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Information Security Guide To Risk Management Assurance And Security Consideration

The security risk is the major cause of vagueness in any enterprise. Thus, organizations increasingly focus on determining and managing that risk before they affect their business. The ability of the organization to manage the Information Security risk will support them act more confidently on the business protection.  In addition to this, companies should assure that their security measure will function as intended. For this, they need to consider security in the system support and operations. In order to help the organizations, here we presented the outline of the risk management, security assurance and security considerations in the system support and operations with the reference in the NIST Special Publication 800-12 Rev. 1.

Information Security Risk Management

The risk is nothing but a measure of a level a unit is susceptible by an event or circumstance, and characteristically a function of the adverse influence, which would rise of the event or circumstance happens and the possibility of occurrence. 
Risk Management is the procedure of reducing the risks to enterprise operations and assets, other enterprises, individuals and the nation. 
Four steps involved in the risk management are:

1. Framing Risks -This step defines how enterprises create a risk setting for their environment in which decisions regarding risks are made. Its main purpose is to launch a risk management procedure, which addresses how enterprise intent to assess, monitor and respond to risks while making transparent and explicit the risk perceptions, which organization habitually use in both operational and investment decisions. 

2. Assessing Risks – This step defines how enterprise evaluate risks within the enterprise risk frame setting. Its main purpose is to determine:

  • Threats to enterprise operations and assets, other organizations, individuals, and nation
  • Internal & external vulnerabilities of enterprises
  • The harm to the enterprise, which may happen given the possibility of threats exploiting weaknesses
  • The possibility that harm will happen

3. Responding to risk – This step addresses how enterprise responds to risk once that is determined according to the risk assessment results. Its main purpose is to offer a consistent, enterprise-wide response to the risk based on the enterprise risk frame by:

  • Creating alternative sequences of actions to respond to risk
  • Assessing the alternative action sequences
  • Identifying the corresponding sequence of actions reliably with enterprise risk tolerance
  • Implementing risks, responses according to the selected sequence of action

 
4. Monitoring Risk – This step addresses how enterprise monitors risk over the period of time. Its purpose is to:

  • Check that planned risk response measures are properly implemented and that security needs derived from or traceable to enterprise mission/ functions, federal legislation, regulations, directives, standards, policies, and guidelines are fulfilled.
  • Identify the ongoing efficiency of the risk response measures
  • Determining risk influencing changes to system and environment of the organization

NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF)

Risks management Framework promotes the strategy of almost real-time risks management & ongoing system authorization via the continuous monitoring process implementation. It allows senior leaders gain the essential details to make cost-effective and risk-based decisions with respect to enterprise system supporting their basic missions and functions. It also integrates security aspects into the enterprise SDLC process. 

The following figure depicts the overview of the RMF:

rmf

Categorize – Organization needs to categorize the systems as well as the information managed, stored and transmitted in accordance with impact analysis. 

Select – Then, the organization needs to involve in selecting the initial set of system baseline security controls according to the security categorization and tailoring & supplementing the control baseline as required accordance with the enterprise risks and local condition assessment. 

Implement – Enterprise is accountable for implementing information security controls and defining how those controls are working within the system and operation. 

Assess – At this step, the enterprise needs to assess the security controls with the proper assessment procedures and to identify the level which the controls are executed correctly, operating as intended & producing the expected outcome.

Authorize – As per the result of the security control assessment, a senior official in the enterprise authorizes the system to function and continue to function. The senior official makes this decision according to the identification of the risks to enterprise assets & operations, other organizations, individuals and the nation resulting from the system operation and the decision.

Monitor – The final stage of the RMF is to monitor the security controls continuously to guarantee that they’re effective even changes happen in the system and the environment. Enterprise monitors the security controls on the continuous basis, including evaluating control effectively, documenting alteration to the system, conducting security influence analysis of the related chances & reporting the security status to the designated officials. 

Information Security Assurance

Authorization & Assurance
NIST Definitions

nist defination
Security Engineering

The size & complexity of the systems today make creating a reliable system a priority. System security engineering offers a straightforward approach for creating dependable systems in the complex computing environment. This section presents the two divisions of assurance methods & tools: 

design
 
1. Design And Implementation Assurance

This method addresses the design of the systems and whether the features of an application, system or component satisfies the software requirements & specifications. It examines the system design, progress, and installation. It can be applied throughout the entire lifecycle of the system, but generally associated with the development and implementation phase. This method can be achieved by using the following techniques:

Advanced Or Trusted Development - The advanced or trusted development methodologies, system architectures or software engineering techniques can offer assurance in the development of COTS (Commercial off-the-shelf) products & customized systems. For example, formal modeling, security design & development reviews, ISO 9000 quality techniques, mathematical proofs, ISO 15288 or trusted computing base (TCB). 
Reliable Architecture - The reliable system architecture that uses fault tolerance, shadowing, redundancy or RAID features are primarily linked with system availability.

  • Reliable Security - Ease of safe use is the main factor that resides in the reliable security that postulated that the system is simpler to secure is possible to be secure. 
  • Evaluations - Evaluation of a product normally includes testing. It can be performed by several kinds of the enterprises, including independent enterprises such as professional & trade organization, domestic & foreign government agencies, individual users or commercial groups.
  • Assurance Documentation - Assurance documentation can report the system or specific component security. System-level documentation defines the security needs of the systems and how they’ve been implemented. Component documentation will be an off-the-shelf product, while the implementer or system designer will typically create system documentation. 
  • Warranties, Integrity Statement & Liabilities - Warranties are the additional assurance source and it gives the sense of commitment to correct the errors within the specified timeframes. It also speaks about the quality of the product. Integrity statement is a certificate or formal declaration of the product. It can be increased by the promise to liability (pay for losses) if the product doesn’t follow to the integrity statement. 
  • Manufacturer’s Published Assertions - The published assertions to the developer or manufacturer present a limited amount of assurance according to the reputation. 
  • Distribution Assurance - It is essential to aware that software has received without modification particularly in case it is distributed. We can use digital signatures and check bits since they can provide high assurance about that code hasn’t been modified.

