Cyber Infrastructure – the Fifth Domain

Cyber Infrastructure – the Fifth Domain
The last couple of years has seen an incredible rise in reported incidents of cyber attacks.  Research by many organizations, including Check Point Software and Verizon DBIR, indicate that it’s not a reporting bias, cyber attacks are indeed on the rise.  The good news for us all, as the New York Times reported, is that President Obama is stepping up the nation’s cyber defenses to meet this threat.

Our nation’s economy and well-being are totally dependent on our networks. To keep our economy moving, information flowing, and ourselves informed, we need to protect and defend these networks. Our cyber infrastructure has become the fifth domain a sovereign nation needs to protect – after air, land, sea and space.

Network Security isn’t a Safety Guarantee
Cyber defense isn’t trivial or easy or cheap.  And there are thousands of network security products to choose from. These products usually serve specific purposes in a defense strategy.  For example, firewalls, among many things they do, protect the gate through which information flows, like the locks on your door.   Intrusion detection on a network is like motion detectors in your home. They can tell you something is happening, but can’t always discriminate between acceptable and bad activity.

When networks are larger, they’re more complex, often overwhelming teams trying to make sense of a breach.  There are scores of reporting systems that provide real-time data about break-ins.  But even those are not always as useful as management would like. Dave Dewalt’s story on 60 Minutes recently is typical.

But even with the best people, plans, and essentially an unlimited budget like JP Morgan, companies still get hacked. Why aren’t our networks more secure? Why is a breach in the news every day?  Because, as our President agrees, it’s time to harden our networks.

Network Hardening: Getting Ahead of Cyber Attackers
Network hardening requires many things.  First, it means understanding your network — every element, every device and every path possible.  It means understanding potential threats and having outside intelligence about where the threats originate.  It means focusing your limited resources on the most important things you can do to protect your business.

RedSeal’s mission is to help Global 2000 organizations harden their networks. It gives you the detailed information you need — how your network routes traffic, detailed paths from everywhere to everywhere and how ready your equipment is.  It helps you determine where you should focus your resources and what exactly you can do to harden your network – from the most risky or vulnerable places to the least.  Prioritization is key to getting ahead of the cyber attackers.

Security’s Nightmare: Negative Unemployment

Unemployment is bad, so negative unemployment must be good, right?  Um, no.  (I’ll steal a line from Douglas Adams: “It’s unpleasantly like being drunk” … “What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?” … “Well, ask a glass of water.”)  Security as an industry is short-staffed – critically so, and it’s getting worse.

This came into sharp focus with the recent suit between MasterCard and Nike.  I’ve no comment on the specifics of the case, but the general lesson is clear: security geeks are in desperately short supply.  When I think of where this industry was just a few years ago, it would have been preposterous to imagine two household name, world class companies unleashing lawyers over such a fracas.

This is why security automation is such a big deal.  Security teams everywhere are drowning in unaddressed, basic problems.  We know plenty about what we need to do, but we just can’t get it all done – there aren’t enough fingers on the keyboards.  (Anyone remember “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T”?)  We need machines to prioritize all the signal overload; there’s no other way to make headway.