Perimeter
5/21/2012
10:08 AM
Amy DeCarlo
Amy DeCarlo
Commentary
50%
50%

Overlook The Obvious And Risk Everything

Failure to follow fundamental common-sense security policies can produce disastrous results, as the state of Utah discovered

Ideally, security should be a multilayered process replete with the appropriate checks and balances to close any gaps that could expose information to a potential breach. However, in practice, far too often organizations fail to execute on what are typically thorough and well-designed policies they lay out exactly what controls should be in place to protect precious organizational and client information.

A classic example of this kind of misfire is the recent breach of hundreds of thousands of patient records from the Medicaid server at the Utah Department of Health. A number of very preventable mistakes made it relatively easy for cyberthieves to access approximate 280,000 medical files, complete with Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII), as well as many as 500,000 additional records.

The Utah data breach made headlines again last week when Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert announced he had accepted the resignation of state chief information officer Stephen Fletcher and ordered an independent audit of the security covering all of the state's IT systems. The resignation was tendered at the governor's request after an investigation of the incident found that under Fletcher's direction, the state's IT department failed to follow a number of procedures and policies that potentially foiled the attack.

For one thing, the compromised server was installed by an outside contractor who may not have had full knowledge of policies -- an exception to normal procedure. The contractor reportedly did not change the default factory passwords on the system. No audit took place that caught that mistake -- or the fact that Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-protected data was stored unencrypted on the server and apparently without adequate firewall protection -- essentially leaving cyberattackers thought to be from Eastern Europe with a wide open door to a wealth of information.

While the attack serves as an unfortunate cautionary tale to other organizations that carelessness can bring about some terrible results, at least anecdotally, it appears that enterprises are taking more care with respect to protecting their most confidential, sensitive, and high-value information. However, the reality is that far too many vulnerabilities are still going unaddressed.

All businesses and government organizations should look at the Utah breach as more than just a water-cooler conversation starter. Instead, use the incident as an opportunity to assess whether there is a gulf between their best-laid security policy and production mentality. And if there is an issue, the organization should prioritize where it needs to make corrections based on the value and sensitivity of the impacted resources.

In Utah's case, beyond the personnel changes and the system audit, the state is also stepping up its data protection plans for regulated and sensitive information. The state will now reportedly encrypt high-risk data both at rest and in motion.

Amy DeCarlo is principal analyst for security and data center services at Current Analysis Amy brings 17 years of IT industry experience to her position as Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services. Amy assesses the managed IT services sector, with an emphasis on security and data center solutions delivered through the cloud including on demand ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
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-2015-0547
Published: 2015-07-04
The D2CenterstageService.getComments service method in EMC Documentum D2 4.1 and 4.2 before 4.2 P16 and 4.5 before P03 allows remote authenticated users to conduct Documentum Query Language (DQL) injection attacks and bypass intended read-access restrictions via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0548
Published: 2015-07-04
The D2DownloadService.getDownloadUrls service method in EMC Documentum D2 4.1 and 4.2 before 4.2 P16 and 4.5 before P03 allows remote authenticated users to conduct Documentum Query Language (DQL) injection attacks and bypass intended read-access restrictions via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0551
Published: 2015-07-04
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in EMC Documentum WebTop 6.7SP1 before P31, 6.7SP2 before P23, and 6.8 before P01; Documentum Administrator 6.7SP1 before P31, 6.7SP2 before P23, 7.0 before P18, 7.1 before P15, and 7.2 before P01; Documentum Digital Assets Manager 6.5SP6 before P2...

CVE-2015-1966
Published: 2015-07-04
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in IBM Tivoli Federated Identity Manager (TFIM) 6.2.0 before FP17, 6.2.1 before FP9, and 6.2.2 before FP15, as used in Security Access Manager for Mobile and other products, allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafte...

CVE-2015-4196
Published: 2015-07-04
Platform Software before 4.4.5 in Cisco Unified Communications Domain Manager (CDM) 8.x has a hardcoded password for a privileged account, which allows remote attackers to obtain root access by leveraging knowledge of this password and entering it in an SSH session, aka Bug ID CSCuq45546.

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