Maynor is Free… And Blogging

I’m catching up from being out (or sick) most of the holidays, so this is a bit of old news. Dave Maynor is no longer with SecureWorks (his decision) and has joined us in the blogosphere over at Errata Security (his new employer). I suspect he’s still bound to keep details of the Mac WiFi fiasco under wraps, so don’t expect any new insight on that issue. He also got a bit of fame in this article. Dave’s a good guy who got caught in an extremely bad position. It’s nice to see him in public again, and nice to see another professional researcher hit the blogs. In the past he’s been against full disclosure, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the Month of Apple Bugs after his recent experiences. Share:

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Keeping it Real

I had the opportunity to review Rothman’s Pragmatic CSO before the holidays, and it got me thinking about complexity. (Oh yeah, and it’s really good, but I’m not allowed to endorse anything so that’s all I’ll say.) One thing I realized after spending a few years wandering into people’s homes and vehicles during the most stressful events of their lives (legally, being a paramedic and all) is that we have this incredible ability to make our lives more complicated than they need to be. It’s as if the human creature, by din of our apparently complex consciousness, builds nearly insurmountable mental constructs that shield us from that which is straightforward and simple. It’s like our brains are these high performance sports cars that just have to run at full speed no matter what the road. And let’s be honest, not all sports cars are built alike, sending those of lower performance flying off the cliff edge of intelligence to land in a mangled heap when they hit the hard pavement of reality. Time and time again I saw people sometimes destroy themselves by failing to follow the path of simplicity- sometimes losing a relationship or their long term health, other times losing their lives. Come on, you all know the drama kings and queens that crave complexity in their lives despite their protestations for the contrary. Or the motormouths that keep their lips moving to prevent theirs brain from having a moment of quiet reflection to show them how much they’ve screwed themselves up. We (and I really mean we; all of us are guilty) often make similar mistakes in the professional world. We spend more time building an RFP and testing each widget in a product than we’ll actually spend using it, totally ignoring the fact it doesn’t have the one critical feature we really need. We spend more time building frameworks, models, architectures, and checklists than building the necessary systems. I’m not saying we should toss all paperwork and planning to the winds, but we very often lose perspective and create unnecessary complexity. Just look at the COSO ERM framework as the shining example of CTSCS (crap to sell consulting services), or the government paperwork bottlenecks of accreditation and certification. In mountain rescue our goal was to keep every rescue system and operational plan as simple as possible- because the more pieces you add to the chain, the greater the likelihood of failure (literally). I like Rothman’s work because he’s trying to pull us back to basics. Yes, we need assessments, strategies, policies, and plans, but the practicality of security is complex enough as it is; we shouldn’t let the business of security compound the problem. We need to be realists and know that we’ll never solve everything, but by focusing on the pragmatic, simple, and direct we can best protect our organizations without going totally batshit. Don’t make life harder than it needs to be. Don’t add complexity. Keep it real. One of the best ways to be effective in security is to look for the simplest and most pragmatic solutions to the complex problems. Share:

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SAS 70 Has Nothing To Do With Security

Richard expresses a little shock upon discovering that SAS 70 audits don’t evaluate security. I’d be shocked if any service provider, or other organization for that matter, claimed to me a SAS 70 made them secure. As in I’d consider them totally fracking worthless. All a SAS 70 does is certify that a control works as documented. Kind of like Common Criteria (my other favorite puppy to kick). If you document a single control, a SAS 70 will certify it works as documented. Nothing more. A lot less if it’s a Type I; since the auditor just signs off on management’s assertion that the control works as management documented (cool, eh?). SAS 70 has nothing to do with security. For SOX some orgs are certifying using the COSO Internal Controls Framework, which is as close as you can get to a SOX audit. It works for that since they certify to the same standard used for the SOX audits. Sort of; it can be grey depending on the auditor. For security the best we have is the imperfect ISO 27001 and 27002. If nothing else, they’re a good baseline. I’d also ask your provider for their latest penetration test results from a third party. Really, none of these checklists prove you’re secure. But they are very useful tools in designing and evaluating your security program. Except SAS 70- at least where security is concerned. Share:

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