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In The Cyber Realm, Lets Be Knights Not Blacksmiths
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GaryS166
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GaryS166,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/2/2015 | 3:47:33 PM
Kights with weak swords
I suggest that the issue is more than not being knights (a good and important point).  Rather the idea of having swords 2-feet shorter starts to highlight the pragmatic reality.  Attackers have a large attack surface to attack, a surface that to the defender is much like an iceberg - the part we see (known vulnerabilities) is only a small part of the overall.  And we face adversaries conducting 'undersea' operations.  Moreover, the 4 IOT actions could be quite effective if (BIG IF) they are implemented such that they are correct, always invoked when needed, not bypassed, and not tampered with.  Yet if we could do that for these IOT actions, we could do it for non-IOT means as well.  And the reasons we are not would apply to the IOT actions as well.

A first principle is that a problem due to flawed software cannot be corrected by adding more flawed software.  The trustworthiness of SW is NOT determined by what it does, but by how it came to be.  And the software for the 4-IOT actions will be implemented with SW of the same low assurance as the SW it is trying to protect; unless doing differently is an explicit part of the actions to be performed.

My suggestion is - sure, absolutely pursue ideas such as your 4-IOT actions.  Yet more importantly and as mandatory for mission/business success FIRST:

a. See the reality of large low assurance IT for what it is - highly susceptible to attack and a situation that cannot, on first principles, be meaningfully changed by the addition of more low-assurance SW;

b. Use the IT we have according to what it is, not what we wish it was, making 'wise use' decisions as to what and how much to automate and having alternative mission/business processes for contingency operations;

c. Measure our cybersecurity capability against the adversary, not against our previous capability (to avoid measuring degrees of ineffectiveness and start measuring how effective we really are); and

d. Make changes to the above as the reality of the IT we use changes in a meaningful manner.

Gary Stoneburner, Senior Professional Staff, Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory and major contributor to NIST information security guidance (Expressing personnal judgement and not an position of my employer)
Blog Voyage
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Blog Voyage,
User Rank: Strategist
7/3/2015 | 9:06:21 AM
Re: Kights with weak swords
Very nice analysis.
Jeff.schilling
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Jeff.schilling,
User Rank: Author
7/6/2015 | 5:50:22 PM
Re: Kights with weak swords
Gary,

Thank you for your response to the article.  Great points all around.  Flawed Software is the crux of the issue.  I tell people everyday that threat actors are not doing much different from when I ran the DOD Security Ops centers from 2007-2012.  Their operational processes have gotten much more organized and their ability to leverage Zero day exploits much quicker.  

I am hopeful we will get it right when we move to IOT, which really a cloud-based, data centric model vice a network centric model we live in for the most part today.

Jeff   


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