Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Summary by Gaspar Modelo-Howard
Why do we, as cybersecurity professionals, go to work each day? Mr. Gebhart reflected on this question to start his presentation, suggesting a very clear and concise answer. It is to protect the many things and people that are so important to our lives. Security professionals need to protect the families from threats like cyber bullies or identity thieves, risks associated to financial information, attacks to the new business ideas and our critical infrastructure, and to help protect those that protect us, such as law enforcement and first responders. This is why a multidisciplinary approach, such as what CERIAS follows and to which Mr. Gebhart pointed out, is required to come up with the ideas and solutions to achieve our goal as cybersecurity professionals.
In the early days of malware, it could have been considered a nuisance. After all, there were about 17,000 pieces of malware in 1997 and for some people antivirus software could be updated every few months. But malware has been growing at a rapid pace. McAfee stores more than 120M samples of malware software in its database, up from 80M in 2011. The growth is also fast in the mobile landscape. There were 2K unique pieces of mobile malware in 2011, while last year it grew to 36K. And as the mobile market becomes more popular and we move from multiple operating systems to just two today, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, there will still be room for growth for malware. McAfee’s stats show that (1) Android is the most targeted operating system for malware, (2) many application stores for phones host malware, and (3) half of all iOS phones are jail broken.
Other trends explain the always changing landscape of information technology and therefore security. For example, the growth in the number of devices connected to the Internet and their changing profiles. There are approximately 1B devices today, and that number should reach 50B by 2020. People think about computers and phones when asked about which electronic devices are connected to the Internet. But there are many others such as automobiles, televisions, dishwashers, and refrigerators that are being connected every day, helping to put the control of our lives at our fingertips: how much energy we consume, what do we eat or how we communicate and with whom.
So today’s risks are more about the devices and data stored, rather than just malware, and everybody is at risk. At the personal level, there are always reports of attacks aimed at individuals. Mr. Gebhart recounted Operation High Roller that targeted corporate bank accounts and wealthy people by using a variant of the Zeus Trojan horse. At the business level, he talked about the incident known as Operation Aurora, discovered by McAfee Labs, where attackers were after intellectual property from 150 companies. It is also common nowadays to hear about state sponsored cyberattacks on businesses. For example, McAfee believes is one of the most attacked companies in the world (given their condition as both a security services provider and a consumer) as they see many, frequent attacks around the world, ran by well-funded, professional organizations.
One of the most concerning areas at risk is critical infrastructure and governments around the world show growing concern about malware. The Stuxnet malware seemed to come from a spies’ movie as it was created as a stealthy, offensive tool to cause harm. The Citadel trojan is another example of how incisive and targeted malware can be, attacking individual organizations, while also harvesting credentials and passwords from users. So the malware found nowadays in the wild is more targeted and automated, which explains the growing concern on highly important systems such as critical infrastructure. Additionally, the commercialization of malware keeps increasing. Hackers as a Service (HAAS) and off-the-shelf malware are too common now, so malicious code and people’ services are openly being sold.
Mr. Gebhart suggested that new partnerships are required to deal with malware; it is no longer only a technical issue. This pointed back to his early comment of dealing with cybersecurity in a multidisciplinary approach. An organization’s board should be involved and new strategies need to be created. Whereas malware used years ago to be a topic that would only include a mid-level business manager, now is a high-level management discussion topic everywhere you go. It is in everybody’s mind, with people not limiting the conversation to the technical aspects of an attack, but also talking about the impact to the business. Today, it is required to include those that make the decisions for the business in order to opportunely defend against malware and to plan for security.
Innovation is also paramount in order to successfully protect the systems and Mr. Gebhart mentioned several current initiatives. For example, companies are increasingly using cloud-based threat intelligence systems to deal with real-time and historical data, and at increasing quantities. McAfee monitoring systems receive about 56B events a month from 120M devices. Many of the events are hashed and sent to their systems on the cloud to determine if they are malicious or not, allowing McAfee to block (if necessary) similar traffic. The response capabilities have also improved, as now there exists the algorithms to classify the events, determining which ones to handle, and to respond fast.
The DeepSAFE Technology is another innovation example, coming from the partnership between McAfee and Intel. The jointly-developed technology serves as a foundation for new hardware-assisted security products. Today’s malware detection software sits above the operating system, whereas DeepSAVE will operate without such restriction and closer to the hardware, offering a different vantage point to detect, block, and remediate hidden attacks such as Stuxnet and SpyEye.
