The Insider Threat Will Eat Your Babies

I was reading this post by Richard Bejtlich and it reminded me of a little pet peeve. It seems some people out there criticize Richard for focusing more on external threats than the big bad, “internal threat”. I’ll admit I used to use the term frequently when I was a little naive, but I finally realized it became code for “scary stuff you’ll never be able to protect yourself from without spending a lot of money on our products.” Yes, there is an insider threat, but we abuse the heck out of the term. There are a few principles I like to keep in mind when discussing the insider threat. Some are a little redundant to make a point from a slightly different perspective: Once an external attacker penetrates perimeter security and/or compromises a trusted user account, they become the insider threat. Thus, from a security controls perspective it often makes little sense to distinguish between the insider threat and external attackers- there are those with access to your network, and those without. Some are authorized, some aren’t. The best defenses against malicious employees are often business process controls, not security technologies. The technology cost to reduce the risks of the insider threat to levels comparable to the external threat are materially greater without business process controls. The number of potential external attackers is the population of the Earth with access to a computer. The number of potential malicious employees is no greater than the total number of employees. If you allow contractors and partners the same access to your network and resources as your employees, but fail to apply security controls to their systems, you must assume they are compromised. Detective controls with real-time alerting and an efficient incident response process are usually more effective for protecting internal systems than preventative technology controls, which more materially increase the overall business cost by interfering with business processes. Preventative controls built into the business process are more efficient than external technological preventative controls. Thus, the best strategy includes a mix of technology and business controls, a focus on preventing and detecting external attacks, and reliance on a mix of preventative controls and detective controls with efficient response for the insider threat. I really don’t care if an attacker is internal or external once they get onto a single trusted system or portion of my network. The “insider threat” isn’t a threat. It’s become a blanket term for FUD. Understand the differences between malicious employees, careless employees, external attackers with access inside the perimeter, and trusted partners without effective controls on their systems and activities. Share:

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Good SSL Resources, And A Congrats To Chris Pepper

From Chris Pepper: His TidBITS article on SSL A post on some handy commands Chris is my first resource when I need help with the command line. On a separate note, Chris managed to hit his goal of 1500 bug reports before the release of Leopard. Very cool. Share:

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Short DLP Article Up At Network World

Just a quick note that I have a short article up on Network World on DLP. I answered the question, “With all the recent news about acquisitions in the DLP space, I’m unsure if now is the time to select a solution or if I should wait. How can I tell the right time to get into DLP?” A short clip: The decision to invest in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) should be based on how ready you are as an organization, not the internal wranglings of a young market in the midst of a growth spurt. I like to describe DLP as an adolescent market- it’s one that provides high value even though the market and the solutions aren’t as mature as some other areas of technology. (Full disclosure- I was connected to Network World by Reconnex, but I don’t currently have a business relationship with them and I was not paid by anyone for the article). Share:

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Network Security Podcast, Episode 82: The Scary Halloween/Mac Episode

Okay, it’s not that scary, other than the fact Martin isn’t even in the episode this week. That’s right, I flew solo and invited Glenn Fleishman from TidBITS and Wi-Fi Networking News to join me in an episode dedicated to the security issues around the release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Glenn Fleishman is a TidBITS contributing editor and a Seattle journalist who covers technology for publications like The New York Times, Popular Science, and The Economist. He blogs daily about Wi-Fi and other wireless networking at Wi-Fi Networking News. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife Lynn, sons Ben and Rex, two iPhones, and a dozen Macs of various vintages. This is one of the most significant updates to the OS X series of the Mac operating system, with more dedicated security updates than any other version. But although Apple clearly invested in security, they didn’t necessarily finish the job. A combination of incomplete security feature implementations and some new operating system features with security implications make this a release for us security geeks to keep our eyes on. Show Notes: Rich’s pre-release TidBITS article on Security Improvements in Leopard Thomas Ptacek’s article evaluating the Leopard security features, post-release The ISFYM (Internet Security For Your Mac) post on Back to My Mac security problems by Open Door Networks Leopard firewall article from Heise Security Rich’s follow up article on Leopard Security Network Security Podcast, Episode 82, October 31, 2007 Share:

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