2. Operational Assurance

Operation assurance reports whether the technical features of the system include vulnerabilities or are being bypassed and there needed procedures are being tailored.
 
The organization utilizes three methods to keep operational assurance:

1. System Assessments -  An event to evaluate security. Assessment methods comprise examination, interview, and testing. 
2. System Audits – An independent examination and review of the records & activities to evaluate the system control adequacy and to guarantee compliance with launching policies and procedures. There are several methods and tools, which can be used to audit including:

  • Automated Tools – Used to support uncover threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Internal Control Audits – Review controls in the system to determine whether they are effective by using techniques like testing, observation, and inquiry. 
  • Using The System Security Plan (SSP) – Presents implementation details against the system that can be audited.
  • Penetration Testing – Involves several methods to effort to break the system security. 

3. System Monitoring – Process for keeping ongoing security awareness, vulnerabilities & threats to aid enterprise risk management decisions. The methods and tools used in system monitoring are as follows:

  • Review System Logs – Analyze system-generated logs to find security problems.
  • Automated Tools – Examples of automated tools used to monitor the system for the security issues are malicious code scanners, checksum, password strength checkers, host-based intrusion detection system, system performance monitoring analysis and integrity verification programs.
  • Configuration Management – Provides assurance that organizational system in function has been configured to standards and needs, that any alteration to be made are revised and that such modification has been authorized by the management preceding to implementation. 
  • Trade Literature/Publications/Electronic News – Furthermore, it is essential to monitor these external sources of information that includes details about the security vulnerabilities, patches and other things that influence the security.

Security Considerations In System Support And Operations

System support & operations refer to entire aspects involved in the running of a system. The failure to include security as a portion of the support & operations of systems can result in damage to the enterprise. The following are some of the categories that organization’s policies and procedures fail to address:

  • User Support – An essential security consideration for the user support peoples is being capable to recognize which issues are security-related.
  • Software Support – Several elements involved in the software support. One element controls what software is running on the system. Another element ensures that software hasn’t been altered without proper authorization. 
  • Configuration Management – Process of chasing and approving the alterations to the system to ensure that the changes don’t unintentionally or unknowingly affect security. In addition, it ensures that changes are replicated in other documentation like a contingency plan. 
  • Backups – System support officials or users often back up the data and software. It is important to backup only the necessary detail and in a secure way. 
  • Media Controls -  Includes a wide range of measures to offer environmental and physical protection as well as accountability for digital & non-digital media.
  • Documentation – To ensure consistency and continuity, the entire factors of system support and operations need to be documented. 
  • Maintenance- If the system maintenance is not proper, then the security vulnerability will get introduced. 

In addition to effective risk management and security assurance, the organization should ensure security consideration at the system support and operation for implementing the flawless information security in their business. 

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Rapid rise in SSL TLS security vulnerabilities

Encryption is a valued, supported in maintaining integrity and privacy. It maintains the data safe from the attacker’s eyes. It stops people mugging the app usage habits, passwords, and credit card details. As the advancement in technology continues, the complexity to stay secure also continues to rise. This makes the people encrypt their network with secure standard protocols, SSL/TLS. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are cryptographic protocols, which enables secure communication over the network. 

As per the reports of security experts, most of the organization begins to encrypt their internet traffic. 

According to the ESG Report :

Nearly 87 % of the enterprise they measured encrypt at least 25 % of their entire network traffic

Likewise, Zscaler, Inc, the top cloud security enterprise announced 

An average of 60 % of the communication over their cloud has been using SSL/TLS

These statements sound that organizations begin to believe that they are halfway to the web safer with SSL/TLS against the cookie stealing, content hijacking, eavesdropping, and censorship.

While this internet security protocol is a boon for the organization who have privacy concerns, their IT teams will need to face a huge traffic influx; since, they can’t look inside the network without decryption technology. 

Unfortunately, online attackers are now stepping up their SSL/TLS facility to conceal their malicious activities. This scenario forces the organizations to understand the fact that the increase in the SSL/TLS usage comprises both legitimate as well as malicious happenings, as attacks rely on legal SSL certificate to spread their malicious content. 

In addition to the reason of exploiting new vulnerabilities that pave the way to use SSL adoption as the weapon in the enemy’s hand, attackers find a new benefit of using SSL/TLS as it masks and complicate the detection of attack traffic in the application and network level traffic. 

According to the Global Application and Network Security Report published by Radware:

In 2016, 39% of the surveyed organization accepted that they have been victimized by the SSL vectors

The following figure illustrates the Radware measure regarding enterprises, which experienced SSL-based attacks.

ssl based attack

Radware explained that the SSL based attacks come in several forms:

  • Encrypted SSL Floods 
  • SSL Renegotiation
  • HTTPs Floods
  • Encrypted Web Application Attacks

In addition, the researchers of Zscaler.Inc states that the cyber criminals are turning to SSL/TLS vulnerabilities to deliver malicious attacks. They revealed that they have blocked approximately 8.4 million SSL/TLS based traffic request per day. Among those requests, they find that 600,000 request comprises advanced threats.  

malicious content delivered over ssl/tls

Image Source: Zscaler

They have found that various attack types concealed within the packets of SSL/TSL. Most primary types include malware, adware, exploits kits and malware call-backs. 

