Category Archives: Security

The Open Group Paris Event to Take Place in October 2016

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting its next global event in Paris, France, between October 24-27, 2016. The event, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, will focus on e-Government, as well as how to address the dimensions of e-Society, e-Technology and e-Management.

Industry experts will look at issues surrounding business transformation, business analysis, information sharing, e-Health, privacy and cybersecurity. Sessions will examine the strategic execution and the application of emerging technologies and management techniques to e-Government. Presentations will also include the latest on the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) and the Regulatory Impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Personal Data Architecture.

The event features key industry speakers including:

  • Rob Akershoek, ‎Solution Architect (IT4IT), Shell
  • Robert Weisman, University of Ottawa
  • Roland Genson, Director, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
  • Olivier Flous, Vice President of Engineering, Thales Group

Full details on the agenda and speakers can be found here.

The focus of Monday’s keynote sessions will be Standardized Boundaryless Information Flow™ and how Enterprise Architecture can be used in e-Government. There will also be a significant emphasis on business transformation, with the Tuesday plenary and tracks looking at successful case studies, standards as enablers, and architecting the digital business.

Further topics to be covered at the event include:

  • IT4IT™ – managing the businesses of IT, vendor adoption of IT4IT™ and a CIO-level view of the standard
  • Open Platform 3.0™ – the customer experience and digital business, architecting Smart Cities and how to use IoT technologies
  • ArchiMate® – new features of ArchiMate® 3.0 and a look at open standards in practice
  • Open Business Architecture – examining the new Open Business Architecture standard and how to address enterprise transformation

Member meetings will take place throughout the course of the three-day event for ArchiMate®, Architecture, Healthcare, IT4IT™, Open Platform 3.0™, Open Trusted Technology and Security Forum members.

Registration for The Open Group Paris event is open now, is available to members and non-members, and can be found here.

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

 

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The Open Group Austin 2016 Event Highlights

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

During the week of July 18th, The Open Group hosted over 200  attendees from 12 countries at the Four Seasons hotel on the beautiful banks of Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, USA.

On Monday, July 18, Steve Nunn, President and CEO of The Open Group, welcomed the audience and set the stage for all the great upcoming speakers and content.

Steve’s remarks included the recent release of the Open Business Architecture (O-BA) Preliminary Standard Part I to Support Business Transformation.  This is the first in a series of installments that will help Business Architects get to grips with transformation initiatives and manage the demands of key stakeholders within the organization. Steve also referenced William Ulrich, President, Business Architecture Guild, who consulted on the development of the standard.

The plenary began with Jeff Scott, President, Business Innovation Partners, with his presentation “The Future of Business Architecture, Challenges and Opportunities”.  Jeff stated some interesting facts, which included noting that Architects are among the best and brightest members of our organizations.  He also stated that Business Architects need support from a wide group of senior managers, not just the CEO. The ultimate goal of Business Architecture is not to model the organization but to unlock organizational capacity and move forward.

By Loren K. Baynes

Jeff Scott

The Business Architecture (BA) theme continued with Aaron Rorstrom, Principal Enterprise Architect, Capgemini.  Aaron further elaborated on The Open Business Architecture (O-BA) Standard.  The O-BA Standard provides guidance to companies for establishing BA practice and addresses three transformation challenges: consistent communication, alignment and governance, systemic nature.

The sessions were followed by Q&A moderated by Steve Nunn.

Up next was “ArchiMate® 3.0 – A New Standard for Architecture” with Marc Lankhorst, Managing Consultant and Service Line Manager, Enterprise Architect, BiZZdesign and Iver Band, Enterprise Architect, Cambia Health Solutions.

Marc and Iver discussed practical experiences and a Healthcare case study, which included a discussion on personal health and wellness websites.

ArchiMate®, an Open Group standard, provides a language with concepts to describe architectures; a framework to organize these concepts; a graphical notation for these concepts; a vision on visualizations for different stakeholders. ArchiMate 3.0 has recently been released due to: the increasing demand for relating Enterprise Architecture (EA) to business strategy; technology innovations that mix IT and physical world; usage in new domains (i.e. manufacturing, healthcare, retail); improved consistency and comprehensibility; improved alignment between Open Group standards, notably TOGAF®.

The final session of Monday’s plenary featured a panel on “Architecture Standards Development” with Marc Lankhorst, Iver Band, Mike Lambert (Fellow of The Open Group) and Harry Hendrickx (Business Architect, Hewlett Packard Enterprise).  Moderated by Chris Forde, GM, Asia Pacific and VP, Enterprise Architecture, The Open Group, the panel represented a diverse group of the population contributing to the development of open standards.

In the afternoon, sessions were divided into tracks – Security, ArchiMate, Open Business Architecture.

