On Tuesday morning I’ll be giving a breakfast session at RSA sponsored by Vericept entitled Understanding and Preventing Data Breaches. This is the latest update to my keynote presentation where I dig into all things data breaches to make a best effort at determining what’s really going on out there. Since the system itself is essentially designed to hide the truth and shift risk like a token ring network, digging to the heart of the matter is no easy task.

On Friday Dark Reading published my latest column which is a companion piece to the presentation. It’s a summary of some of the conclusions I’ve come to based on this research. Like much of what I write I consider much of this to be obvious, but not the kinds of things we typically discuss. It’s far easier to count breaches and buy point solutions than to really discuss and solve the root cause. Here are a couple of excerpts, but you should really read the full article:

…When I began my career in information security, I never imagined we would end up in a world where we have as much need for historians and investigative journalists as we do technical professionals. It’s a world where the good guys refuse to share either their successes or failures unless compelled by law. It’s a world where we have plenty of information on tools and technologies, but no context in which to make informed risk decisions on how to use them. Call me idealistic, but there is clearly something wrong with a world where CISOs are regularly prevented by their legal departments from presenting their successful security programs at conferences. … 1. Blame the system, not the victims, for identity fraud. … 2. Blame the credit card companies, not the retailers, for credit card fraud. … 3. Consumers suffer from identity fraud, retailers from credit card fraud. … 4. We need fraud disclosure, not breach disclosure. … 5. We need public root cause analysis. … 6. Breach disclosures teach us the wrong lessons. … Based on the ongoing research I’ve seen, it’s clear that the system is broken in multiple ways. It’s not our failure as security professionals — it’s the failure of the systems we are dedicated to protecting. While my presentation focuses on using what little information we have to make specific tactical recommendations, the truth is we’ll just be spinning our wheels until we start sharing the right information — our successes and failures — and work on fixing the system, not just patching the holes at the fringes.


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