Posts Tagged ‘Network Security Risk Analysis’
For those of you following the now almost daily headlines on cyber-security breaches occurring around the world, you probably saw the recent Department of Energy and Federal Reserve breaches. As Reuters noted in their article on the Federal Reserve breach, “The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product,” a Fed spokeswoman said. The Dark Reading article on the Department of Energy breach noted that the DOE planned to “implement a full remediation plan” once the full extent of the attack was known. The DOE continued by stating “The Department is also leading an aggressive effort to reduce the likelihood of these events occurring again. These efforts include leveraging the combined expertise and capabilities of the Department’s Joint Cybersecurity Coordination Center to address this incident, increasing monitoring across all of the Department’s networks and deploying specialized defense tools to protect sensitive assets.”
Both incidents reinforce the need for proactively in identifying what assets are at risk on your network versus reacting and patching after a breach has occurred. While the Department of Homeland Security announced the continuous monitoring initiative last year, the time frame for implementation clearly needs to be moved up. According to Govinfo Security, the Federal Government responded to 106,000 attacks in 2011. Clearly, the traditional approach of reacting to an attack and patching the vulnerability is not preventing future attacks.
All organizations, not just the Federal Government, need to become more proactive and find the potential exploits before the attackers do. We have discussed the need for this many times previously on this blog. Securosis continues to lead the call for more proactive solutions as well, advocating just a couple weeks ago for the merits of an Early Warning System. The technology is available now to address this need. It imperative for your network’s security to know what assets are truly at risk right now. If you don’t know the answer to that questions, chances are an attackers exploit might just answer it for you.
FireMon announced the release of Security Manager version 6.1 yesterday. We are extremely excited about the new features and functionality that are a part of this release, which further extend FireMon’s unparalleled ability to strengthen both operational effectiveness and security posture. One feature that we are particularly keen on is the new Access Path Analysis (APA). Leveraging the patent-pending FireMon behavior analysis framework, IT personnel can both proactively predict and forensically record the flow of packets through network configurations and obtain detailed path analysis – including routes, interfaces, firewall and NAT rules that a packet encounters while traversing the network. Access Path Analysis uses the behavior of normal traffic as it traverses the network to understand what vectors and/or behaviors could allow malicious traffic to find critical assets. This allows more effective risk analysis and better informed remediation activities.
The 6.1 release includes additional features, including FireMon Insight, Device Packs and a new FireMon Query Language (FMQL) API. FireMon Insight is a real-time dashboard of all your security configurations. Insight consumes the configurations of all major firewall vendors and presents data across all of them in a single, customizable dashboard. There is a critical need to transform configuration data into a usable form that can be quickly digested and acted upon. Insight enables security practitioners to quickly get the results of your queries even across hundreds of thousands of rules and millions of objects in multi-vendor environments. Turn those queries into meaningful, automatically generated security metrics in a matter of seconds. Device packs will enable FIreMon to add support for new devices quicker and not require an upgrade to Security Manager. The FMQL API will enable large organizations with a development staff or managed service providers to pull FireMon data and analysis into other systems. You can learn about all of these new features here, and read what Dark Reading wrote about the release as well.
Richard Stiennon recently posted an article on Network World discussing why risk management fails in IT. Mr. Stiennon posits that risk management is a carry-over from the bigger world of business, and does not work in the infosecurity world. Stiennon identifies 4 key points to try and defend his position: 1. It is expensive and almost impossible to identify all IT assets 2. It is impossible to assign value to IT assets 3. Risk management methods invariably fail to predict the actual disasters 4. Risk management devolves to “protect everything.” He finishes his article by stating that we need to move to “threat management” as opposed to risk management.
Lets address each of Stiennon’s points. Stiennon’s argument that it is impossible to identify all IT assets is in fact wrong. The fact is that there are tools in existence today that can automate the identification of all assets within organizations, such as Insightix from our partner McAfee. It is also not impossible to assign value to IT assets. The FAIR framework has provided a comprehensive guide to assigning value to IT assets within the framework of Risk Management for years. At just a basic level, most organizations can at least identify what the most valuable assets are (where the finance information is, where the intellectual property resides, etc.) and devise a ranking or value system around that. It is also not true that risk management fails to predict the actual disasters. Many companies provide software solutions that automates the analysis of your network, and identifies exactly what assets are truly at risk, including our own Risk Analyzer. Finally, most security practitioners would say that their job is in fact to protect everything within their network environment. I have yet to meet a security professional who talks about the assets they are just writing off and not worrying about protecting.