Don Bartusiak, Chief Engineer, Process Control, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering presented “Security in Industrial Controls – Bringing Open Standards to Process Control Systems”.  Don went into detail on the Breakthrough R&D project which is designed to make step-change improvement to reduce cost to replace and to increase value generation via control system.  ExxonMobil is working with The Open Group and others to start-up a consortium of end user companies, system integrators, suppliers, and standards organizations for sustained success of the architecture.

Also featured was “Applying Open FAIR in Industrial Control System Risk Scenarios” by Jim Hietala, VP, Business Development and Security, The Open Group.  The focus of ICS systems is reliability and safety.  Jim also shared some scenarios of recent real life cyberattacks.

The evening concluded with guests enjoying a lively networking reception at the Four Seasons.

Day two on Tuesday, July 19 kicked off the Open Source/Open Standards day with a discussion between Steve Nunn and Andras Szakal, VP & CTO, IBM U.S. Federal. Steve and Andras shared their views on Executable Standards: convergence of creation of open source and innovation standards; the difference between Executable Standards and traditional standards (i.e. paper standards); emergence of open source; ensuring interoperability and standardization becomes more effective of time. They further explored open technology as driving the software defined enterprise with SOA, social, Open Cloud architecture, e-Business, mobile, big data & analytics, and dynamic cloud.

A panel session continued the conversation on Open Standards and Open Source.  The panel was moderated by Dave Lounsbury, CTO and VP, Services for The Open Group.  Panelists were Phil Beauvoir, Archi Product Manager, Consultant; John Stough, Senior Software Architect, JHNA, Inc.; Karl Schopmeyer, Independent Consultant and representing Executable Standards activity in The Open Group.  Topics included describing Archi, Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™, a consortium of The Open Group) and OpenPegasus™, an open-source implementation of the DMTF, CIM and WBEM standards.

The Open Group solves business problems with the development and use of open standards.  Interoperability is key.  Generally, no big barriers exist, but there are some limitations and those must be realized and understood.

Steve presented Karl with a plaque in recognition of his outstanding leadership for over 20 years of The Open Group Enterprise Management Forum and OpenPegasus Project.

Rick Solis, IT Business Architect, ExxonMobil Global Services Co. presented “Driving IT Strategic Planning at IT4IT™ with ExxonMobil”.  Business is looking for IT to be more efficient and add value. ExxonMobil has been successfully leveraging IT4IT concepts and value chain. The IT4IT™ vision is a vendor-neutral Reference Architecture for managing the business of IT.  Rich emphasized people need to think about the value streams in the organization that add up to the business value.  Furthermore, it is key to think seamlessly across the organization.

Joanne Woytek, Program Manager for the NASA SEWP Program, NASA spoke about “Enabling Trust in the Supply Chain”.  SEWP (Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement) is the second biggest IT contract in the US government.  Joanne gave a brief history of their use of standards, experience with identifying risks and goal to improve acquisition process for government and industry.

Andras Szakal again took the stage to discuss mitigating maliciously tainted and counterfeit products with standards and accreditation programs.  The Open Trusted Technology Provider™ Standard (O-TTPS) is an open standard to enhance the security of the global supply chain and the integrity of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It has been approved as an ISO/IEC international standard.

Afternoon tracks consisted of Healthcare, IT4IT™, Open Platform 3.0™ and Professional Development.  Speakers came from organizations such as IBM, Salesforce, Huawei, HPE and Conexiam.

The evening culminated with an authentic Texas BBQ and live band at Laguna Gloria, a historic lakefront landmark with strong ties to Texas culture.

By Loren K. Baynes

The Open Group Austin 2016 at Laguna Gloria

Wednesday, July 20 was another very full day.  Tracks featured Academia Partnering, Enterprise Architecture, Open Platform 3.0 (Internet of Things, Cloud, Big Data, Smart Cities), ArchiMate®.  Other companies represented include San Jose State University, Quest Diagnostics, Boeing, Nationwide and Asurion.

The presentations are freely available only to members of The Open Group and event attendees.  For the full agenda, please click here.

In parallel with the Wednesday tracks, The Open Group hosted the third TOGAF® User Group Meeting.  The meeting is a lively, interactive, engaging discussion about TOGAF, an Open Group standard.  Steve Nunn welcomed the group and announced there are almost 58,000 people certified in TOGAF.  It is a very large community with global demand and interest.  The key motivation for offering the meeting is to hear from people who aren’t necessarily ‘living and breathing’ TOGAF. The goal is to share what has worked, hasn’t worked and meet other folks who have learned a lot from TOGAF.

Terry Blevins, Fellow of The Open Group, was the emcee.  The format was an “Oxford Style” debate with Paul Homan, Enterprise Architect, IBM and Chris Armstrong, President, Armstrong Processing Group (APG).  The Proposition Declaration: Business Architecture and Business Architects should be within the business side of an organization. Chris took the ‘pro’ position and Paul was ‘con’.

Chris believes there is no misalignment with Business and IT; business got exactly what they wanted.  Paul queried where do the Business Architectures live within the organization? BA is a business-wide asset.  There is a need to do all that in one place.

Following the debate, there was an open floor with audience questions and challenges. Questions and answers covered strategy in Architecture and role of the Architect.

The meeting also featured an ‘Ask the Experts’ panel with Chris Forde; Jason Uppal, Chief Architect, QRS; Bill Estrem, TOGAF Trainer, Metaplexity Associates; Len Fehskens, Chief Editor, Journal of Enterprise Architecture, along with Chris Armstrong and Paul.

Organizations in attendance included BMC Software, City of Austin, Texas Dept. of Transportation, General Motors, Texas Mutual Insurance, HPE, IBM.

A more detailed blog of the TOGAF User Group meeting will be forthcoming.

A special ‘thank you’ to all of our sponsors and exhibitors:  avolution, BiZZdesign, Good e-Learning, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, AEA, Orbus Software, Van Haren Publishing

@the opengroup #ogAUS

Hope to see you at The Open Group Paris 2016! #ogPARIS

By Loren K. BaynesLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog, media relations and social media. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

 

 

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Filed under Accreditations, ArchiMate, ArchiMate®, Association of Enterprise Architects, Business Architecture, Business Transformation, Certifications, Cloud, COTS, Cybersecurity, digital technologies, Digital Transformation, EA, enterprise architecture, Internet of Things, Interoperability, Jeff Kyle, O-TTPS, Open FAIR, Open Platform 3.0, Professional Development, Security, Standards, Steve Nunn, The Open Group Austin 2016, TOGAF®, TOGAF®

O-ARMOR: UNIX® Armor

By The Open Group

Security is at the forefront of the IT industry today. Customers are looking for secure solutions that solve their IT challenges. Permissions and privacy are just a few of the security features that are highly sought after.

The latest UNIX® standard has evolved to meet industry demands with the addition of the Authorization Role Managed On RBAC, also known as O-ARMOR, an Open Group standard. While access controls through users, group IDs, and permissions have long been a requirement of the standard, the increasing demands of enterprise customers drove adoption with UNIX software and systems vendors. The days of using chmod 777 are no longer a viable way to share files, executable, or just giving every user root permissions. Moreover, even sharing the root password with administrators is not a good security practice.

Multi-user operating systems must innovate in today’s threat landscape. An IT governance and best practice necessitates giving the right people the right access at the right time. Look at the case of Edward Snowden, who had what most would say was unfettered access to data, which later was leaked in an embarrassing and damaging way . Enter role-based access control (RBAC), which is a policy neutral access control mechanism defined around roles and privileges with components such as role-permissions, user-role and role-role relationships. With RBAC, storage administrators can now have access to data and commands to do their job. On UNIX systems, Human Resources personnel can be given access to confidential information that general users would not.

The O-ARMOR standard defines a set of administrative roles consistent with generally accepted tasks assigned to system administrators. These roles can be customized to include the appropriate applications for each compliant UNIX system. The standard also provides an application programming interface (API) through which privileged applications can grant access to authorized users and roles. The strength of O-ARMOR is that the roll-based access controls can be consistently implemented and executed on systems running the same compliant operating system and even across heterogeneous operating systems that are compliant.

Being “armored” means better access control resulting in better security simplifying management of those access controls across the data center.

If you care about security, or ease of security management, ask your system vendor if their operating systems are UNIX certified with RBAC and complies with the O-ARMOR standard.

By The Open Group

Learn more about the UNIX operating system by watching The Journey of Innovation video.

 

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The Open Group Baltimore 2015 Highlights

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

The Open Group Baltimore 2015, Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™, July 20-23, was held at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor. Over 300 attendees from 16 countries, including China, Japan, Netherlands and Brazil, attended this agenda-packed event.

The event kicked off on July 20th with a warm Open Group welcome by Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group. The first plenary speaker was Bruce McConnell, Senior VP, East West Institute, whose presentation “Global Cooperation in Cyberspace”, gave a behind-the-scenes look at global cybersecurity issues. Bruce focused on US – China cyber cooperation, major threats and what the US is doing about them.

Allen then welcomed Christopher Davis, Professor of Information Systems, University of South Florida, to The Open Group Governing Board as an Elected Customer Member Representative. Chris also serves as Chair of The Open Group IT4IT™ Forum.

The plenary continued with a joint presentation “Can Cyber Insurance Be Linked to Assurance” by Larry Clinton, President & CEO, Internet Security Alliance and Dan Reddy, Adjunct Faculty, Quinsigamond Community College MA. The speakers emphasized that cybersecurity is not a simply an IT issue. They stated there are currently 15 billion mobile devices and there will be 50 billion within 5 years. Organizations and governments need to prepare for new vulnerabilities and the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The plenary culminated with a panel “US Government Initiatives for Securing the Global Supply Chain”. Panelists were Donald Davidson, Chief, Lifecycle Risk Management, DoD CIO for Cybersecurity, Angela Smith, Senior Technical Advisor, General Services Administration (GSA) and Matthew Scholl, Deputy Division Chief, NIST. The panel was moderated by Dave Lounsbury, CTO and VP, Services, The Open Group. They discussed the importance and benefits of ensuring product integrity of hardware, software and services being incorporated into government enterprise capabilities and critical infrastructure. Government and industry must look at supply chain, processes, best practices, standards and people.

All sessions concluded with Q&A moderated by Allen Brown and Jim Hietala, VP, Business Development and Security, The Open Group.

Afternoon tracks (11 presentations) consisted of various topics including Information & Data Architecture and EA & Business Transformation. The Risk, Dependability and Trusted Technology theme also continued. Jack Daniel, Strategist, Tenable Network Security shared “The Evolution of Vulnerability Management”. Michele Goetz, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, presented “Harness the Composable Data Layer to Survive the Digital Tsunami”. This session was aimed at helping data professionals understand how Composable Data Layers set digital and the Internet of Things up for success.

The evening featured a Partner Pavilion and Networking Reception. The Open Group Forums and Partners hosted short presentations and demonstrations while guests also enjoyed the reception. Areas focused on were Enterprise Architecture, Healthcare, Security, Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™), IT4IT™ and Open Platform™.

Exhibitors in attendance were Esteral Technologies, Wind River, RTI and SimVentions.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsPartner Pavilion – The Open Group Open Platform 3.0™

On July 21, Allen Brown began the plenary with the great news that Huawei has become a Platinum Member of The Open Group. Huawei joins our other Platinum Members Capgemini, HP, IBM, Philips and Oracle.

By Loren K Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsAllen Brown, Trevor Cheung, Chris Forde

Trevor Cheung, VP Strategy & Architecture Practice, Huawei Global Services, will be joining The Open Group Governing Board. Trevor posed the question, “what can we do to combine The Open Group and IT aspects to make a customer experience transformation?” His presentation entitled “The Value of Industry Standardization in Promoting ICT Innovation”, addressed the “ROADS Experience”. ROADS is an acronym for Real Time, On-Demand, All Online, DIY, Social, which need to be defined across all industries. Trevor also discussed bridging the gap; the importance of combining Customer Experience (customer needs, strategy, business needs) and Enterprise Architecture (business outcome, strategies, systems, processes innovation). EA plays a key role in the digital transformation.

Allen then presented The Open Group Forum updates. He shared roadmaps which include schedules of snapshots, reviews, standards, and publications/white papers.

Allen also provided a sneak peek of results from our recent survey on TOGAF®, an Open Group standard. TOGAF® 9 is currently available in 15 different languages.

Next speaker was Jason Uppal, Chief Architecture and CEO, iCareQuality, on “Enterprise Architecture Practice Beyond Models”. Jason emphasized the goal is “Zero Patient Harm” and stressed the importance of Open CA Certification. He also stated that there are many roles of Enterprise Architects and they are always changing.

Joanne MacGregor, IT Trainer and Psychologist, Real IRM Solutions, gave a very interesting presentation entitled “You can Lead a Horse to Water… Managing the Human Aspects of Change in EA Implementations”. Joanne discussed managing, implementing, maintaining change and shared an in-depth analysis of the psychology of change.

“Outcome Driven Government and the Movement Towards Agility in Architecture” was presented by David Chesebrough, President, Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI). “IT Transformation reshapes business models, lean startups, web business challenges and even traditional organizations”, stated David.

Questions from attendees were addressed after each session.

In parallel with the plenary was the Healthcare Interoperability Day. Speakers from a wide range of Healthcare industry organizations, such as ONC, AMIA and Healthway shared their views and vision on how IT can improve the quality and efficiency of the Healthcare enterprise.

Before the plenary ended, Allen made another announcement. Allen is stepping down in April 2016 as President and CEO after more than 20 years with The Open Group, including the last 17 as CEO. After conducting a process to choose his successor, The Open Group Governing Board has selected Steve Nunn as his replacement who will assume the role with effect from November of this year. Steve is the current COO of The Open Group and CEO of the Association of Enterprise Architects. Please see press release here.By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications

Steve Nunn, Allen Brown

Afternoon track topics were comprised of EA Practice & Professional Development and Open Platform 3.0™.

After a very informative and productive day of sessions, workshops and presentations, event guests were treated to a dinner aboard the USS Constellation just a few minutes walk from the hotel. The USS Constellation constructed in 1854, is a sloop-of-war, the second US Navy ship to carry the name and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsUSS Constellation

On Wednesday, July 22, tracks continued: TOGAF® 9 Case Studies and Standard, EA & Capability Training, Knowledge Architecture and IT4IT™ – Managing the Business of IT.

Thursday consisted of members-only meetings which are closed sessions.

A special “thank you” goes to our sponsors and exhibitors: Avolution, SNA Technologies, BiZZdesign, Van Haren Publishing, AFEI and AEA.

