‘I’m not sure if it’s the innate human desire to recognize patterns even when they don’t exist, or if the stars really do align on occasion, but sometimes a series of random events hit at just the right time to inspire a little thought.

Or maybe I’m just fishing.

This week is an interesting one on the home front. It’s slowly emerging that we’re having some crime problems in the community. There has been a rash of vehicle break-ins and other light burglary. I found out about it when a board member of our HOA (and former cop) posted in our community forums that we’ve hired an off-duty Phoenix police officer to patrol our neighborhood, on top of the security company we already have here. We’ve got a big community center with a pool, so we need a little more security than the average subdivision.

Our community forums are starting to fill up with reports from throughout the community and I highly suspect this recent spree will be ending soon. All 900 homes now have access to suspect descriptions, targets, areas of concern, and so on. We’re all locking up tighter and keeping our eyes open. Already some activity was caught on camera and turned over to the police. We know the bad guy’s techniques, tactics, and operations. With this many eyeballs looking for them, the odds are low they’ll be working around here much longer.

We’ve had problems for months, and the private security was ineffective. There is just too much territory for them to cover effectively. This spree could have potentially gone on forever, but now that the community is engaged we’ve moved from relying on 2 people to nearly 900 for our monitoring and defense.

We’ve taken the edge, just by sharing and talking.

In the security world some interesting tidbits have popped up this week. First came Debix with their fraud numbers, and now Verizon with their forensic investigation’s breach report. On a private email list I was slightly critical of Verizon, but I realized I’m just being greedy and wanted more detail. While it could be better, this is some great information to get out there (thanks for making me take a second look, Hoff).

I shouldn’t have been critical, because when it comes to data breaches we should be thankful for any moderately reliable stats we can get our hands on.

Between these two reports, a couple of things jumped out at me. First, I think these finally debunk all the insider threat marketing garbage. No one ever really had those numbers; trust me, since I saw my “estimate” from Gartner quoted as a hard number for years. This now aligns with my gut feeling, which is that there are more bad guys on the outside than the inside, although inside attacks can be more devastating under the right circumstances.

To further support this, the Verizon report also indicates that many attacks on the inside (or from partners) are really attacks from the outside that compromised an internal system. This supports my controversial positions on how we should treat the insider threat.

The second major point is that we rarely know where our data is, or if our systems are really configured correctly. Both of these are cited in the report as major sources of breaches- unknown data, unknown systems, and misconfigured systems. This is strongly supported by the root cause analysis work I’ve done on data breaches (in my data breach presentation; haven’t written it in paper/blog form yet). People wonder why I’m such a big fan of DLP. Just think about how much risk you can reduce by scanning your environment for sensitive data in the wrong places.

FInally, it’s clear that web applications are a huge problem. Verizon claims web apps were involved in 34% of cases. Again, this supports my conclusion from data breach analysis that links more fraud to application compromises than lost tapes or laptops. The Debix numbers also indicate no higher fraud levels for lost tapes than normal background levels of fraud.

We’re on the early edge of building our own neighborhood watch. We’re starting to see the first little nibs of hard breach data, and they’re already defying conventional wisdom. By communicating more and sharing, we are better able to make informed risk and security decisions. Without this information, the bad guys can keep cruising our neighborhoods with impunity, stealing whatever we accidentally leave in our cars overnight.