Furthermore, Stiennon’s position assumes that there is some fundamental or significant difference between “threat management” and “risk management”. Websters defines threat as “an indication of something impending, an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury or damage”, and defines risk as “the possibility of loss or injury; someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard.” I would argue that these are terms that are more similar than opposite in nature. Unfortunately Stiennon doesn’t elaborate on what “threat management” is beyond a link to an article on UTM appliances.
Risk Management is indeed a challenging practice to implement within an IT organization. In large enterprise and service provider environments, it is truly a huge undertaking. However, it is not so difficult that it can’t be done, or be effective, and therefore I have to respectfully disagree with Stiennon’s position. Here at FireMon, we have had a series of posts around how to effectively operationalize and automate risk management within your everyday IT security operations leveraging the real-time Security Manager and Risk Analyzer solution. Securosis has an amazing whitepaper discussing vulnerability management platforms aimed at effective risk management within IT, and SIRA offers insights and guidance how to achieve this daily. Risk Management is an effective, necessary and crucial part of any organizations IT Security operation, and the reports of it’s untimely death are greatly exaggerated.
Last week I spoke at the United Security Summit about operationalizing risk into everyday security operations (and had some fun with song parody titles along the way as evidenced by the photo attached to this post). The talk focused on the different elements required to answer the only question that really matters: what assets are truly at risk in your network right now? One of those elements that I highlighted was configuration management.
Configuration Management has traditionally been pitched as a tool that can help eliminate mistakes and downtime within your network. That certainly is one of the benefits that configuration tools provide. However, I would argue that configuration tools are a risk management tool, particularly on the network and network security side of the house. If a router admin adds an ACL that suddenly opens access to an internal network from outside networks, that is a huge risk to the network. If a firewall admin mistakenly pushes an overly permissive policy that permits any source and service to an internal network, you need to be alerted to the risk. As I noted in my talk, ideally, your configuration tool also inter-operates with your visual attack tool, and updates the attack topology continuously and in real-time as these changes are made to the network and network security devices in your environment.
I also noted that there are others doing great work around this idea of operationalizing risk, or building a risk platform. Securosis has an amazing white paper discussing building a vulnerability management platform, and all of the elements needed to truly address risk in your environment. As they note in their paper, “There really shouldn’t be a distinction between scanning for a vulnerability and checking for a bad configuration. Either situation provide an opportunity for compromise.” Don’t open up your environment to potential compromise; be sure to include device configuration management as part of your day to day risk operations.
Every organization, regardless of size, has limited resources when trying to address the security of their network. Whether you work in a large Fortune 500 environment, or a small business, the limitations of the resources allocated to security require you to make some tough decisions about what you will or won’t do when it comes to securing the organization. Here at FireMon, we believe there is really only one question that matters when prioritizing what to do when if comes to securing your network: What assets are truly at risk?
As Securosis pointed out in their excellent Vulnerability Evolution Management white paper earlier this year, organizations “ need the ability to analyze threat-related data, combine it with an understanding of what is vulnerable, and provide visibility to what is meaningfully at risk.” When trying to address the risk to their environment, most organizations have relied on the vulnerability scanner. Vulnerability Scanners are extremely effective at their job, and are the core component to being able to identify vulnerabilities within your network. Simply running a vulnerability scanner by itself though, and then deciding which of the hundreds, thousands or tens-of-thousands of vulnerabilities should be patched is not enough. Without a knowledge of the network topology and the mitigating security controls that are in place, the vulnerability scan results are just another list of things to get to at some point when trying to prioritize your network security activities.
Fortunately, we have done a lot of work in developing a tool that understands what assets are truly vulnerable on your network. FireMon Security Manager with the patented Risk Analyzer add-on enables you to visually see exactly what assets are meaningfully at risk. Our partnership with Rapid7 and the integration of Metasploit with Risk Analyzer takes this understanding to an even deeper level, allowing you to prioritize what assets are not only vulnerable, but what assets can have exploit code executed on them by an attacker. You can learn more about this enhanced integration in a joint on-demand webinar we did recently with Rapid7 here. FireMon will also be highlighting the importance of operationalizing risk on day 2 the 2012 United Security Summit as well. We hope to see you there.
