without losing capability
  • Make the most of tight budgets
  • Build a resilient supply chain
  •  Lead programs and projects to success
  • Measure, understand and manage risk from outsourcing relationships and supply chains
  • Deliver complex event analysis

The O-DM analytical process facilitates organizational agility by allowing you to easily adjust and evolve your organization’s operations model, and produces rapid results to illustrate how reducing the sensitivity of your dependencies improves your operational resilience. O-DM also allows you to drill as deep as you need to go to reveal your organization’s operational dependencies.

O-DM support training on the development of operational dependency models conforming to this standard is available, as are software computation tools to automate speedy delivery of actionable results in graphic formats to facilitate informed business decision-making.

The O-DM standard represents a significant addition to our existing Open Group Risk Management publications:

The O-DM standard may be accessed here.

Ian Dobson is the director of the Security Forum and the Jericho Forum for The Open Group, coordinating and facilitating the members to achieve their goals in our challenging information security world.  In the Security Forum, his focus is on supporting development of open standards and guides on security architectures and management of risk and security, while in the Jericho Forum he works with members to anticipate the requirements for the security solutions we will need in future.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Filed under Cybersecurity, Security Architecture

Creation of a strategy for the consumption and management of Cloud Services in the TOGAF® Preliminary Phase

By Serge Thorn, Architecting the Enterprise

In an article on my blog, Cloud Computing requires Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF 9 can show the way I described the need to define a strategy as an additional step in the TOGAF 9 Preliminary Phase. This article describes in more detail what could be the content of such a document, specifically, what are the governance activities related to the Consumption and Management of Cloud Services.

Before deciding to switch over to Cloud Computing, companies should first fully understand the concepts and implications of an internal IT investment or buying this as a service. There are different approaches, which may have to be considered from an enterprise level when Cloud Computing is considered: Public Cloud vs. Private Clouds vs. Hybrid Clouds. Despite the fact that many people already know what the differences are, below are some summaries of the various models:

  • A public Cloud is one in which the consumer of Cloud services and the provider of Cloud services exist in separate enterprises. The ownership of the assets used to deliver Cloud services remains with the provider
  • A private Cloud is one in which both the consumer of Cloud services and the provider of those services exist within the same enterprise. The ownership of the Cloud assets resides within the same enterprise providing and consuming Cloud services. It is really a description of a highly virtualized, on-premise data center that is behaving as if it were that of a public Cloud provider
  • A hybrid Cloud combines multiple elements of public and private Cloud, including any combination of providers and consumers

Once the major Business stakeholders understand the concepts, some initial decisions may have to be made and included in that document. The same may also apply to the various Cloud Computing categorisations such as diagrammed below:

The categories the enterprise may be interested in related to existing problems can already be included as a section in the document.

Quality Management

There is need of a system for evaluating performance, whether in the delivery of Cloud services or the quality of products provided to consumers, or customers. This may include:

  • A test planning and a test asset management from business requirements to defects
  • A Project governance and release decisions based on some standards such as Prince 2/PMI and ITIL
  • A Data quality control (all data uploaded to a Cloud Computing service provider must ensure it fits the requirements of the provider). This should be detailed and provided by the provider
  • Detailed and documented Business Processes as defined in ISO 9001:
    • Systematically defining the activities necessary to obtain a desired result
    • Establishing clear responsibility and accountability for managing key activities
    • Analyzing and measuring of the capability of key activities
    • Identifying the interfaces of key activities within and between the functions of the organization
    • Focusing on the factors such as resources, methods, and materials that will improve key activities of the organization
    • Evaluating risks, consequences and impacts of activities on customers, suppliers and other interested parties

Security Management

This would address and document specific topics such as:

  • Eliminating the need to constantly reconfigure static security infrastructure for a dynamic computing environment
  • Define how services are able to securely connect and reliably communicate with internal IT services and other public services
  • Penetration security checks
  • How a Security Management/System Management/Network Management teams monitor that security and the availability

Semantic Management

The amount of unstructured electronic information in an enterprise environment is growing rapidly. Business people have to collaboratively realise the reconciliation of their heterogeneous metadata and consequently the application of the derived business semantic patterns to establish alignment between the underlying data structures. The way this will be handled may also be included.