To close his presentation, Mr. Gebhart mentioned to not forget who we are working for and to protect the global access to information and the identities of our users. It is an exciting time to be involved in cybersecurity with the changing landscapes of information technology and security. Computing has come a long way in the last few decades but we still have to build the trust around it so people can confidently rely on computing.
As Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues within the US Department of State, began his keynote address to the CERIAS Symposium audience he humorously admitted, "Today I’m flying without a net", a PowerPoint presentation net that is. This set the tone for an informal and informative discussion about the changing threat landscape in cyberspace.
In the early 1990s Christopher Painter began his federal career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles; a time when most people were not that interested in cyber crime and the issues we are facing today where unimaginable. These issues weren’t on the forefront of most people’s minds which provided Mr. Painter an opportunity to dive in and get involved at all levels of cyber investigations happening at the time. Mr. Painter led some of the early and most infamous cyber crime cases including the prosecution of Kevin Mitnick; one of the most wanted cyber criminals in the United States.
Through his work leading case and policy discussions of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the US Department of Justice, Mr. Painter has become a leading expert in international cyber issues. However, through this impressive journey he shared with the CERIAS audience, one of the most marked times during his career was with President Obama in 2009. Reminding the audience of the campaign hacking incident that raised the awareness of cyber threats to the office of the President, Mr. Painter discussed how the shift in focus on cyber issues was starting to occur. Now charged with identifying the gaps in national cyber policies, Mr. Painter led a research initiative which resulted in over 60 interviews engaging individuals from government, private industry, academia and civic society the results of this study became the premise for President Obama’s landmark speech on cyber security in May 2009.
Over the past 5 years the conversations in cyber security have evolved dramatically. Initially these conversations were so highly technical in nature that government officials handed them to the technical community to find the solutions. Today, with cyber issues expanding beyond domestic boundaries it was quickly realized that in order for solutions to be sustainable they needed the "push" of the senior policy makers and CEOs from the private sectors. As Mr. Painter stated, "We have come a long way even though the challenges continue to mount, we need to remember we still have a long way to go."
Today, the cyber security threat landscape has changed from the days of the "lone gunman hackers" to the now organized, transnational groups. Cyber security professionals are facing mounting challenges in international laws, forensic processes and the introduction of new actors in the arena of bad guys. However, reflecting back again to President Obama’s 2009 speech on cyber security, Mr. Painter recall’s the President reference to the “economic threat of cyber crime”; an important distinction from merely addressing cyber crime as a security threat to identifying cyber crime as an economic threat to the country.
Public awareness is changing and so are the conversations within the U.S. government. Remembering President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, Mr. Painter remarked, “this was to a national audience who are not cyber folks - it is another great example of how the cyber issues have transitioned to be government issues.” This landmark speech resulted in a new sergeant of collaboration and coordinating among government agencies; "This is a big shift in how these groups are running interagency meetings as there is a new commonality and purpose to these issues."
Looking toward the future, world will continue to grabble with the constantly changing cyber threat landscape and the equitably of these issues in the physical world. These are global challenges globally. As result, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Painter and his team are bringing technical information and training to over 100 countries; working to help technologically advancing countries to mitigate the increasing and complex cyber threats around the world. Concurrently, they are evaluating key policies issues including 1. international security - the US has taken the lead in establishing an international law through systems that build confidence in transparency; 2. cyber security due-diligence-challenging the international community to continue to develop national policies, build institutions and foster the due diligence process; 3. identification cyber crimes; 4. internet governance - through existing technical organizations and a multi-stakeholder approach; and 5. internet freedom - principles around openness and transparency online.
As the audiences starts to process this incredible professional journey along with the changing landscape in cyber space, Mr. Painter closed his keynote address illustrating the efforts him and his team in working closely with inter-agencies within the US government, private sectors and academia around the world. Also, actively conducting important dialogues and advancing the key cyber issues with governments in Brazil, South Africa, Korea, Japan and Germany to name a few; bringing the issues of cyber security strategies, the changing landscape and key policy issues to these emerging countries.
Starting the conversation Stephen reminded the audience that what makes biometrics such an interesting field is the unpredictability of the humans in the testing and evaluations processes. In traditional biometric testing environments researchers work with algorithms and established metrics and methodologies. However, as biometrics testing moves to operational environments there are more uncertainties to content with and therefore making it hard to do. Considering these two important testing environments, what biometric researchers are now trying to do is to understand further how a biometric system performs in any environment and identify what (or who) could the possible cause of errors.