Defense has always been fundamental. Defense is now sexy? A lot of discussion around defense and network security has been bubbling up since this years Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas featured a dedicated Defense track for the first time. SC Magazine noted the focus on Defense at the conference, and Rick Holland also covered the increased focus on defense in his blog about his observations from Black Hat. While showcasing new attack methodologies or highlighting newly discovered vulnerabilities always gets more press, it is refreshing to see defense beginning to get more focus.
Much of the discussion around defense has been about changing the way we have traditionally done defense in the network security world. A lot of focus has been placed on the fact that the technology we have deployed over the years has created “walls” obstructing our view. Defense should focus on the information or capabilities we already have in place, be it the information in logs from routers, switches or firewalls, or rigorous patch or vulnerability management. Parsing through all of this information or even prioritizing vulnerabilities for medium, enterprise or MSP organizations is a daunting task though. Holland point out in his blog that “the reality is that enterprise wide patch and configuration management are very challenging for companies”. Considering the fact that many of these organizations that do leverage vulnerability management systems sometimes get results telling them they have over 10,000+ vulnerabilities that need to be addressed, it is easy to see how the full breadth of protection is not always deployed.
A more intelligent approach to defense is needed. An approach that takes the vulnerabilities within your network, matches them against the network topology and the mitigating security controls that are in place, and highlights exactly what assets are truly at risk within the full context of the network. An approach that prioritizes the remediation actions that you need to take, and enables you to see the effect of those actions on the overall risk posture of the network. An approach that updates the risk map in real-time as changes occur to the configuration of the network devices and network security controls deployed within your network. A defense approach that is realized in FireMon Security Manager 6.0, the industry’s first Security Posture Management Solution. We invite you to try this new intelligent defense here.
FireMon is at Black Hat USA 2012 & Bsides in Las Vegas this week. Black Hat has grown every year since its inception 15 years ago, and this year proves to be the largest conference yet. Today’s keynote from Shawn Henry focused on changing the security paradigm and taking back your network. He noted that intelligence is the key to winning the battle against attackers. The more intelligence you have about your organization and threats facing it, and knowing what your attackers are focused on, the better prepared you will be to defend your network.
FireMon’s Security Manger 6.0 with Risk Analyzer add-on is a key tool in arming yourself with that intelligence. Security Manager with Risk Analyzer will map your entire network, highlight what assets are at risk and how they could be pivoted off of to exploit multiple layers within your environment. Security Manager 6.0 also provides a prioritized list of remediation actions that will reduce the greatest amount of risk with the least amount of effort. Security Manager 6.0 automates the analysis of your infrastructure, and provides real-time updates to your risk posture when changes occur to your infrastructure. FIreMon gives you the intelligence you need to understand your network, and know exactly what your attackers will focus on. To see the worlds first Security Posture Management solution in action, please visit us at booth 517 a Black Hat.
Yet another systems breach was reported last week, this time at the University of North Florida affecting 23,000+ students. This in and of itself is unfortunately nothing new, as we have been inundated weekly with reports of breeches occurring at organizations throughout the last 18 months. What struck a chord however with this incident at UNF is that it is not the first time that the college had experienced data loss from an external attacker. In October of 2010, the school was also attacked by an external hacker, and 107,000 students were affected in that incident. UNF has posted an FAQ on the latest attack here. One of the more interesting questions is what is the university doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again, with the school providing the following answer: “The method used by the intruder to gain access has been identified and steps have already been taken to prevent a reoccurrence. The University Police Department, in conjunction with Housing and ITS, is investigating this incident.”
Considering this is the second time the school has been attacked, one can imagine this response wasn’t too reassuring to the students. The incident also shows that the traditional reactive approach to security needs to be replaced by a proactive, risk-based approach. After the first incident in 2010, the school stated that “The university shut down the compromised server and has taken other precautions to prevent future incidents.” One can only assume that the specific exploit on the specific server that was compromised was patched against, or maybe a specific service blocked on the firewall. Reacting to that specific threat and assuming that the remediation actions taken protected the school moving forward clearly was not the most comprehensive approach to protect against future threats.
