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.

Attacks/Breaches

2/26/2020
10:00 AM
Wayne Reynolds
Wayne Reynolds
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

5 Ways to Up Your Threat Management Game

Good security programs start with a mindset that it's not about the tools, it's what you do with them. Here's how to get out of a reactive fire-drill mode with vulnerability management.

The basis of a good security program starts with a mindset that it's not about the tools, it's what you do with them. This mindset is most evident when critical vulnerabilities are released and everyone scrambles to mitigate exploitation.

Most recently, we saw this following the release of the latest critical Windows vulnerability (CVE-2020-0610 and others), which some folks have nicknamed CurveBall. The vulnerability affects Windows CryptoAPI and how Windows handles Elliptical Curve Ciphers (ECC) as part of this service. Microsoft also released two Remote Code Execution (RCE) bugs that are equally important. 

It's critical that companies get out of a reactive fire-drill mode and work toward cyber resiliency. Here are five recommendations for getting there.

Develop a VTM Strategy
One of the most important business strategies for a security program should be around vulnerability threat management (VTM). VTM strategies should include effective, timely, and collaborative reporting of actionable metrics. Avoid simple items such as the number of vulnerabilities on Windows systems and focus on meaningful items such as remediation rates of exploitable vulnerabilities on critical systems.

It's important to keep in mind that VTM is a culture and an operational mindset. An effective VTM program should be implemented in concert with the larger security operations organization to mitigate threats and reduce threat actors' overall attack landscape. It goes beyond scanning for vulnerabilities and telling IT ops to "not suck at patching."

I recommend splitting your VTM strategy into two phases: detection and response. Detection aims to ensure effective, risk-based reporting and prioritized vulnerability mitigation by gathering all your data, validating the results, and applying a business risk. Automation can make this process easier. Further, using the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop continually reduces the time it takes to locate and inform IT ops and development teams where corrective action needs to take place.

Response is where the rubber meets the road and where many of us pass on the work to other businesses to assist in applying patches or hardening systems. To that end, ensure the correct solution (mitigation or corrective action) is recommended by the VTM team and that the agreed-upon solution has been tested and won't break production.

In deploying the solution, it's critical that IT ops and development get prioritized patching and that we provide as few false positives as possible. Trust is earned through transparency and repetition, but it can be destroyed through bad data in an instant.

Know Your Inventory
Knowing where your assets are and who owns them is the basis of an effective and efficient VTM program. Inventory management is a common struggle, partially because VTM teams use a combination of sources to identify where assets live. There are widely available tools to automate and integrate inventory systems so you can avoid time-consuming inventory pulls or maintaining manual spreadsheets. I also recommend partnering with the leaders across your business lines to ensure that when new systems are spun up, the VTM program is effective.

Implement, Then Continually Improve
Don't wait for the sky to fall to realize that you needed to practice. Just like any other part of an effective security organization, your VTM program should constantly improve. I've been a big fan of OODA loops for years.

They are highly effective when leveraged to continually improve an operational program where every initial Observation exits the loop with an Action to adjust the next Observation. If you've seen the same thing twice, you're failing. Leverage cyclical processes to continually improve VTM operations and continually measure your own effectiveness.

Step Up Your Vendor Management
While we cannot simply run vulnerability scans or penetration tests against our vendors, we can put contractual obligations in place with vendors that have access to our sensitive data to secure it appropriately.

Rights to audit are key in any contract. I see many large financial institutions conducting audits on client programs. It's a great way to validate how effective a program is, but keep in mind that it's also very expensive to operationalize.

Finally, don't be shy in working with your vendors. Build relationships with their security and IT organizations so that when a critical vulnerability is released, you know whom to call, and it's also not the first time you have spoken.

Build a Professional Network
When I first entered the security field several decades ago, collaboration between security organizations in different companies was taboo. Today, it's required. This sounds simple but is key: As a CISO or security leader, you must have an external network of peers to collaborate with. We must put egos aside and ask each other simple questions around the common problems we all face.

