Sunday, April 27, 2008

HP Creates Security Reference Model to Better Manage Enterprise Information Risk

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on best practices for integrated management of security, risk and compliance approaches.

Listen to the podcast here. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, a sponsored podcast discussion about risk, security, and management in the world’s largest organizations. We're going to talk about the need for verifiable best practices, common practices, and common controls at a high level.

The idea is for management of processes, and the ability to prevent unknown and undesirable outcomes -- not at the silo level, or the instance-level of security breaches that we hear about in the news. We will focus instead on what security requires at the high level of business process.

These processes have been newly managed through Information Security Service Management (ISSM) approaches, and there is a reference model (ISSM RM) that goes along with it.

To help us learn more about ISSM, we are joined by two Hewlett-Packard (HP) executives. We are going to be talking with Tari Schreider, the chief security architect in the America’s Security Practice within HP’s Consulting & Integration (C&I) unit.

Also joining us to help us understand ISSM is John Carchide, the worldwide governance solutions manager in the Security and Risk Management Practice within HP C&I. Welcome to you both.

Tari Schreider: Thank you.

John Carchide: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: John, we have a lot of compliance and regulations to be concerned about. We are in an age where there is so much exposure to networks and the World Wide Web. When something goes wrong, and the word gets out -- it gets out in a big way.

Help us to understand the problem. Then perhaps we'll begin to get closer to the solutions for mitigating risk at the conceptual and practical levels.

Carchide: Part of the problem, Dana, is that we've had several highly publicized incidents where certain things have happened that have prompted regulatory actions by local, state, and foreign governments. They are developing standards, defining best practices, and defining what they call control objectives and detailed controls for one to comply with, prior to being a viable entity within an industry.

These regulatory requirements are coming at us from all directions. Our senior management is currently struggling, because now they have added personal liability and fines associated with this, as each event occurs, like the TJ Max event. The industry is being inundated with compliance and regulatory requirements.

On the other side of this, there are some industry-driving forces, like Visa, which has established standards and requirements that, if you want to do business with Visa, you need to be Payment Card Compliance (PCI) compliant.

All these requirements are hitting senior-level managers within organizations, and they're looking at their IT environment and asking their management teams to address compliance. “Are we compliant?” The answers they're getting are usually vague, and that’s because of the standards.

What Tari Schreider has done is establish a process of defining requirements, based on open standards, and mapping them to risk levels and maturity levels. This provides customers with a clear, succinct, and articulated picture. This tells them what their current state is, what they are doing well, what they are not doing well, where they're in compliance, where they're not in compliance. And it helps them to build the controls in a very logical and systematic way to bring them into compliance.

In the 32 years of security experience I have, Tari is one of the most forward-thinking individuals I've met. It gives me nothing but great pleasure to bring Tari to a much larger audience so he can share his vision.

Information Security Service Management is his vision, his brainchild. We've invested heavily, and will continue to, in the development and maturity of this process. It incorporates all of HP’s services from the C&I organizations and others. It takes HP’s best practices, methodologies, and proven processes, and incorporates them into a solution for a customer.

So, I would like to introduce everyone to the ISSM godfather, Tari Schreider -- probably one of the most innovative individuals you will ever have the privilege of meeting.

Gardner: Thank you, John. Tari, that’s a lot to live up to. Tell us a little bit about how you actually got started in this? How did you end up being the “godfather” of ISSM?

Schreider: Well, let me compose myself from that introduction. When I joined the Security Practice, we would make sales calls to some of HP’s largest customers. Although we were always viewed as great technologists and operationally competent providers of products and services, we weren’t really viewed -- or weren’t on the radar screen -- as a security service provider, or even a security consulting organization.

Through close alignment with the financial services vertical -- because they had basically heard the same message -- we came up with a strategy where we would go out to the top 30 or so financial services clients and talk with them.

"What is it that you're looking for? Where would you like to see us provide leadership? Where do you see us as a component provider of security services? What level do you view us playing at?"