The other key findings of the researchers on the communication over Zscaler cloud are:

  • The malicious content being transferred over the SSL/TLS protocol has expanded in the last 6 months. 
  • They have blocked around twelve thousand phishing attacks, per day transferred over SSL/TLS
  • Among the web exploits that are happening per day, approximately 300 hits include SSL as a portion of infection chain 
  • New malicious payloads exploiting SSL/TLS for the C&C process
    • 60 % were encompassed of various Banking Trojan families
    • 25 % were encompassed of ransomware families
    • 12 % were encompassed of info-stealer Trojan families
    • 3 % were from other assorted families

How It Complicating Detection And Mitigation?

With these findings, there is no doubt that the leveraging of encrypted traffic as an outbreak vector is on the upfront. This rise is further challenging several mandatory solutions for detecting as well as mitigating threats. Most of the organizations don’t include the action of the inspecting SSL/TLS traffic in their security process because it demands decryption of encrypted traffic that challenges the IT team.

Because the SSL and encryption are effective at complicating several attributes, which support determine whether traffic is legitimate or malicious. Most of the cyber-attack solutions failed to identify the malicious traffic from the sources of encrypted traffic and isolating that traffic in order to mitigate them. The decrypting & re-encrypting the SSL/TLS traffic raises the needs of traffic processing and in many cases, requires effort beyond the performance of the devices that are used for mitigating attacks. Most of those devices are stateful, inline and unable to manage SSL encrypted attacks. 

A survey of Radware, regarding the capacity of available security solutions for decrypting, inspecting and re-encrypting traffic states that most are functioning blindly. Around 75% of the industry experts doubt their security strategy to offer complete protection against the encrypted attack. 

As more and more attacks rely on the SSL/TLS, enterprises require taking the essential steps to ensure that their entire data is protected and the bad traffic is not sneaking past their fortifications. 

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Information Security Spending Will Upturn In Future

Cybersecurity is no longer a problem that bothers only IT and security professionals; the influence has protracted to the C-suite & boardroom. Concerns and awareness about security threats and incidents have become a top priority for organizations and consumers. In the stir of raising security incidents and keen regulations, organizations are scrambling to protect their networks and data. It makes a push, which is catalyzing expansion in the market for the technologies and solutions of cybersecurity.
 
According to the Gartner’s latest forecast report on the market for information security spending, in 2017 there will be a 7% growth in spending on security products and service from the previous year and the highest growth will be expected in the upcoming years. 

The following figure summarize the IT security spending forecast report of the Gartner researches:

spending in it market
Increasing awareness among the board directors and CEOs regarding the business impact of the security incidents in addition to the evolving landscape have sourced the continues spending on the security related services and products. 

They forecast that the following segments will attain a notable growth in terms of security spending:

Gartner says that organizations begin to move from the traditional security spending strategy, which mainly focuses on the prevention-only approaches to the detection and response based security strategies. The migration to the approach of detection and response against security extends people, technology, and process elements & will root a massive growth in the security market over the next five years. Furthermore, organizations now begin to feel that preventive approaches haven’t been effective in blocking malicious attacks. 

The necessity to better detect and respond to security incidents has also developed new security product segments. They are as follows:

eveloped new security product segments.

This migration doesn’t mean that prevention against security threats is unimportant. The organization should understand that prevention is useless unless it is knotted with the detection & response capability.  Gartner advices that businesses should balance in their spending to include both prevention approaches and detection & response approaches. 

Under the infrastructure protection segment, the security testing market is forecasted to receive a fast growth. Especially, the IAST (Interactive Application Security Testing), the emerging security testing tool will contribute more to the expansion on spending. The continued occurrences of data breaches and enhancing demands for the application security testing roots the increased spending on the testing tools. 

The security services, particularly IT consulting, outsourcing and implementation services will last to be the wildest growing segment. This is because the security practices must be capable to meet the continuously evolving threats as well as security requirements. Undoubtedly, doing so will require investments in the corresponding processes & technologies to avoid, protect, detect & respond to the security risks. Unfortunately, most of the enterprises are weakening to do so. This leads them to consider third party vendors as the significant source to support against cyber risk. 

Another important factor that Gartner report focussed on is a shortage of skills. As preventive approaches were continued to the most common strategies for past decades, most of the organizations lack the knowledge of detection & response strategies. This makes the enterprises to search for the external support for the Managed Security Service providers, security consultants, and outsourcers.

On the other hand, the appearance of specialized MDR (Managed detection & response) services come as a treat to the conventional MSSPs. Since in the security market, there are a vast amount of point solutions which address the detection & response approaches continue to emerge, Security Managers and CISOs finds some manageability issues and roots them to spend on the management platforms & service. 

Despite, the hardware support service is expected to receive slow growth since the adoption of public cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service) and virtual appliances reduces the requirement of overall attached hardware support. 

However, a researcher from Gartner suggests that enhancing security is not just depends on the spending on new security technologies. It is not enough to do the basics right; hence, the enterprises should address the basic security & risk associated elements like centralized log management, threat centric vulnerability management, backups, internal network segmentation and system hardening to significantly improve the security posture. 

Guidelines For Effective Security Strategy

By considering these forecast, in order to guide you to wisely invest on the security technologies, here we listed some guidelines.

  • Analyse the gaps, which exist in your current security processes and controls.
  • Identify if there is any supplementary protection to be achieved via configuration of available security tools, or applying features and controls, which are not being used in your business.
  • If you decided to invest in the new security technology, evaluate whether that investment adds unique value to your business or just overlap the available security control.
  • Build competency management capability by educating the workforce with security training, which enables them to proactively prevent, detect and respond to the cyber crime.

Gartner’s recent forecast on the spending on the security market alarms the business about how to balance their investment on the security spending. The organization should analyze their existing security strategy and plan the wise investment to keep their business away from the possibilities of being targeted by cyber criminals.

Hack2Secure is as one of the few global vendors with a capability to deliver End-to-End Information Security programs via Training, Certification (PearsonVUE) and Services across Information Security domains aligned with Industry Security Requirements and Best practices. Connect with us to explore more.

