Firestarter: Payment Madness

This is our last regular Firestarter before we record our pre-RSA Quarterly Happy Hour. This week, after a few non-sequiturs, we talk about the madness of payment systems. It seems the US is headed towards chip and signature, not chip and PIN like the rest of the world, because banks think American are too stupid to remember a second PIN. Share:

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RSA Conference Guide 2014 Deep Dive: Data Security

It is possible that 2014 will be the death of data security. Not only because we analysts can’t go long without proclaiming a vibrant market dead, but also thanks to cloud and mobile devices. You see, data security is far from dead, but is is increasingly difficult to talk about outside the context of cloud, mobile, or… er… Snowden. Oh yeah, and the NSA – we cannot forget them. Organizations have always been worried about protecting their data, kind of like the way everyone worries about flossing. You get motivated for a few days after the most recent root canal, but you somehow forget to buy new floss after you use up the free sample from the dentist. But if you get 80 cavities per year, and all your friends get cavities and walk complaining of severe pain, it might be time for a change. Buy us or the NSA will sniff all your Snowden We covered this under key themes, but the biggest data security push on the marketing side is going after one headlines from two different angles: Protect your stuff from the NSA. Protect your stuff from the guy who leaked all that stuff about the NSA. Before you get wrapped up in this spin cycle, ask yourself whether your threat model really includes defending yourself from a nation-state with an infinite budget, or if you want to consider the kind of internal lockdown that the NSA and other intelligence agencies skew towards. Some of you seriously need to consider these scenarios, but those folks are definitely rare. If you care about these things, start with defenses against advanced malware, encrypt everything on the network, and look heavily at File Activity Monitoring, Database Activity Monitoring, and other server-side tools to audit data usage. Endpoint tools can help but will miss huge swaths of attacks. Really, most of what you will see on this topic at the show is hype. Especially DRM (with the exception of some of the mobile stuff) and “encrypt all your files” because, you know, your employees have access to them already. Mobile isn’t all bad We talked about BYOD last year, and it is still clearly a big trend this year. But a funny thing is happening – Apple now provides rather extensive (but definitely not perfect) data security. Fortunately Android is still a complete disaster. The key is to understand that iOS is more secure, even though you have less direct control. Android you can control more visibly, but its data security is years behind iOS, and Android device fragmentation makes it even worse. (For more on iOS, check out our a deep dive on iOS 7 data security. I suppose some of you Canadians are still on BlackBerry, and those are pretty solid. For data security on mobile, split your thinking into MDM as the hook, and something else as the answer. MDM allows you to get what you need on the device. What exactly that is depends on your needs, but for now container apps are popular – especially cross-platform ones. Focus on container systems as close to the native device experience as possible, and match your employee workflows. If you make it hard on employees, or force them into apps that look like they were programmed in Atari BASIC (yep, I used it) and they will quickly find a way around you. And keep a close eye on iOS 7 – we expect Apple to close its last couple holes soon, and then you will be able to use nearly any app in the App Store securely. Cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud… and a Coke! Yes, we talk about cloud a lot. And yes, data security concerns are one of the biggest obstacles to cloud deployments. On the upside, there are a lot of legitimate options now. For Infrastructure as a Service look at volume encryption. For Platform as a Service, either encrypt before you send it to the cloud (again, you will see products on the show floor for this) or go with a provider who supports management of your own keys (only a couple of those, for now). For Software as a Service you can encrypt some of what you send these services, but you really need to keep it granular and ask hard questions about how they work. If they ask you to sign an NDA first, our usual warnings apply. We have looked hard at some of these tools, and used correctly they can really help wipe out compliance issues. Because we all know compliance is the reason you need to encrypt in cloud. Big data, big budget Expect to see much more discussion of big data security. Big data is a very useful tool when the technology fits, but the base platforms include almost no security. Look for encryption tools that work in distributed nodes, good access management and auditing tools for the application/analysis layer, and data masking. We have seen some tools that look like they can help but they aren’t necessarily cheap, and we are on the early edge of deployment. In other words it looks good on paper but we don’t yet have enough data points to know how effective it is. Share:

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RSA Conference Guide 2014 Deep Dive: Endpoint Security