We took that information, went throughout HP, and invited individuals that we felt were thought leaders within the organization. We invited people from the CTO’s office, from HP Labs, from financial services, worldwide security, as well as representation from a number of senior solution architects.

We got together in Chicago for what we look back on and refer to as the "Chicago Sessions." We hammered out a framework based upon some early work that was done principally in control assessments, building on top of that, and leveraging experiences with delivery in terms of what worked and what didn’t.

We started off with what was referred to then as the "building of the house" and the "blueprint." Then, over the last couple of years, as we have delivered and worked with various parts of the organization, as well as clients, we realized that one of the success factors that we would have to quickly align ourselves with was the momentum that we had with HP’s ITSM, now called Service Management Framework. We had to articulate security as a security service management function within that stack. It really came together when we started viewing security as an end-to-end operational process.

Gardner: What happened that required this to become more of a top-down approach? In John’s introduction, it sounded as if there was a lot of history, where a CIO or an executive would just ask for reports, and the information would flow from the bottom on up.

It sounds like something happened at some point where that was no longer tenable, that the complexity and the issues had outgrown that type of an approach. What happened to make compliance require a top-down, systemic approach?

Schreider: One problem that we were constantly faced with was that clients were asking us, "Where is your thought leadership on security? We know we bring you in here when we have to fix security vulnerabilities on the server, and we get that. We know that you know what you are doing and you're competent there. But frankly, we don’t know what it is that you do. We don’t know the value that you can bring to the table. When we invite you in, you come in with a slide deck full of products. Pretty much, you are like everybody else. So where is your thought leadership?"

Because nobody will ever argue against that HP is an operations- and process-oriented company, we wanted to leverage that. And what we wanted to do was stop the assessment and reporting bureaucracy that CIOs and CSOs and CFOs were in because of Sarbanes-Oxley and so forth, and to provide real meat to their information security programs.

The problem was, we had some very large customers that we were losing to competition, because we basically ran out of things to sell them -- only because we didn’t know we had anything to sell them. We had all of this knowledge. We had all of this legacy of doing security in technology for 20 or 30 years, and we didn’t know how to articulate it.

So we formulated this into a reference model, the Information Security Service Management Reference Model, where it would basically serve as an umbrella, by which all of the pillars of security for trusted infrastructure and proactive security management -- and identity and access management, and governance and so forth -- would be showcased under this thought leadership umbrella.

It got us invited into the door, with things like, "You guys are a breath of fresh air. We have all of these Big Four accounting firm-type organizations. They are burying us in reports. And at the end of the day we still fail audits and nothing gets done."

Gardner: I know this is a large and complex topic, on common security and risk management controls, but in a nutshell, or as simply as we can for those folks that might be coming to this from a different perspective, What is ISSM, and what does it mean conceptually?

Schreider: Well, if you look at ISSM, it’s very specifically referred to as the Information Security Service Management Reference Model. It is several things, a framework, architecture, a model, and a methodology. It's a manner in which you can take an information-security program and turn it into a process-driven system within your organization.

That provides you with a better level of security alignment with the business objectives of your organization. It positions security as a driver for IT business-process improvement. It reduces the amount of operational risk, which ensures a higher degree of continuity of business operations. It’s instrumental in uncovering inadequate or failing internal processes that stave off security breaches, and it also turns security into a highly leveraged, high-value process within your organization.

Gardner: This becomes, in effect, a core competency with a command and control structure, rather than something that’s done ad hoc?

Schreider: Absolutely. The other aspect is that through the definition of linked attributes, which we can talk about later, it allows you to actually make security sticky to other business processes.

If you're a financial institution, and you are going to have Web-based banking, it gives you the ability to have sticky security controls, rather than “stovepipes.”

If you're a utility industry, and you have to comply with North America Reliability Corporation (NERC) and Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) regulations, it gives you the ability to have sticky security controls around all of your critical cyber assets. Today, they’re simply security controls that are buried in some spreadsheet or Word document, and there is really no way to manage the behavior of those controls.

