Metricon 5 Wrapup

Posted August 13th, 2010 by

Metricon 5 was this week, it was a blast you should have been there.

One of the things the program committee worked on was more of a practitioner focus.  I think the whole event was a good mix between theory and application and the overall blend was really, really good. Talking to the speakers before the event was much awesome as I could give them feedback on their talk proposal and then see how that conversation led to an awe-inspiring presentation.

I brought a couple security manager folks I know along with me and their opinion was that the event was way awesome. If you’re one of my blog readers and didn’t hunt me down and say hi, then whatcha waitin’ for, drop me an email and we’ll chat.

You can go check out the slides and papers at the Security Metrics site.

My slides are below.  I’m not sure if I was maybe a bit too far “out there” (I do that from time to time) but what I’m really looking for is a scorecard so that we can consciously build regulation and compliance frameworks instead of the way we’ve been doing it. This would help tremendously with public policy, industry self-regulation, and anybody who is trying to build their own framework.

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Posted in Public Policy, Speaking | 1 Comment »

Senate Homeland Security Hearings and the Lieberman-Carper-Collins Bill

Posted June 16th, 2010 by

Fun things happened yesterday.  In case you hid under a rock, the Intertubes were rocking yesterday with the thudding of fingera on keyboard as I live-tweeted the Senate Homeland Committee’s hearing on “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset: Comprehensive Legislation for the 21st Century”.  And oh yeah, there’s a revised version of S.3474 that includes some of the concepts in S.773.  Short version is that the cybersecurity bills are going through the sausage factory known as Capitol Hill and the results are starting to look plausible.

You can go watch the video and read the written testimonies here.  This is mandatory if you’re working with FISMA, critical infrastructure, or large-scale incident response.  I do have to warn you, there are some antics afoot:

  • Senator Collins goes all FUD on us.
  • Senator McCain grills Phil Reitinger if DHS can actually execute a cybersecurity mission.
  • Alan Paller gets all animated and opens up boxes of paperwork.  I am not amused.

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Posted in FISMA, Public Policy, Risk Management | 2 Comments »

When the News Breaks, We Fix it…

Posted June 8th, 2010 by

Rybolov’s note:  Vlad’s on a rant, at times like this it’s best sit back, read, and laugh at his curmudgeonly and snark-filled sense of humor.

So there I am having a beer at my favorite brew pub Dogfish Head Alehouse, in Fairfax, when my phone vibrates to this ditty…. I couldn’t get past the “breaking news.”

From: <The SANS Institute>

Sent: Friday, May 28, 2010 4:05 PM

Subject: SANS NewsBites Vol. 12 Num. 42 : House attaches FISMA corrections to Defense Authorization Bill for rapid action

* PGP Signed by an unmatched address: 5/28/2010 at 2:52:21 PM

Breaking News: US House of Representatives attaches new FISMA rewrite to Defense Authorization Bill. The press hasn’t picked it up yet, but NextGov.Com will have a story in a few minutes. This puts one more nail in the coffin of the Federal CISOs and security contractors who think they can go on ignoring OMB and go on wasting money on out of date report writing contracts.


Yet another millstone (pun intended) piece of legislation passed on a Friday with… a cheerleader?!?!??? Whoa.

This ruined what was turning out to be a decent Friday afternoon for me…

My beef is this — I guess I really don’t understand what motivates someone who vilifies Federal CISOs and security contractors in the same sentence? Does the writer believe that CISOs are in the pocket of contractors? Even I am not that much of a cynic… Which CISO’s are “ignoring OMB?” All of them except NASA? Are all of our Government CISOs so out of touch that they LIKE throwing scarce IT dollars away on “out of date report writing contracts?” (sic.) (Vlad – Are hyphens too costly?)

I could drop to an ad hominem attack against the writer, but that’s pretty much unnecessary and probably too easy. I’ll leave that to others.

Suffice to say that what is motivating this newsbit appears IMHO to be less about doing things the right way, and more about doing things their way while grabbing all the headlines and talking head interviews they possibly can. (See “self-licking Ice Cream Cone” in my last post)

Yeah, I’m a cynic. I’m a security professional. What’s yer point?

