Top 5 bad assumptions about SIEM

The cliché goes “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” When implementing a SIEM solution, these five assumptions have the potential to get us in trouble. They stand in the way or organization and personal success and thus are best avoided.

5. Security by obscurity or my network is too unimportant to be attacked
Small businesses tend to be more innovative and cost-conscious. Is there such a thing as too small for hackers to care? In this blog post we outlined why this is almost never the case. As the Verizon Data Breach shows year in and year out, companies with 11-100 employees from 36 countries had the maximum number of breaches.

4. I’ve got to do it myself to get it right
Charles De Gaulle on humility “The graveyards are full of indispensable men”. Everyone tries to demonstrate multifaceted skill but its neither effective nor efficient. Corporations do it all the time. Tom Friedman explains it in “The World is Flat.”

3. Compliance = Security
This is only true if your auditor is your only threat actor. We tend to fear the known more than the unknown so it is often the case that we fear the (known) auditor more than we fear the (unknown) attacker. Among the myriad lessons from the Target breach, perhaps the most important is that “Compliance” does NOT equal Security.

2. All I have to do it plug it in, the rest happens by magic
Marketing departments of every security vendor would have you believe this of their magic appliance or software. When has this ever been true? Self-propelling lawn mower anyone?

1. It’s all about buying the most expen$ive technology
Kivas Fajo in “The Most Toys” the 70th episode of Star Trek TNG believed this. You could negotiate a 90% discount on a $200K solution and then park it as shelfware, what did you get? Wasted $20K is what. It’s always about using what you have.

Bad assumptions = bad decisions.
Always true.



Security is not something you buy, but something you do

The three sides of the security triangle are People, Processes and Technology.

SIEM-Triangles

  1. People –the key issues are: who owns the process, who is involved, what are their roles, are they committed to improving it and working together, and more importantly are they prepared to do the work to fix the problem?
  1. Process –can be defined as a trigger event which creates a chain of actions resulting in something being prepared for a customer of that process.
  1. Technology – Now that people are aligned, and the process developed and clarified, technology can be applied to ensure consistency in the process application and to provide the thin guiding rails to keep the process on track, making it easier to follow the process than not.

None of this is particularly new to CIOs and CSOs, yet how often have you seen six or seven digit “investments” sitting on datacenter racks, or even sometimes on actual storage shelves, unused or heavily underused? Organizations throw away massive amounts of money, then complain about “lack of security funds” and “being insecure.” Buying security technologies is far too often an easier task than utilizing them, and “operationalizing” them for many organizations. SIEM technology suffers from this problem as do many other “Monitoring” technologies.

Compliance and “checkbox mentality” makes this problem worse as people read the mandates and only pay attention to sections that refer to buying boxes.

Despite all this rhetoric, many managers equate information security with technology, completely ignoring the proper order. In reality, a skilled engineer with a so-so tool, but a good process is more valuable than an untrained person equipped with the best of tools.

As Gartner analyst Anton Chuvakin notes, “…if you got a $200,000 security appliance for $20,000 (i.e. at a steep 90% discount), but never used it, you didn’t save $180k – you only wasted $20,000!”

Security is not something you BUY, but something you DO.

 



IP Address is not a person

As we deal with forensic reviews of log data, our SIEM Simplified team is called upon to piece together a trail showing the four W’s: Who, What, When and Where. Logs can be your friend and if collected, centralized and indexed can get you answers very quickly.

There is a catch though. The “Where” question is usually answered by supplying either a system name or an IP Address which at the time in question was associated with that system name.

Is that good enough for the law? i.e., will the legal system accept that you are your IP Address?

Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro says no.

Judge Ungaro was presented with a case brought by Malibu Media, who accused IP-address “174.61.81.171″ of sharing one of their films using BitTorrent without their permission. The Judge, however, was reluctant to issue a subpoena, and asked the company to explain how they could identify the actual infringer.

Responding to this order to show cause, Malibu Media gave an overview of their data gathering techniques. Among other things they explained that geo-location software was used to pinpoint the right location, and how they made sure that it was a residential address, and not a public hotspot.

Judge Ungaro welcomed the additional details, but saw nothing that actually proves that the account holder is the person who downloaded the file.

“Plaintiff has shown that the geolocation software can provide a location for an infringing IP address; however, Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant,” Ungaro wrote in an order last week.

“There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district,” she adds.

As a side note, on April 26, 2012, Judge Ungaro ruled that an order issued by Florida Governor Rick Scott to randomly drug test 80,000 Florida state workers was unconstitutional. Ungaro found that Scott had not demonstrated that there was a compelling reason for the tests and that, as a result, they were an unreasonable search in violation of the Constitution.