Gardner: Why don’t we then just name somebody the “Chief Risk Officer” and tell them to pull this all together and organize it in such a way that this is no longer just piecemeal? Is that enough or does something bigger or more methodological have to take place as well?

Schreider: What’s important to understand is that all of our clients represent fairly large global concerns with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in revenue, and with many demands on their day-to-day operations. A lot of them have done some things for security over time.

Pulling the risk manager aside and sort of leaving him with the impression that everything they are doing, they are doing wrong is probably not the best course. We've recognized that through trial and error.

We want to work with that individual and position the ISSM Reference Model as the middle layer, which is typically missing, to pull together all the pieces of their disparate security programs, tools, policies, and processes in an end-to-end system.

Gardner: It sounds as if we really need to look at security and risk in a whole new way.

Schreider: I believe we do. And this is key because what differentiates us from our contemporaries is that we are now “operationalizing” security as a process or a workflow.

Many times, when we pull up The Wall Street Journal or Information Week, and we read about a breach of security -- the proverbial tape rolling off the back of the truck with all of the Social Security numbers -- we find that, when you look at the morphology of that security breach, it’s not necessarily that a product failed. It’s not necessarily that an individual failed. It’s that the process failed. There was no end-to-end workflow and nobody understood where the break points were in the process.

Our unique methodology, which includes a number of frameworks and models, has a component called a P5 Model, where every control has five basic properties:
  • Property 1 -- People, has to be applied to the control.
  • Property 2 --Policies, certainly has to have clear and unambiguous governance in order for controls to work.
  • Property 3 -- Processes, is an end-to-end workflow, where everyone understands where the touch points are.
  • Property 4 -- Products, means technology has to be applied in many cases to these controls in order to bring them to life and to be functioning appropriately, and
  • Property 5 -- Proof, because there have to be proof points to demonstrate that all of this is actually working as prescribed by a standard, a regulation, or best practice.
Gardner: It seems that you are weaving this together so that you get a number of checks and balances, backstops and redundancies -- so that there aren’t unforeseen holes through which these risky practices might fall.

Schreider: I couldn’t say it any better than that.

Gardner: How do I know that I am a company that needs this? Maybe I am of the impression that, "Well, I've done a lot. I've complied and studied and I've got my reports."

Are there any telltale signs that an organization needs to shift the way they are thinking about holistic security and compliance?

Schreider: I'm often asked that question. When I sit down with CFOs or CIOs or business-unit stakeholders, I can ask one question that will be a telltale sign of whether they have a well-managed, continuously improving information security program. That question is, "How much did you spend on security last year?" Then I just shut up.

Gardner: And they don’t have an answer for it at all?

Schreider: They don't have any answer. If you don’t know what you are spending on security, then you actually don’t know what you are doing for security. It starts from there.

Gardner: That’s because these measures are scattered around in a variety of budgets. And, as you say, they evolve through a “siloed” approach. It was, "Okay, we've got to put a band-aid here, a band-aid there. We need to react to this." Over time, however, you've just got a hairball, rather than a concerted, organized, principled approach.

Schreider: That’s correct, Dana. As a matter of fact, we have a number of tools in our methodology that expose this disfranchised approach to security. Within our Property #4 portion of the P5 Model, we have a tool that allows us to go in and inventory all of the products that an organization has.

Then we map that to things like the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model for security on a layered approach, a "defense in depth" approach, an investment approach, and also from a risk and a threat model approach, and in ownership.

When they see the results of that, they say, "Wait a second. I thought we only had 10 or 12 security products, and I manage that." We show them that they actually have 40, 50, or 60, because they're spread throughout the organization, and there's a tremendous amount of duplication.

It’s not unusual for us to present back to a client that they have three or four different identity management systems that they never knew about. They might have four or five disparate identity stores spread throughout the organization. If you don’t know it and if you can’t see it, you can’t manage it.

