Perimeter
2/14/2012
11:11 AM
50%
50%

Being A Security Bully Does Not Make You Compliant

Compliance is not a tool for dodging work or dismissing business needs

Working with large organizations that have large IT staffs, we often encounter who I call “Security Bullies.” These people use compliance as a weapon against everyone, building a bureaucratic infrastructure that is their own private kingdom. While the Security Bully might be an individual, it is more common that the entire IT staff has taken on this behavior.

One easy sign to tell whether you have a Security Bully is the use of compliance as a way to deny most requests for support or changes (or sometimes even help). Even worse, Bullies use compliance as a means to say “no” without having to develop meaningful solutions.

For example, my team developed and supports the software used to operate one specialized department of a large medical center. The software is used for both business and logistical purposes. Some patient data is involved, so HIPAA is applicable. Citing security and compliance requirements, the medical center’s IT staff now exclusively manages the server where the application and database resides.

Recently there was a problem we traced to be a likely issue on the database server. (I say likely, of course, because even though we reproduced the problem and solution on our test server, one only proves a theory by actually solving the problem.)

While it was somewhat obscure, we found a documented database server issue that matched our problem. A hot patch for the server was available to address the problem. Without clearance to work directly on the server, we gave the client’s IT staff our suggested solution and how we arrived at it.

The response back was a detailed list of reasons why the hot patch could not be installed on the server, many of them being security, department, and regulatory rules, without any alternate plan, option, or offer of assistance for the department.

On closer examination, this reply turned out to be a list of excuses to avoid dealing with the department’s problem, since some of their arguments against the hot patch were within their ability and authority to address.

Once I politely reminded the IT staff that their rules prohibited us from direct work on this server and that ultimately it was their responsibility to keep the system working, their rules quickly became more flexible. They installed the patch quickly -- and without even running it on a test server first.

I found the omission of a test server step particularly interesting. When they thought we would have to do all of the work, their list of requirements prior to hot patch installation included setup of another test server (in addition to the one we had in our office). Apparently "the rules" changed once it became their work.

I share this story not to complain, but as a reminder. It is easy to become so focused on compliance and security that we forget the purpose of the organization or the support role of IT. Compliance is important, but it is not a tool for dodging inquiries or work, particularly when the requests are important to an organization's ability to function well.

Glenn S. Phillips, the president of Forte' Incorporated, works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within.

Glenn works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand the often hidden risks awaiting them. The Founder and Sr. Consultant of Forte' Incorporated, Glenn and his team work with business leaders to support growth, increase profits, and address ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Latest Comment: nice post
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-1750
Published: 2015-07-01
Open redirect vulnerability in nokia-mapsplaces.php in the Nokia Maps & Places plugin 1.6.6 for WordPress allows remote attackers to redirect users to arbitrary web sites and conduct phishing attacks via a URL in the href parameter to page/place.html. NOTE: this was originally reported as cross-sit...

CVE-2014-1836
Published: 2015-07-01
Absolute path traversal vulnerability in htdocs/libraries/image-editor/image-edit.php in ImpressCMS before 1.3.6 allows remote attackers to delete arbitrary files via a full pathname in the image_path parameter in a cancel action.

CVE-2015-0848
Published: 2015-07-01
Heap-based buffer overflow in libwmf 0.2.8.4 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a crafted BMP image.

CVE-2015-1330
Published: 2015-07-01
unattended-upgrades before 0.86.1 does not properly authenticate packages when the (1) force-confold or (2) force-confnew dpkg options are enabled in the DPkg::Options::* apt configuration, which allows remote man-in-the-middle attackers to upload and execute arbitrary packages via unspecified vecto...

CVE-2015-1950
Published: 2015-07-01
IBM PowerVC Standard Edition 1.2.2.1 through 1.2.2.2 does not require authentication for access to the Python interpreter with nova credentials, which allows KVM guest OS users to discover certain PowerVC credentials and bypass intended access restrictions via unspecified Python code.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marc Spitler, co-author of the Verizon DBIR will share some of the lesser-known but most intriguing tidbits from the massive report