The release of new security vulnerabilities is only going to continue in the coming weeks and months. The most successful (and secure) companies will be able to look outside their network for actionable information and develop internal strategies to stay ahead of increasing threats.

Related Content:

 

Wayne Reynolds is an Advisory CISO for Kudelski Security, where he works with executives and program leaders to help businesses drive security programs to align with the business and maximize proactive threat mitigation to best serve the enterprise as a ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2020 | 4:31:22 PM
Security
Good security programs start with a mindset that it's not about the tools, it's what you do with them. For me it is less about to tools more about processes we incorporate into our daily routines.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2020 | 2:19:05 PM
Re: Security
Good Point. I think its a balance of both. If you have good tools but no processes it becomes shelfware. If you have good processes in place but no tools it becomes very laborious manually. A healthy balance of both I think is the key.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2020 | 4:33:58 PM
Timely
VTM strategies should include effective, timely, and collaborative reporting of actionable metrics. I think timely is operative word in here. All these things come together at one point but mainly late.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2020 | 2:20:32 PM
Re: Timely
And actionable. I love to use the term "Actionable Intelligence". The term really implies that if data is provided that it should be acted upon in some way. 

Without action, information loses a lot of its value.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2020 | 4:35:36 PM
Assets
Inventory management is a common struggle, partially because VTM teams use a combination of sources to identify where assets live. I agree. If we do not know where they are most likely we do not know what they do either.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2020 | 2:21:48 PM
Re: Assets
I agree 100% there. This is why its imperative to deploy a CMDB and employ a resource that their full time job is to manage it from nuts to bolts. Makes not only compliance easier but threat becomes minimized when you can become aware of what your assets should and should not have on them.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2020 | 4:37:22 PM
Improvement
They are highly effective when leveraged to continually improve an operational program Threats are changing obviously programs and countermeasures have to adapt.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2020 | 2:22:48 PM
Re: Improvement
Most definitely, I think the main crux is can we adapt faster than the threats can. It seems like we always no what to do but are fairly slow to employ such measures.
Dr.T
50%
50%
Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2020 | 4:40:07 PM
Collaboration
collaboration between security organizations in different companies was taboo. Today, it's required. Collaboration can really happen if we can anonymize data.
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2020 | 2:25:10 PM
Re: Collaboration
We see alot of collaboration in terms of the ISAC's. Information Sharing and Analysis Centers. Many industry sectors have them. For instance FS-ISAC, is the financial services ISAC and they meet once a week to go over emerging threats.

It's hard to measure to what extent we should share informaiton and even when we do, the amount that our industry peers act on it is a whole other discussion.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 5/28/2020
Stay-at-Home Orders Coincide With Massive DNS Surge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/27/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Can you smell me now?
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-11844
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
There is an Incorrect Authorization vulnerability in Micro Focus Service Management Automation (SMA) product affecting version 2018.05 to 2020.02. The vulnerability could be exploited to provide unauthorized access to the Container Deployment Foundation.
CVE-2020-6937
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
A Denial of Service vulnerability in MuleSoft Mule CE/EE 3.8.x, 3.9.x, and 4.x released before April 7, 2020, could allow remote attackers to submit data which can lead to resource exhaustion.
CVE-2020-7648
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker before 4.72.2 are vulnerable to Arbitrary File Read. It allows arbitrary file reads for users who have access to Snyk's internal network by appending the URL with a fragment identifier and a whitelisted path e.g. `#package.json`
CVE-2020-7650
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker after 4.72.0 including and before 4.73.1 are vulnerable to Arbitrary File Read. It allows arbitrary file reads to users with access to Snyk's internal network of any files ending in the following extensions: yaml, yml or json.
CVE-2020-7654
PUBLISHED: 2020-05-29
All versions of snyk-broker before 4.73.1 are vulnerable to Information Exposure. It logs private keys if logging level is set to DEBUG.