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NIST SP 800 100 Information Security Governance

With the increasing complexity of the IT infrastructure and a continuously changing security threat and risk environment, organizations today are required to manage as well as govern the Information Security. Properly managing and governing of the Information Security support to reduce the risks and ensure the organization’s capability to do their business in a secure way. This article is about the outline of information security governance in accordance with the special publication of the NIST, called, Information Security Handbook: A Guide for Managers.

NIST Definition Of Information Security Governance

information security goverence

Information Security Governance includes its own requirements, activities, challenges, and sorts of structures. It also includes a defining role in determining key roles and responsibilities in the Information Security. In addition, impacts the policy development, oversight and ongoing monitoring activities of Information Security. In order to guarantee a certain level of support of business missions & the proper implementation of the security requirement, each organization should create a formal structure of information security governance. Let us begin with the information security governance requirements.

Information Security Governance Requirements 

The United States Congress and OMB (Office Management and Budget) have introduced a set of laws, directives, and regulations that oversee establishment & implementation of the information security practices. The organization must create clear reporting needs that fulfil the legislative requirements, directives, and regulations formed by Congress. The organization should modify the practice of their information security governance based on their own missions, operations & needs. 

Examples of the key legislative acts, which define entire governance requirements are:

  • The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
  • The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)
  • The Federal Financial Management Improvement Act (FFMIA)
  • The Clinger-Cohen Act
  • The Federal Information Security Management Act  (FISMA)

Information Security Governance Components

Organizations should incorporate their activities of information security governance with the entire activities and structure of the organization by guaranteeing the proper participation of the enterprise officials in overseeing the security control implementation throughout the enterprise. The key activities, which enables the integrations are:

  • Strategic planning
  • Organization design & development
  • Establishment of the roles & responsibilities
  • Integration with organization architecture
  • Documentation of objectives of security policies and guidance

The following diagram depicts the relationship among the above-mentioned components:

infosec governance componets

Image source: NIST SP 800 - 100

Information Security Strategic Planning

The organization requires to create a strategic plan for the program activities and create an annual performance plan that covers each program activity in terms of their budget. The strategic plan should be refreshed for every three years. The organization should incorporate the information security into their strategic planning process by creating and documenting the information security strategies, which directly support their strategic & performance planning activities.

The enterprise information security strategy should:

  • Establish a complete framework to facilitate the development, assessment, institutionalization, and enhancement of the organization’s information security program.
  • Support the entire organization strategic & performance plans with this content visibly noticeable to these higher-end sources.

Information Security Governance Structure

Structure of information security can be considered in various ways. The two basic structure models are: 

1.Centralized Structure

infosec centralized structure

2.Decentralized Structure

Decentralized Structure

In reality, organizations usually adopt the hybrid model, which includes centralized structure model at one end and decentralized structure model at the other end since it is quite rare to implement the governance completely based on centralized or decentralized structure. 

Key Governance Roles & Responsibilities

FISMA provides the detailed roles and responsibilities of the key governance. As we have discussed the key roles and responsibilities in the information security in our blog, An Introduction To Information Security - Roles & Responsibilities, here we listed some sample responsibilities of the governance roles. 

Agency Head

Some of the FISMA assigned responsibilities are:

  • Guaranteeing that the information security program is properly created, documented, & implemented to offer security for entire networks, systems, and data, which support the organization’s operations.
  • Guaranteeing that the information security processes are incorporated with strategic & operational planning processes in order to defend the mission of the organization.
  • Guaranteeing that the senior agency officers provide the essential authority to defend the assets and operations under their control

Chief Information Officer

Some of the FISMA assigned responsibilities are:

  • Designating a SAISO (Senior Agency Information Security Officer).
  • Developing & maintaining an enterprise-wide information security program.
  • Developing & maintaining security policies, procedures & control techniques for addressing requirements.

Senior Agency Information Security Officer

Some of the FISMA assigned responsibilities are:

  • Primarily performing the duties of information security.
  • Training & supervising personals with important responsibilities for the information security.
  • Periodically testing & analysing the effectiveness of the security policies, procedures & practices.

Chief Enterprise Architect

Some of the FISMA assigned responsibilities are:

  • Leading organization architecture development & implementation efforts
  • Collaborating with business lines within the organization to guarantee proper incorporation of the business lines into enterprise architecture
  • Participating in the activities of the organizational strategic planning & performance planning to guarantee proper incorporation of enterprise architecture

Related Roles

The following are the responsibilities of the some of the primary senior administration roles:

  • Inspector General (IG) – Works to evaluate the information security practices of the organization and identifies vulnerabilities & the possible requirements to adopt security measures. 
  • Chief Financial Officer – Reviews the cost goals of major security investments and reporting the financial management information.
  • Chief Privacy Officer / other designated official with privacy responsibilities – Works to keep a proper balance between the privacy and security needs and works to guarantee that one is never compromised for the other.
  • Physical Security Officer/other designated official with physical security responsibilities – Responsible for the entire implementation & management of the controls of physical security across the organization, to comprise incorporation with controls of information security. 
  • Personnel Security Officer/ other designated official with personnel security responsibilities - Responsible for the entire implementation & management of the controls of personnel security across the organization, to comprise incorporation with controls of information security. 
  • Acquisitions/Contracting – Responsible for handling contracts and supervising their implementation

Integration With Enterprise Architecture

The organization needs to integrate the security into their organization architecture development life cycle. This integration support to comply with the OMB requirements and offer the following benefits:

  • Reduce the reporting burden
  • Incorporation of security data
  • Preservation of security needs

Information Security Policies & Guidance

Information security policy is one of the basic components of the information security governance. If there is no policy, then governance possess no rules and substances to enforce.
Organization information security policy must address the basics of information security governance structure, such as:

  • Information security roles & responsibilities.
  • Statement of the security controls baselines.
  • Statement of rules for beyond the baseline.
  • Behaviour rules, which organization users are expected to follow.

