Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marcus' Mailbag: Policy, Enforcement, and Monitoring

I received the following email on Commercial vs. Open Source, Policy, Enforcement, and Security Monitoring. I'm posting this email in order to share some of the views. It could be perceived as a bit of a rant, but I'm posting it below because it could spark some thought and conversation. Let me know what you think. If you have problem with the grammar, please rely on context clues. _MJC_ :)

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In the Network security field they are vendors that sell products. They claim the products will catch the bad guys, disassemble malware and save the world. All we need to do is buy their products.

Then they are those Open Source vendors that sell support of some open source tool like Clam AV or Snort all we need to do is use it right and we are safe and they sell themselves as consultants. This model for doing business is not new, In the Financial services industry you have those who claim to be financial planners and when you go and see them they do a budget workup with you and then sell you commission based products like life or medical insurance. Then you have those who claim to be fee based financial planners (much like the open source pimps) and sell you things like Term insurance or no load mutual funds you supposedly pay for their expertise.

The problem with these approaches is they are PRODUCT based. The real solution is a mindset and action to get the desired results not some product Open Source or otherwise.

Network Security is not brain surgery. You need policy, enforcement and monitoring. If those 3 are not done then things break down.

Policy that is not enforced is useless, it's just as bad as if there was no policy at all. In fact if you have a policy you are lured into a sense of false security. If there is no Policy users know they are left to fend for themselves. At [ XYZ ] we don't have a problem in areas like Europe where privacy laws demand they users not be monitored or punished for breaking policy. It's the areas where we have the strictest policies that we have problems.

Enforcement - If policies are not enforced then it is useless. Same with dealing with problem areas of the network. If management turns a blind eye towards tunneling and insists on using systems that are not locked down. Giving most users admin rights and walking on egg shells and not going after employees equally for violations you will never secure the network.

Monitoring - I know a few companies we work with and problems arise and you find out that they have a special internet connection that is not being monitoring. They have this special RESEARCH network they can surf porn on. They tether their laptops with their Blackberries or use a SSL tunnel to do whatever they want on the network. Especially in the technical companies the very ones that should be examples and protecting their networks are doing these things. I have seen individuals have their IP addresses Whitelisted so they could watch movies all day claiming they are doing company business then we all wonder how malware got on the network.

Products do not protect or defend the real network. They point out the obvious and until someone pokes their finger at the sore and lets the world know they need to change network security is a charade. Even DojoSec with it open source pimps is not making things better unless it goes after the above mentioned issues.

That's my 2 cents...

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