Thursday, May 23, 2024

Security Pro Rafal Los: “There is No ‘Secure’, Only Manageable Risk”

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Welcome to a special BriefingsDirect podcast series coming to you from last week’s HP Discover 2011 conference in Las Vegas. We explored some some major enterprise IT solutions, trends and innovations making news across HP’s ecosystem of customers, partners, and developers.

It’s an interesting time for IT and cyber security. We have more threats. We hear about breaches in large organizations like Sony and Google, but at the same time IT organizations are being asked to make themselves more like Google or Amazon, the so-called consumerization of IT.

So how do IT organizations become more open while being more protective? Are these goals mutually exclusive, or can security enhancements and governance models make risks understood and acceptable for more kinds of social, collaboration, mobile and cloud computing activities?

BriefingsDirect directed such questions to Rafal Los, Enterprise Security Evangelist for HP Software. The interview is conducted by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Raf, what comes in your mind when we say “consumerization of IT?”

Los: I think of the onslaught of consumer devices, from your tablets to your mobile handsets, that start to flood our corporate environments with their ever-popular music, photo-sharing, data-gobbling, and wireless-gobbling capabilities that just catch many enterprises completely unaware.

Gardner: Is this a good thing? The consumers seem to like it. The user thinksit’s good productivity. I want to do things at the speed that I can doat home or in the office, but this comes with some risk, doesn’t it?

Los: Absolutely, risk is everywhere. But you asked if it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing, dependingon which platform you’re standing on. From the consumer perspective,absolutely, it’s a great thing. I can take my mobile device with me andhave one phone for example, on which I get my corporate email, mypersonal email on, and not have four phones in my pocket. I can have a laptop from my favorite manufacturer, whatever I want to use, bring into mycorporate environment, take it home with me at night, and modify ithowever I want.

That’s cool for the consumer, but that createssome very serious complexities for the enterprise security folks. Often,you get devices that aren’t meant to be consumed in an enterprise.They’re just not built for an enterprise. There’s no enterprise control.There’s no notion of security on somebody’s consumer devices.

Now,many of the manufacturers are catching up, because enterprises arecrying out that these devices are showing up. People are coming afterthese big vendors and saying, “Hey, you guys are producing devices thateverybody is using. Now they are coming up into my company, and it’schaos” But, it’s definitely a risk, yes.

Gardner: Whatwould a traditional security approach need to do to adjust to this? Whatdo IT people need to think about differently about security, given this IT consumerization trend?

Need to evolve

Los: We need to evolve. Over the last decade and a half or so, we’ve looked at information securityas securing a castle. We’ve got the moat, the drawbridge, the outerwalls, the center or keep, and we’ve got our various stages of weaponry,an armory and such. Those notions have been blown to pieces over thelast couple of years as, arguably, the castle walls have virtuallyevaporated, and anybody can bring in anything, and it’s been difficult.

Companiesare now finding themselves struggling with how to deal with that. We’re having to evolve from simply the ostrich approach where we are saying, “Oh, it’s not going to happen. We’re simply not going to allow it,” and it happens anyway and you get breached. We have to evolve to grow with it and figure out how we can accommodate certain things and then keep control.

In the end, we’re realizing that it’s not about what you let in or what you don’t. It’s how you control the intellectual property in the data that’s on your network inside your organization.

Gardner: So, do IT professionals in enterprises need to start thinking about the organizations differently? Maybe they’re more like a service provider or a web applications provider than a typical bricks and mortar environment.

Los: That’s an interesting concept. There are a number of possible ways ofthinking about that. The one that you brought up is interesting. I likethe idea of an organization that focuses less on the invasivetechnology, or what’s coming in, and more on what it is that we’reprotecting.

I like the idea of an organization that focuses less on the invasivetechnology, or what’s coming in, and more on what it is that we’reprotecting.

From an enterprise security perspective, we’vebeen flying blind for many years as to where our data is, where ourcritical information is, and hoping that people just don’t have thecapacity to plug into our critical infrastructure, because we don’t havethe capacity to secure it.

