JIE-READY STEP 2: Defense in depth

By Brandon Hoffman, Federal CTO, RedSeal Networks

Defense in depth is a term and idea that is not new to the information technology world. A classic implementation at the network level of defense in depth is segmentation, or building enclaves. In certain cases, segmentation was taken to an extreme level, resulting in massive decentralization of computing environments. Unfortunately this decentralization does not remove the need for these segments or enclaves to communicate with other information assets. Thus the segments or enclaves are connected to the network from which they may have originally been divested. This does not mean that security controls restricting or monitoring access to these enclaves was removed. What it does mean is that there is a very high likelihood of major redundancy implemented while attempting to secure or control these segments.

The RedSeal model can be leveraged t JIEStep2o not only identify these redundancies visually, but to also identify the efficacy of these controls by measuring access across and through the entire network. Investigating one segment of the network and the control mechanisms related to the segment is not sufficient. The network must be measured as a whole operating entity or system to effectively identify all possible access and points of control. Through these means, RedSeal will be providing another unique benefit to JRSS and enhancing the preparedness for JIE.

Understanding the current behavior of segmentation and the effectiveness of controlling access to these segments or enclaves will assist with reducing redundancy in the current operational system while increasing efficacy. There may be too many rules in a firewall creating overly-restrictive access and operational bog to the system. There may be too many routers providing similar or identical access to systems, between systems, or across network boundaries. Perhaps there are too many layers of load balancing performing additional address translations and VIP presentations that are not only difficult to manage but not really providing any more security. RedSeal will identify and measure all the avenues of access and represent it visually and via a myriad of reporting techniques in technical depth.

Our next blog will discuss Step 3 – Visualization before Migration

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JIE-READY STEP 1: Know what you have

By Brandon Hoffman, Federal CTO, RedSeal Networks

The first and arguably most critical step in any data center consolidation or migration is to first understand what you have. Most complex or large-scale networks have grown so rapidly over the years or decades that there is no clear picture of the functioning system. As the opportunity to refresh large-scale global infrastructure becomes available today, experts are building security in on the front end. The challenge is understanding what exists today, how it is (or isn’t) being secured, and then designing the security requirements in tandem with the new system/network. RedSeal Networks provides a unique perspective on what is happening today on the network, how the network is actually connected, and the efficacy of security controls deployed in the network.

RedSeal NeJIE-step-1tworks can provide this unique perspective by aggregating the configurations of core components that comprise the network, more specifically routers, firewalls, load balancers and switches. The RedSeal platform then analyzes these configurations and creates a model of the network. This is a visual representation of the network itself, but it is also a full model of all possible access based on the devices and the configurations of those devices. This model is a critical first step in understanding the DoD infrastructure today and will be the foundation upon which RedSeal will continue to provide unique data for the success of JRSS and JIE.

The model of networked infrastructure that RedSeal is providing to the JRSS project will not only help understand access at a high level. This model allows the capability to drill down into specific access areas, enclaves, single path analysis, and even model access that doesn’t yet exist. It is this flexibility that will allow architects and design experts to understand, from a high level down to fine detail, what is working today and what is not, so the new infrastructure can be designed effectively and efficiently.

Our next blog post will address Step 2 – Defense in Depth.

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JIE-READY: A roadmap

By Brandon Hoffman, Federal CTO, RedSeal Networks

The United States Department of Defense Joint Information Environment (JIE) began to take shape in 2010, as part of efficiency initiatives to consolidate Defense IT infrastructure and generate savings, provide full situational awareness across all defense networks, and improve the Department’s ability to share information between the services and with its industry partners and other government agencies.  While full capabilities are not expected to be realized until the 2016-2020 timeframe, DoD is already hard at work with industry to procure and configure IT in a more secure fashion and the first demonstration of JIE will take place in Europe this year, hosted by the U.S. European Command. Many organizations are asking themselves if they are JIE-ready, yet what exactly does this mean?

JIEIntro

RedSeal Networks is playing a key part in the security component of the JIE program. Part of the JIE program is to migrate to a Single Security Architecture (SSA). The deployment of this SSA will be realized through what is commonly referred to as Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS). Within these stacks are integrated technology components that will provide comprehensive security to the JIE environment. The development and deployment of JRSS along with the overall JIE program will take a significant effort of consolidation and migration to realize the financial and organizational benefits. RedSeal’s role in this effort is recognized through four key use cases of the RedSeal Networks platform.

The four key areas where the RedSeal platform will have impact with respect to JIE are aligned with the phases of JRSS development and can be seen as:

  • Model and visualize the current state of your complex legacy networks and security infrastructure including calculating every possible internal and external attack path
  • Ensure defense in depth with tiers/enclaves are efficient and effective
  • Visualize the completed JIE infrastructure before migration 
even begins
  • Create artifacts for JIE ATO and IA certifications

Our next blog post will discuss how to model and visualize legacy environments.

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Breaches Reach the Board Room

By Ray Rothrock, CEO of RedSeal Networks

The discussion of cyber security is finding its way into the board room.  Everyone has read about a breach like the ones at Target, or Neiman Marcus, or Sony.  They also probably now have the word “Heartbleed” in their lexicon whereas six months ago most people would have thought this was a medical condition.  Directors surely must be thinking about whether this could happen to them and what they should do.  Just framing the discussion is often difficult because people simply have little or no background.  They need to know what is going on and what the risks to the company are.