IT Service Management (ITIL)

IT Service Management or IT Operations teams will have to address many new challenges due to the Cloud. This will need to be addressed for some specific processes such as:

  • Incident Management
    • The Cloud provider must ensure that all outages or exceptions to normal operations are resolved as quickly as possible while capturing all of the details for the actions that were taken and are communicated to the customer.
  • Change Management
    • Strict change management practices must be adhered to and all changes implemented during approved maintenance windows must be tracked, monitored, and validated.
  • Configuration Management (Service Asset and…)
    • Companies who have a CMDB must provide this to the Cloud providers with detailed descriptions of the relationships between configuration items (CI)
    • CI relationships empowers change and incident managers need to determine that a modification to one service may impact several other related services and the components of those services
    • This provides more visibility into the Cloud environment, allowing consumers and providers to make more informed decisions not only when preparing for a change but also when diagnosing incidents and problems
  • Problem Management
    • The Cloud provider needs to identify the root cause analysis in case of problems

  • Service Level Management
    • Service Level Agreements (or Underpinning contracts) must be transparent and accessible to the end users.  The business representatives should be negotiating these agreements. They will need to effectively negotiate commercial, technical, and legal terms. It will be important to establish these concrete, measurable Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Without these, and  an effective means for verifying compliance, the damage from poor service levels will only be exacerbated
  • Vendor Management
    • Relationship between a vendor and their customers changes
    • Contractual arrangements
  • Capacity Management  and Availability Management
    • Reporting on performance

Other activities must be documented such as:


  • Monitoring will be a very important activity and should be described in the Strategy document. The assets and infrastructure that make up the Cloud service is not within the enterprise. They are owned by the Cloud providers, which will most likely have a focus on maximizing their revenue, not necessarily optimizing the performance and availability of the enterprise’s services. Establishing sound monitoring practices for the Cloud services from the outset will bring significant benefits in the long term. Outsourcing delivery of service does not necessarily imply that we can outsource the monitoring of that service. Besides, today very few Cloud providers are offering any form of service level monitoring to their customers. Quite often, they are providing the Cloud service but not proving that they are providing that service.
  • The resource usage and consumption must be monitored and managed in order to support strategic decision making
  • Whenever possible, the Cloud providers should furnish the relevant tools for management and reporting and take away the onerous tasks of patch management, version upgrades, high availability, disaster recovery and the like. This obviously will impact IT Service Continuity for the enterprise.
  • Service Measurement, Service Reporting and Service Improvement processes must be considered

Consumption and costs

  • Service usage (when and how) to determine the intrinsic value that the service is providing to the Business, and IT can also use this information to compute the Return On Investment for their Cloud Computing initiatives and related services. This would be related to the process IT Financial Management.

Risk Management

The TOGAF 9 risk management method should be considered to address the various risks associated such as:

  • Ownership, Cost, Scope, Provider relationship, Complexity, Contractual, Client acceptance, etc
  • Other risks should also be considered such as : Usability, Security (obviously…) and Interoperability

Asset Management and License Management

When various Cloud approaches are considered (services on-premise via the Cloud), hardware and software license management should be defined to ensure companies can meet their governance and contractual requirements


Ensuring the safety of confidential data is a mission critical aspect of the business. Cloud Computing gives them concerns over the lack of control that they will have over company data, and does not enable them to monitor the processes used to organize the information.

Being able to manage the transactions in the Cloud is vital and Business transaction safety should be considered (recording, tracking, alerts, electronic signatures, etc…).

There may be other aspects, which should be integrated in this Strategy document that may vary according to the level of maturity of the enterprise or existing best practices in use.

When considering Cloud Computing, the Preliminary phase will include in the definition of the Architecture Governance Framework most of the touch points with other processes as described above. At completion, touch-points and impacts should be clearly understood and agreed by all relevant stakeholders.

This article has previously appeared in Serge Thorn’s personal blog.

