Feeds

Infosec 'needs warrior cryptoboffins' to beat hackers

Drop and give me 50 better data sets, maggot

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

RSA Europe The infosec industry needs to move beyond "faith-based security" to an evidence-based approach that takes ideas from battlefield combat if corporations are ever to get ahead of hackers and keep security spending down to manageable levels.

Joshua Corman, director of security intelligence at Akamai, argued that while almost every enterprise attempts to develop security metrics for its environment, these approaches are more akin to "numerology" than hard science.

Raw data and numbers are rarely available in the field of information security and, when they are, they tend to get misquoted or misunderstood, according to Corman. For example, a widely cited misquote from a Verizon data breach report – "90 per cent of breaches in 2008 were due to patchable vulnerabilities where a patch had been available for 12-18 months" – is often taken as a basis by enterprises for developing a security policy.

In truth the sentence needed to be qualified "of the 22 per cent that were patchable [the patch had been available for more than a year]. By 2009, only 6.7 per cent (six of 90) breaches stemmed from patchable vulnerabilities. The following year, zero breaches were due to patchable vulnerabilities.

Despite this, most CISOs have programs to "patch faster" while adversaries have moved elsewhere".

Another problem is that advice designed to address the main security shortfalls in small businesses is sometimes misapplied to large enterprises. Raw data on accidents can be applied to draw up actuarial tables for insurance purposes, but the same approach doesn't work in information security, according to Corman.

"Collecting data and numbers to try to develop actuarial tables for security just doesn't work because the problem space just isn't like that," Corman argued. "Information security is less about actuarial tables and more about game theory."

Vendor-supplied statistics are often misleading, Corman told El Reg. "Vendors pluck out figures that support their sales pitch. They use statistics like a drunk uses lampposts – more for support than illumination."

Rather than taking lessons from industry surveys, analyst reports or vendor-supplied arguments, security managers should look to lessons from military doctrine. The "observe, orient, decide and act" loop can be applied as well to fighting cyber-adversaries with unknown capabilities and tactics as it is in battlefield situations, according to Corman.

Corman is due to expand on his ideas during a conference debate snappily entitled Metrics are Bunk!?: A Zombie Apocalypse, Football/Soccer & Security Metrics at the RSA Conference in Europe on Thursday. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.