Now, that notion has simplyevaporated. We can safely assume that we now have to actually go in andlook at what the threat is. Where is our property? Where is our data?Where are the things that we care about? Things like enterprise threatintelligence and data storage and identifying critical assets becomeabsolutely paramount. That’s why you see many of the vendors, includingourselves, going in that direction and thinking about that in theintelligent enterprise.

Gardner: This is interesting. Touse your analogy about the castle, if I had a high wall, I didn’t needto worry about where all my stuff was. I perhaps didn’t even have aninventory or a list. Now, when the wall is gone, I need to look atspecific assets and apply specific types of security with varyinglevels, even at a dynamic policy basis, to those assets. Maybe the firststep is to actually know what you’ve got in your organization. Is thatimportant?

Los: Absolutely. There’s often been this notion that if we simply build a impenetrable, hard, outer shell, the inner chewy center is irrelevant. And, that worked for many years. These devices grew legs and started walking around these companies, before we started acknowledging it. Now, we’ve gotten past that denial phase and we’re in the acknowledgment phase. We’ve got devices and we’ve got capacity for things to walk in and out of our organization that are going to be beyond my control. Now what?

Don’t be reactionary

Well,the logical thing to do is not to be reactionary about it and try topush back and say that can’t be allowed, but it should be to basicallyattempt to classify and quantify where the data is? What do we careabout as an organization? What do we need to protect? Many times, wehave these archaic security policies and we have disparate systemsthroughout an organization.

We’ve shelled out millions of dollarsin our corporate hard-earned capital and we don’t really know whatwe’re protecting. We’ve got servers. The mandate is to have every serverhave anti-virus and an intrusion prevention system (IPS) and all this stuff, but where is the data? What are you protecting? Ifyou can’t answer that question, then identifying your data assetinventory is step one. That’s not a traditional security function, butit is now, or at least it has to be.

Gardner: I suppose that when we also think about cloud computing, many organizations might not now be doing public cloud or hybrid cloud, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that theyprobably will be some day. They’re definitely going to be doing morewith mobile.They’re going to be doing more with cloud. So wouldn’t it make sense to get involved with these new paradigms of security sooner rather thanlater? I think the question is really about being proactive rather than reactive.

Los: The whole idea of cloud, and I’ve been saying this for a while, is that it’s not really that dramatic of ashift for security. What I said earlier about acknowledging the factthat our preconceived notions of defending the castle wall has to beblown apart extrapolates beautifully into the cloud concept, because notonly is it that data is not properly identified within our “castlewall,” but now we’re handing it off to some place else.

What areyou handing off to some place else? What does that some place else looklike? What are the policies? What are the procedures? What’s theirincident response? Who else are you sharing with? Are you co-tenanting with somebody? Can you afford downtime? Can you afford an intrusion? What does an intrusion mean?

Whatare you handing off to some place else? What does that some placeelse look like? What are the policies? What are the procedures?

Thisall goes back to identifying where your data lives, identifying andcreating intelligent strategies for protecting it, but it boils down towhat my assets are. What makes our business run? What drives us? And,how are we going to protect this going forward?

Gardner: Now thinking about data for security, I suppose we’re now also thinkingabout data for the lifecycle for a lot of reasons about storageefficiency and cutting cost. We’re also thinking about being able to do business intelligence (BI) and analytics more as a regular course of action rather than as a patch or add-on to some existing application or dataset.

Isthere a synergy or at least a parallel track of some sort between whatyou should be doing with security, and what you are going to probablywant to be doing with data lifecycle and in analytics as well?

Los: It’s part-and-parcel of the same thing. If you don’t know whatinformation your business relies on, you can’t secure it and you can’tfigure out how to use it to your competitive advantage.