Cloud will be a topic of discussion at The Open Group Conference, London, May 9-13. Join us for best practices, case studies and the future of information security, presented by preeminent thought leaders in the industry.

Serge Thorn is CIO of Architecting the Enterprise.  He has worked in the IT Industry for over 25 years, in a variety of roles, which include; Development and Systems Design, Project Management, Business Analysis, IT Operations, IT Management, IT Strategy, Research and Innovation, IT Governance, Architecture and Service Management (ITIL). He has more than 20 years of experience in Banking and Finance and 5 years of experience in the Pharmaceuticals industry. Among various roles, he has been responsible for the Architecture team in an international bank, where he gained wide experience in the deployment and management of information systems in Private Banking, Wealth Management, and also in IT architecture domains such as the Internet, dealing rooms, inter-banking networks, and Middle and Back-office. He then took charge of IT Research and Innovation (a function which consisted of motivating, encouraging creativity, and innovation in the IT Units), with a mission to help to deploy a TOGAF based Enterprise Architecture, taking into account the company IT Governance Framework. He also chaired the Enterprise Architecture Governance worldwide program, integrating the IT Innovation initiative in order to identify new business capabilities that were creating and sustaining competitive advantage for his organization. Serge has been a regular speaker at various conferences, including those by The Open Group. His topics have included, “IT Service Management and Enterprise Architecture”, “IT Governance”, “SOA and Service Management”, and “Innovation”. Serge has also written several articles and whitepapers for different magazines (Pharma Asia, Open Source Magazine). He is the Chairman of the itSMF (IT Service Management forum) Swiss chapter and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.


Filed under Cloud/SOA, TOGAF®

Security Forum Completes Third & Final Phase of Risk Management Project: Cookbook for ISO/IEC 27005:2005

By Jim Hietala, The Open Group

The Open Group Security Forum recently completed the last phase of our major risk management initiative with the publication of the Cookbook for ISO/IEC 27005:2005. The Cookbook is the culmination of the work the members of the Security Forum have undertaken over the past two and a half years — a comprehensive initiative aimed at eliminating widespread industry confusion about risk management among risk managers, security and IT professionals, as well as business managers.

The new Cookbook for ISO/IEC 27005:2005 is meant to be a “recipe” of sorts, providing a detailed description of how to apply The Open Group’s FAIR (Factor Analysis for Information Risk) Risk Taxonomy Standard to any other risk management framework to help improve the consistency and accuracy of the resulting framework. By following the “cookbook” example in the guide, risk technology practitioners can apply the example with significantly beneficial outcomes when using other frameworks of their choice.

We created the guide for anyone tasked with selecting, performing, evaluating, or developing a risk assessment methodology, including all stakeholders responsible for areas with anything risk related, such as business managers, information security/risk management professionals, auditors, and regulators (both policy-makers and as law-makers).

The initiative started in the summer of 2008 with Phase 1, the Risk Taxonomy Standard, which is based on the FAIR methodology and specifies a standard definition and taxonomy for information security risk, and how to apply this to perform risk assessments. A year later, we completed the second phase and published a technical guide entitled Requirements for Risk Assessment Methodologies, that describes key risk assessment traits, provides advice on quantitative versus qualitative measurements and addresses the need for senior management involvement. The Cookbook completes our project.

As we wrap up our work on this initiative and look at the current state of security, with escalating cyber threats, growing risks around mobile computing, and evolving government regulations, I can say with confidence that we have met our goals in creating comprehensive and needed guidance and standards in the area of risk analysis.

Looking ahead at the rest of 2011, The Open Group Security Forum has an active pipeline of projects to address the increasing risk and compliance concerns facing IT departments across organizations today. Be on the lookout for the publication of the ISM3 standard, revised Enterprise Security Architecture Guide, and ACEML standard in the late spring/early summer months!

Jim HietalaAn IT security industry veteran, Jim Hietala is Vice President of Security at The Open Group, where he is responsible for security programs and standards activities. He holds the CISSP and GSEC certifications. Jim is based in the U.S.


Filed under Cybersecurity