Ongoing monitoring

It is important to constantly review the information security governance to ensure the following things:

  • Ongoing information security activities are offering proper support to the organization mission.
  • Policies & procedures are up-to-date and aligned with developing technologies.
  • Controls are obtaining their proposal purpose.

The key ongoing activities, which assist in supervising and enhancing the information governance activities of the organization are:

  • Plans of Action & Milestones
  • Measurements & Metrics
  • Continuous Assessments
  • Configuration Management
  • Network Monitoring
  • Incidents & Events Statistics

Information Security Governance Challenges

The following are the some of the challenges that organization is likely to experience in its process to create an information security governance:

  • Balancing widespread requirements, creating from various governing bodies.
  • Maintaining currency.
  • Balancing legislation & agency-specific policy.
  • Prioritizing available funding based on the recruitment.

On the whole, information security governance offers a framework for creating as well as maintaining the security program, which will advance with the enterprise it supports. 

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An Introduction To Information Security Roles and Responsibilities

Information security involves securing information assets, financial information, customer data and other sensitive details. In order to accomplish the Information Security, organization, regardless of size needs to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of their professionals. For larger organizations, this will support to ensure that no work is ignored and for small organizations & less structured organization, this will support to evenly distribute the workload as the workers may be needed to involve in more than one task. Here in this article, we are going to present the outline of the basic roles and responsibilities involved in the information security with reference to the NIST special publication 800 – 12 Revision 1

Roles and responbility of cyber security


1. Risk Executive Function 

This role represents an individual or group of members such as CEO, board members, CIO within an enterprise who are responsible for guaranteeing that risk related considerations are viewed, and overall strategic goals are stated to meet the business missions and functions.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Defining a complete strategy to address the security risk across the whole enterprise.
  • Developing an enterprise risk management strategy.
  • Supervising risk associated activities across the enterprise.

2. Chief Executive Officer

This role represents the highest-level senior executive or officials in the enterprise who includes the whole responsibility to offer protection of information security commensurate with the possibilities and influence of the risk, which may result from unauthorized disclosure, access, destruction, and modification. 

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Integrating the process of information security management with the process of strategic as well as operational planning
  • Ensuring that the systems and information used to facilitate organization operation includes the respective information security safeguards
  • Approving that the trained personnel are fulfilling with associated information security policies, legislation, instructions, directives, and guidelines

3. Chief Information Officer

This role represents the official of the organization who is responsible for designating the senior information security officer, developing as well as maintaining policies, procedures & control techniques of security, supervising personnel with notable responsibilities for security & guaranteeing that personnel is properly trained and supporting senior enterprise officials with their security activities. 

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Allocating resources for system protections that support the business mission and functions of the organization
  • Guaranteeing that systems are shielded by confirming security plans & are permitted to function
  • Ensuring that there is an enterprise-wide security program, which is being effectively implemented

4. Information Owner

This role represents the official in the enterprise who includes the authority on the operation, management or statutory for certain details.
 
Basic Responsibilities:

  • Establishing the rules for the proper use as well as protection of the sensitive details
  • Offering input to the system owners about the security controls and requirements needed to sufficiently protect the sensitive information.
  • Creating the policies & procedures supervising its generation, processing, collection, disposal and dissemination

5. Senior Agency Information Security Officer 

This role represents the official in the enterprise who is responsible for serving as the chief contact person between the enterprise chief information officer and the system owners, authorizing officials, system security officers, and common control providers. This role can also be referred as the Chief Information Security Officer.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Managing & implementing an enterprise-wide information security program.
  • Assuming the responsibility of confirming security control assessor when required.

6. Authorizing Official

This role represents the senior officials in the executives who possess the authority to assume the responsibility for functioning a system at a certain range of risk to enterprise assets & operations.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Confirming security plans, action plans and determining whether certain changes in the environments or systems of the operation need reauthorization.
  • Guaranteeing that designated representatives are performing their activities and function with the security authorization.

7. Authorizing Official Designated Representative

This role represents the official who coordinates as well as conduct the essential day-to-day activities linked with the security authorization process on behalf of the authorizing official.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Assuming the responsibilities of the authorizing officials.
  • Taking decisions with respect to planning & resourcing of the authorization process, monitoring, and approval of the implementation of the action plan.
  • Preparing the authorization package, acquiring the signature of the authorizing officials on the documents related to authorization decision.

8. Senior Agency Official for Privacy 

This role represents the senior official of the organization who possesses the entire accountability and responsibility for guaranteeing implementation of privacy protections such as full compliance of agency with federal laws, policies, and regulations associated with privacy.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Supervising, facilitating and coordinating the privacy compliance efforts of the agency.
  • Reviewing the information privacy procedures of the agency to guaranteeing that they’re comprehensive as well as current.
  • Ensuring that the contractors and employees of the agency receive proper education and training programs about the information regulation, policies, procedures and privacy laws governing the information handling of the agency.

9. Common Control Provider

The role represents an individual or group who are responsible for the creation, implementation, evaluation and supervising of the common controls. 

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Documenting the enterprise-identified common controls in the organizational documents like security plan.
  • Guaranteeing that desired evaluations of the common controls are taken out by capable assessors defined by the enterprise.

10. System Owner

This role represents the officers who are responsible for the activities including procurement, integration, development, alteration, operation, maintenance & disposal of the system. 

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Addressing the user’s operational interests.
  • Guaranteeing the compilation with security requirements.
  • Creating & developing the system security plan.
  • Guaranteeing that the system is operated and deployed based on the agreed security controls.

11. System Security Officer

This role represents the officer who is responsible for guaranteeing that a proper operational security position is maintained in the systems.

Basic Responsibilities: 

  • Supervising the regular security operation of the system.
  • Supporting the security policies & procedures development and guaranteeing compliance with those security policies & procedures.