Check out all the Twitter conversation about the event – @theopengroup #ogBWI

Event proceedings for all members and event attendees can be found here.

Hope to see you at The Open Group Edinburgh 2015 October 19-22! Please register here.

By Loren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing CommunicationsLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog, media relations and social media. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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Using Risk Management Standards: A Q&A with Ben Tomhave, Security Architect and Former Gartner Analyst

By The Open Group

IT Risk Management is currently in a state of flux with many organizations today unsure not only how to best assess risk but also how to place it within the context of their business. Ben Tomhave, a Security Architect and former Gartner analyst, will be speaking at The Open Group Baltimore on July 20 on “The Strengths and Limitations of Risk Management Standards.”

We recently caught up with Tomhave pre-conference to discuss the pros and cons of today’s Risk Management standards, the issues that organizations are facing when it comes to Risk Management and how they can better use existing standards to their advantage.

How would you describe the state of Risk Management and Risk Management standards today?

The topic of my talk is really on the state of standards for Security and Risk Management. There’s a handful of significant standards out there today, varying from some of the work at The Open Group to NIST and the ISO 27000 series, etc. The problem with most of those is that they don’t necessarily provide a prescriptive level of guidance for how to go about performing or structuring risk management within an organization. If you look at ISO 31000 for example, it provides a general guideline for how to structure an overall Risk Management approach or program but it’s not designed to be directly implementable. You can then look at something like ISO 27005 that provides a bit more detail, but for the most part these are fairly high-level guides on some of the key components; they don’t get to the point of how you should be doing Risk Management.

In contrast, one can look at something like the Open FAIR standard from The Open Group, and that gets a bit more prescriptive and directly implementable, but even then there’s a fair amount of scoping and education that needs to go on. So the short answer to the question is, there’s no shortage of documented guidance out there, but there are, however, still a lot of open-ended questions and a lot of misunderstanding about how to use these.

What are some of the limitations that are hindering risk standards then and what needs to be added?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of needing to fix or change the standards themselves, I think where we’re at is that we’re still at a fairly prototypical stage where we have guidance as to how to get started and how to structure things but we don’t necessarily have really good understanding across the industry about how to best make use of it. Complicating things further is an open question about just how much we need to be doing, how much value can we get from these, do we need to adopt some of these practices? If you look at all of the organizations that have had major breaches over the past few years, all of them, presumably, were doing some form of risk management—probably qualitative Risk Management—and yet they still had all these breaches anyway. Inevitably, they were compliant with any number of security standards along the way, too, and yet bad things happen. We have a lot of issues with how organizations are using standards less than with the standards themselves.

Last fall The Open Group fielded an IT Risk Management survey that found that many organizations are struggling to understand and create business value for Risk Management. What you’re saying really echoes those results. How much of this has to do with problems within organizations themselves and not having a better understanding of Risk Management?

I think that’s definitely the case. A lot of organizations are making bad decisions in many areas right now, and they don’t know why or aren’t even aware and are making bad decisions up until the point it’s too late. As an industry we’ve got this compliance problem where you can do a lot of work and demonstrate completion or compliance with check lists and still be compromised, still have massive data breaches. I think there’s a significant cognitive dissonance that exists, and I think it’s because we’re still in a significant transitional period overall.

Security should really have never been a standalone industry or a standalone environment. Security should have just been one of those attributes of the operating system or operating environments from the outset. Unfortunately, because of the dynamic nature of IT (and we’re still going through what I refer to as this Digital Industrial Revolution that’s been going on for 40-50 years), everything’s changing everyday. That will be the case until we hit a stasis point that we can stabilize around and grow a generation that’s truly native with practices and approaches and with the tools and technologies underlying this stuff.

An analogy would be to look at Telecom. Look at Telecom in the 1800s when they were running telegraph poles and running lines along railroad tracks. You could just climb a pole, put a couple alligator clips on there and suddenly you could send and receive messages, too, using the same wires. Now we have buried lines, we have much greater integrity of those systems. We generally know when we’ve lost integrity on those systems for the most part. It took 100 years to get there. So we’re less than half that way with the Internet and things are a lot more complicated, and the ability of an attacker, one single person spending all their time to go after a resource or a target, that type of asymmetric threat is just something that we haven’t really thought about and engineered our environments for over time.

I think it’s definitely challenging. But ultimately Risk Management practices are about making better decisions. How do we put the right amount of time and energy into making these decisions and providing better information and better data around those decisions? That’s always going to be a hard question to answer. Thinking about where the standards really could stand to improve, it’s helping organizations, helping people, understand the answer to that core question—which is, how much time and energy do I have to put into this decision?