Gardner: Now, it sounds as if, from an organizational and a power-structure perspective, this could organize itself in several places. It could be a function within IT, or within a higher accounting or auditing level or capability.

Does it matter, or is there high variability from organization to organization as to where the authority comes for this? Do you have more of a prescriptive approach as to how they should do it?

Schreider: The answer to both of those questions is "yes." We recognize that just because of the dynamics, the culture, and the bureaucracy, in many of our customers' organizations, security is going to live in multiple silos or departments. Through our P5 Model, we have the ability to basically take and share the governance of the control.

So, for example, the office of the Business Information Security Officers (BISO) or the Chief Security Officer (CSO) typically owns policies and proof. For the technology piece -- which has been always a struggle between the office of security and the office of technology on who owns what -- we can define the control of the attributes. So, the network-operations people can then own the technical controls, because they are not going to give up their firewalls and their intrusion detection systems. They actually view that as an integral component of their overall network plumbing.

The beauty of ISSM is that it's very nimble and very malleable. We can assign responsibilities at an attribute level for control, which allows people to contribute and then it allows them to have a sharing-of-power strategy, if you will, for security.

Gardner: There's an analogy here to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) from the IT side. In many respects, we want to leave the resources, assets, applications, and data where they are, but elevate them through metadata to a higher abstraction. That allows us then to manage, on a policy basis, for governance, but also to create processes that are across business domains and which can create a higher productivity level.

I'm curious, did this evolve from the way that IT is dealing with its complexity issues? Is there an analogy here?

Schreider: It's very much similar to how IT is managed, where basically you want to push out to the lowest common denominator and as close as possible to the customer the services that you provide.

By this whole concept of what we would refer to as BISOs there are large components of security that should actually live in the business unit, but they shouldn’t be off doing their own thing. It shouldn’t be the Wild West. There is a component that needs to be structured for overall corporate governance.

We're certainly not shy about lessons learned and about borrowing from what contemporaries have done in the IT world. We're not looking to buck the trend. That’s why we had to make sure that our reference model supported the general direction of where IT has been moving over the last few years.

Gardner: Conceptually I have certainly bought into this. It makes a great deal of sense. But implementation is an entirely different story. How do you approach this in a large global organization, and actually get started on this? To me, it's not so much daunting conceptually, but how do you get started? How do you implement?

Schreider: One of the reasons people come to HP is that we are a global organization. We have the ability to field 600 security consultants in over 80 countries and deliver with uniformity, regardless of where you’re at as a customer.

There is still a bit of work that goes in. Although we have the ISSM Reference Model, and we have a tremendous amount of methodology and collateral, we are not positioning ourselves as a cookie-cutter approach. We spend a good bit of time educating ourselves about where the customer is, understanding where their security program currently lies, and -- based on business direction and external drivers, for example, regulatory concerns -- where it needs to go.

We also want to understand where they want to be in terms of maturity range, according to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). Once we learn all of that, then we come back to them and we create a road map. We say that, "Today, we view that you are probably at a maturity level of ‘One.’ Based upon the risk and threat profile of your organization, it is our recommendation that you be at a maturity level of ‘Three’."

We can put together process improvement plans that show them step-by-step how they move along the maturity continuum to get to a state that’s appropriate for their business model, their level of investment, and appetite for risk.

Gardner: How would one ever know that they are done, that you are in a compliant state, that your risk has been mitigated? Is this a destination, or is it a journey?

Schreider: It's a journey, with stops along the way. If you are in the IT world -- compliance, risk management, continuity of operation -- it will always be a journey. Technology changes. Business models change. There are many aspects to an organization that require that they continually be moving forward in order to stay competitive.

We map out a road map, which is their journey, but we have very defined stops along the way. They may not ever need to go past a level of maturity of “Three,” for example, but there are things that have to occur for them to maintain that level. There's never a time when they can say, "Aha, we have arrived. We are completely safe."

