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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-3154
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
CRLF injection vulnerability in Zend\Mail (Zend_Mail) in Zend Framework before 1.12.12, 2.x before 2.3.8, and 2.4.x before 2.4.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via CRLF sequences in the header of an email.
CVE-2019-17190
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A Local Privilege Escalation issue was discovered in Avast Secure Browser 76.0.1659.101. The vulnerability is due to an insecure ACL set by the AvastBrowserUpdate.exe (which is running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) when AvastSecureBrowser.exe checks for new updates. When the update check is triggered, the...
CVE-2014-8161
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive column values by triggering constraint violation and then reading the error message.
CVE-2014-9481
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The Scribunto extension for MediaWiki allows remote attackers to obtain the rollback token and possibly other sensitive information via a crafted module, related to unstripping special page HTML.
CVE-2015-0241
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The to_char function in PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a (1) large number of digits when processing a numeric ...