Archive for February, 2009

Security Organizations

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

How does an organization build their security organization?

This is a question for the ages. I’ve been in the Law Enforcement and Security world for close to 20 years and it amazes me the fractured state of security even today. Most organizations are still living in the dark ages and have separate groups working physical security, IT security, and personal security. This is not a good business practice because everything used is not technology based and the same skills often roll out of IT into the other areas.

When was the last time we used an actual VCR for taping security camaras?

Most camaras today are fed to a computer with a huge harddrive for archiving and later review. What about the increased use of smart cards and biometrics? This information should be coodinated with the IT systems so organizations can monitor access controls with where things occur. It would make more sense to have the badging system that is fed to a traditional physical security system monitored by the Operations Center as well so we can monitor who is where and when. Organizations can also limit access to IT systems if their employees are not badged into the building. These systems tied into biometric systems would allow for better compliance with federal mandates and policies. 

We should get out of the dark ages and work harder to combine security into one organization. There should be one Chief Security Officer who has direct reports from both the IT and the Physical security teams. They should be consolidated into one Operations Analysis Center (OAC) with a combined Security and Network Operations Center. Then have appropriate desk officers for different areas of the business whether it be geographical location or differing business practice. This OAC would monitor the networks for access control and provide metrics to the leadership on a regular basis to show access to data not systems. Monitoring the system is only going to help protect the perimeter but what about the data itself for privacy breaches and malicious insider threats? 

We can work to provide better solutions as a team rather then as fractured groups trying to slap each other to get ahead. Not a sermon…just my thoughts! 

CyberSecurity – huh???

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

This blog was created because I’m discouraged at how privacy and data protection are being treated in general by companies, our government, and the international community as a whole. They say we need to focus more on cyber security but what is Cyber Security anyway? How do you secure something that is “cyber” meaning everywhere in the ‘bit stream’?

It would nice if companies and our government would start focusing on the data and not the pipeline. We sit in our cars on the freeway every day and while they are maintained the real value is the passenger inside the cars. That is where the important information sits. Those cars have our doctors, lawyers, police officers, fireman, the mailman, and the guy who pours our coffee every day. I’ve held many positions in security over the years, from Security Engineer to Chief Information Security Officer. Every organization I go into it is a very similar story.

How do we protect the network?

Most organization do not really have a clue what is riding on the network so they spend millions and millions to protect everything. We need to start focusing on the basics so we can spend this money a more wisely with lest fraud, waste, and abuse. 

1.       What is the baseline – What data do we have and how important is that data. If it’s not critical or life saving then who cares how we protect it. Either way we need a baseline of the data

2.      Implement strong policy and hold people accountable. If someone commits murder we don’t prosecute the gun manufacturer or the car company. We focus on the person that committed the offense. Stop going after the networking personnel because they didn’t build a security capability to stop “Bob” in finance from going to a porn site or losing his external harddrive because he kept taking it home every night.

3.      Train, train, train them. We don’t let people drive without taking a class so why do we let people drive on our networks without taking training?

4.      Document your system and the changes you make to that system.

5.      Finally monitor the environment. Make sure the software is up to date, patches are put in place, and that people are accessing the data they are supposed to be accessing.This is about holistic security. Make sure the employees are badging into the building and then appropriately accessing what they need to in order to do their jobs. Data protection is digital but it is still the same data we dealt with 50 years ago. It sits in cabinets, on computers, desks, and is spoken in the hallways of buildings.

How do we secure this and what is the importance of privacy and governance as a whole if we don’t’ know what it is we are spending the money on?