When I did my graduate work at George Washington University, a number of years ago, one of the courses we had to take went through decision management as a discipline. We would run through things like decision trees. I went back to the executives at the company that I was working at and asked them, ‘How often do you use decision trees to make your investment decisions?” And they just looked at me funny and said, ‘Gosh, we haven’t heard of or thought about decision trees since grad school.’ In many ways, a lot of the formal Risk Management stuff that we talk about and drill into—especially when you get into the quantitative risk discussions—a lot of that goes down the same route. It’s great academically, it’s great in theory, but it’s not the kind of thing where on a daily basis you need to pull it out and use it for every single decision or every single discussion. Which, by the way, is where the FAIR taxonomy within Open FAIR provides an interesting and very valuable breakdown point. There are many cases where just using the taxonomy to break down a problem and think about it a little bit is more than sufficient, and you don’t have to go the next step of populating it with the actual quantitative estimates and do the quantitative estimations for a FAIR risk analysis. You can use it qualitatively and improve the overall quality and defensibility of your decisions.

How mature are most organizations in their understanding of risk today, and what are some of the core reasons they’re having such a difficult time with Risk Management?

The answer to that question varies to a degree by industry. Industries like financial services just seem to deal with this stuff better for the most part, but then if you look at multibillion dollar write offs for JP Morgan Chase, you think maybe they don’t understand risk after all. I think for the most part most large enterprises have at least some people in the organization that have a nominal understanding of Risk Management and risk assessment and how that factors into making good decisions.

That doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect. Look at the large enterprises that had major breaches in 2014 and 2013 and clearly you can look at those and say ‘Gosh, you guys didn’t make very good decisions.’ Home Depot is a good example or even the NSA with the Snowden stuff. In both cases, they knew they had an exposure, they had done a reasonable job of risk management, they just didn’t move fast enough with their remediation. They just didn’t get stuff in place soon enough to make a meaningful difference.

For the most part, larger enterprises or organizations will have better facilities and capabilities around risk management, but they may have challenges with velocity in terms of being able to put to rest issues in a timely fashion. Now slip down to different sectors and you look at retail, they continue to have issues with cardholder data and that’s where the card brands are asserting themselves more aggressively. Look at healthcare. Healthcare organizations, for one thing, simply don’t have the budget or the control to make a lot of changes, and they’re well behind the curve in terms of protecting patient records and data. Then look at other spaces like SMBs, which make up more than 90 percent of U.S. employment firms or look at the education space where they simply will never have the kinds of resources to do everything that’s expected of them.

I think we have a significant challenge here – a lot of these organizations will never have the resources to have adequate Risk Management in-house, and they will always be tremendously resource-constrained, preventing them from doing all that they really need to do. The challenge for them is, how do we provide answers or tools or methods to them that they can then use that don’t require a lot of expertise but can guide them toward making better decisions overall even if the decision is ‘Why are we doing any of this IT stuff at all when we can simply be outsourcing this to a service that specializes in my industry or specializes in my SMB business size that can take on some of the risk for me that I wasn’t even aware of?’

It ends up being a very basic educational awareness problem in many regards, and many of these organizations don’t seem to be fully aware of the type of exposure and legal liability that they’re carrying at any given point in time.

One of the other IT Risk Management Survey findings was that where the Risk Management function sits in organizations is pretty inconsistent—sometimes IT, sometimes risk, sometimes security—is that part of the problem too?

Yes and no—it’s a hard question to answer directly because we have to drill in on what kind of Risk Management we’re talking about. Because there’s enterprise Risk Management reporting up to a CFO or CEO, and one could argue that the CEO is doing Risk Management.

One of the problems that we historically run into, especially from a bottom-up perspective, is a lot of IT Risk Management people or IT Risk Management professionals or folks from the audit world have mistakenly thought that everything should boil down to a single, myopic view of ‘What is risk?’ And yet it’s really not how executives run organizations. Your chief exec, your board, your CFO, they’re not looking at performance on a single number every day. They’re looking at a portfolio of risk and how different factors are balancing out against everything. So it’s really important for folks in Op Risk Management and IT Risk Management to really truly understand and make sure that they’re providing a portfolio view up the chain that adequately represents the state of the business, which typically will represent multiple lines of business, multiple systems, multiple environments, things like that.

I think one of the biggest challenges we run into is just in an ill-conceived desire to provide value that’s oversimplified. We end up hyper-aggregating results and data, and suddenly everything boils down to a stop light that IT today is either red, yellow or green. That’s not really particularly informative, and it doesn’t help you make better decisions. How can I make better investment decisions around IT systems if all I know is that today things are yellow? I think it comes back to the educational awareness topic. Maybe people aren’t always best placed within organizations but really it’s more about how they’re representing the data and whether they’re getting it into the right format that’s most accessible to that audience.

What should organizations look for in choosing risk standards?

I usually get a variety of questions and they’re all about risk assessment—‘Oh, we need to do risk assessment’ and ‘We hear about this quant risk assessment thing that sounds really cool, where do we get started?’ Inevitably, it comes down to, what’s your actual Risk Management process look like? Do you actually have a context for making decisions, understanding the business context, etc.? And the answer more often than not is no, there is no actual Risk Management process. I think really where people can leverage the standards is understanding what the overall risk management process looks like or can look like and in constructing that, making sure they identify the right stakeholders overall and then start to drill down to specifics around impact analysis, actual risk analysis around remediation and recovery. All of these are important components but they have to exist within the broader context and that broader context has to functionally plug into the organization in a meaningful, measurable manner. I think that’s really where a lot of the confusion ends up occurring. ‘Hey I went to this conference, I heard about this great thing, how do I make use of it?’ People may go through certification training but if they don’t know how to go back to their organization and put that into practice not just on a small-scale decision basis, but actually going in and plugging it into a larger Risk Management process, it will never really demonstrate a lot of value.

The other piece of the puzzle that goes along with this, too, is you can’t just take these standards and implement them verbatim; they’re not designed to do that. You have to spend some time understanding the organization, the culture of the organization and what will work best for that organization. You have to really get to know people and use these things to really drive conversations rather than hoping that one of these risk assessments results will have some meaningful impact at some point.

How can organizations get more value from Risk Management and risk standards?

Starting with latter first, the value of the Risk Management standards is that you don’t have to start from scratch, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are, in fact, very consistent and well-conceived approaches to structuring risk management programs and conducting risk assessment and analysis. That’s where the power of the standards come from, from establishing a template or guideline for establishing things.

The challenge of course is you have to have it well-grounded within the organization. In order to get value from a Risk Management program, it has to be part of daily operations. You have to plug it into things like procurement cycles and other similar types of decision cycles so that people aren’t just making gut decisions based off whatever their existing biases are.

One of my favorite examples is password complexity requirements. If you look back at the ‘best practice’ standards requirements over the years, going all the way back to the Orange Book in the 80s or the Rainbow Series which came out of the federal government, they tell you ‘oh, you have to have 8-character passwords and they have to have upper case, lower, numbers, special characters, etc.’ The funny thing is that while that was probably true in 1985, that is probably less true today. When we actually do risk analysis to look at the problem, and understand what the actual scenario is that we’re trying to guard against, password complexity ends up causing more problems than it solves because what we’re really protecting against is a brute force attack against a log-in interface or guessability on a log-in interface. Or maybe we’re trying to protect against a password database being compromised and getting decrypted. Well, password complexity has nothing to do with solving how that data is protected in storage. So why would we look at something like password complexity requirements as some sort of control against compromise of a database that may or may not be encrypted?

This is where Risk Management practices come into play because you can use Risk Management and risk assessment techniques to look at a given scenario—whether it be technology decisions or security control decisions, administrative or technical controls—we can look at this and say what exactly are we trying to protect against, what problem are we trying to solve? And then based on our understanding of that scenario, let’s look at the options that we can apply to achieve an appropriate degree of protection for the organization.

That ultimately is what we should be trying to achieve with Risk Management. Unfortunately, that’s usually not what we see implemented. A lot of the time, what’s described as risk management is really just an extension of audit practices and issuing a bunch of surveys, questionnaires, asking a lot of questions but never really putting it into a proper business context. Then we see a lot of bad practices applied, and we start seeing a lot of math-magical practices come in where we take categorical data—high, medium, low, more or less, what’s the impact to the business? A lot, a little—we take these categorical labels and suddenly start assigning numerical values to them and doing arithmetic calculations on them, and this is a complete violation of statistical principles. You shouldn’t be doing that at all. By definition, you don’t do arithmetic on categorical data, and yet that’s what a lot of these alleged Risk Management and risk assessment programs are doing.

I think Risk Management gets a bad rap as a result of these poor practices. Conducting a survey, asking questions is not a risk assessment. A risk assessment is taking a scenario, looking at the business impact analysis for that scenario, looking at the risk tolerance, what the risk capacity is for that scenario, and then looking at what the potential threats and weaknesses are within that scenario that could negatively impact the business. That’s a risk assessment. Asking people a bunch of questions about ‘Do you have passwords? Do you use complex passwords? Have you hardened the server? Are there third party people involved?’ That’s interesting information but it’s not usually reflective of the risk state and ultimately we want to find out what the risk state is.

How do you best determine that risk state?

If you look at any of the standards—and again this is where the standards do provide some value—if you look at what a Risk Management process is and the steps that are involved in it, take for example ISO 31000—step one is establishing context, which includes establishing potential business impact or business importance, business priority for applications and data, also what the risk tolerance, risk capacity is for a given scenario. That’s your first step. Then the risk assessment step is taking that data and doing additional analysis around that scenario.

In the technical context, that’s looking at how secure is this environment, what’s the exposure of the system, who has access to it, how is the data stored or protected? From that analysis, you can complete the assessment by saying ‘Given that this is a high value asset, there’s sensitive data in here, but maybe that data is strongly encrypted and access controls have multiple layers of defense, etc., the relative risk here of a compromise or attack being successful is fairly low.’ Or ‘We did this assessment, and we found in the application that we could retrieve data even though it was supposedly stored in an encrypted state, so we could end up with a high risk statement around the business impact, we’re looking at material loss,’ or something like that.

Pulling all of these pieces together is really key, and most importantly, you cannot skip over context setting. If you don’t ever do context setting, and establish the business importance, nothing else ends up mattering. Just because a system has a vulnerability doesn’t mean that it’s a material risk to the business. And you can’t even know that unless you establish the context.

In terms of getting started, leveraging the standards makes a lot of sense, but not from a perspective of this is a compliance check list that I’m going to use verbatim. You have to use it as a structured process, you have to get some training and get educated on how these things work and then what requirements you have to meet and then do what makes sense for the organizational role. At the end of the day, there’s no Easy Button for these things, you have to invest some time and energy and build something that makes sense and is functional for your organization.

To download the IT Risk Management survey summary, please click here.

By The Open GroupFormer Gartner analyst Ben Tomhave (MS, CISSP) is Security Architect for a leading online education organization where he is putting theories into practice. He holds a Master of Science in Engineering Management (Information Security Management concentration) from The George Washington University, and is a member and former co-chair of the American Bar Association Information Security Committee, senior member of ISSA, former board member of the Northern Virginia OWASP chapter, and member and former board member for the Society of Information Risk Analysts. He is a published author and an experienced public speaker, including recent speaking engagements with the RSA Conference, the ISSA International Conference, Secure360, RVAsec, RMISC, and several Gartner events.

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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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Survey Shows Organizations Are Experiencing an Identity Crisis When it Comes to IT Risk Management

By Jim Hietala, VP, Business Development & Security, The Open Group

Last fall, The Open Group Security Forum fielded its first IT Risk Management Survey in conjunction with the Society of Information Risk Analysts (SIRA) and CXOWARE The purpose of the survey was to better understand how mature organizations are when it comes to IT Risk Management today. The survey also aimed to discover which risk management frameworks are currently most prevalent within organizations and how successful those frameworks are in measuring and managing risk.

Consisting of an online questionnaire that included both multiple choice and open text answer formats with questions, the survey explored a number of different parameters in regard to the principles, frameworks and processes organizations are using to manage risk. The sampling included more than 100 information technology and security executives, professionals, analysts and architects that have some responsibility for risk management, as well as full-time risk management professionals within their respective organizations.

Considering the fragmented state of security within most organizations today, it should not come as much surprise that the primary survey finding is that many organizations today are experiencing what might be called an identity crisis when it comes to IT Risk Management. Although many of the organizations surveyed generally believe their Risk Management teams and efforts are providing value to their organizations, they are also experiencing considerable difficulty when it comes to understanding, demonstrating and creating business value for those efforts.

This is likely due to the lack of a common definition for risk relative to IT Risk Management, in particular, as well as the resulting difficulty in communicating the value of something organizations are struggling to clearly define. In addition, the IT Risk Management teams among the companies surveyed do not have much visibility within their organizations and the departments to which they report are inconsistent across the organizations surveyed, with some reporting to senior management and others reporting to IT or to Risk Managers.

Today, Risk Management is becoming increasingly important for IT departments. With the increased digitalization of business and data becoming ever more valuable, companies of all shapes and sizes must begin looking to apply risk management principles to their IT infrastructure in order to guard against the potentially negative financial, competitive and reputational loss that data breaches may bring. A myriad of high-profile breaches at large retailers, financial services firms, entertainment companies and government agencies over the past couple of years serve as frightening examples of what can—and will—happen to more and more companies if they fail to better assess their vulnerability to risk.

This IT Risk Management survey essentially serves as a benchmark for the state of IT Risk Management today. When it comes to IT risk, the ways and means to manage it are still emerging, and IT Risk Management programs are still in the nascent stages within most organizations. We believe that there is not only a lot of room for growth within the discipline of IT Risk Management but are optimistic that organizations will continue to mature in this area as they learn to better understand and prove their intrinsic value within their organizations.

The full survey summary can be viewed here. We recommend that those interested in Risk Management review the full summary as there are a number of deeper observations explored there that look at the value risk teams believe they are providing to their organizations and the level of maturity of those organizations.

By Jim Hietala, The Open GroupJim Hietala, Open FAIR, CISSP, GSEC, is Vice President, Business Development and Security for The Open Group, where he manages the business team, as well as Security and Risk Management programs and standards activities,  He has participated in the development of several industry standards including O-ISM3, O-ESA, O-RT (Risk Taxonomy Standard), O-RA (Risk Analysis Standard), and O-ACEML. He also led the development of compliance and audit guidance for the Cloud Security Alliance v2 publication.

Jim is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. He has participated in the SANS Analyst/Expert program, having written several research white papers and participated in several webcasts for SANS. He has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including CSO, The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

An IT security industry veteran, he has held leadership roles at several IT security vendors.

Jim holds a B.S. in Marketing from Southern Illinois University.

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