As Stephen pointed out, there have been several papers addressing how individual error impacts biometric performance and the potential causes of these errors. Some of these errors are now being traced to gaps in biometrics testing including training (e.g. "How do you train someone who is difficult to train or doesn’t want to be trained?"), accessibility (e.g. "Are the performance results different in a operation environment than collected in a lab?"), usability (e.g. "Can the system be used efficiently, effectively and consistently by a large population?") and the complexities of the human factors on biometric testing performance. Raising the question, is the error always subject centric?>
In order to fill in some these gaps, Stephen and his graduate students are looking at the traditional biometric modes and metrics to determine if they are suitable in today’s testing and evaluation environments. During the CERIAS tech talk Stephen spotlighted the research of three of his graduate students: 1. The Concept of Stability Thesis by Kevin O’Connor - the examination of finger print stability across force levels; 2. The Case of Habituation by Jacob Hasselgren - quantitatively measuring habituation in biometrics testing environments; and 3. Human Biometric Sensor Interaction highlighting Michael Brokly’s research on test administrator errors in biometrics, including the effects of operator train, workloads of both test administrators and test operators, fatigue and stress.
The biometrics community continues to investigate these questions in order to understand how the vast array of players in a operational data collection environment impact performance. In his closing statements, Stephen reiterated the complexities and challenges in biometrics testing and how researchers are looking deeper into the factors affecting performance beyond a simple ROC/DET curve.
During the introduction, Professor Spafford discussed Mark Weatherford's experience prior to becoming Deputy Under Secretary for cybersecurity at DHS. He mentioned that Mr.Weatherford was CIO of the state of Colorado and California and director of security for the electric power industry. He made it known that Mr.Weatherford has won a number awards and spent a lot of time in cybersecurity in the navy.
He also mentioned that under sequestration rules Mr.Weatherford was not allowed to travel. Mr.Weatherford desired to be present, but he could not attend, so he decided to create a video.
Mark Weatherford began his commentary with the For Want of a Nail rhyme because he believes it is a good way on how to approach the business of security. Mr.Weatherford expressed his appreciation for Professor Spafford, thanking him for how much he has helped advance the topic of cybersecurity and the development of some of the national security leaders.
Mr. Weatherford proceeded to state that "we're in business where ninety nine percent secure, means you’re still one hundred percent vulnerable." An example he used was from 2008, when a large mortgage company that is no longer in business, was concerned with the loss of their client’s information. They decided to disable the USB ports from thousands of machines to prevent employees from copying data. They missed one machine, which was used by an analyst to load and sell customer’s data over a two year period.
Cybersecurity threat, DHS’s role in cybersecurity, the President’s Executive Order on cybersecurity, and the lack of cyber talent across the nation are the four topics that Mr.Weatherford briefly explained.
President’s Cybersecurity Executive Order (EO):
Mr.Weatherford closed this commentary by stating "DHS wants to be your partner in cybersecurity whether you’re in the government, academia or the private sector. No one can go it alone in this business and be successful, so think of us as partners and colleagues, we really can help."
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Moderator: Professor Eugene Spafford, Executive Director, CERIAS
Summary by Rohit Ranchal
Current technological advances and shortage of cyber security professionals require us to focus on cyber security education. The main challenge is that how to fit the identified needs in a practical education or training program. Going by the modern trends and popularity of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), it is very important to consider online and distance education for cyber security. One important requirement is to have a business model in place to structure the MOOCs because right now they are just doing information dissemination. We need a structured curriculum, which can take advantage of the freely available MOOCs.
The current trend of security problems suggests that we are moving away from the traditional problems like protocol vulnerabilities and reviewing RFCs to fix them. Most problems such as policy based vulnerabilities, social engineering etc occur at application level and end user level. So it is important to have exposure to the changing problems and understanding the associated legal and regulatory environment. Professionals need to be trained for organizational dynamics such as budgeting and investments, which are important to the business. Having awareness of bigger issues is also important along with the technical expertise.
One important thing to consider in Information Security Education is the target population. When we consider about educating everyone in the security awareness space, we focus on campaigns, reaching into k-12, educating elderly people, talking about cyber security war etc. But the instruction language is not particularly persuasive. It is very important to think about the instruction language when the target audience is masses of people.
