'Blocking and Tackling' in the New Age of SecurityIn a pep talk to CISOs, the chief security strategist at PSCU advises teams to prioritize resilience in addition to security.
INSECURITY CONFERENCE 2017 - Washington, DC - Prioritizing resilience is the new normal for modern cybersecurity leaders, said Gene Fredriksen, chief security strategist for PSCU, in his closing keynote remarks here at Dark Reading's INSecurity conference this week.
"If we look at the recent breaches … the one thing we cannot afford to do is forget how to block and tackle," he said to his audience of security pros. "We're not just talking about security anymore; we're talking about resilience."
It's no longer enough to be content that things are secure, Fredriksen explained. Systems have to be robust; they have to be able to withstand glitches in the infrastructure. "We need to look at developing systems that not just survive, but thrive," he added.
This need is part of a "new normal" for CISOs. Unlike those who entered the role through networking or IT, CISOs of the future need to understand increasingly advanced and numerous actors and their motivations. "It's gotten much bigger," said Fredriksen of their concerns. CISOs need to network, talk with their peers, learn about new risks, and implement new controls.
"Traditional perimeter security doesn't really cut it anymore," he continued, or it's so porous we can't rely on it. It's time to look at extensions outside the perimeter. As Fredriksen listed in his rules for successful cybersecurity, "evolution is always preferable to extinction."
Fredriksen pointed to criminals' uses for data analytics as an example of modern threats. Data from breaches like those at Equifax, social media platforms, and resources like press releases and company websites can give attackers sufficient information to take over a bank account: Social security numbers, account numbers, schools and mascots, family members, friends, pets, birthdate, job history, and hobbies are available to those who know where to look.
The Equifax breach is an example of what can happen when proper precautions aren't taken. It doesn't matter how big your company is, Fredriksen noted. Equifax has a 225-person security staff and it still took 138 days to issue a patch for the flaw leading to the breach, 78 days to figure out people were using their systems, and 117 days to notify the public.
Fredriksen shared a few additional security lessons framed in the context of the Equifax breach:
- Visibility is key for detection and prevention: You cannot detect what you cannot see
- Detection isn't fast enough: One day is too long for an attacker to be in your system undetected
- Secure data, not just the network: The root cause of the Equifax breach was a website vulnerability but data resided on the endpoint
- Encryption is a must: It isn't easy, and it takes time, but the benefits outweigh the risks
- Secure vendor connections: This is your responsibility
- We're all connected: Data is linked; one breach can be leverage for the next and the next
Technology alone cannot make you secure, he continued, emphasizing the importance of people, process, and technology. His sentiments echoed those of Greg Touhill, the first US federal government CISO and Cyxtera president, who gave INSecurity's opening keynote.
Fredriksen closed his presentation with a hint of optimism for business leaders. "The boards are getting very engaged," he said of business involvement, adding that executives are "beginning to understand [security] is not just a technology issue."
It's critical for board members to understand the legal implications of cybersecurity and have access to cybersecurity expertise. Risk management should be given "regular and adequate time" on the board meeting agenda, and directors should set the expectation that management will establish an enterprise-wide risk management framework with adequate staff and budget.
If that sounds like a tall order, Fredriksen advised chatting with the CFO and CTO to learn how they discuss funding with the CEO. "Learn how things work in your company, and you can build that business case," he said. If the CISO walks in with business acumen, people will listen.
"Show progress and get going," he concluded.
Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio