CSC and HP team up to define the new state needed for comprehensive cybersecurity

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

This next edition of the HP Discover Performance Podcast Series targets on how IT leaders are improving security and reducing risks as they adapt to new and often harsh realities of doing business online.

 

We’re going to learn from a panel how professional services provider CSC, in a strategic partnership with HP, is helping companies and governments better understand and adapt to the tough cybersecurity landscape.

 

Our panel consists of co-host Paul Muller, Chief Software Evangelist at HP Software; Dean Weber, Chief Technology Officer, CSC Global Cybersecurity, and Sam Visner, Vice President and General Manager, CSC Global Cybersecurity. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

 

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What is the real scale of the threat here? Are we only just catching up in terms of the public perception of the reality of cyber-insecurity? How different is the reality from the public perception?

Weber: The difference is night and day. The reality is that we are under attack, and have been for quite some time. We are, as Sam likes to put it, facing a weapons-grade threat.

Visner: When I think about the threat, I think about several things happening at once. The first thing is that we’re asking IT, on which we depend, to do more. It's not just emails, collaboration, documents, and spreadsheets. It isn’t even just enterprise systems.

IT for manufacturing

It extends all the way down to the IT that we use for manufacturing, to control power plants, pipelines, airplanes, centrifuges, and medical devices. So, the first thing is that we’re asking IT to do more, and therefore there's more to defend. Secondly, the stakes are higher. It's not just up to us.

Visner

Government has said that the cybersecurity of the private sector is of public concern. If you're a regulated public utility for power, water, healthcare, finance, or transportation, your cybersecurity is an issue of public interest. So, this isn’t just the public cybersecurity, it's the cybers

Third is the point that Dean made, and I want to elaborate on it. The threat is very different.

Today, intellectual property, whether or not it's possessed by the public sector or the private sector, if it's valuable, if it's worth something. It's worth something to a bad guy who wants to steal it. And if you have critical infrastructure that you’re trying to manage, and a bad guy may want to disrupt it, because their government may want to be able to exercise power.

And the threats are different. The threats are not just technically sophisticated. That's something a hacker, a teenager, can do. In addition to being technically sophisticated, they’re operationally sophisticated.

That means this is foreign governments, or in some cases, foreign intelligence services that have the resources and the patience to study a target, a company, or a government agency over a long period of time, use social networking to figure out who has administrative privileges inside of that organization, and use that social networking to identify people whom they may want to subvert and who may help them in introducing malware.

Then, once they have decided what information they want, who safeguards it, they use their technical sophistication to follow up on it to exploit their operational knowledge. This is what differentiates a group of hackers, who maybe technically very bright, from an actual nation-state government that has the resources, the discipline, the time, and the patience to stick with the target and to exploit it over a long, long period of time.

So, when we use the term "weapons grade," what we mean is a cyber threat that's hard to detect, that's been wielded by a foreign government, a foreign armed force, or a foreign intelligence service -- the way a foreign government wields a weapon. That's what we’re really facing today in the way of cybersecurity threats.

Muller

Muller: You asked if the headlines are simply reflecting what has always been going on, and I think the answer is, yes. Definitely, there is an increased willingness of organizations to share the fact that they have been breached and to share what some of those vulnerabilities have been.

That's actually a healthy thing for society as a whole, rather than pretending that nothing is going on. Reporting the broken window is good for everybody. But, the reality is the sophistication and the scale of attacks as we have just heard, have gone up and have gone up quite measurably.

Cost of cybercrime

Every year we conduct a Cost of Cyber Crime Study with the Ponemon Institute. If we look just at the numbers between 2010 and 2012, from the most recent study in October, the cost impact of cyber crime has gone up 50 percent over that period of time. The number of successful attacks has gone up by two times. And the time to resolve attack is almost doubled as well. So it has become more expensive, greater scale, and it's becoming more difficult to solve.

Gardner: What strikes me as being quite different from the past, too, is when businesses encountered risks, even collective risks, they often had a law enforcement or other regulatory agency that would come to their rescue.

But, in reading the most recent The New Yorker, the May 20 issue, in an article titled Network Insecurity by John Seabrook, Richard McFeely, the Executive Assistant Director of the F.B.I, says quite straightforwardly, "We simply don't have the resources to monitor the mammoth quantity of intrusions that are going on out there."

So, enterprises, corporations, governments even can't really wait for the cavalry to come riding in. We’re sort of left to our own devices, or have I got that a little off-base, Dean?

Weber: The government can provide support in talking about threats and providing information about best practices, but overall, the private sector has a responsibility to manage its own infrastructures. The private sector may have to manage those infrastructures consistent with the public interest. That's what regulation means.

Weber

But the government is not going to provide cybersecurity for power companies’ power grid or for pharmaceutical companies’ research program. It can insist that there be good cybersecurity, but those organizations have always had to manage their own infrastructures.

Today, however, the threat to those infrastructures and the stakes of losing control of those infrastructures are much higher than they have ever been. That's what's amplified now.

There is also a tradeoff that can be done there in terms of how the government shares its threat intelligence. Today, threat intelligence shared at the highest levels generally requires a very, very high level of security, and that puts it out of reach of some organizations to be able to effectively utilize, even if they were so desirous.

So as we migrate ourselves into dealing with this enhanced threat environment, we need to also deal with the issues of enhancing the threat intelligence that we use as the basis of decision.

Gardner: Well, we've defined the fact that the means are there and that the incidences are increasing in scale, complexity, and severity. There is profit motive, the state secrets, and intellectual-property motives. Given all of that, what's wrong with the old methods?

Current threat

Weber: Against the current state-of-the-art threat, our ability to detect them, as they are coming in or while they are in has almost diminished to the point of non-existence. If we're catching them at all, we're catching them on the way out.

We've got to change the paradigm here. We've got to get better at threat intelligence. We've got to get better at event correlation. We've got to get better at the business of cybersecurity. And it has to be a public-private partnership that actually gets us there, because the public has an interest in the private infrastructure to operate its countries. That’s not just US; that’s global.

Visner: Let me add a point to that that’s germane to the relationship between CSC and HP Software. It's no longer an issue of finding a magic bullet. If I could just keep my antivirus up to fully updated, I would have the best signatures and I would be protected from the threat. Or if my firewall were adequately updated, I will be well protected.

Today, the threat is changing and the IT environment that we're trying to protect is changing. The threat, in many cases, doesn’t have a known signature and is being crafted by nations/states not to have it. Organizations ought to think twice about trying to do these themselves.

Our approach is to use a managed cybersecurity service that uses an infrastructure, a set of security operation centers, and an architecture of tools. That’s the approach we're using. What we're doing with HP Software is using some key pieces of HP Software technology to act as the glue that assembles the cybersecurity information management architecture that we use to manage the cybersecurity for Global 1000 companies and for key government agencies.

Our security operations centers have set of tools, some of which we've developed, and some of which we've sourced from partners, bound together with HP’s ArcSight Security Information and Event Management System. This allows us to add new tools, as we need to retire old tools, when they are no longer useful.

They do a better job of threat correlation and analysis, so that we can help organizations manage that cybersecurity in a dynamic environment, rather than leave them to the game of playing Whac-A-Mole. I've got a new threat. Let me add a new tool. Oh, I've got another new threat. Let me add another new tool. That's opposed to managing the total environment with total visibility.

So that managed cybersecurity approach is the approach that we're using, and the role of HP Software here is to provide a key technology that is the sort of binder, that is the backbone for much of that architecture that allows us to manage organically, as opposed to a piece at a time.

Customers, who try to manage a piece at a time, invariably get into trouble, because they can't do it. They're always playing catch up with the latest threat and they are always at least one or two steps behind that threat by trying to figure out what is the latest band-aid to stick over the wound.

Increased sophistication

Muller: The sophistication of the adversary has risen, especially if you're in that awkward position -- you're big enough to be interesting to an attacker, especially when it’s motivated by money, but you are not large enough to have access to up-to-date threat information from some of the intelligence agencies of your national government.

You're not large enough to be able to afford the sort of sophisticated resources who are able to dedicate the time taken to build and maintain honey pots to understand and hang out in all of the deep dark corners of the internet that nobody wants to go to.

Those sort of things are the types of behaviors you need to exhibit to stay ahead, or at least to not get behind, of those threat landscape. By working with an organization that has that sort of capacities by opting for managed service, you're able to tap into a skill set that’s deeper and broader and that often has an international or global outlook, which is particularly important. When the threat is distributed around the planet, your ability to respond to that needs to be distributed likewise.

Gardner: I'm hearing two things. One that this is a team sport. I'm also hearing that this is a function of better analytics -- of really knowing your systems, knowing your organization, monitoring in real time, and then being able to exploit that. Maybe we could drill down on those. This new end-state of a managed holistic security approach, let's talk about it being a team sport and a function of better analytics. Sam?

Visner: There's no question about it. It is a team sport. Fortunately, in the United States and in a few other countries, people recognize that it's a team sport. More and more, the government has said that the cybersecurity of the private sector is an issue of public interest, either to regulation, standards regulation, or policy.

More and more in the private sector, people have realized that they need threat information from the government, but there are also accruing threat information they need to share with the government and proliferate around their industries.

That has happened, and you can see coming out of the original Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative of 2006-2007, all the way to the current recent executive order from the President of the United States, that this is a team sport. There is no question about that.

At the same time, a lot of companies are now developing tools that have APIs, programming interfaces that allow them to work together. Tools like ArcSight provide an environment that allows you to integrate a lot of different tools.

What's really changing is that global companies like CSC have become a global cybersecurity provider based on the idea that we will do this as a partner. We're not going to just sell a tool to a customer. We're going to be their partner to manage this environment.

More and more, they have the discussion underway about improved information sharing from the government to the private sector, based on intelligence information that might be provided to the private sector, and the private sector being provided with more protected means to share information relating to incidents, events, and investigations with the public sector.

Team sport

At the same time, enterprises themselves know that this has to be a team sport within an enterprise. It used to be that the email system was discreet, or your SAP system was discreet, inside of an enterprise. That might have been 10 years ago. But today, these things are part of a common enterprise and tomorrow they're going to be part of a common enterprise, where these things are provided as a service.

And the day after that, they'll be provided as a common enterprise with these things as a service on a common infrastructure that we call a cloud. And the day after that, that cloud will extend all the way down to the manufacturing systems on the shop floor, or the SCADA systems that control a railway, a pipeline, or the industrial control systems that control a medical device or an elevator, all the way out to 3D manufacturing.

The entire enterprise has to work together. The enterprise has to work together with its cybersecurity partner. The cybersecurity partner and the enterprise have to work together with the public sector and with regulatory and policy authorities. Governments increasingly have to work together to build a secured international ecosystem, because there are bad actors out there who don’t regard the theft of intellectual property as cyber crime.

Now fortunately, people get this increasingly and we're working together. That’s why we're finding partners who do the manage cybersecurity, and finding partners who can provide key pieces of technology. CSC and HP is an example of two companies working together in differentiated roles, but for a common and desirable outcome.

Three-step process

Weber: So let me think about how we chop this up, Dana. It’s a three-step process. The first is see, understand, and act -- at the risk of trivializing the complexity of approaching the problem. Seeing, as Sam has already pointed out, is to just try to get visibility of intent to attack, attacks in progress, or worse case, attacks that have taken place, attacks in progress, and finally, how we manage the exfiltration process.

Understanding is all about trying to unpack the difference between "bragging rights attacks," what I call high-intensity but low-grade attacks in terms of cyber threat. This is stuff that’s being done to deface the corporate website. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important, but in this scheme of things, it’s a distraction from some of the other activities that’s taking place. Also understanding is in terms of shifting or changing your compliance posture for some sort of further action.

Then, the last part is acting. It’s not good enough to simply to understand what’s going on, but it’s shutting down attacks in progress. It’s being able to take proactive steps to address breaches that may exist and particularly to address breaches in the underlying software.

We have always been worried about protecting the perimeter of our organization through the technologies, but continue to ignore one of the great issues out there, which is that software itself, in many cases, is inherently insecure. People are not scanning for, identifying, and addressing those issues in source code and binary vulnerability.

Gardner: What do you have to do in terms of thinking differently in order to start really positioning yourself to be proactive and aggressive with cybersecurity?

Visner: The first thing is that you’ve got to make an adequate assessment of the kind of organization you are. The role information and information technology plays in your organization, what we use the information for, and what information is most valuable. Or conversely, what would cause you the great difficulty, if you were to either lose control of that information or confidence in its integrity.

That has to be done not just for one piece of an enterprise, but for all pieces of the enterprise. By the way, there is a tremendous benefit, because you can re-visualize your enterprise. You can sort of business-process reengineer your enterprise, if you know on and what information you rely, what information is most valuable, what information, if was to be damaged, would cause you the most difficulty.

That’s the first thing I would do. The second thing is, since as-a-service is the way organizations buy things today and the way organizations provide things today, consider taking a look at cybersecurity as a service.

Rather than trying to manage it yourself, get a confident managed cyber-security services provider, which is our business at CSC, to do this work and be sure that they are equipped with the right tools and technologies, such as ArcSight Security Information and Event Management and other key technologies that we are sourcing from HP Software.

Third, if you're not willing to have somebody else manage it for you, get a managed cybersecurity services provider to build up your own internal cybersecurity management capabilities, so that you are your own managed cybersecurity services provider.

Next, be sure you understand, if you are part of critical infrastructure -- and there are some 23 critical infrastructure sectors -- what it is that you are required to do, what standards the government believes are pertinent to your business.

 

You can read the rest of this blog entry here.

 

 

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

 

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About the Author
Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Ga...
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