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Posted in FISMA, NIST, Rants, Risk Management | 3 Comments »

Beware the Audit Hammer

Posted May 20th, 2010 by

Sometimes it feels like auditing and oversight isn’t really the solution.  In fact, sometimes it feels like it’s part of the problem.  But when you’re sitting on Capitol Hill and your only tools are legislation, oversight, and auditing, you start to think that every problem can be solved with them. </soapbox>

i haz an audit hammr

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Posted in IKANHAZFIZMA, Public Policy, Rants, What Doesn't Work | 1 Comment »

Professor Rybolov’s Guide to InfoSec and Public Policy Analysis

Posted May 17th, 2010 by

Having just finished our mini-semester class on InfoSec and Public Policy, I want to share with my old friend, the Interweblagosphere, a small process/framework for doing some analysis.  This can be a paper, legislation, or even a basic guideline for developing metrics.

  • Problemspace Definition: Give a point-of-view on a particular subject and why it is important.  Thinking more conventionally, what is it exactly that is your thesis statement?
  • History of Incident: prove the problem is worth time to solve.  Usually this involves identifying a handful of large-scale incidents that can serve as the model for your analysis.  Looking at these incidents, what worked and what didn’t work? Start to form some opinions.  You will revisit these incidents later on as models.
  • Regulatory Bodies: beginning of stakeholder definition.  Identify responsible Government or industry-specific organizations and their history of dealing with the problem.  What existing strategic plans and reports exist that you can use to feed your analysis.
  • Private Sector Support: more stakeholders.  How much responsibility does private industry have in this issue and what is the impact on them?  They can be owners (critical infrastructure), vendors (hardware, software, firmware), maintainers, etc.
  • Other Stakeholders: Consider end users, people who depend on the service that depends on the IT and the information therein.
  • Trend and Metrics: what do we know about the topic given published metrics or our analysis of themes across our key incidents?  If you notice a lack of metrics on the subject, what would be your “wish list” and what plan do you have for getting these metrics?  For information security, this typically a huge gap–either we’re creating metrics to show where we’ve succeeded at the tactical level or we’re generating metrics with surveys which are notoriously flawed.
  • Options and Alternatives Analysis: pros and cons, what evidence suggests each might succeed.  Take your model incidents and run your options through them, would they help with each scenario?  Gather up more incidents and see how the options would affect them.  As you run through each option and scenario, consider each of the following:
    • Efficacy of the Option–does it actually solve the root cause of the problem?
    • Winner Stakeholders
    • Loser Stakeholders
    • Audit Burden
    • Direct Costs
    • Indirect Costs
  • Build Strategic Plan and Recommendations: Based on your analysis of the situation (model incidents, metrics, and power dynamics), build recommendations from the high-performing options and form them into a strategic plan.  The more specific you can get, the better.

Note that for the most part these are not exclusive to information security but to public policy analysis in general.  There are a couple parts that need emphasis because of the immature nature of infosec.

Analysis of Hound Dog Behavior graph by MShades. Our analysis is a little bit more in-depth.  =)

Then the criteria for evaluating the strategic plan and the analysis leading up to it:

  • Has an opinion
  • Backs up the opinion by using facts
  • Has models that are used to test the options
  • Lays out a well-defined plan

As usual, I stand on the shoulders of giants, in this case my Favorite Govie provided quite a bit of input in the form of our joint syllabus.

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Posted in Public Policy, What Works | 2 Comments »

Privacy Camp DC–April 17th

Posted April 7th, 2010 by

Just a quick post to shill for Privacy Camp DC 2010 which will be taking place on the 17th of April in downtown DC.  I went last year and it was much fun.  The conversation ranged from recommendations for a rewrite of

The basic rundown of Privacy Camp is that it’s run like a Barcamp where the attendees are also the organizers and presenters.  If you’re tired of going to death-by-powerpoint, this is the place for you.  And it’s not just for government-types, there is a wide representation from non-profits and regular old commercial companies.

Anyway, what are you waiting for?  Go sign up now.

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Posted in Odds-n-Sods, Public Policy, The Guerilla CISO | 1 Comment »

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