Analytics // Security Monitoring
5/3/2013
11:06 AM
Wendy Nather
Wendy Nather
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

La Vie En ROSI

Return on security investment may be slightly less mythical than you think

With very few exceptions, there is really nothing in security that gives you a return on investment. Unless you're selling them, security technologies almost never make you any money -- what they're there for is loss avoidance. Now, you may be able to achieve that loss avoidance by spending a lot of money, or by spending a little money; if you manage the latter, then yes, you have parlayed a cost savings into another cost savings. But that's not the same as investing some money and watching it grow in value.

If that were the end of the story, though, this blog post would be pretty short. So let's look at what material advantages there might be in security monitoring, besides just (hopefully) catching attackers before they do too much (more) damage.

As I've written before, good security monitoring can tell you more about your organization than just how many nmap probes your firewall has blocked. (By the way, I don't consider that number to be at all interesting. Basing your metrics on how many packets your firewall has automatically blocked and calling them "security events" is like counting how many "water events" your roof has handled during the last rainstorm.)

Two areas in which security monitoring can help the business are in performance measurement and data flows. Performance measurement doesn't just mean the load on the server or the network bandwidth saturation. It can also mean the latency on database queries, which will almost certainly affect your application performance. It can refer to how quickly you can make configuration changes, how consistently they're done, and how long they stay configured that way. A lot of operational efficiency metrics are hidden in those logs, along with troubleshooting data. (Oh, the SSL certificate expired! That explains all the failed connections from one server to another...)

Data flows are the lifeblood of your business, and if you don't believe that, then try tripping over a network or power cable sometime. But it doesn't stop with availability of data: Many organizations don't really know who is accessing what data and why. Anyone who has tried a server migration will find this out very quickly, when other departments show up at the planning meetings to slow down the project. Knowing your highest-use data will help you understand its value; it may also tell you which business operations cross disciplines, which ones need optimization (because they're processing redundant data, for example), and where you might have opportunities that you hadn't thought about.

Business intelligence is a thing these days, and CEOs do like to hear about that. Operational efficiency is something that everyone can get behind. If you can demonstrate that security monitoring contributes uniquely to either or both of these, then you may just get permission to pay more for that fancy, new SIEM. Helping the business make more money is the next best thing to making it yourself. The outlook still isn't ROSI, but it does have a nice shine to it.

Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at the independent analyst firm 451 Research. You can find her on Twitter as @451wendy. Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at independent analyst firm 451 Research. With over 30 years of IT experience, she has worked both in financial services and in the public sector, both in the US and in Europe. Wendy's coverage areas ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-2595
Published: 2014-08-31
The device-initialization functionality in the MSM camera driver for the Linux kernel 2.6.x and 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, enables MSM_CAM_IOCTL_SET_MEM_MAP_INFO ioctl calls for an unrestricted mmap interface, which all...

CVE-2013-2597
Published: 2014-08-31
Stack-based buffer overflow in the acdb_ioctl function in audio_acdb.c in the acdb audio driver for the Linux kernel 2.6.x and 3.x, as used in Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, allows attackers to gain privileges via an application that lever...

CVE-2013-2598
Published: 2014-08-31
app/aboot/aboot.c in the Little Kernel (LK) bootloader, as distributed with Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) Android contributions for MSM devices and other products, allows attackers to overwrite signature-verification code via crafted boot-image load-destination header values that specify memory ...

CVE-2013-2599
Published: 2014-08-31
A certain Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) patch to the NativeDaemonConnector class in services/java/com/android/server/NativeDaemonConnector.java in Code Aurora Forum (CAF) releases of Android 4.1.x through 4.3.x enables debug logging, which allows attackers to obtain sensitive disk-encryption pas...

CVE-2013-6124
Published: 2014-08-31
The Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) init scripts in Code Aurora Forum (CAF) releases of Android 4.1.x through 4.4.x allow local users to modify file metadata via a symlink attack on a file accessed by a (1) chown or (2) chmod command, as demonstrated by changing the permissions of an arbitrary fil...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
This episode of Dark Reading Radio looks at infosec security from the big enterprise POV with interviews featuring Ron Plesco, Cyber Investigations, Intelligence & Analytics at KPMG; and Chris Inglis & Chris Bell of Securonix.