We are in the home stretch, with only a few more deep dives to post. EPP: Living on Borrowed Time? Every year we take a step back and wonder if this is the year customers will finally revolt against endpoint protection suites and shift en masse to something free, or one of the new technologies focused on preventing advanced attacks. It is so easy to forget how important inertia is to security buying cycles. Combined with the continued (ridiculous) PCI mandate for ‘anti-malware’ (whatever that means), the AV vendors continue to print money. Our friends at 451 Group illustrate this with a recent survey. A whopping 5% of respondents are reducing their antivirus budget, while 13% are actually increasing the budget. Uh, what?!?! Most are maintaining the status quo, so you will see the usual AV suspects with their big RSA Conference booths, paid for by inertia and the PCI Security Standards Council. Sometimes it would be great to have a neutron cluebat to show the mass market the futility of old-school AV… Don’t Call It a Sandbox The big AV vendors cannot afford to kill their golden goose, so innovation is unlikely to come from them. The good news is that there are plenty of companies taking different approaches to detection at the endpoint and server. Some look at file analysis, others have innovative heuristics, and you will also see isolation technologies on the floor. Don’t forget old-school application control, which is making a comeback on the back of Windows XP’s end of life, and the fact that servers and fixed function devices should be totally locked down. We expect isolation vendors to make the most noise at the RSA Conference. Their approach is to isolate vulnerable programs (including Java, browsers, and/or Office suites) from the rest of the device so malware can’t access the file system or other resources to further compromise the device. Whether isolation is via virtualization, VDI, old-school terminal services, or newfangled endpoint isolation (either at the app or kernel level), it is all about accepting that you cannot stop infection, so you need to make sure malware can’t get to anything interesting on the device. These technologies are promising but not yet mature. We have heard of very few large-scale implementations but we need to do something different, so we are watching these technologies closely, and you should too. The Rise of the Endpoint Monitors As we described in the introduction to our Advanced Endpoint and Server Protection series, we are seeing a shift in budget from predominately prevention to detection and investigation functions. This is a great thing in light of the fact that you cannot stop all attacks. At the show we will see a lot of activity around endpoint forensics, driven by hype over the recent FireEye/Mandiant and Bit9/Carbon Black deals, bringing this technology into the spotlight. But there is a bigger theme – what we call “Endpoint Activity Monitoring”. It involves storing very detailed historical endpoint (and server) telemetry, and then searching for indicators of compromise in hopes of identifying new attacks that evade the preventative controls. This allows you to find compromised devices even if they are dormant. Of course if isolation is immature technology, endpoint activity monitoring is embryonic. There are a bunch of different approaches to storing that data, so you will hear vendors poking each other about whether they store on-site or in the cloud. They also have different approaches to analyzing that massive amount of data. But all these technical things obscure the real issue: whether these technologies can scale. This is another technology to keep an eye on at the show. Endpoints and Network: BFF The other side of the coin discussed in our Network Security deep dive is that endpoint solutions to prevent and detect advanced malware need to work with network stuff. The sooner an attack can be either blocked or detected, the better, so being able to do some prevention/detection on the network is key. This interoperability is also important because running a full-on malware analysis environment on every endpoint is inefficient. Being able to have an endpoint or server agent send a file either to an on-premise network-based sandbox or a cloud-based analysis engine provides a better means of determining how malicious the file really is. Of course this malware analysis doesn’t happen in real time, and you usually cannot wait for a verdict from off-device analysis before allowing the file to execute on the device. So devices will still get popped but technology like endpoint activity monitoring, described above, gives you the ability to search for devices that have been pwned using a profile of the malware from analysis engines. Mobile? Most MDM vendors have been bought, so managing these devices is pretty much commodity technology now. Every endpoint protection vendor has a mobile offering they are bundling into their suite. But nobody seems to care. It’s not that these products aren’t selling. They are flying off the virtual shelves, but they are simply not exciting. And if it’s not exciting you won’t hear much about it at the conference. Some new startups will be introducing technologies like mobile IPS, but it just seems like yesterday’s approach to a problem that requires thinking differently. Maybe these folks should check out Rich’s work on protecting iOS, which gets down to the real issue: the data. It seems like the year of mobile malware is coming – right behind the year of PKI. Not that mobile malware doesn’t exist, but it’s not having enough impact to fire the industry up. Which means it will be a no-show at the big show. Share:

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RSA Conference Guide 2014 Deep Dive: Cloud Security