The most successful organizations that combat risk today “have a much better handle controlling what is deployed on their networks and whether these assets are vulnerable to imminent threats” as Jon Oltsik noted earlier this month on his blog. He also pointed out though that only 20% of organizations today have a risk management plan in place that includes some form of threat intelligence. FireMon has always believed it is important to proactively identify areas of Risk, whether they come from adding a rule to your firewall that inadvertently introduces risk by being overly permissive, or by identifying in real-time what assets on your network are most vulnerable to exploitation. With the release of Security Manager 6.0 with Risk Analyzer add-on, organizations now have a complete Security Posture Management tool that provides unparalleled visibility to understand the scope of business vulnerability and prioritize the proactive defense of critical assets, while maintaining a high confidence that their security infrastructure is free of human error or incompatibilities between policies and protection. Avoid having to post a breach FAQ; adopt a proactive risk based approach to security management today.
Over at Dark Reading, John Sawyer wrote an interesting article about the need for threat intelligence within organizations in today’s threat landscape. He notes that “Being able to keep up with changing technology, emerging threats, and information overload that goes with managing thousands to tens of thousands systems requires proactive efforts on the part of security pros”. Sawyer also points out that simply relying on the security products that you already have in place to protect your organization is not enough. The author makes a key point that “To adequately address the threats against their organizations, enterprise security pros need to understand exactly what they’re trying to protect — a seemingly innocent but burdensome task that requires them to know their systems and networks inside and out”.
With this last point highlighted, Sawyer goes on to advocate that organizations need to start developing processes to mine both internal and external threat intelligence. He notes that all organizations have log data that they could be mining for insight. Those that are tight on cash could write scripts to mine logs “to produce reports about failed logins, port scans, top IDS events, and more”. He further advocates the use of SIEM technology for those organizations that can afford it. The author also notes the importance of gathering external intelligence around threats, whether doing so manually or by leveraging paid services which provide the information.
One point in particular that Sawyer highlights is as follows: “security teams are being forced into developing threat intelligence operations to react quickly and mitigate new vulnerabilities as they crop up”. We at FireMon absolutely agree, but also advocate that just simply reacting quickly isn’t enough in today’s evolving threat landscape. Organizations today need to operationalize risk into their everyday security operations, and proactively identify and remediate potential risk to their networks before an attacker even has the opportunity to exploit a vulnerability. That is why we introduced our Risk Analyzer product last year, and why we are excited to incorporate that technology in our new Security Manager 6.0 release, providing the industry’s first complete security posture management solution. We invite you to see how this security posture technology can bring proactive and automated risk intelligence to your everyday security operations.
IBM just published their annual Chief Information Security Officer Assessment. There were many interesting insights highlighted within the report. One striking point noted was that external threats are viewed by the majority of CISO respondents as the primary security challenge they face. Traditionally within Information Security, internal threats have always been touted as the greatest threat a security group should focus on. However, as IBM’s report notes, the increased media attention over the past 2 years around external threats and high profile breaches combined with both the customer and business units increased expectations around information protection have shifted the focus towards the external threat.
With this increased focus around the external threat, the CISO respondents also noted that their focus is shifting towards risk management. Moving forward, the majority of CISO’s “expect to be spending more of their time on reduction of potential future risk, and less on mitigation of current threats and management of regulatory and compliance issues.” John Meakin, the Global Head of Security Solutions & Architecture at Deutsche Bank, noted that “Given the dynamic nature of the challenge, measuring the state of security within an organization is increasingly important. Since threats are always moving and solutions are more complex, dynamic and often partial, knowing where you are is essential.” He concluded by adding that a key metric security organizations should focus on is “the speed and completeness of correcting known vulnerabilities.”
FireMon’s Risk Analyzer combined with Security Manager provides an automated tool that enables security organizations to identify not only the potential future risk, but to identify exactly what assets are vulnerable to attack. Risk Analyzer will also prioritize what actions will reduce the greatest amount of risk with the least amount of effort. This enables CISO’s and their security organizations to track the speed and completeness of correcting known vulnerabilities, and to measure over time how they are improving their overall risk posture on the network. IBM’s report shows that CISO’s are looking for ways that they can proactively reduce and manage risk. Risk Analyzer is the tool that enables CISO’s to operationalize risk into their everyday activities, and reduce their exposure to risk automatically and in real time.