Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Partner Perspectives  Connecting marketers to our tech communities.
10/15/2015
10:25 AM
Ted Gary
Ted Gary
Partner Perspectives
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
50%
50%

Asset Segmentation: The Key To Control

Automated asset segmentation and classification helps focus strong security controls where they are needed most.

Segmentation, an established concept, continues to deliver value across multiple disciplines. We are all likely familiar with the concept of market segmentation that is defined in Wikipedia as “a marketing strategy which involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers, businesses, or countries who have, or are perceived to have, common needs, interests, and priorities, and then designing and implementing strategies to target them.”

In IT, network segmentation is well known to increase network performance and security by isolating one network segment (zone) from others. For example, PCI (payment card industry) data within a network must be separated from the rest of the network to limit unauthorized access to credit card data.

When it comes to security and compliance, not all assets pose equal risk. Assets should be segmented into virtual groups based on attributes such as data classification, regulatory requirements, and business criticality. Ideally, multiple criteria can be applicable to the same asset to support specific security policies -- for example, segmenting assets by data classification and geography to meet local data protection regulations such as HIPAA in the United States.

Segmentation Must Inform Security Controls

Determining which security controls should be applied to which assets is a decision that must balance the cost of administering the controls (there is no free lunch) with the need to enable the business (or at least not disable it). For example, a security policy for standard endpoints could require a monthly vulnerability scan, a basic configuration audit that checks for password strength, and remediation of critical vulnerabilities and misconfigurations within 30 days, yet still allow users to install software and write data to USB devices. However, the security policy for endpoints used by finance personnel could require weekly vulnerability scans, strict configuration audits, and remediation of all critical and high vulnerabilities and misconfigurations within seven days. Additionally, when indicators of compromise are discovered that pertain to higher risk assets, higher priority alerts should be triggered to raise the visibility for security monitoring staff.

The benefits of tailoring security controls to specific asset segments include:

  • Risk-based security that applies stronger controls to assets that contain or can access critical data and to assets associated with mission critical services. Hopefully, users of these critical assets will understand and accept the rationale for having their systems “locked down” to protect sensitive data and services.
  • Prioritization of security staff resources. Frequently, security staff resources are spread across implementing and managing preventive controls and across proactive monitoring that demands timely investigation of indicators of weakness. Asset segmentation helps staff focus their time on what matters most.
  • Automated analysis and reporting. Robust segmentation can prioritize weaknesses by grouping assets based on criteria such as regulatory requirements, vulnerability criticality, and the availability of an exploit. This analysis increases staff efficiency by focusing them on high-risk asset groups. Additionally, automated reporting leverages asset segmentation to send information pertaining to specific assets to the responsible parties.

Manual Segmentation Will Fail

Manually assigning assets to segments is doomed to failure because people are notoriously poor at performing classification. Most people don’t like to perform classification, so the unwritten “five-second rule” often applies: If people can’t classify something within five seconds, they tend to resort to the first item in a pick list. When asked to classify assets using multiple criteria such as geography, operating system, and business service, the five-second rule is virtually sure to reduce the quality of the classification. Even with good intentions, people often inaccurately classify items; it is just too easy to make a mistake. The bottom line is that classification must be automated to provide accurate results.

Automated asset segmentation and classification helps focus strong security controls where they are needed most and increases staff efficiency when investigating weaknesses and incidents.

Ted Gary is Tenable's Sr. Product Marketing Manager for Tenable's SecurityCenter Continuous View product. He is responsible for translating the rich features of SecurityCenter into solutions for compelling problems faced by information security professionals. Ted has nearly ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Aviation Faces Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Microsoft Tops Phishers' Favorite Brands as Facebook Spikes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
MoviePass Leaves Credit Card Numbers, Personal Data Exposed Online
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/21/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2016-6154
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The authentication applet in Watchguard Fireware 11.11 Operating System has reflected XSS (this can also cause an open redirect).
CVE-2019-5594
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
An Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ("Cross-site Scripting") in Fortinet FortiNAC 8.3.0 to 8.3.6 and 8.5.0 admin webUI may allow an unauthenticated attacker to perform a reflected XSS attack via the search field in the webUI.
CVE-2019-6695
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
Lack of root file system integrity checking in Fortinet FortiManager VM application images of all versions below 6.2.1 may allow an attacker to implant third-party programs by recreating the image through specific methods.
CVE-2019-12400
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
In version 2.0.3 Apache Santuario XML Security for Java, a caching mechanism was introduced to speed up creating new XML documents using a static pool of DocumentBuilders. However, if some untrusted code can register a malicious implementation with the thread context class loader first, then this im...
CVE-2019-15092
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The webtoffee "WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers Import Export" plugin 1.3.0 for WordPress allows CSV injection in the user_url, display_name, first_name, and last_name columns in an exported CSV file created by the WF_CustomerImpExpCsv_Exporter class.