Security is a mathematical model. As long as math exists, and as long as there are infinite numbers, there will be people who will be able to scientifically or mathematically define exploits to systems that are out there. As long as we have an infinite number of numbers we will always have the potential for a breach of security.

Gardner: I also have to imagine that this is a moving target. Seven years ago, we didn’t worry about Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO, and on-going types of ill effects in the market. We don’t know what’s going to come down the pike in a few years, or perhaps even some more in the financial vertical.

Is there something about putting this ISSM model in place that allows you to better absorb those unforeseen issues and/or compliance dictates? And is there a return on investment (ROI) benefit of setting up your model sooner rather than later?

Schreider: Absolutely. Historically, businesses throughout the world have lacked the discipline to self-regulate. So there is no question that the more onerous types of regulations are going to continue. That's what happened in the subprime [mortgage] arena, and the emphasis toward [mitigating] operational risk is going to continue and require organizations to have a greater level of due diligence and control over their businesses.

Businesses are run on technology, and technologies require security and continuity of operations. So, we understand that this is a moving target.

One of the things we have done with the ISSM Reference Model is to recognize that there has to be an internal framework or a controlled taxonomy that allows you to have a base root that never changes. What happens around you will always change, and regulations always change -- but how you manage your security program at its core will relatively stay the same.

Let me provide an example. If you have a process for hardening a server to make sure that that the soft, chewy inside is less likely to be attacked by a hacker or compromised by malware, that process will improve over time as technology changes. But at the end of the day it is not going to fundamentally change, nor should it change, just because a regulation comes out. How you report on what you are doing is going to change almost on a daily basis.

So we have adopted the open standard with the ISO 27001 and 17799 security-control taxonomy. We have structured the internal framework of ISSM for 1,186 base controls that we have then mapped to virtually every industry regulation and standard out there.

As long as you are minding the store, if you will, which is the inventory of controls based on ISO, we can report out to any change at any regulatory level without having to reverse engineer or reorganize your security program. That level of flexibility is crucial for organizations. When you don't have to redo how you look at security every time a new regulation comes out, the cost savings are just obvious.

Gardner: I suppose there is another analogy to IT, in that this is like a standardized component object model approach.

Schreider: Absolutely.

Gardner: Okay. How about examples of how well this works? Can you tell us about some of your clients, their experiences, or any metrics of success?

Schreider: Let me share with you as many different cross-industry examples that come to mind. One of the first early adopters of ISSM was one of the largest banks based in Mumbai, India.

One issue they had was a great deal of their IT operation was outsourced. They were entering into an area with a significant amount of regulatory oversight for security that never existed before. They also had an environment where operational efficiencies were not necessarily viewed as positive. The cost component of being able to apply human resources to solve a problem or monitor something manually was virtually unlimited, because of the demographics of where their financial institution was located.

However, they needed to structure a program to manage the fact that they had literally hundreds of security professionals working in dozens of different areas of the bank, and they were all basically doing their own things, creating their own best practices, and they lacked sort of that middleware that brought them all together.

ISSM gave them the flexibility to have a model that accounted for the fact that they could have a great number of security engineers and not worry so much about the cost aspect, but for them what was important is that they were basically all following the same set of standards and the same control model.

It worked very well in their example, and they were able to pass the audits of all of the new security regulations.

Another thing was, this organization was looking to do financial instruments with other financial organizations from around the world. They now had an internationally adopted, common control framework, in which they could provide some level of assurance that they were securing their technology in a manner that was aligned to an internationally vetted global and widely accepted standard.

Gardner: That brings to mind another issue. If I am that organization and I have gone through this diligence, and I have a much greater grasp on my risks and security issues, it seems to me I could take that to a potential suitor in a merger and acquisition situation.

I would be a much more attractive mate in terms of what they would need to assume, in terms of what they would be inheriting in regard to risk and security.