12. Information Security Architect

This role represents the individual or group who are responsible for guaranteeing that security requirements mandatory to safeguard business mission and the process of the organization are perfectly addressed in entire factors of enterprise architecture such as segments, reference models, and solution models.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Serving as the contact person between the organization architect & the security engineer.
  • Coordinating with common control providers, system owners and system security officers on the distribution of security controls as common, hybrid or system-dependent controls.

13. System Security Engineer

This role represents the individual or group who is responsible for performing security engineering activities for the systems.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Designing & developing enterprise systems or enhancing legacy systems.
  • Coordinating security-oriented activities with the security architects, system owners, senior agency information security officers, system security officers and common control providers.

14. Security Control Assessor

This role represents the individual or group who is responsible for performing a comprehensive evaluation of the operational, managerial and technical security controls as well as the control enhancements inherited by or used within the systems for determining the complete effectiveness of the security controls.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Offering an evaluation to determine deficiencies or weakness in the system & its operating environments.
  • Suggesting corrective actions to address determined vulnerabilities.
  • Preparing a security assessment report comprising the results of the evaluation.

15. System Administrator

This role represents the individual or group who are responsible for forming up and preserving a system / certain component of the system.

Basic Responsibilities:

  • Installing, configuring & updating hardware & software.
  • Establishing & managing user accounts.
  • Supervising backup & recovery tasks.
  • Implementing technical controls related to security.

16. User

The user is an individual/group / organization who possesses rights to access the data of an organization to perform their assigned duties.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Following to policies, which govern acceptable utilization of systems.
  • Employing the enterprise provided resources for certain purposes only
  • Reporting suspicious or anomalies system behavior. 

17. Other Supporting Roles

  • Auditors – Responsible to analyze the systems to identify whether the security controls are appropriate and whether the system satisfies stated security needs and enterprise policies.
  • Physical Security Staff – Responsible for creating & enforcing corresponding physical security controls.
  • Disaster Recovery Staff – Responsible for eventuality planning for the whole organization & function with other staffs to acquire extra eventuality planning support as required. 
  • Quality Assurance Staff – Responsible for enhancing the program quality by guaranteeing the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the system.
  • Procurement Office Staff – Responsible for guaranteeing that enterprise procurements have been revised by corresponding officials.
  • Training Office Staff -   Responsible to ensure effective training program.
  • Human Resources – Responsible for security-oriented exit procedures when workers leave an enterprise. Work closely on problems, including background investigations. 
  • Risk Management Staff – Responsible for analysing the entire manner of risks in terms of security to which the enterprise may be exposed. 
  • Physical Plant Staff – Responsible for guaranteeing the services provision, fundamental to the security as well as the safe operation of the systems.
  • Privacy Office Staff – Responsible for keeping a complete privacy program, which guarantees compliance with privacy needs, develops & analysis privacy policy, and handles privacy risks. 

The above outline of the roles and responsibilities are not a comprehensive list in terms of information security but the basic roles should consider. Organizations can customize their structure according to their resources and requirements.

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Rise Of Information Security Concerns

More and more personal information and business value worldwide are quickly moving into digital form on worldwide interconnected technology platforms. Due to this, the risks that are caused by cyber attacks becomes raising daunting. Criminals chase financial gain via identity theft and fraud; competitors disturb business or steal intellectual resources to grab the advantage. Enterprise regardless of size begins to understand that the tradition protection perimeter technology strategies are insufficient to handle the security threats that arises recently. In addition, cyber security concerns endure featuring at enterprise globally. Here in this article, we are going to discuss about the valuable reasons that stands behind the rise of information security concerns among the organization and individuals. 

1. Security Attacks On The Rise

Security attacks have been on the mounting spiral. There is an unending escalation in both frequency and size of attacks. Hackers seem to be achieving success in causing harm to the enterprise by the way of stealing the resources. As per the semantic report, which was released in 2016, over 1-million of web attacks happening roughly on a daily basis. Since cyber criminals now are increasingly cleverer, using new tools and innovative technologies to their wars, there is no wonder of the report of the PandaLabs (Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory) that states that they had a seizure more than 18 million new samples of malware. 

In addition, according to the new report of ITRC (Identity Theft Resources Center) and CyberScout, the number of data breaches which was tracked in 2016 represents a considerable hike of 40% over the record of 2015. The following graph illustrates the rise in security attacks:

cybersecurity future report


Source: idtheftcentre

And these increases in the security attacks make the enterprises across the world concerns for their business security and searching for the steps to ensure protection against threats. 

2. Causing Both Active & Passive Losses

As countless of dollars’ worth of dealing is happening worldwide daily via the internet, there is an enhancing requirement to execute effective protection as well as measures to meet and repel the security related crimes. Hackers not only targets the large private sectors, but also the smaller firms and governmental websites. Because of the attacks, enterprises not only face the financial losses but also endangered losing clients, market share, and prestige. Even they can have damaged their reputations. If an enterprise experience downtime with security attack, there would be a most expensive attack consequence, even up to 1.5 million$ for larger businesses. 

Security attacks not only leads the active losses as mentioned above, but some passive losses too. For example, after the security attack, organization need to prevent such attack from happening again in the future. Enterprise ends with spending extra budget for this though this can’t be directly routed to the recovery of security breaches. 

A worst case to aware is that a research of the National Cyber Security Alliance revealed that around 60% of hacked small & medium sized enterprises go out of their business after six months of the attack. 

In addition, a research from Juniper Research, a leading market analyst, states that the average cost of the data breach will beat $150 million by the year 2020, as several business infrastructures get connected.  

Undoubtedly, every enterprise would be scared of hearing these losses as there might be a chance of being fall into one of the victims in future. 

3. Lack Of Security Awareness & Plan

Regardless of what kind of industry you are working for or running, digitized data, communication, and information remain the major part of the success of the enterprise. The important information in the wrong hand can lead to security attack, which causes data & financial losses.

