Archive for January, 2011


Wasn’t lies, it was just…

January 24, 2011

A friend recently posted about being stonewalled by vendors when asking them how they deal with employee turnover.  The odds are that you have procedures of your own to handle terminations and job changes.  It’s reasonable to hold vendors that run your infrastructure to a similar standard.  Read it for why.

When you outsource infrastructure administration, or when you end up hosting important data under outside control, you definitely want to set up the agreements so they follow your existing security policy.  An honest outsourcing vendor who wants your business is going to agree with some few exceptions where the two of you negotiate to a middle ground.

If you aren’t getting the right to inspect the systems (or portions thereof) moving, storing, and processing your data, there’s a chance that important security requirements you negotiated for, maybe even that you paid extra for, aren’t being met.  In fact, if you didn’t nail down the right to audit, you probably didn’t get security goals in the SLA to penalize incentivize the vendor.

I’ve had the pleasure of performing investigations on behalf of clients who entered into agreements with vendors that held all the cards.  Every single time, the vendor “had not been forthright about the security posture they claimed to hold”.  Each one was lying about their security situation, in significant ways that ranged from not patching when they said they patched to sharing infrastructure they claimed wasn’t shared.   It isn’t a large or scientific sample — there were already suspicions that led to my arrival on-scene.  Surprisingly, these weren’t small-time infrastructure outsourcers…these were the big names with the big price tags.

The moral of the story:  If they promise it to you, but won’t let you see it, smell it, or touch it…it probably doesn’t exist.  Honest vendors will be up-front about how they operate, explain the limits of how far they can conform to your policies and expectations, and most of all will want you to be able to check so there’s no ambiguity haunting anyone down the road.

Less-than-honest vendors will prevaricate, hide their operations, and when caught claim that they weren’t actually technically violating the contract, or trot out the old line that “everyone does it this way”.  They’ll pull an Elwood Blues on you.


It will come to an end.

January 12, 2011

Here’s a fun one:

The days of you taking your company laptop home to do “whatever”, or browsing the internet at large from work are going to come to an end.  It’s going to come to an end soon because the costs of “blocking everything bad” overtook “only allow what is known to be good” a long time ago.  Those deferred costs (breaches, theft, etc) are now being realized because Big Time Computer Crime is starting to mature.

Some organizations have done their best to aim for the “known good” solution, but they’re in the minority.  The challenge for everyone is accommodating the proven benefits of access to the internet while trying to protect data and systems from increasingly prolific and savvy opponents.

Yes, all of this was figured out in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Somewhere in between we lost it.  Technology’s progress during the passing decades makes it conceivable that we can unearth and reinvent those old solutions …  but make them easier to carry and faster.


Yes, those are four mistakes you will make in 2011

January 6, 2011

Recap: you will make mistakes.