In our 2013 RSA Guide we wrote that 2012 was a tremendous year for cloud security. We probably should have kept our mouth shut and remembered all those hype cycles, adoption curves, and other wavy lines because 2013 blew it away. That said, cloud security is still quite nascent, and in many ways losing the race with the cloud market itself, expanding the gap between what’s happening in the cloud and what’s actually being secured in the cloud. The next few years are critical for security professionals and vendors as they risk being excluded from cloud transformation projects, and thus find themselves disengaged in enterprise markets as cloud vendors and DevOps take over security functions. Lead, Follow, or Get the Hell out of the Way 2013 saw cloud computing begin to enter the fringes of the early mainstream. Already in 2014 we see a bloom of cloud projects, even among large enterprises. Multiple large financials are taking tentative steps into public cloud computing. When these traditionally risk-averse technological early adopters put their toes in the water, the canary sings (okay, we know the metaphor should be that the canary dies, but we don’t want to bring you down). Simultaneously we see cloud providers positioning themselves as a kind of security providers. Amazon makes abundantly clear that they consider security one of their top two priorities, that their data centers are more secure than yours, and that they can wipe out classes of infrastructure vulnerabilities to let you focus on applications and workloads. Cloud storage providers are starting to provide data security well beyond what most enterprises can even dream of implementing (such as tracking all file access, by user and device). In our experience Security has a tiny role in many cloud projects, and rarely in the design of security controls. The same is true for traditional security vendors, who have generally failed to adapt their products to meet new cloud deployment patterns. We can already see how this will play out at the show, and in the market. There is a growing but still relatively small set of vendors taking advantage of this gap by providing security far better attuned to cloud deployments. These are the folks to look at first if you are involved in a cloud project. One key to check out is their billing model: do they use elastic metered pricing? Can they help secure SaaS or PaaS, like a cloud database? Or is their answer, “Pay the same as always, run our virtual appliance, and route all your network traffic through it.” Sometimes that’s the answer, but not nearly as often as it used to be. And assess honestly when and where you need security tools, anyway. Cloud applications don’t have the same attack surface as traditional infrastructure. Risks and controls shift; so should your investments. Understand what you get from your provider before you start thinking about spending anywhere else. SECaaS Your SaaS We are getting a ton of requests for help with cloud vendor risk assessment (and we are even launching a 1-day workshop), mostly driven by Software as a Service. Most organizations only use one to three Infrastructure as a Service providers, but SaaS usage is exploding. More often than not, individual business units sign up for these services – often without going through procurement process. A new set of vendors is emerging, to detect usage of SaaS, help integrate it into your environment (predominantly through federated identity management), and add a layer of security. Some of these providers even provide risk ratings, although that is no excuse for not doing your own homework. And while you might think you have a handle on SaaS usage because you block Dropbox and a dozen other services, there are thousands of these things in active use. And, in the words of one risk officer who went around performing assessments: at least one of them is a shared house on the beach with a pile of surfboards out front, an open door, and a few servers in a closet. There are a dozen or more SaaS security tools now on the market, and most of them will be on the show floor. They offer a nice value proposition but implementation details vary greatly, so make sure whatever you pick meets your needs. Some of you care more about auditing, others about identity, and others about security, and none of them really offer everything yet. Workload Security Is Coming “Cloud native” application architectures combine IaaS and SaaS in new highly dynamic models that take advantage of autoscaling, queue services, cloud databases, and automation. They might pass a workload (such as data analysis) to a queue service, which spins up a new compute instance in the current cheapest zone, which completes the work, and then passes back results for storage in a cloud database. Under these new models – which are in production today – many traditional security controls break. Vulnerability assessment on a server that only lives for an hour? Patching? Network IDS, when there is no actual network to sniff? Talk to your developers and cloud architects before becoming too enamored with any cloud security tools you see on the show floor. What you buy today may not match your needs in six months. You need to be project driven rather than product driven because you can no longer purchase one computing platform and use it for everything. That is, again, why we think you should focus on elastic pricing that will fit your cloud deployments as they evolve and change. So an elastic pricing model is often the best indicator that your vendor ‘gets’ the cloud. Barely Legal SECaaS We are already running long, so suffice it to say there are many more security offerings as cloud services, and a large percentage of them are mature enough to satisfy your needs. The combination of lower operational management costs, subscription pricing, pooled threat intelligence, and other analytics, is often better than what you can deploy and manage completely internally. You still need to

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