Analytics
4/15/2009
03:15 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Open Source Metrics On Tap For Security Patch Management

Securosis, Microsoft team up to solicit input for building a metrics model that measures efficiency and costs of security patching

Security consulting firm Securosis is spearheading a new effort to create metrics to quantify the cost and efficiency of an organization's security patching process.

Rich Mogull, founder of Securosis, says to date there's no real way to accurately measure the cost and productivity of an organization's security patch management process. "Those fully quantified [IT] risk models don't apply and the numbers aren't accurate," he says. "It's also bothered me to see those uber-metrics approaches that get an overview of everything in the security program. So why not start with one thing we can accurately measure and use it as a core for building security metrics?"

Securosis, with the financial backing of Microsoft for the initial phase of the project, will gather input in an open submission process for the so-called Project Quant metrics model. Version 1 is planned for release by the end of June.

Many organizations don't have actual processes for out-of-cycle security patches, and end up in "panic mode" trying to apply them, Mogull says. Some don't even have processes for the scheduled patching their Oracle software, for instance, he says.

"We know there are tremendous inefficiencies in how [organizations] approach patching," Mogull says. "We're going to solicit [organizations] out there and find out different ways people are doing this and find a way to quantify this."

Jeff Jones, a director in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group who first approached Securosis about the project, says the goal is to offer metrics that are consumable for business decision-makers. "Vuln counts and data risk [data] is cool for my tech people, but we would really like to see firms doing some analysis and getting results that are more appropriate for the business level," Jones says.

The metrics model will cover everything in the patch management process, from monitoring software for updates to installing the patches. It will analyze things like the amount of time it takes to test patches and roll them out, for instance, and on how many systems, etc., Mogull says. "As compared with other things in security, you can get a reasonably accurate [accounting] of costs" here, he says. "We're going to come out with something that helps IT professionals get their jobs done better and that they can present to the business guys."

The creation of the model will be an open and transparent process, Mogull says. Any input from Microsoft's Jones, for instance, would be posted on the project Website just like any other submission, he says.

And Jones is hoping other vendors will help with the project. "I'm hoping we can drive participation from other people in the industry, like patch management tools companies and other vendors," he says.

Project Quant will be a spreadsheet-type model, where organizations can plug in numbers and rate their efficiencies and costs. Although version 1 won't include benchmarks, the final product will. Among the elements it will include: defining patch management roles and phases; measuring the actual cost of patching in an organization; and providing organizations a way to see how efficient their process is or is not, so they can improve it.

Microsoft's Jones says he hopes to gather information from some key Microsoft customers about their patch management processes and document their experiences as part of the project. "We need to have options of how the [metrics] might apply to different [size businesses] -- from the small business to the biggest enterprise," he says.

The metrics model will be released under a Creative Commons license, and spreadsheets will be available in both Excel and open formats.

"The vision is for this to [also] become an element that rolls into ... bigger models for server or systems management," Microsoft's Jones says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Threat Intel Today
Threat Intel Today
The 397 respondents to our new survey buy into using intel to stay ahead of attackers: 85% say threat intelligence plays some role in their IT security strategies, and many of them subscribe to two or more third-party feeds; 10% leverage five or more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8142
Published: 2014-12-20
Use-after-free vulnerability in the process_nested_data function in ext/standard/var_unserializer.re in PHP before 5.4.36, 5.5.x before 5.5.20, and 5.6.x before 5.6.4 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted unserialize call that leverages improper handling of duplicate keys w...

CVE-2013-4440
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 generates weak non-tty passwords, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the password via a brute-force attack.

CVE-2013-4442
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 uses weak pseudo generated numbers when /dev/urandom is unavailable, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the numbers.

CVE-2013-7401
Published: 2014-12-19
The parse_request function in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a URI without a " " or "?" character in an ICAP request, as demonstrated by use of the OPTIONS method.

CVE-2014-2026
Published: 2014-12-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the search functionality in United Planet Intrexx Professional before 5.2 Online Update 0905 and 6.x before 6.0 Online Update 10 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the request parameter.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.