 



Three trends in Enterprise Networks

Internet of Things Made Real. We’re all familiar with the challenge of big data ­ how the volume, velocity and variety of data is overwhelming. Studies confirm the conclusion many of you have reached on your own: There’s more data crossing the internet every second than existed on the internet in total 20 years ago. And, now, as customers deploy more sensors and devices in every part of their business, the data explosion is just beginning. This concept, called the “Internet of Things,” is a hot topic. Many businesses are uncovering efficiencies based on how connected devices drive decisions with more precision in their organizations.

Reverse BYOD.” Most of us have seen firsthand how a mobile workplace can blur the line between our personal and professional lives. Today’s road warrior isn’t tethered to a PC in a traditional office setting. They move between multiple devices throughout their workdays with the expectation that they¹ll be able to access their settings, data and applications. Forrester estimates that nearly 80 percent of workers spend at least some portion of their time working out of the office and 29 percent of the global workforce can be characterized as “anywhere, anytime” information workers. This trend was called “bring your own device” or “BYOD.” But now we¹re seeing the reverse. Business-ready, secure devices are getting so good that organizations are centrally deploying mobility solutions that are equally effective at work and play.

Creating New Business Models with the Cloud. The conversation around cloud computing has moved from “if to “when.” Initially driven by the need to reduce costs, many enterprises saw cloud computing as a way to move non-critical workloads such as messaging and storage to a more cost-efficient, cloud-based model. However, the larger benefit comes from customers who identify and grow new revenue models enabled by the cloud. The cloud provides a unique and sustainable way to enable business value, innovation and competitive differentiation ­ all of which are critical in a global marketplace that demands more mobility, flexibility, agility and better quality across the enterprise.



The 5 stages of SIEM Implementation

Are you familiar with the Kübler-Ross 5 Stages of Grief model?

Implementations of SIEM technology (and indeed most enterprise software installations) bear a striking resemblance.

  • Stage One: Denial - The frustration that new users feel learning the terminology and delivering on the “asks” from the implementation make them question the time investment.
  • Stage Two: Despair - The self-doubt that most implementation teams feel in delivering on the promises of a complex security technology with many moving parts.
  • Stage Three: Hopeful Performance - Learning, and even using, the SIEM solution, partners build confidence in their ability to become one of those recognized for competence and potential.
  • Stage Four: Soaring Execution - The exalted status of a “go-to” team member, connected at the hip through the vendor support team or service provider; earning accolades from management. The team member has delivered value to the organization and is reaping rewards for the business. Personal relationships with vendor or service reps are genuine and mutually beneficial.
  • Stage Five:  Devolution/Plateau - Complacency, through lack of vision or agility, in embracing the next big thing drags down the relationship. Other partners, hungrier for  the customer’s attention, take over the mindshare once enjoyed.


How much security is enough?

Ask a pragmatic CISO about achieving a state of complete organizational security and you’ll quickly be told that this is unrealistic and financially imprudent goal. So then how much security is enough?

More than merely complying with regulations or implementing “best practice”, think in terms of optimizing the outcome of the security investment. So never mind the theoretical state of absolute security, think instead of determining and managing risk to critical business processes and assets.

Risk appetite is defined by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) as “… the amount of risk, on a broad level, an entity is willing to accept in pursuit of value (and its mission).” Risk appetite influences the entity’s culture, operating style, strategies, resource allocation, and infrastructure. Risk appetite is not a constant; it is influenced by and must adapt to changes in the environment. Risk tolerance could be defined as the residual risk the organization is willing to accept after implementing risk-mitigation and monitoring processes and controls. One way to implement this is to define levels of residual risk and therefore the levels of security that is “enough”.

Risk-Wall

The basic level of security is the diligent one which is the staple of every business network; the organization is able to deal with known threats. The hardened level adds the ability to be proactive (with vulnerability scanning), compliant and gives the ability to perform forensic analysis.  At the advanced level, predictive capabilities are introduced and the organization develops the ability to deal with unknown threats.

If it all sounds a bit overwhelming, take heart; managed security services can relieve your team of the heavy lifting that is a staple of IT Security.

Bottom line – determine your risk appetite to determine how much security is enough.



Top 6 uses for SIEM

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is a term coined by Gartner in 2005 to describe technology used to monitor and help manage user and service privileges, directory services and other system configuration changes; as well as providing log auditing and review and incident response.

The core capabilities of SIEM technology are the broad scope of event collection and the ability to correlate and analyze events across disparate information sources. Simply put, SIEM technology collects log and security data from computers, network devices and applications on the network to enable alerting, archiving and reporting.

