SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Justin Castillo
Justin G. Castillo is a partner in the law firm of Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, LLP ("LB3"), where he...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Justin Castillo | May 30, 2013 |

 
   

Georgetown Conference Highlights Cybersecurity Challenges

Georgetown Conference Highlights Cybersecurity Challenges "Spear-phishing" and BYOD were among the biggest concerns, as enterprises try to re-imagine their models for keeping data and communications secure.

"Spear-phishing" and BYOD were among the biggest concerns, as enterprises try to re-imagine their models for keeping data and communications secure.

Most continuing legal education seminars are dull affairs involving lawyers and "talking head" lectures. But last week's Cybersecurity Law Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center was no ordinary event; not only did it get the Wall Street Journal's attention, it attracted an unusually diverse group of attendees, including CIOs, CISOs, and government officials. The cornerstone of the two-day seminar was a lively simulation of the C-suite struggling to cope with a recently-discovered data breach that graphically highlighted the challenges of managing such a breach.

Here are my impressions from the two-day conference:

The Situation is not Hopeless, and Doing Something is Better than Doing Nothing: While much of the seminar focused on what can go wrong, Tony Sager, formerly of the NSA and now Director of the SANS Institute, observed that most security problems involve known problems that have known solutions. But not everybody who needs help knows what those solutions are. Moreover, many enterprises are unsure of what concrete steps they should take to increase cybersecurity.

A good starting point for enterprises is to begin implementing the 20 Critical Security Controls (the "CSCs"), a step that will help to manage the 20% of the issues that cause 80% of the damage (Sager noted that Verizon's annual Data Breach Investigations Report now maps to the CSC in an effort to help enterprises understand the utility of the individual CSCs).

Planning and Practice: Another theme for enterprises was how cybersecurity planning could benefit from tracking key aspects of business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans. As with BCDR, enterprises shouldn't wait until the crisis hits before developing cybersecurity plans. And those plans need to be tested and refined periodically. One panelist summarized his key takeaway from the conference as follows: "I'm going back and do tabletop exercises with my cybersecurity plans every chance I can."

Fear the Spear: Security experts, CIOS and CISOs agreed that spear phishing is an increasingly grave threat. Former FBI agent Shawn Henry, now of Crowdstrike Services, observed that the sophistication of spear phishing attacks make them almost impossible to prevent. As a result, training and maintaining employee awareness of the dangers becomes critical. Northrop Grumman's Michael Papay spear phishes his own employees to keep them alert. For example, on April 12 he sent a bogus "IRS email" to 68,000 of the company's employees regarding their tax returns that succeeded in fooling several people.

While training employees and building awareness is important, some spear phishing attacks will succeed. As a result, enterprises must develop the capacity to limit an attacker's ability to exploit a breach--by, for example, blocking outbound traffic to new and uncategorized websites.

Can BYOD and Security Co-Exist? While wireless security was not a focus of the conference, it was clear that some security-minded enterprises are wary of the risks of a BYOD model. For example, neither Lockheed Martin nor Northrop Grumman allows personal wireless devices on their network. Interestingly, one Northrop Grumman attorney told me that while she could access email on her personal device using a containerized solution, her strong preference was to keep personal and business devices separate.

This anecdote suggests that security may stymie BYOD in industries where security is paramount (e.g. financial services, health care and defense). It might also cause enterprises in other industries to revisit their mobile strategies given the considerable advantages of corporate-liable wireless programs.

Enterprises Need Eyes and Ears to Improve Security: Mandiant's Shane McGee noted that the victim discovers data breaches only 6% of the time; the other 94% of the time they find out from a third party such as the FBI or a service provider. Worse, it takes an average of 416 days for a corporation to discover that security has been compromised.

This puts a premium on developing the capability to detect and respond to security threats. While some carriers used to provide fraud warnings when they detected unusual traffic patterns (as in the case of PBX hacking), that practice has waned, and it's likely that any notice that does come from a sympathetic law enforcement agency or an ISP will be frustratingly vague.

As a result, customers who want to enlist the expertise of their carrier or ISP in detecting threats have to purchase separate security services. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola sounded a cautionary note about enterprise contracting practices, saying that he was "astonished" at how many sophisticated parties fail to read and understand the terms and conditions of their cloud and other agreements that have a direct bearing on cybersecurity.

Communication is Key: The importance of communication came up repeatedly during the conference. Participants in the data breach simulation emphasized the need for smoothly-functioning communication channels both within the enterprise and between cybercrime victims and law enforcement. Meanwhile, Tony Sager of SANS Institute characterized cybersecurity as an information management problem that focuses on getting the right information to people who need it.

The Importance of Mental Models: A lingering question from the conference concerns our mental models for cybersecurity. The reigning model is the "citadel paradigm," in which the enterprise is a fortress protected by "electronic walls and a moat" of firewalls, antivirus software and other security products. Indeed, the data breach simulation at the conference was firmly rooted in a variant of the citadel model: the corporate ship had struck an iceberg, and the participants were trying to plug the leak to avoid catastrophe. But what (to continue the nautical metaphor), if the main challenge for the enterprise/ship isn't avoiding stray icebergs, but coping with dozens of persistent, small leaks that could overwhelm the pumps?

The demise of the "citadel paradigm" was chronicled in a recent New Yorker article by John Seabrook entitled "Network Insecurity." Seabrook quoted one security expert who said that, up until four years ago the citadel paradigm remained viable, and "encryption and firewalls were doing a pretty good job. But the latest attack kits are bypassing those perimeter defenses, which is why this paradigm has to shift."

There are several alterative paradigms that might be more useful. One panelist at the conference told me during a break that he favored analogizing cybersecurity to policing a large city: preventing all crime is unrealistic, and different "neighborhoods" will face different threats. With any luck, next year's Georgetown cybersecurity conference will work to develop a useful paradigm to help guide future enterprise cybsersecurity efforts.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

September 20, 2017

Customer experience can make or break your business. But how do you achieve outstanding customer service when you're dealing with outdated organizational structure, lagging technology, dated proces

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.