The first interested director is probably the chair of the audit committee.  She or he should be active in asking key questions about security, processes, and what operationally is being done.  This is no different than asking if procedures for check signing are set up and being managed, or about how the shrinkage in retail or warehouse operations is being managed and monitored.  Cyber security has a complete parallel to these issues.war-room-jpg

Of course I can’t speak for every board of directors, but a couple of companies on whose boards I serve have a line item on the agenda – usually during the audit committee report – to discuss cyber.  Regrettably, the discussion usually lasts less than five minutes even though the headlines in the newspaper are full of corporate issues around being breached.  I can’t tell if it is a lack of appreciation of how serious the problem is, or if there is even a real problem.  I can’t tell if it is one of those “if I don’t ask, then I don’t have to know” problems.   Solving any problem first requires acknowledgement of the problem.  And the cyber attack problem is getting top billing in the news, just not in the board room.

Ask yourself, does the CEO get a report on cyber security, just like s/he gets a P&L or sales report?  Cyber is dynamic, and it’s a constantly changing front of action, just like sales.  Unfortunately, this is now part of every business and it takes away from business.  But I bet it’ll take much less away than a full breach.

 

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The Weakest Link

Today, TrendMicro announced their discovery of Emmental, proof that “…online banking may be full of holes.” The focus of the attack is on users of online banking, and it, like many of the current attacks, starts with a phishing attack on consumers. The New York Times Bits Blog covered the report, as well, providing a high-level view of the attack on two-factor authentication used by many online financial sites.

This attack unimagederscores two vital truths:

  1. The weakest link in security is the human factor, and
  2. Trust is the key to security

In Emmental, the cyber-criminals used the combination of fear for their finances and trust of consumer brands to convince consumers to open attachments and visit financial sites that had been created to capture their usernames, passwords, and PINs. The holes exploited in this process are many, including email systems, operating systems, web browsers, and the wide variety of multi-factor authentication in use.

It can be easy for enterprise technology specialists to write this off as simple error on the part of the unwashed consumer masses. Yet, these issues and truths exist within enterprise environments, and we see this consistently: simple typos and conceptual errors in device configurations lead to violations of security policy and potential breach paths, misunderstandings of policy intentions result in open access, and IT organizations trust more widely than is prudent.

How do you protect your enterprise from these risks while recognizing these two vital truths?

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Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?

By Dr. Mike Lloyd

It’s unthinkable: hackers targeting that sacrosanct American institution, the sports team? The recent incident in which the Houston Astros’ internal trade discussion were hacked and posted on the Internet shows that, today, no target is off limits.  Jeff Luhnow, GM for the Astros, was quite right when he said: “It’s a reflection of the age we living in. Pebatter_swinging_baseball_bat_at_a_pitched_ball_0515-1104-1601-5532_TNople are always trying to steal information” The main problem that encourages this kind of illegal activity is that it’s really relatively easy.  Nobody thinks the hacker who stole the information from the Astros was heavily funded by a foreign government, or anything like that.  Indeed, it’s quite possible the person or people involved had no more motivation than curiosity, and found it easy to get in. The challenge, of course, is that every business has secrets – how it approaches negotiation, or the pricelist for its upcoming products, or its next quarter of advertising plans.  All that information is useful to others if it’s exposed.  Many businesses like the Astros have treated IT security as a “high end” problem – something for banks, the military, or energy companies to worry about.  But it’s just not possible to operate that way anymore – the risk of corporate embarrassment, or worse, is escalating.  Attackers are finding our complex defenses are badly deployed, badly coordinated, and easy to walk through.  All the attacker needs is persistence, and the search for a forgotten, unlocked “side door” onto the business can be largely automated.  Defenders need to understand all the gaps, and how all the security defenses work together, even if their only target is “good enough” security.  As the Astros have found, the standards of “good enough” are rising rapidly.

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Congratulations on StubHub Arrests

By Robert Capps

I would like to offer my congratulations to the private and public entities that participated in the recent investigation and arrests of cyber criminals in New York City, Ontario, Canada, and London, United Kingdom.  A tremendous amount of hard work and dedication from all parties is required to successfully dismantle an international criminal enterprise.  The success we witnessed this morning should be used as the gold standard upon which future collaboration between private companies and the International law enforcement community are modeled.

hacker_handsCollaboration at this scale is required to turn the tables on cyber criminals. The impact of today’s events should not be underestimated: this is bigger than any individual arrest.  The global law enforcement community has sent a strong message to the individuals who commit these crimes – You are no longer safe to travel and operate outside of your home country, without significant risk of arrest and prosecution. Isolation is a powerful force in the effort to change behaviors.  Confined within the borders of their home countries, I suspect we’ll see a change in behavior on the part of some of these criminals.

Continued success with prosecutions will have a lasting effect on cyber criminal behavior… but it is not a silver bullet.  Cyber attacks and data breaches are still way too easy for attackers with even a moderate level of skill.  We must continue working to make our systems and economy more resilient to attack.

I recently joined RedSeal Networks to work on this specific problem, making it easier for network owners to protect their assets and defend against intrusion and data breach.  I’m looking forward to the coming months when we share more of our plan to make network security something that we aren’t just striving to attain, but something we actually have in our toolkit to counter cyber threats.

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