Our current education system focuses on Professionalization. Professionalization is a social phenomenon. A cyber security professional is someone who has to deal with high levels of uncertainty and high levels of complexity. A professional can have a specific technical background or expertise or can have skills in the interdisciplinary space. The framework proposed by National Initiative for Cyber Security Education lists seven high- level job roles including some non-technical job roles as well. Cyber security professionals are not only in cyber security profession only but they are in hybrid roles in the interdisciplinary space. Thus the professionals should be educated and trained in such a way that they can carry out multiple tasks in their hybrid roles. Professionalization could also mean credentialing, education/degree, codes of ethics, certification, training, apprenticeship, etc. Professionalization can be debated in terms of various aspects such as applied vs theoretical knowledge, concepts vs technologies, vocational training vs degree education, immediate needs vs future needs, generalists vs specialists etc. We need to consider all these aspects. The underlying point is that Professionalization induces a change in behavior. An important way to achieve that is through apprenticeship and mentoring. Apprenticeship and mentoring is strictly followed in some other professions on the completion of degree to acquire the practical training and on successful completion, the person is considered a professional. We need to bring back apprenticeship and mentoring in the security education curriculum. But things in security space are changing so rapidly that no matter how much education is given, the professionals will have to deal with high level of uncertainty and complexity. One way to ensure this is to have people who are excited about the profession and are willing to constantly learn and enjoy it. Professionalization should not be considered as something where one can arrive like an end-point. The obvious question is that how to find such people.
Some institutes like SANS Technology Institute and (ISC)2 focus to address this problem through certification. But how can we measure if the certifications have any real value? It depends upon the training, knowledge and experience that goes into the certification. There are many different types of certifications from weekend certifications to highly specialized certifications. Another thing to consider is that certification implies that a professional has some valuable knowledge today but doesn’t say anything about tomorrow when the threats, situations and environment change. There is a shortfall of individuals at present but how can we ensure that our education system can balance that need for today with the need for professionals who are able to learn, analyze and synthesize challenges of tomorrow that are not yet known.
If we look at other professions, many of them require licensing. Professionals in such professions have to renew their licensing to stay active with the current technologies and skills. Another difference is that the cyber security professionals don’t have the same liability if something goes wrong e.g. a system gets hacked, as compared to some other professions for e.g. if a bridge falls down, then you can talk to the civil engineer. Consider if we have all the security jobs require a certification and an organization hires a professional without certification for building a system that gets broken then there can be terrible consequences such as lawsuits. Also you have to consider that building a system requires system designers, developers and users. Its not easy to declare someone liable. The liability model is not appropriate at present but we should move in that direction.
An important concern while education and training security professionals is that how to prevent them from turning bad such as ethical hackers becoming unethical hackers. The argument is that there is a high risk in case of information dissemination only but with education that risk is lowered. The goal of education is not just to give knowledge but to provide the context, the morality, the ethics and to teach that there are consequences to actions. Education is a socialization and culturization process that induces the change in behavior. The education curriculums should be designed in such a way that the mentor can effectively measure that change in the behavior.
While addressing the education problem, it is important to understand that the governments tend to be reactionary and focus on present problems rather than being visionary so it is very important for the universities and industries to be visionary and drive the education and training that focuses on the future and not past.
Cathy Tilton was the first to present her views and she opened with an introduction to NSTIC. She mentioned that NSTIC strategy document came out in April 2011 is an outcome the President’s cyber security review.
Daon’s objective is “Enhancing commercial participation cross sector in the identity ecosystem” in collaboration with AARP, PayPal, Purdue University IT Department, American Association of Airport Executives and a major bank.Daon pilot study consists of 4 components:
Professor Stephen Elliot presented his work at the Purdue Biometrics Laboratory where they have been working with a focus on testing and evaluation various biometrics since 2001. There is a multi faceted approach to the testing philosophy in this project which involves “in lab” testing, surveys and “in the wild” testing.
In lab testing is where there is a controlled environment where users carry out controlled transactions. These tests are carried out on three different operating systems, and evaluate interoperability by assessing whether users remember how to use the device and whether they can transfer that knowledge into another operating system. These sessions are recorded and are conducted over 4 to 6 weeks.
In the wild testing attempts to mimic various real life scenarios where the test subjects are given a mobile device for a month. The focus groups involved in testing include elderly, disabled and able-bodied individuals where there are about 10 to 15 participants in each group.
Professor Elisa Bertino was the next to present her views. She defined digital identity and introduced the concepts of strong identifiers and weak identifiers. Strong identifiers identify an individual uniquely. Weak identifiers are those that do not identify a person uniquely. Depending on the context an identifier may be a strong or a weak identifier.
Security and interoperability are concerns: In most identity management systems, the user is redirected to an identity provider when authenticating with a relying party. But this leads to privacy issues where the identity provider learns information about the user’s transactions. Protocols developed in VeryIDX project uses an identity token given to the user by the identity provider, which can be used without further interactions with the identity provider. Those protocols are very different with different information and different interaction models. Therefore achieving interoperability with other protocols is a challenge.
