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The One Test

By Dan Hadaway | Friday, January 8, 2021 - Leave a Comment

The One Test…


…Is there a Test that Covers 9/11’s of the Battle?
Another one of those Dan’s New Leaf Posts, meant to inspire thought about IT Governance . . . .


Twenty years ago two geek-friends and I debated the following question:  “Is there an Audit Test that covers 9/11’s of the battle?”

This started out as:  “which audit test would be the best test to use if you were only paid to do one test of an organization.”  It was sort of a search for the stone that would kill many birds.  At first, the argument would be over “test your firewall” versus “test your users.”  An extremely smart (and now rich) friend of mine maintained that “the one test” should be a test of the firewall. Even now, the firewall mitigates the most risk.  If you could only do one test, it better be the firewall.

But another friend of mine (who is also now rich) would say that your users were the most important control, and “the one test” should be of your users.  This person would win my endorsement by invoking the phrase “awareness is 9/11 of the battle” . . . the phrase I coined in October of 2001.

But fast forwarding to 2021, and “the one test” is easy.   It should be the Incident Response Test.  Yes, we need to make sure our firewalls work, and yes, Awareness is 9/11’s of the battle.  But as important as these two controls are, we need to be prepared in the event that that the firewall fails, and the most effective awareness training I have ever witnessed . . . even coming with “aha moments” . . . is the Incident Response Test.  If done properly, the Incident Response Test provides relevant, trackable, and motivating awareness to the board of directors, the management team, the technical team–even the bank’s insurance agents and lawyers.

The mission of a strong incident response program is to create a team that, when and not if we need to respond to the scariest of incidents, recognizes the process as it unfolds.  Testing your incident response team’s ability to respond when they are in a panic is indeed the best form of management awareness because it motivates the team to get behind new controls and manage risk as it arises . . . for risk management and not compliance purposes.

But the Incident Response Test also gives birth to new layers of technical awareness.  I’ve watched network administrators wink when board members and executives realize WHY certain controls are in place.  I’ve seen managers comment they didn’t know certain systems were in place.  We have testimonials from Clients who, drug kicking and screaming in to the conference room, said four and a half hours later: “this was probably the best thing we ever did because now I understand WHY we have all the inconveniences in place.”

“It was like learning why we take our shoes off in the airport,” said one.

A newly hired manger, who is now the executive vice president his bank, emailed his boss, “this was one of those days where I felt I should be paying the bank to work here.”  Because of what he learned in the test.

So if you want to cover a lot of ground with a little effort . . . effort that you already must achieve for compliance reasons anyway . . . consider hiring a professional to facilitate your next incident response test.  Any audit firm like infotex should be able to do it, and we can do it for both our audit and M-SOC Clients!

So remember:  Awareness is indeed 9/11’s of the battle, and the incident response test is The One Test.

If you are interested in scheduling a test or hearing more about our Incident Response Testing please email Nate Harrell at [email protected].


Also, you can watch the full video we have made below.


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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