Schreider: Sure. When you acquire a company, not only do you acquire their assets, you also acquire their risk. And it’s not unusual for an organization not to pay any attention whatsoever to the threats and vulnerabilities that they are inheriting.

We have numerous stories of manufacturing or financial concerns that open up their network to a new company. They have never done a security assessment, and now, all of a sudden, they have a lot of Barbarians behind the firewall.

Gardner: Interesting. Any other examples of how this works?

Schreider: Actually there are two other ones that I would like to talk about quickly. One of the largest public municipalities in the world was in the process of integrating all of their disparate 911 systems into a common framework. What they had basically was 700 pages of security controls spread over almost 40 different documents, with a lot of duplication. They expected all of their agencies to follow this over the last number of years.

What resulted was that there was no commonality of security approach. Every agency was out there negotiating their own deals with security providers, service providers, and product providers. Now that they were consolidating, they basically had a Tower of Babel.

One thing we were able to do with the ISSM Reference Model was to take all of this disparate control constructs, normalize it into our framework, and articulate to them a comprehensive end-to-end security approach that all of the agencies could then follow.

They had uniformity in terms of their security approaches, their people, their roles, responsibilities, policies, and how they would actually have common proof points to ensure that the key performance indicators and the metrics and the service-level agreements (SLAs) were all working in unity for one homogenized system.

Another example, and it is rapidly exploding within our security practice is the utility industry. There are the NERC CIP regulators, which have now passed a whole series of cyber incident protection standards and requirements.

This just passed in January 2008. All U.S.-based utility organizations -- it could be a water utility, electric utility, anybody who is providing and using a control system -- has to abide by these new standards. These organizations are very “stove-piped.” They operate in a very tightly controlled manner. Most of them have never had to worry about applying security controls at all.

Because of the malleability of the ISSM Reference Model, we now have one that is called the ISSM Reference Model Energy Edition. We have it preloaded with all the NERC CIP standards. There are very specific types of controls that are built into the system, and the types of policies and procedures and workflows that are unique to the energy industry, and also partnerships with products like N-Dimension, Symantec, and our own TCS-e product. We build a compliance portfolio to allow them to become NERC CIP-compliant.

Gardner: That brings to mind another ancillary benefit of the ISSM approach and that is business continuity. It is your being able to maintain business continuity through unforeseen or unfortunate issues with nature or man. What’s the relationship between the business continuity goals and what ISSM provides?

Schreider: There are many who will argue that security is just one facet of business continuity. If you look at continuity of operations and you look at where the disrupters are, it could be acts of man, natural disasters, breaches of security, and so forth. That’s why when you look at our Service Management Framework and availability, continuity, and security-service management functions are all very closely aligned.

It's that cohesion that we bring to the table. How they intersect with one another, and how we have common workflows developed for the process in an organization gives the client a sense that we are paying attention to the entire continuum of continuity of business.

Gardner: So when you look at it through that lens, this also bumps up against business transformation and how you run your overall business across the board?

Schreider: Continuity of business, and security in particular, is an enabler for business transformation. There are organizations out there that could do so much better in their business model if they were able to figure out a way to get a higher degree of intimacy with their customer, but they can’t unless they can guarantee that transaction is secure.

Gardner: Well, great. We've learned a lot today about ISSM as a reference model for getting risk, security, and management together under a common framework, best practices and common controls approach.

I want to thank our guest, Tari Schreider, the chief security architect in the America’s Security Practice at HP’s Consulting & Integration Unit. We really appreciate your input. Tari, great to have you on the show.

Schreider: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: I also want to thank our introducer, John Carchide, the worldwide governance solutions manager in the Security & Risk Management Practice, also within HP C&I. Thanks to you, John, as well.

Carchide: Thank you very much, Dana.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You have been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion. This is the BriefingsDirect Podcast Network. Thank you for joining, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast here. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Transcript of BriefingsDirect podcast on best practices for integrated security, risk and compliance approaches. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2008. All rights reserved.

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