Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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
MoviePass Leaves Credit Card Numbers, Personal Data Exposed Online
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/21/2019
New FISMA Report Shows Progress, Gaps in Federal Cybersecurity
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/21/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-18573
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-22
osCommerce 2.3.4.1 has an incomplete '.htaccess' for blacklist filtering in the "product" page. Remote authenticated administrators can upload new '.htaccess' files (e.g., omitting .php) and subsequently achieve arbitrary PHP code execution via a /catalog/admin/categories.php?cPath=&ac...
CVE-2019-11013
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-22
Nimble Streamer 3.0.2-2 through 3.5.4-9 has a ../ directory traversal vulnerability. Successful exploitation could allow an attacker to traverse the file system to access files or directories that are outside of the restricted directory on the remote server.
CVE-2019-11029
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-22
Mirasys VMS before V7.6.1 and 8.x before V8.3.2 mishandles the Download() method of AutoUpdateService in SMServer.exe, leading to Directory Traversal. An attacker could use ..\ with this method to iterate over lists of interesting system files and download them without previous authentication. This ...
CVE-2019-11030
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-22
Mirasys VMS before V7.6.1 and 8.x before V8.3.2 mishandles the Mirasys.Common.Utils.Security.DataCrypt method in Common.dll in AuditTrailService in SMServer.exe. This method triggers insecure deserialization within the .NET garbage collector, in which a gadget (contained in a serialized object) may ...
CVE-2019-11031
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-22
Mirasys VMS before V7.6.1 and 8.x before V8.3.2 mishandles the auto-update feature of IDVRUpdateService2 in DVRServer.exe. An attacker can upload files with a Setup-Files action, and then execute these files with SYSTEM privileges.