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Can the security community grow up?

Can The Security Community Grow Up?

Mahendra Ramsinghani is the founder of Secure Octane1, a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity seed fund.

More posts by this contributor:

As the times change, the security community needs to adapt.

We live in an imperfect world, as Alex Stamos2, Chief Information Security Officer of Facebook pointed out in his recent BlackHat 2017 keynote address . Instead of trying to punish each other, hackers and innovators need to work closely to ensure a higher order.

Other security thought leaders have echoed similar sentiments.

Amit Yoran3, former President of RSA and now CEO of Tenable Networks4 says, Fear just doesn t cut it . We need to be adults and earn trust.

Refreshingly, security thought leaders are driving cultural change from the top . Besides technological innovation, we are beginning to see changes in sales, diversity and culture . We are growing up, albeit slowly.

Product Innovation, Garbage and Lies

Ping Li, 5Partner at Accel Ventures reminded me that we are still in early innings of a long game . The security sector is evolving rapidly and we are still developing a common nomenclature, a lingua franca for our business . Visibility into systems, managing patches, vulnerabilities and security workflows are still being accomplished with rudimentary tools, Lu said.

Newcomers like Corelight6 (backed by Accel), Awake Networks7 (backed by Greylock Ventures) and EastWind Networks8 (backed by Signal Peak Ventures) are innovating on visibility of traffic and threats . In data security, ThinAir9 and Onapsis10 (securing ERP systems) have carved out an interesting niche in the market while Pwnie Express11 is positioning itself to win the IoT / ICS security market.

Empow Networks12, a Gartner Cool Vendor of 2017 wants to create a novel abstraction layer to manage all security tools effectively and Demisto13 (in which I am an investor) is bringing much needed automation to incident response. Nyotron14 just raised $21 million to redefine endpoint security . As drones grow from a mild nuisance to a significant headache, several security startups like Airspace15 and Dedrone16 have jumped in to protect the three dimensional perimeter.

Calling BS on the marketing hype, several presenters at BlackHat offer an unvarnished view of the state of technology .

In her talk, Garbage in Garbage out17 Hillary Sanders, a data scientist with Sophos18 pointed out that if ML models use sub-optimal training data, the reliability of the models will be questionable, possibly leading to catastrophic failures.

She trained models based on three separate data sources and found that if a model is tested on a different data set, the outcomes varied significantly (See 3 X 3 matrix) . Put it differently, if I was trained to recognize a cat in one school, and if I moved to a different school, my ability to identify a cat will drop dramatically.

Caveat Emptor: Do not believe the ML hype unless you have seen the results on your own data sets . Each vendor will train their models on different data sets, which may not be relevant to your environment . And then as new malware data is discovered, stuff gets stale . Chances are that the model may need to be trained or else could start to behave erratically . We live in an imperfect word indeed.

Can The Security Community Grow Up?

Feed me some garbage: ML Training and Test Data Variances (Image Courtesy: Hillary Sanders, Sophos Labs)

In another presentation aptly titled, Lies and Damn Lies19 Lidia Guiliano and Mike Spaulding presented an analysis of various endpoint marketing claims and debunked these systematically . They spent five months digging into various endpoint offerings and concluded that threat intelligence simply does not work . While endpoint solutions are better than signature based detection, they are no silver bullets.

When it came to drone security, Bishop Fox20, a security consulting firm took a Mythbusters approach to 21research 86 drone security products . Francis Brown, partner at Bishop Fox presented Game of Drones in which he concluded that the solutions are rife with marketing, but most of them are not yet available.

The study concluded that while the 1st generation drone defense solutions/products are being deployed, there are no best practices .

Everything from drone netting, shooting, confetti cannons, lasers and jammers was being used (including falcons) . The vendors have gone wild indeed . If lasers, missiles and falcons are being deployed, what s next?

Can The Security Community Grow Up?

BlackHat + DefCon may be the only conference in the world where the forces of creation and destruction operate at the same venue . The builders (Suits) show off their wares at briefings and the hackers (T-shirts) show off their arsenal of how they break stuff both mingle freely, challenge each other and do a thumbs-down / eyeroll at the other side . It s like a weird semi-drunk tribal war dance . And unless the elders of the tribe, like Stamos and Yoran, do not call BS on this childish behavior, we will never grow up.