As per the 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, 95 % of entire security incidents comprises human errors. Most employees don’t aware how to prevent themselves and their enterprise from risk. Hackers are continually advancing their strategies, however, still, most of the individuals are still unaware of the kinds of threats they’re possible to encounter. 

A report on knowledge of employee on the data privacy & cyber security exposed that 88 % of employees are in lack of awareness to break defendable cyber incidents. 

In addition to this unawareness, most of the organizations are lack in proper security plan and strategies. In IT industry only 5% of enterprises maintain security compliance requirements in consideration while developing the product. With the reference of Barkly, Dec 2016, Security Confidence Headed into 2017, the following figure depicts that only 31 % of enterprises are taking efforts to make a security plan to meet the threats, the remaining are clueless or made no changes in their plan in terms of security. 

Security plan

4. Massive Security Resource Crunch

Despite the business risks possessed by the cyber attacks, security leaders spotlight the lack of technology and staff expertise as the main reason that behinds these attacks remain unchecked. 

In addition, most of the enterprises faced increased security risks because of lack of skilled cyber security experts. According to the study of  Tripwire, 75 % of enterprises, lack the skilled experts to deal with the cyber-attacks. Despite the demand of skilled professionals, enterprises have encountered a workforce shortage. According to the study of Frost & Sullivan, it is estimated that there will be a shortfall around 1.5 million of trained cyber security professional by 2020. 

Moreover, the CEO of Symantec states that job opening for the cyber security is anticipated to rise to 6 million worldwide by 2019.

5. Clueless Individuals

In addition to these surprise about the sources and impacts of the cyber attacks that continuing to expand, the worst thing here is most of the individuals remains clueless on what to do with these issues. Of course, there is value in the security training program, still not all the programs are value for money and effectiveness. Furthermore, there is a lack of affordable Vendor Independent Programs providing Real-Time Exposure. Though the training programs are well crafted, without possessing real-time exposure, their effectiveness is low, their value is doubtful and they’re a waste of money and time. 

Keeping all these factors that raise the security concerns, Hack2Secure, one of the few global vendors delivers End-to-End Information Security programs via Training, Certification (PearsonVUE) and Services across Information Security domains aligned with Industry Security requirements and Best practices. We are providing customizable vendor independent training programs along with real time exposures. As we are evaluating and enhancing the skill set of professionals in terms of security, we aim to fulfill the demand of resources and competent experts. Connect with us to explore more.

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6 Factors That Would Act As The Contributors For The Progress In The Cybercrime

Criminals yield benefit of technology in several different ways. Especially, the internet becomes the great tool for the scammers and other malicious users because it permits them to perform their trade while standing behind the digital anonymity. Cybercrime affects our society in a myriad of ways both in the offline and online. Likewise, the incident of cyber-crime is on the upturn, and as a result of rising use of technology as well as rising volumes of data enterprises, it is no wonder. However, a recent report from the Cybersecurity Ventures tabs everyone to frighten about the digital world.

According to the report, A Cybercrime Revelation published by the Cybersecurity Ventures, 

“Cybercrime Cost Estimates Have Risen From $400 Billion In Early 2015 To $6 Trillion By 2021”

The cost includes the damage & destruction of data, lost productivity, stolen money, intellectual property theft, personal & financial data theft, fraud, embezzlement, forensic investigation, reputational harm and much more.
 
This report predicts that the following factors would act as the contributors for the progress in the cybercrime. 

  1. Digital Growth
  2. Cyber Security Spending
  3. Speed of Cyber Offense over Cyber Defense
  4. Money & the Laws
  5. Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage
  6. Attack Against Small Business

Organizations which suffer a cybercrime are expected to have the opportunity, revenue and customer losses. Given the complication of the today’s interrelated world, we all need to work together in order to protect the enterprise from cybercrime. Here we have presented the overview of the contributing factors, according to the report in order to encourage the enterprise to strengthen their cyber security efforts. 

1. Digital Growth

Among the several contributing factors, the expansion of global attack surface that attackers target sounds as the absolute predictor. 
For Example:

Microsoft researched the digital growth and estimated the following changes will happen in 2020:

estimated
Similarly, CIO of Federal Communication Commission estimates how the people, web server and data online will be in 2022:


According to a research of Secure Decisions, around 111 billion lines of programming code being developed each year and these will include the chance of having billions of vulnerabilities, which can be exploited. 

In addition to the digital growth, the attacks like Social Engineering, Phishing, Machine-to-Machine attacks and Ransomware increase the chances of hackers entering into the organization networks. 

These raised numbers increase the level of complexity and risks of cyber-attacks & security exposures. 

2. Cybersecurity Spending

“$1 Trillion Cumulatively Will Be Spent Globally On Cyber Security From 2017 To 2021”

The cyber security has received more focus, attention, and investments, organizations today are spending enough amount on the products and services which support to defend against the cybercrime. 
A report from Gartner.Inc, which states that worldwide spending on the cyber security have touched $75 billion in the year 2015 can be the best evidence on the influence of cyber security spending. 
Cybersecurity Vendors forecast that this spending will reach $1 trillion over the consecutive five years (2017 to 2021). 

3. Speed Of Cyber Offense Over Cyber Defense

The Black -Hats or offenders are ahead of the White-Hats or defenders today. This is the main problem in the cyber security because the offenders or attackers still possess the edge over the defenders or good guys. In the current situation, 11 % of security compromise is achieved within seconds and another 82% takes just an hour because the attackers can work without any rules and their main aim is breaking the rules. By contrast, defenders are packed with rules of permissions and engagements; hence their defensive response is comparatively slow, often take hours or days. 