Once log and security data has been received, you can:

  • Discover external and internal threats

Logs from firewalls and IDS/IPS sensors are useful to uncover external threats; logs from e-mail servers, proxy servers can help detect phishing attacks; logs from badge and thumbprint scanners are used to detect physical access

  • Monitor the activities of privileged users

Computers, network devices and application logs are used to develop a trail of activity across the network by any user but especially users with high privileges

  • Monitor server and database resource access

Most enterprises have critical data repositories in files/folder /databases and these are attractive targets for attackers. By monitoring all server and db resource access, security is improved.

  • Monitor, correlate and analyze user activity across multiple systems and applications

With all logs and security data in one place, an especially useful benefit is the ability to correlate user activity across the network.

  • Provide compliance reporting

Often the source of funding for SIEM, when properly setup, auditor on-site time can be reduced by up to 90%; more importantly, compliance is to the spirit of the law rather than merely a check-the-box exercise

  • Provide analytics and workflow to support incident response

Answer Who, What, When, Where questions. Such questions are the heart of forensic activities and critical to draw valuable lessons.

SIEM technology is routinely cited as a basic best practice by every regulatory standard and its absence has been regularly shown as a glaring weakness in every data breach post mortem.

Want the benefit but not the hassle? Consider SIEM Simplified, our service where we do the disciplined blocking and tackling which forms the core of any security or compliance regime.



TMI, Too Little Analysis

The typical SIEM implementation suffers from TMI, TLA (Too Much Information, Too Little Analysis). And if any organization that’s recently been in the news knows this, it’s the National Security Agency (NSA). The Wall Street Journal carried this story quoting William Binney, who rose through the ranks at the National Security Agency (NSA) over a 30 year career, retiring in 2001. “The NSA knows so much it cannot understand what it has,” Binney said. “What they are doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data.”

Most SIEM implementations start at this premise – open the floodgates, gather everything because we are not sure what we are specifically looking for, and more importantly, the auditors don’t help and the regulations are vague and poorly worded.

Lt Gen Clarence E. McKnight is the former head of the Signal Corps and opined that “The issue is a straightforward one of simple ability to manage data effectively in order to provide our leaders with actionable information. Too much raw data compromises that ability. That is all there is to it.”

A presidential panel recently recommended the NSA shut down its bulk collection of telephone call records of all Americans. It also recommended creation of “smart software” to sort data as it is collected, rather than accumulate vast troves of information for sorting out later. The reality is that the collection becomes an end in itself, and the sorting out never gets done.

The NSA may be a large, powerful bureaucracy, intrinsically resistant to change, but how about your organization? If you are seeking a way to get real value out of SIEM data, consider co-sourcing that problem to a team that does that for a living. SIEM Simplified was created for just that purpose. Switch from TMI, TLA (Too Much Information, Too Little Analysis) to JEI, JEA (Just Enough Information, Just Enough Analysis).



EventTracker and Heartbleed

Summary:

The usage of OpenSSL in EventTracker v7.5 is NOT vulnerable to heartbleed.

Details:

A lot of attention has focused on CVE-2014-0160, the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL. According to http://heartbleed.com, OpenSSL 0.9.8 is NOT vulnerable.

The EventTracker Windows Agent uses OpenSSL indirectly if the following options are enabled and used:

1)      Send Windows events as syslog messages AND use the FTP server option to transfer non real-time events to a FTP server. To support this mode of operation, WinSCP.exe v4.2.9 is distributed as part of the EventTracker Windows Agent. This version of WinSCP.exe is compiled with OpenSSL 0.9.8, as documented in http://winscp.net/eng/docs/history_old (v4.2.6 onwards). Accordingly, the EventTracker Windows Agent is NOT vulnerable.

2)      Configuration Assessment (SCAP). This optional feature uses ovaldi.exe v5.8 Build 2 which in turn includes OpenLDAP v2.3.27 as documented in the OVALDI-README distributed with the EventTracker install package. This version of OpenLDAP uses OpenSSL v0.9.8c which is NOT vulnerable.

Notes:

  • EventTracker Agent uses Microsoft secure channel (Schannel) for transferring syslog over SSL/TLS. This package is NOT vulnerable as noted here.
  • We recommend that all customers who may be vulnerable follow the guidance from their software distribution provider.  For more information and corrective action guidance, please see the information from US Cert here.


Top 5 reasons IT Admins love logs

1) Answer the ‘W’ questions

Who, what, where and when; critical files, logins, USB inserts, downloads…see it all

2) Cut ‘em off at the pass, ke-mo sah-bee

Get an early warning of the railroad jumping off track. It’s what IT Admins do.

3) Demonstrate compliance

Don’t even try to demonstrate compliance until you get a log management solution in place. Reduce on-site auditor time by 90%.

4) Get a life

Want to go home on time and enjoy the weekend? How about getting proactive instead of reactive?

5) Logs tell you what users don’t

“It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it.” Have you heard this before? Logs don’t lie.