Innovation in Go-To-Market tactics:

Ben Johnson, CTO of Obsidian Security22 recently raised $9.5 million from Greylock (and since the announcement, has been inundated with Series B interest) . In security, all revenues go to hire even more salespeople he says . Is that a healthy practice ? As co-founder of Carbon Black, Ben called upon over 600 enterprise customers and in his current role, is actively exploring more innovative ways to get the product out .

Indeed, when fear drives sales, innovation is harder . As an industry, we need to look at a better way of selling security products . However there is dearth of intelligent tactics . Partnerships with System Integrators (SIs), Channel Partners, Value added Resellers (VARs) and Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) are variants to the theme . Margins and accountability get slimmed down as the number of partners grows. Virgil Security23 a data security company (for which I am an advisor) has built a developer-first platform offering tools to build encryption seamlessly . Virgil offers its security platform as a service and the GTM approach can become highly efficient in such scenarios.

Purple Rain, Culture and Diversity

In his BlackHat keynote, Alex Stamos touched upon the importance of diversity of thought, gender and culture . His call to action included behaving responsibly (and not childishly) within a societal framework.

A large number of people in emerging markets will be using $50 phone, not $800 iPhones how do we protect this new wave of digital citizens ? What is the role of a security professional in the context of law enforcement ? Can we learn to empathize with the product builders, the users, the government?

To the security nihilists, Stamos reminded them that not everyone is out to get you . At a more fundamental level, Caroline Wong, VP of Security Strategy at Cobalt24 presented the security professional s guide to hacking office politics .

Security teams need to know more about the business challenges, not just technology . We should be able to understand the flow of money, not just data she pointed out.

The debates have just started in an open honest fashion and IMHO, culture changes slowly . For now, we have added a new color there were Red Teams and Blue Teams . The offense and the defense . Like two sides of security at a perpetual war . At BlackHat 2017, the concept of Purple Teams was introduced by April Wright, who hopes the two warring factions should cooperate and work well together . And yes she also suggested that security should never be an afterthought to which we all say Amen!

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

References

  1. ^ Secure Octane (www.secureoctane.com)
  2. ^ Alex Stamos (www.facebook.com)
  3. ^ Amit Yoran (en.wikipedia.org)
  4. ^ Tenable Networks (www.tenable.com)
  5. ^ Ping Li, (www.accel.com)
  6. ^ Corelight (www.corelight.com)
  7. ^ Awake Networks (awakesecurity.com)
  8. ^ EastWind Networks (www.eastwindnetworks.com)
  9. ^ ThinAir (www.thinair.com)
  10. ^ Onapsis (www.onapsis.com)
  11. ^ Pwnie Express (www.pwnieexpress.com)
  12. ^ Empow Networks (www.empownetworks.com)
  13. ^ Demisto (www.demisto.com)
  14. ^ Nyotron (nyotron.com)
  15. ^ Airspace (airspace.co)
  16. ^ Dedrone (techcrunch.com)
  17. ^ Garbage in Garbage out (www.blackhat.com)
  18. ^ Sophos (www.sophos.com)
  19. ^ Lies and Damn Lies (www.blackhat.com)
  20. ^ Bishop Fox (www.bishopfox.com)
  21. ^ a Mythbusters approach to (www.bishopfox.com)
  22. ^ Obsidian Security (www.obsidiansecurity.com)
  23. ^ Virgil Security (virgilsecurity.com)
  24. ^ Cobalt (cobalt.io)

Microsoft Releases Azure Blueprint To Support UK Government …

Microsoft says its Azure Blueprint for the UK Government s Cloud Security Principles will provide the highest level of security for cloud services. Azure Blueprint for the UK Government details how services built on Microsoft s cloud platform1 implement the 14 cloud security principles2 published by the UK s National Cyber Security Centre, which include practices around data governance, authentication and operational security.

Microsoft Releases Azure Blueprint To Support UK Government ...

