Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Irony Of Preventing Security Failures

Gadi Evron muses about the possibility that a successful security program might result in result in difficulty justifying future spending.

The Irony Of Preventing Security Failures, Gadi Evron, Dark Reading

But what if nothing happens because we stopped it? That may be the most dangerous option in the long term […] The obvious risk is that the security industry will be accused of crying wolf and not believed next time when something serious happens.

Roll back to 2001 and the hype surrounding Code Red. The lead story on major news outlets was the impending implosion of the Internet. The Internet didn’t implode. The hype went away. Slammer circa 2003 snuck up on the world, wreaked havoc, major corporate networks imploded, the internet hiccupped for a few hours. I’d like to think that Code Red was pretty good at culling out the incompetent sysadmins and raising the awareness of patching and hardening amongst the competent but clueless, and that Slammer was pretty good at culling out the incompetent IT departments and raising the awareness of the clueless CIO’s and executives.

Do we need to fear our own success?

Here’s a proposal. Simply allow your peers (or competitors) to continue to fail at security, and use their failure to justify continuing to spend money on your own success. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding peer failures to use as your benchmarks. I’m pretty sure that the average executive can observe the impact of security events on peers and competitors compared to the lack of similar internal events and associate the difference with the level of competence and funding of the internal IT. If corporate executives can’t figure that out on their own, I’ll bet we can come up with a couple of power points with impressive looking but indecipherable charts to help them out.

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