Linkability: When a user carries out two transactions with two different relying parties, the two relying parties may be able to use information they collect to identify that they are interacting with the same user. This further applies to the user carrying out two transactions with the same relying party.
Stuart S. Shapiro expressed his views on two main issues.
NSTIC This promotes selective attribute disclosure. In the case where individual subscribes to an online newspaper, from the subscriber’s privacy perspective, as long as the service provider can verify that he/she is a valid subscriber there is no need for any other identity information. But based on the business model, the service provider may need to know certain demographic data about the individual to be able to target advertisements and to be able to charge for advertisements. This is the issue of “Functional Minimums vs. Business Model Minimums”. Business models may require much more information than what is covered in functional requirements. NSTIC does not clearly address this issue.
Service providers are “not interested in individuals but are interested in categories”: This categorization may be either benign or harmful to individuals. Therefore even with privacy preservation techniques, if an individual can be categorized, this might lead to the leak of critical identity information.
This was the conclusion of the presentations by the panelists and the audience raised several questions:
Q: FIPS 2001 seems to be very applicable to your study.
Cathy Tilton: With regard to FIPS 2001, we are not doing anything with regard to smart card credentials. We are however looking at the ICAM (Identity, Credential, and Access Management) certification related to trust framework providers and identity providers.
Q: I assume you are trying to certify the protection of data bearing processes. Please explain how you are doing it on inherently insecure mobile device without a trust anchor.
Cathy Tilton: We include a private key in the keychain of the phone. We consider the phone an untrusted device. We use the key to set up a mutually authenticated TLS session with the phone. When this secure channel is established one can use this channel to collect information on the phone and send it back to the server where verification is performed.
Q: What about jailbroken devices?
Cathy Tilton: The device is considered untrusted. When secure elements are commercially available on mobile devices we will make use of those. Our approach has been BYOD (bring your own device) model for usability and familiarity. Therefore we have to manage with the capabilities and security features of those devices.
Q: How does liability fit into NSTIC?
Cathy Tilton: In our situation we are really more of a credential provider. Therefore it is a shared responsibility. Most of our relying parties already have all their identity information about their subscriber base. They do not share that information with us and they do the identity proofing. What they are looking from us is a strong credential. What becomes critical is the binding of the credential to the identity.
Prof. Bertino: The problem of liability is a very debated question. In software engineering who is liable for software mistakes? Identity management is very much the same. It is software, which needs to be secured to be working properly.
Q: How does NSTIC accommodate potential issues such as forcing users under duress to authenticate sensitive transactions?
Cathy Tilton: In our solution we have provisions to a “duress pin” where the relying party handles it according to their policy.
Stuart S. Shapiro: In a certain context duress is the status quo right now. In some cases, users lie about the requested information to obtain the service and avoid providing real identity information. If the certified attributes are required then there will be no option to lie. In such cases duress can increase rather than decrease.
Q: How do you see we achieve tradeoff between the fact that we have to reveal certain information about ourselves while certain generalized categories already reveal so much information about us?
Prof. Bertino: Services should provide customers the choice of revealing information and provide alternatives such as paying for those services. Systems should be flexible to support such options. Sometimes categorization can be benign, but for example, if a user is in the wrong passenger profile then he/she might have trouble getting through airport security. Even if a user is a very private user but he/she simply possess a certain feature in a population he/she might be automatically classified. I think this is separate problem and I don’t think NSTIC has to solve this.
Cathy Tilton: NSTIC from the supports both pseudonymous and anonymous credentials since there are many transactions that do not require any more information.
Q: How is the biometric data stored on the server? Is there anything equivalent to secure password hashes for biometrics data?
Cathy Tilton: All biometrics protected using all mechanisms that are normally used to protect data at rest such as encryption and audited access behind a firewall. If the cryptographic mechanisms fail, certain biometrics can leak information. But biometrics are not stored alongside identity information. When acting as a credential provider we have no identifying information associated with biometrics.
Q: What are the methods available to verify aliveness of a subject.
Cathy Tilton: Our aliveness support includes using photographs of different angles of a face and a challenge response mechanism with random and longer phrases for voice authentication. We are working on using video as well.
Q: What are interesting open research problems?
Prof. Elliot: There are many research problems with a lot of challenges in areas such as mobile usability testing.
Prof. Bertino: There’s a lot of work to be done in the anonymity techniques for digital identity and linkability analysis.
Stuart S. Shapiro: More sophisticated privacy risk modeling techniques are required. Need techniques for integrating privacy in an engineering sense.
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Moderator: Joel Rasmus, Director of Strategic Relations, CERIAS
Summary by Ben Cotton
With “Big Data” being a hot topic in the information technology industry at large, it should come as no surprise that it is being employed as a security tool. To discuss the collection and analysis of data, a panel was assembled from industry and academia. Alok Chaturvedi, Professor of Management, and Samuel Liles Associate Professor of Computer and Information Technology, both of Purdue University, represented academia. Industry representatives were Andrew Hunt, Information Security Research at the MITRE Corporation, Mamani Older, Citigroup’s Senior Vice President for Information Security, and Vincent Urias, a Principle Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. Joel Rasmus, the Director of Strategic Relations at CERIAS, moderated the panel.
Professor Chaturvedi made the first opening remarks. His research focus is on reputation risk: the potential damage to an organization’s reputation – particularly in the financial sector. Reputation damage arises from the failure to meet the reasonable expectations of stakeholders and has six major components: customer perception, cyber security, ethical practices, human capital, financial performance, and regulatory compliance. In order to model risk, “lots and lots of data” must be collected; reputation drivers are checked daily. An analysis of the data showed that malware incidents can be an early warning sign of increased reputation risk, allowing organizations an opportunity to mitigate reputation damage.
Mister Hunt gave brief introductory comments. The MITRE Corporation learned early that good data design is necessary from the very beginning in order to properly handle a large amount of often-unstructured data. They take what they learn from data analysis and re-incorporate it into their automated processes in order to reduce the effort required by security analysts.
Mister Urias presented a less optimistic picture. He opened his remarks with the assertion that Big Data has not fulfilled its promise. Many ingestion engines exist to collect data, but the analysis of the data remains difficult. This is due in part to the increasing importance of meta characteristics of data. The rate of data production is challenging as well. Making real-time assertions from data flow at line rates is a daunting problem.
Professor Liles focused on the wealth of metrics available and how most of them are not useful. “For every meaningless metric,” he said, “I’ve lost a hair follicle. My beard may be in trouble.” It is important to focus on the meaningful metrics.
The first question posed to the panel was “if you’re running an organization, do you focus on measuring and analyzing, or mitigating?” Older said that historically, Citigroup has focused on defending perimeters, not analysis. With the rise of mobile devices, they have recognized that mere mitigation is no longer sufficient. The issue was put rather succinctly by Chaturvedi: “you have to decide if you want to invest in security or invest in recovery.”
How do organizations know if they’re collecting the right data? Hunt suggested collecting everything, but that’s not always an option, especially in resource-starved organizations. Understanding the difference between trend data and incident data is important, according to Liles, and you have to understand how you want to use the data. Organizations with an international presence face unique challenges since legal restrictions and requirements can vary from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction.
Along the same lines, the audience wondered how long data should be kept. Legal requirements sometimes dictate how long data should be kept (either at a minimum or maximum) and what kind of data may be stored. The MITRE Corporation uses an algorithmic system for the retention and storage medium for data. Liles noted that some organizations are under long-term attack and sometimes the hardware refresh cycle is shorter than the duration of the attack. Awareness of what local log data is lost when a machine is discarded is important.
Because much of the discussion had focused on ways that Big Data has failed, the audience wanted to know of successes in data analytics. Hunt pointed to the automation of certain analysis tasks, freeing analysts to pursue more things faster. Sandia National Labs has been able to correlate events across systems and quantify sensitivity effects.
One audience member noted that as much as companies profess a love for Big Data, they often make minimal use of it. Older replied that it is industry-dependent. Where analysis drives revenue (e.g. in retail), it has seen heavier use. An increasing awareness of analysis in security will help drive future use.
Let's start with some short mental exercises. Limber up your cerebellum. Stretch out and touch your cognitive centers a few times. Ready?
There's another barn on fire! Quick, get a bucket brigade going -- we need to put the fire out before everything burns. Again. It is getting so tiring watching all our stuff burn while we're trying to run a farm here. Too bad we can only afford the barns constructed of fatwood. But no time to think of that -- a barn's burning again! 3rd time this week!
Hey, you people over there tinkering with designs for sprinkler systems and concrete barns -- cut it out! We can't spare you to do that -- too many barns are burning! And you, stop babbling about investigating and arresting arsonists -- we don't have time or money for that: didn't you hear me? Another barn is burning!
Now, hurry up. We're going to have a contest to find who can pass this pail of water the quickest. Yes, it is a small, leaky pail, but we have a lot of them, so that is what we're going to use in the contest. The winners get to be closest to the flames and have a name tag that says "fire prevention specialist." No, we can't afford larger buckets. And no, you can't go get a hose -- we need you in the line. Damnit! The barn's burning!
