Perimeter

4/20/2012
09:35 AM
50%
50%

You Need Help, Not An Accomplice

Compliance is about being better and not just proving you are right

I met recently with a potential client to discuss a proposed HIPAA and HITECH compliance assessment. Doing a quick run-through of their current status, I quickly realized there were some problems, the biggest one being the client's perspective on the current situation.

The first problem I uncovered is very common in every line of consulting work: this potential client was not really looking for better answers; they were looking for an accomplice. They wanted their solution to be validated and endorsed instead of evaluated and improved.

The second problem was the staff's compliance work, which was woefully incomplete and which they had no interest in acknowledging. They repeatedly cited the things they had done correctly, but had total disregard for the missing elements of the work. Sure they had an encrypted database, ran updates and patches regularly, and had strong password policies. It was not the completed tasks that were my concern -- it was that these alone did not bring them anywhere close to reasonable compliance.

The staff was quite insistent that their plan made them completely secure and that no extra work or cost would be necessary. I was asked only to approve their work so they could pass along our third-party review to their own clients as proof they were indeed compliant.

If only that were the situation. The staff asserted that because they used a software firewall, a hardware firewall was not necessary. They had never tested a full restore of their backup, had no documentation for configuring a secure server from scratch, and offsite backup was only once a month.

I pointed out that the issues that concerned me went far beyond compliance issues, they were business risk issues. The poor CEO didn't know who to believe. She clearly trusted her IT staff and had distanced herself so much from oversight of this department, she had left herself at their mercy. She had neither the expertise to overrule them nor the understanding to reach her own independent conclusions.

I got the impression she perceived the entire exercise as a discussion of expensive, never-ending technology magic, when she really wanted simply the quickest, cheapest conclusion so she could go back to pretending all was well.

The risks we uncovered were dismissed by her IT staff as either irrelative or not applicable to their company. "We know how to set up a server, and technology changes so often, we shouldn’t waste our time with a document no one will read anyway," sums up their attitude.

I could tell this IT staff also suffered the common unspoken fear, "If we document everything, we can more easily be replaced."

In the end, staff dysfunction won out, which is just as well, as my employees are not corporate social counselors, and I doubt our recommendations would have been followed anyway. It would have wasted the client's money and risked my company’s reputation. And realistically, they may be in great shape, at least as long as nothing ever goes wrong.

Glenn S. Phillips, the president of Forte' Incorporated, works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. He is the author of the book Nerd-to-English and you can find him on twitter at @NerdToEnglish. 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
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
White House Cybersecurity Strategy at a Crossroads
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/17/2018
What's Cooking With Caleb Sima
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/12/2018
Mueller Probe Yields Hacking Indictments for 12 Russian Military Officers
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  7/13/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0243
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
Check_MK through 1.2.5i2p1 allows local users to read arbitrary files via a symlink attack to a file in /var/lib/check_mk_agent/job.
CVE-2014-2302
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
The installer script in webEdition CMS before 6.2.7-s1 and 6.3.x before 6.3.8-s1 allows remote attackers to conduct PHP Object Injection attacks by intercepting a request to update.webedition.org.
CVE-2018-7602
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
A remote code execution vulnerability exists within multiple subsystems of Drupal 7.x and 8.x. This potentially allows attackers to exploit multiple attack vectors on a Drupal site, which could result in the site being compromised. This vulnerability is related to Drupal core - Highly critical - Rem...
CVE-2018-14332
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
An issue was discovered in Clementine Music Player 1.3.1. Clementine.exe is vulnerable to a user mode write access violation due to a NULL pointer dereference in the Init call in the MoodbarPipeline::NewPadCallback function in moodbar/moodbarpipeline.cpp. The vulnerability is triggered when the user...
CVE-2018-1529
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-19
IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation 5.0 through 5.0.2, 6.0 through 6.0.5 and IBM Rational Requirements Composer 5.0 through 5.0.2 are vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potential...