Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

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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Security Operations and the OODA Loop

I’ve mentioned Boyd’s OODA loop in a previous post but I thought it would make sense to share how I view the OODA loop driving the development of security operations. This is in contrast to the common derivation of the Deming cycle, that is often used in security programmes: Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) .

Security Operations Centres (SOC) provide an increased ability to defend our businesses and their community from determined adversaries in cyberspace. A key framing view of a SOC is to consider the relationship between the SOC and the adversaries targeting the business as a combative relationship; as such an approach typified by Robert Boyd’s OODA loop is a useful tool for thinking comprehensively about how to plan our interaction with adversaries in the cyber domain.

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Board of Cyber

I have a lot of sympathy for UK boards of directors.

UK boards of directors have had cyber pushed onto their agenda by the government, regulators and the Financial Times for several years. Unfortunately many board members are often ill-equipped to fully understand the executive decisions regarding cyber they have now been prompted to review. This is exacerbated by a similar lack of understanding of cyber security among executive management teams and a lack of communication skills and business acumen among CISOs.
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