Sounds really stupid, doesn't it? Whoever is in charge isn't doing anything to address the underlying problem of poor barn construction. It doesn't really match the notion of what a fire prevention specialist might really do. And it certainly doesn't provide deep career preparation for any of those contestants... it may even condemn them to a future of menial bucket passing because we're putting them on the line with no training or qualification beyond being able to pass a bucket.
Let's try another one.
Imagine that every car and automobile in the country has been poorly designed. They almost all leak coolant and burn oil. They're trivial to steal. They are mostly cheap junkers, all built on the same frame with the same engines, accessories, and tires -- even the ones sold to the police and military (actually, they're the same cars, but with different paint). The big automakers are rolling out new models every year that they advertise as being more efficient and reliable, but that is simply hype to get you to buy a new car because the new features also regularly break down. There are a few good models available, but they are quite a bit more expensive; those more expensive ones often (but not always) break down less, are more difficult to steal, and get far better mileage. Their vendors also don't have a yearly model update, and many consumers aren't interested in them because those cars don't take the common size of tire or fuzzy dice for the mirror.
The auto companies have been building this way for decades. They sell their products around the world, and they're a major economic force. Everyone needs a car, and they shell out money for new ones on a regular basis. People grumble about the poor quality and the breakdowns, but other than periodic service bulletins, there are few changes from year to year. Many older, more decrepit cars are on the road because too many people (and companies) cannot afford to buy new ones that they know aren't much better than the old ones. Many people argue -- vociferously -- against any attempt to put safety regulations on the car companies because it might hurt such an important market segment.
A huge commercial enterprise has sprung up around fixing cars and adding on replacement parts that are supposedly more reliable. People pour huge amounts of money into this market because they depend on the cars for work, play, safety, shopping, and many other things. However, there are so many cars, and so many update bulletins and add-ons, there simply aren't enough trained mechanics to keep up -- especially because many of the add-ons don't work, or require continual adjustment.
What to do? Aha! We'll encourage young people in high school and maybe college to become "automotive specialists." We'll publish all sorts of articles with doom and gloom as a result of the shortage of people going into auto repair. We especially need lots more military mechanics.
So...we'll have competitions! We'll offer prizes to the individuals (or teams) that are able to change the oil of last year's model the most quickly, or who can most efficiently hotwire a pickup truck, take it to the garage, change the tires, and return it. The government will support these competitions. They'll get lots of press. Some major professional organizations and even universities will promote these. Of course we'll hire lots of mechanics that way! (Women aren't interested in these kinds of competition? We won't worry about that now. People who are poor with wrenches won't compete? No problem -- we'll fill in with the rest.)
Meanwhile, the government and major companies aren't really doing anything to fix the actual engineering of the automobiles. There are a few comprehensive engineering programs at universities around the country, but minimal focus and resources are applied there, and little is said about applying their knowledge to really fixing transportation. The government, especially the military, simply wants more mechanics and cheaper cars -- overall safety and reliability aren't a major concern.
Pretty stupid, huh? But there does seem to be a trend to these exercises.
Let's try one more.
We have a large population that needs to be fed. They've grown accustomed to cheap, fast-food. Everyone eats at the drive-thru, where they get a burger or compressed chicken by-product or mystery-meat taco. It's filling, and it keeps them going for the day. It also leads to obesity, hypertension, cardiac problems, diabetes, and more. However, no one really blames the fast-food chains, because they are simply providing what people want.
It isn't exactly what people should have, and is it really what everyone wants? No, there are better restaurants with healthy food, but that food is more expensive and many people would go hungry if they had to eat at those places given the current economic model. Of course, if they didn't need to spend so much on medicine and hospital stays, a healthier diet is actually cheaper. Also, those better places aren't easy to find -- small (or no) advertising budgets, for instance.
The government has contracted with the chains for food, and even serves it at every government office and on every military base. The chains thus have a fair amount of political clout so that every time someone raises the issue about how unhealthy the food is, they get muffled by the arguments "But it would be too expensive to eat healthy" and "Most people don't like that other food and can't even find it!"
We have a crisis because the demand for the fast-food is so great that there aren't enough fry cooks. So, the heads of major military organizations and government agencies observe we are facing a crisis because, without enough fry cooks, our troops will be overwhelmed by better fed people from China. Government officials and industry people agree because they can't imagine any better diet (or are so enamored of fried potatoes that they don't want anything else).