I can’ttell you how many organizations I know that have mountains and mountainsand mountains of storage all across the organization and they protectit well. Unfortunately, they seem to ignore the fact that every desktop, every mobile device, iPhone, BlackBerry, WebOS tablet has a piece of their company that walks around with it. It’s not until one of these devices disappears that we all panic and ask what was on that. It’s like when we lost tape. Losing tapes was the big thing, as was encrypting tapes. Now, we encrypt mobiledevices. To what degree are we going to go and how much are we going toget into how we can protect this stuff?

Enabling the cause

BIis not that much different. It’s just looking at the accumulated set of data and trying to squeeze every bit of information out of it, trying to figure out trends, trying to find out what can you do, how do you make your business smarter, get to your customers faster, and deliver better. That’s what security is as well. Security needs to be furthering and enabling that cause, and if we’re not, then we’re doing it wrong.

Gardner: Based on what you’ve just said, if you do security better and you have more comprehensive integrated security methodology, perhaps you could also save money, because you will be reducing redundancy. You might be transforming and converging your enterprise, network, and data structure. Do you ever go out on a limb and say that if you do security better, you’ll save money?

Los: Coming from the application security world, I can cite the actual cases where security done right has saved the company money. I can cite you one from an application security perspective. A company that acquires other companies all of a sudden takes application security seriously. They’re acquiring another organization.

Theylook at some code they are acquiring and say, “This is now going tocost us X millions of dollars to remediate to our standards.” Now, youcan use that as a bargaining chip. You can either decrease theacquisition price, or you can do something else with that. What theystarted doing is leveraging that type of value, that kind of securityintelligence they get, to further their business costs, to make smarteracquisitions. We talk about application development and lifecycle.

That’swhat security is as well. Security needs to be furthering andenabling that cause, and if we’re not, then we’re doing it wrong.

Thereis nothing better than a well-oiled machine on the quality front.Quality has three pillars: does it perform, does it function, and is itsecure? Nobody wants to get on that hamster wheel of pain, where you get all the way through requirements, development, QA testing, and thesecurity guys look at it Friday, before it goes live on Saturday, andsay, “By the way, this has critical security issues. You can’t let thisgo live or you will be the next …” — whatever company you want tofill in there in your particular business sector. You can’t let this golive. What do you do? You’re at an absolutely impossible decision point.

So, then you spend time and effort, whether it’s penalties, whether it’s service level agreements (SLAs),or whether it’s cost of rework. What does that mean to you? That’s real money. You could recoup it by doing it right on the front end, but the front end costs money. So, it costs money to save money.

Gardner: Okay, by doing security better, you can cut your risks, so you don’tlook bad to your customers or, heaven forbid, lose performancealtogether. You can perhaps rationalize your data lifecycle. You canperhaps track your assets better and you can save money at the sametime. So, why would anybody not be doing better security immediately?Where should they start in terms of products and services to do that?

Los: Why would they not be doing it? Simply because maybe they don’t know or they haven’t quite haven’t gotten that level of education yet, orthey’re simply unaware. A lot of folks haven’t started yet because theythink there are tremendously high barriers to entry. I’d like to refutethat by saying, from a perspective of an organization, we have bothproducts and services.

We attack the application security problem and enterprise security problem holistically because, as wetalked about earlier, it’s about identifying what your problems are,coming up with a sane solution that fits your organization to solvethose problems, and it’s not just about plugging products in.

Wehave our Security Services that comes in with an assessment. Myorganization is the Application Security Group, and we have a securityprogram that we helped build. It’s built upon understanding our customerand doing an assessment. We find out what fits, how we engage yourdevelopers, how we engage your QA organization, how we engage your release cycle, how we help to do governance and education better, how we help automate and enable the entire lifecycle to be more secure.

Not invasive

t’snot about bolting on security processes, because nobody wants to beinvasive. Nobody wants to be that guy or that stands there in front of aboard and says “You have to do this, but it’s going to stink. It’sgoing to make your life hell.”

