Perimeter
5/20/2009
05:11 PM
Sara Peters
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Ruminating on CSI SX

Citizens of the Information Security Nation, to you I say Classify and inventory your data and assets! Tedium? Odium? Delirium? Yes, probably all three. But worth the trouble.

Citizens of the Information Security Nation, to you I say Classify and inventory your data and assets!

Tedium? Odium? Delirium? Yes, probably all three. But worth the trouble.Yesterday we wrapped up CSI SX, and learned about many far more exciting topics like the security challenges of Web 2.0, virtualization, cloud computing and more. Yet, at the root of nearly all the solutions to these thrilling challenges was the humble act of data classification and inventory--knowing what your data is, and where it is.

For example, we learned that the PCI Council continues to keep mum on the topic virtualization, and whether or not the technology intrinsicly violates a few requirements of the PCI DSS. The Council is leaving that issue to the discretion of the auditors; and it's the security manager's job to convince those auditors that your data center was virtualized in an intelligent, careful way that properly secures all payment card data... How can you prove that unless you've identified all that payment card data and know precisely where it all resides?

We learned that putting data in the cloud doesn't automatically transfer your e-discovery responsibilities to the cloud provider. So when the courts come a-lookin' for data--possibly including metadata and logs--it's your job to hand it over. How can you hand it over if you don't know where it is...and if it's not in your possession?

Aye, there's the rub.* The heart of the thing, again, is in inventory. The lesson here is that your inability to provide that data may be a reason to either keep out of the cloud entirely, or make an airtight service agreement with the cloud provider, so that you know precisely what liability, indemnity, litigation costs, etc. they intend to shoulder.

Then of course there's the possibility (even probability) that you're spending too much on security. What? Blasphemy! Bite your tongue, woman, les the CEO should hear you and slash my budget to the quick.

No, really. Why give everything in your business the security works? Not all those assets are all that important.

Yet, if you've thoroughly classified and inventoried all that data, you can isolate it and partition the royal jewels from the Cracker Jack decoder rings, then apply the security measures accordingly.

Many more thought-provoking topics were discussed during CSI SX--synergistic security, the questionable value of secure software development, the absence of logic, the effects of long times-to-fix, etc. I'll catch you up on them anon, once I'm finished with my trek through the Interop exhibition hall.

* I've recently been prone to quote from Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy in which he contemplates suicide. But don't let that worry you. I've just been running a bit Shakespearean lately. Sara Peters is contributing editor to Dark Reading and editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad of other ... View Full Bio

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