Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Strategic Security Management Challenges

I was recently asked by a consultancy firm to provide a keynote talking about the challenges I had faced as a security leader during my career and how the consultancy could start thinking about how to help people in my position. I appreciated the customer-first orientation they were adopting, refreshing in a world of consultancies that have a habit of leading sales engagements with why it would be both foolish and dangerous not to buy their off-the-shelf industrialised services that were designed for smaller more focused firms with less in-house capability.

Large global enterprises share much in common but the key themes of concern for a security leader in my experience are:

  • Complexity (the old enemy of security),
  • Scale,
  • Availability of the right people and
  • Culture

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The Future of Security Automation.

It is entirely possible I am about to have a flying car moment. Recently I have been asked by a variety of product vendors and security consultancies for my opinions on the future direction of security and where they should be focusing their innovation efforts. I’m honestly not sure why I get asked this but I enjoy both the sound of my own voice and free lunches so i’m not complaining. Here is my view on the core of how we will be delivering security in large enterprises in the near-ish future.
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Not so basic but definitely essential.

We keep talking about new shiny, and increasingly fragile, controls that will prevent attacks or fiendishly clever algorithms or AI to which we can outsource all that hard or fast thinking we’re not good at but we are all still staring down the barrels of a loaded data breach gun waiting for it to go off. The thing is we seem to be holding that gun to our own heads and it’s not like we don’t realise. All the talk of ‘basics’, ‘essentials, ‘foundations’ points at a relatively common set of issues usually focused on some combination of the following:

  • IT Maintenance (patching, replacing end-of-life platforms, inventories, baseline builds etc),
  • Network security (internal segmentation),
  • Access Management (efficient joiners, movers, leavers processes, privileged user management)
  • Security Monitoring (effective visibility),
  • Incident Response (tested plans, exercised staff)

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Measuring Security

For nearly a decade I have been regularly coming back to one of the hardest problems in security, measuring it. There are lots of opinions and no shortage of books full of candidate metrics and there are swathes of consultants prepared to give you a spreadsheet of metrics to go measure and develop a red/amber/green dashboard to understand them. It does seem to require practitioners to dig a bit deeper often to find a good approach to developing metrics and measurements that are actually of value to a particular organisation.

This post captures some of the thinking I’ve distilled from some of the big thinkers in the field. Talking of big thinkers…

“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of science.” —Lord Kelvin, 1824-1907

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” —Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887

“Security is now so essential a concern that we can no longer use adjectives and adverbs but must instead use numbers.” — Dan Geer, 2008

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A Rising Tide of Cyber Regulation?

I don’t envy regulators their task of ensuring the firms they supervise are managing their cyber risk well.

The increasing dependence of firms and whole sectors on information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) was always a creeping concern but has accelerated dramatically as a result of the ‘digital’ movement in  large firms and the oncoming storm of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). Governments around the world  have woken up to the potential  systemic and infrastructural threats to national security and national economies and have tasked regulators with ensuring these risks are appropriately addressed.

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