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A Network is a Network . . . NOT!

By Dan Hadaway | Monday, August 23, 2021 - Leave a Comment

Four Conditions …

…For Why a Network Can be Anything But a Network!
Another one of those Dan’s New Leaf Posts, meant to inspire thought about IT Governance . . . .

I have to admit that infotex is being called into engineering meetings with larger organizations these days that are NOT community based banks.  We are finding the paradigm shift to be interesting.  For one, few IT persons in a non-regulated business understand security as well as the least experienced IT person in a bank.  I have interacted with CIOs who do not know the three factors of authentication, ISOs who never heard of Zero Trust, and network engineers who think vendor management is about where you used to get your snickers bars.  In one case, I was scolded because I made the unfortunate comment that “a network is a network.”

My comment warranted the scolding –  vendors must understand the nuances of that any organization’s existing information system and the underlying infrastructure which includes “the network.”  Still, after demonstrating that we indeed did understand those nuances, and learning a lot more about this person’s business, we still wanted to help him understand that . . . in the eyes of an attacker . . . his network is no different from any other network.

His network has four conditions.

1. No matter what business he is in , there are always vulnerabilities on his network.  And even when the sun and the stars and the moon have aligned so he can say there are no known vulnerabilities on his network, there are still always thousands if not millions of unknown vulnerabilities on his network.  And those vulnerabilities can be exploited.

2. There is data in the network that can be leveraged.  Whether or not that data is regulated, whether or not that data is classified, that data could be ransomed, that data could be stolen, that data could be used to extort members of the organization.

3. His network also is a result, in part, of a method of addressing the risk that is in his system.  Most technology risk management systems now include risk measurement, risk response, and risk monitoring.  The veracity of an organization’s security posture can be gauged by how well risk is being monitored.

What the attacker knows about this third condition is that the network can be the result of a sound risk management system, or it can be the tell-tale of an insufficient system.  It’s simple:  if it appears the network is being monitored, the attacker will go elsewhere.

If not . . .

The way the attacker avoids the monitoring system is by being aware of the fourth and final condition of any network.  Which is exactly what the CIO was saying.

4. A network is not a network is not a network.  The CIO’s network is alive.  It is dynamic, constantly changing.  Constantly evolving.  Therefore, the monitoring of the network needs to be addressed in a matter that stays “sound,” as described above, no matter what the network ends up being.

My point: the SIEM needs to be able to monitor the network through the ever-evolving state of that network.  It is a process, involving the team of three teams, meant to guard a living being . . . . your network.

Original article by Dan Hadaway CRISC CISA CISM. Founder and Managing Partner, infotex

“Dan’s New Leaf” is a “fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.”



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