How do they address the crisis? By mounting advertising campaigns to encourage young people to enter the exciting world of "cuisine awareness." We make it seem glamorous. Private organizations offer certifications in "soda making" and "ketchup bottle maintenance" that are awarded after 3-day seminars. DOD requires anyone working in food service to have one of these certificates -- and that's basically all. We see educational institutes and small colleges offering special programs in "salad bar maintenance." The generals and admirals keep showing up at meetings proclaiming how important it is that we get more burger-flippers in place before we have a "patty melt Pearl Harbor."
The government launches a program to certify schools as centers of "Cuisine Awareness Exellence" if they can prove they have at least 5 cookbooks in the library, a crockpot, and two faculty who have boiled water. Soon, there are hundreds of places designated with this CAE, from taco trucks and hot dog stands to cordon bleu centers -- but lots are only hot dog stands. None of them are given any recipes, cooks, or financial support, of course -- simply designating them is enough, right?
When all of that isn't seen to be enough, the powers-that-be offer up contests that encourage kids to show up and cook. Those who are able to most quickly defrost a compressed cake of Soylent Red, cook it, stick it in a bun, and serve it up in a bag with fries is declared the winner and given a job behind someone's grill. Actually, each registered contestant gets a jaunty paper cap and offer of an immediate job cooking for the military (assuming they are U.S. citizens; after all, we know what those furriners eat sure isn't food!) And gosh, how could they aspire to be anything BUT a fry cook for the next 40 years -- no need to worry about any real education before they take the jobs.
Meanwhile, those studying dietetics, preventative health care, sustainable agriculture, haute cuisine, or other related topics are largely ignored -- not to mention the practicing experts in these fields. The people and places of study for those domains are ignored by the officials, and many of the potential employers in those areas are actually going out of business because of lack of public interest and support. The advice of the experts on how to improve diet is ignored. Find that disconcerting? Here -- have a deep-fried cherry pie and a chocolate ersatz-dairy item drink to make you feel better.
Did you sense a set of common threads (assuming you didn't blow out your cortex in the exercise)?
First, in every case, a mix of short-sighted and ultimately stupid solutions are being undertaken. In each, there are large-scale efforts to address pressing problems that largely ignore fundamental, systemic weaknesses.
Second, there are a set of efforts putatively being made to increase the population of experts, but only with those who know how to address a current, limited problem set. Fancy titles, certificates, and seminars are used to promote these technicians. Meanwhile, longer-term expertise and solutions are being ignored because of the perceived urgency of the immediate problems and a lack of understanding of cost and risk.
Third, longer-term disaster is clearly coming in each case because of secondary problems and growth of the current threats.
Why did this come up with my post and panel on cybersecurity? I would hope that would be obvious, but if not, let me suggest you go back to read my prior post, then read the above examples, again. Then, consider:
One of the most egregious aspects is this last item -- the increasing use of competitions as a way of drawing people to the field. Competitions, by their very nature, stress learned behavior to react to current problems that are likely small deviations from past issues. They do not require extensive grounding in multiple fields. Competitions require rapid response instead of careful design and deep thought -- if anything, they discourage people who exhibit slow, considerate thinking -- discourage them from the contests, and possibly from considering the field itself. If what is being promoted are competitions for the fastest hack on a WIntel platform, how is that going to encourage deep thinkers interested in architecture, algorithms, operating systems, cryptology, or more?
Competitions encourage the mindset of hacking and patching, not of strong design. Competitions encourage the mindset of quick recovery over the gestalt of design-operate-observe-investigate-redesign. Because of the high-profile, high-pressure nature of competitions, they are likely to discourage the philosophical and the careful thinkers. Speed is emphasized over comprehensive and robust approaches. Competitions are also likely to disproportionately discourage women, the shy, and those with expertise in non-mainstream systems. In short, competitions select for a narrow set of skills and proclivities -- and may discourage many of the people we most need in the field to address the underlying problems.
So, the next time you hear some official talk about the need for "cyber warriors" or promoting some new "capture the flag" competition, ask yourself if you want to live in a world where the barns are always catching fire, the cars are always breaking down, nearly everyone eats fast food, and the major focus of "authorities" is attracting more young people to minimally skilled positions that perpetuate that situation...until everything falls apart. The next time you hear about some large government grant that happens to be within 100 miles of the granting agency's headquarters or corporate support for a program of which the CEO is an alumnus but there is no history of excellence in the field, ask yourself why their support is skewed towards building more hot dog stands.
Those of us here at CERIAS, and some of our colleagues with strategic views elsewhere, remind you that expertise is a pursuit and a process, not a competition or a 3-day class, and some of us take it seriously. We wish you would, too.
Your brain may now return to being a couch potato.
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