The Azure Blueprint UK Government Customer Responsibilities Matrix outlines how Azure implements security controls designed to satisfy each security principle and assists customers in understanding how they may implement safeguards within their Azure solution3 to fulfill the requirements of each principle where they hold a responsibility, said Matt Rathbun, chief information security officer for Azure Government. Microsoft has also released a Blueprint compliance architecture ARM (Azure Resource Manager) template on GitHub, which provides a baseline from which customers can build secure environments in line with the cloud security principles4.

In other Microsoft news, business communication service Yammer5 has been integrated into Office 365 Groups, enabling users to connect and communicate with colleagues across their organisation.

When users create a new group in Yammer it will automatically be part of the Office 365 Groups environment, providing a OneNote notebook, Planner for task management, a SharePoint Online site and a document library.

Microsoft Releases Azure Blueprint To Support UK Government ...

All shared resources can be access directly from Yammer by all group members, with group membership queries based on Azure Active Directory attributes such as role, location and manager.

This integration between Yammer and Office 3656 Groups affects customers who have enforced Office 365 identity in their networks, and have only one Yammer network associated with their Office 365 tenant, added Connie Woo, product marketing manager at Yammer.

The full rollout of Office 365 Groups will take place in phases, which will connect Office 365 Groups7 with existing non-connected Yammer groups and remaining Office 365 tenants.

You can also look forward to integration with Outlook Calendar as well as greater enhancements to Yammer integration with SharePoint Online and Planner.

Quiz: The history, products and people of Microsoft8

To fully grasp the potential benefits of the Internet of Things, look no further than General Electric . GE is making a big bet on industrial Internet of 9

If you were to stop anyone working at SunTrust and ask them, What is the purpose of your role ? I’d wager that not only would they be able to give 10

Digital transformation is one of the key opportunities in today’s business for CIOs to increase leverage with their internal and external customers .

Digitization 11

References

  1. ^ Microsoft s cloud platform (www.silicon.co.uk)
  2. ^ 14 cloud security principles (www.ncsc.gov.uk)
  3. ^ within their Azure solution (www.silicon.co.uk)
  4. ^ cloud security principles (www.silicon.co.uk)
  5. ^ business communication service Yammer (www.silicon.co.uk)
  6. ^ integration between Yammer and Office 365 (www.silicon.co.uk)
  7. ^ which will connect Office 365 Groups (www.silicon.co.uk)
  8. ^ The history, products and people of Microsoft (www.silicon.co.uk)
  9. ^ (www.trustopen.net)
  10. ^ (www.trustopen.net)
  11. ^ (www.trustopen.net)

Cyber security on curriculum for students taking …

Students will soon be able to take courses in cyber security as part of a range of new “Tech-levels” being offered.

The new qualifications from exam board AQA are part of its response to the 2011 Wolf Report, which said that many vocational courses were failing to help students’ career prospects. Seven Tech-levels are being offered in colleges from this week: business marketing; design engineering; mechatronic engineering; power network engineering; IT networking; IT programming: and IT user support. These will be joined next year by two more Tech-levels in cyber security and entertainment technology, which will address the need for more people who are skilled at creating video games.

The new qualifications are backed by industry and have been created with the help of technology companies and professional bodies including Siemens, Toshiba and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. AQA head of technical and vocational qualifications, Carole Bishop, said: “We felt strongly that designing qualifications with employers in mind wasn’t enough – and that it was important to involve the employers right from the start and at every stage of the process. “The input we’ve had from more than a hundred organisations means we can be really confident that our Tech-levels have exactly what employers are looking for.

These new qualifications are on an equal footing with A-levels, and we believe employers will start making them a job requirement because they know they’ll guarantee the right knowledge and skills.” The Further Education courses for 16 to 19-year-olds are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and carry Ucas points, with the top grade being worth 280 points. Students with Tech-levels will be able to go straight into employment, a higher or advanced apprenticeship, or on to university.

Mike Morris of Microsoft Education UK said: “We’ve helped AQA to come up with modules that will be fit for purpose in terms of delivering employability into the skills we currently find a challenge in our market place.”

Anne Godfrey, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: “Because the performance and outcomes are mapped to relevant national standards and have been developed in collaboration with employers and bodies such as ourselves, it means the knowledge and competencies developed are relevant.”