Feeds

Even brilliant sysadmins need help plugging holes

External audits fix issues you didn't know were there

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Sysadmin blog While we must never allow ourselves to fall into the habit of thinking that security is somebody else's problem, the time has come to accept that external help is required.

We accept the necessity of outside help in many other areas of business. Yet even when IT security audits are offered at no cost, companies are still reluctant to take advantage. Where does the reluctance to seek specialty support in IT come from?

The cost of a data security breach is already expensive, and those costs are still rising. Let's not forget about Sony, whose recent security issues have shown that data breaches can cascade into insurance issues as well.

Intel seems to think that the data security threat posed by missing equipment is a big issue. Meanwhile the FBI seems to think that reinventing the wheel is a potential solution.

Some sectors have it harder than others, but nobody is immune. Not even the biggest and the best. Data security breaches are now so common that we can regularly compile humorous lists of the top10 massive security breaches.

Confidence is not enough; data security needs be studied objectively and measured as qualitatively as possible. It needs the tender care of professionals. A computer science degree or whichever diploma is attached to the milled masses of sysadmins stamped out of polytechnics each year is simply not enough.

Security audits of your company need to be done by people bearing certifications like CISSP, GISC, and CCNP Security. Audits should be done by teams that have individuals sporting many years of actual experience in the field.

There is no ubermensch; the modern polymath is a myth. No one IT director, CTO, CIO, systems administrator or any other designation can or ever will know everything there is to know about modern IT. It simply isn't possible.

A large enough company could theoretically assemble an IT team whose skills covered all the requisite areas – I expect IBM, VMWare and the like have some pretty top-flight nerds – but even the behemoths of IT get themselves into trouble.

For all our skills, knowledge and experience, we are all of us still human. Working with a system day in and day out makes you more familiar with than than an outsider, but it also makes you more likely to overlook subtle quirks or rationalise bad decisions made by bodies further up the food chain.

Sometimes, it takes that outside professional to get the brass to accept you've been right all along. Other times, another pair of eyes really is important. More often than not however, the guy whose job it is to do data security 24/7 will simply know details about issues you simply haven't had time to learn yet, busy as you are dealing with everything else.

External audits also bring an element of "cover your assets" to the table. If it all does go horrible pear-shaped, being able to stand up in front of the judge and say honestly "we did everything possible, including bringing in certified external experts, and following their advice" makes a huge difference should a lawsuit arise. Increasingly, it can also lead to lower business insurance premiums.

If you have an internet connection, then data security audits have become a fundamental cost of doing modern business - no matter who your company is, or what you do. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
IBM rides nightmarish hardware landscape on OpenPOWER Consortium raft
Google mulls 'third-generation of warehouse-scale computing' on Big Blue's open chips
It's GOOD to get RAIN on your upgrade parade: Crucial M550 1TB SSD
Performance tweaks and power savings – what's not to like?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.