We want to be the group that says,”We’ve made you more secure and we’ve made minimal impact on you.”That’s the kind of things we do through our Fortified Application Security Center group, static and dynamic, in the cloud or on your desktop. It allcomes together nicely, and the barrier to entry is virtually eliminated,because if we’re doing it for you, you don’t have to have thatextensive internal knowledge and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like alot people seem to think.

I urge people that haven’t thoughtabout it yet, that are wondering if they are going to be the next bigbreach, to give it a shot, list out your critical applications, and callsomebody. Give us a call, and we’ll help you through it.

Gardner: HP has made this very strategic for itself with acquisitions. We now have the ArcSight, Fortify and TippingPoint.I have been hearing quite a bit about TippingPoint here at the show,particularly vis-à-vis the storage products. Is there a brand? Is therean approach that HP takes to security that we can look to on a productbasis, or is it a methodology, or all of the above?

Los: Ithink it’s all of the above. Our story is the enterprise securitystory. How do we enable that Instant-On Enterprise that has to turn on adime, go from one direction strategically today? You have to adapt tomarket changes. How does IT adapt, continue, and enable that businesswithout getting in the way and without draining it of capital.

There is no secure. There is only manageable risk and identified risk.

Ifyou look around the showroom floor here and look at our portfolio ofservices and products, security becomes a simple steel thread that’swoven through the fabric of the rest of the organization. It’s enablingIT to help the CIO, the technology organization, enable the businesswhile keeping it secure and keeping it at a level of manageable risk,because it’s not about making it secure. Let me be clear. There is nosecure. There is only manageable risk and identified risk.

If youare going for the “I want to be secure thing,” you’re lost, because you will never reach it. In the end that’s what our organizational goal is. As Enterprise Security we talk a lot about risk. We talk a lot about decreasing risk, identifying it, helping you visualize it and pinpoint where it is, and do something about it, intelligently.

Gardner: Is there new technology that’s now coming out or beingdeveloped that can also be pointed at the security problem, get intothis risk reduction from a technical perspective?

Los: I’ll cite one quick example from the software security realm. We’relooking at how we enable better testing. Traditionally, customers havehad the capability of either doing what we consider static analysis,which is looking at source code and binaries, and looking at the code,or a run analysis, a dynamic analysis of the application through ourdynamic testing platform.

One-plus-one turns out to actuallyequal three when you put those two together. Through these acquisition’sand these investments HP has made in these various assets, we’returning out products like a real-time hyperanalysis product, which isessentially what security professionals have been looking for years.

Collaborative effort

t’slooking at when an application is being analyzed, taking the attack orthe multiple attacks, the multiple verifiable positive exploits, andmarrying it to a line of source code. It’s no longer a security guidedoing a scan, generating a 5000-page PDF, lobbing it over the wall atsome poor developer who then has to figure it out and fix it before somemagical timeline expired. It’s now a collaborative effort. It’s peoplegetting together.

One thing that we find broken currently withsoftware development and security is that development is not engaged.We’re doing that. We’re doing it in real-time, and we’re doing it rightnow. The customers that are getting on board with us are benefitingtremendously, because of the intelligence that it provides.

Gardner: So, built for quality, built for security, pretty much … synonymous?

Los: Built for function, built for performance, built for security, it’s all part of a quality approach. It’s always been here, but we’re able to tell the story even more effectively now, because we have a much deeper reach into the security world If you look at it, we’re helping to operationalize it by what you do when an application is found that has vulnerabilities.

Built for function, built for performance, built for security, it’s all part of a quality approach.

Thereality is that you’re not always going to fix it every time.Sometimes, things just get accepted, but you don’t want them to beforgotten. Through our quality approach, there is a registry of thesedefects that lives on through these applications, as they continue todown the lifecycle from sunrise to sunset. It’s part of the entire application lifecycle management (ALM) story.

Atsome point, we have a full registry of all the quality defects, all the performance defects, all the security defects that were found,remediated, who fixed them, and what the fixes were? The result of allof this information, as I’ve been saying, is a much smarter organizationthat works better and faster, and it’s cheaper to make better software.

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