4. Money & The Laws

The crypto currencies empowered the cyber criminals. The rise of these kinds of currencies has increased the chance of safe & easy, to claim & receive an amount anonymously. This has influenced the type and number of cybercrime opportunities. Moreover, the lack of effective Law Enforcement makes the criminals no fear of payback and allows them to continue hacking. 

5. Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

Right now, the cyber security and associated workforce shortage are extremely severe. The organizations require security leadership to remedy the issues. As per the Cybersecurity jobs report, approximately one million positions of cyber security openings remain unfilled in 2016 and this number is forecast to rise to 1.5 million in the future.

cybersecurity workforce shortage
This shortage would leave the corporate IT security team and CISOs shorthanded, as well as the scramble for the talent whilst cybercrimes, are intensifying. 

6. Small Business Are Targets

Nearly half of the total cyber-attacks target the smaller organizations. All organizations find it hard to solve the impacts of the cyber attacks on their own. This is especially true for the small business who don’t possess enough resources and employ full-time cyber defense professionals. In addition, most of the small and medium sized business do not include email security, data protection & an employee awareness training program in place. These lacking factors make them prone to the cyber attacks often. 

How to Fight Back

Of course, the cyber war would not end, ever; however, we can neutralize the hackers by the cyber defenders. 
Since the employees are the weakest link for the cyber attack, the organization should plan proper training programs to make them the first line of defense against the attacks. A study from the IBM ‘s IBV (Institute for Business Value) indicated that 57% of the HR officers report that they have conducted employee training, which addresses the cybersecurity factors. Cybersecurity Vendors predicts that the employee security education programs would become a basic defense strategy by the year 2021.  
 
Hope the above information, offers helpful information on the costs and contributing factors of the cybercrime. This would make you aware better how to spend your information security budgets.

Hack2Secure is as one of the few global vendors with a capability to deliver End-to-End Information Security programs via Training, Certification (PearsonVUE) and Services across Information Security domains aligned with Industry Security Requirements and Best practices. Connect with us to explore more.

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Threat Modeling Design For Security Benefits

Security risk management is a major concern across the several organizations worldwide. Most of these companies implement some kind of security program, which includes activities like vulnerability remediation & penetration testing that typically happens in the final stage of the development cycle. However, it is important to design security into the software to resolve the security issues early. This is because the security issues are relatively simple as well as cost-effective to address at this time. This is where the importance of threat modeling design for security comes in. 

Threat modeling is a security control completed during the architecture as well as the design phase of the software development life cycle to determine and reduce the risk present in the software. It identifies the weaknesses and possible threats early in the software design phase, mitigates the danger of attacks and reduces the high cost of solving vulnerabilities determined in the production stage. NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) estimates that the error fixes achieved after the software is released can affect in 30 times the price of fixes achieved during the design stage. 

In addition, fixing error later on the SDLC also significantly influence the user productivity. On the other hand, it is possible to achieve data protection much easier at the design stage. Therefore, when considering security, a most common methodology is to build a certain threat model design that tries to define the kinds of attacks, which are possible to happen. This approach is helpful when building file system/file system filter driver since it forces the developer to focus on the possible attack vectors against a file driver. Possessing determined potential threats, a file driver developer finds simple to consider the ways of defending against threats to strengthen the entire security of the system. 

As we already discussed the Threat Modeling Process For Secure Design Implementation in our earlier blog, here we are going to focus on the benefit of the threat modeling design.

Why Do We Require To Perform The Threat Modeling Design?

The organization experiences several benefits from the threat modeling. A good threat model describes and constrains the objectives; hence, it could be possible to declare proper care in terms of protecting digital assets. The threat modeling also supports to define the essential security features & control need by the system. Added to this, it drives as well as focus essential security processes, including security testing and code analysis. 

It supports to prioritize the kinds of attacks in order to address as well as support to choose controls for mitigating risks.  Drive reliable standards to apply a security policy to the enterprise. Prioritize risk handling by beating into the real-time threat intelligence. A threat model offers a baseline for identifying where the risk exposure exists to minimize them. It enlarges the other calculations by appending further attack vectors and determining new kinds of vulnerabilities. 

In addition to the special association, the threat modeling possesses with the secure architecture, as it also supports an input to the actions, which happen in other phases of the software development lifecycle including requirement identification, code reviewing, test planning and penetration testing. It informs these actions and provides an invaluable vision into the approaches that attackers could choose to affect the system.

Benefits Of Performing Threat Modeling At The Architectural Level

Threat modeling design supports to 

  • Confirm suitability of the determined security structures to be implemented
  • Identify gaps in the security structures to be implemented
  • Identify any further security aspects
  • Identify policy & process requirements
  • Identify requirements that to be inserted into security operations
  • Identify logging & monitoring requirements
  • Understand business continuity requirements
  • Understand capacity & availability requirements

Benefits Of Performing Threat Modeling At The Design Level

Threat modeling design supports to 

  • Identify vulnerabilities, which require being fixed at the design level and fed this into the development phase
  • Identify information assets, which require security controls
  • Map the determined security controls into Administrative / Technical / Physical controls (this action can be performed at the architectural level too, but performing it at the design stage supports in being granular). 
  • Identify security test cases or security test scenarios in order to test the security needs.

As the digital world increases in reliance on the system for sensitive information, the possibilities of software being hacked are also raised. Security requires to be a portion of the design process of software. Applying security at the design stage with the help of threat modeling process guarantees that software security is being built, thus reducing the chance of an attack. 

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NIST Guide On Application Whitelisting A Quick Summarization

Application whitelisting is nothing but a technology that is created to maintain the system secure from the unwanted software like malware. It works to keep the malware as well as other unwanted malicious software from functioning on a computer system. NIST Special Publication 800-167, called Guide to Application Whitelisting includes the basics of application whitelisting as well as its planning & implementation. With the aim of making the organization which wants to stop threats, understanding these essential concepts, here we presented a quick summary of the same. 

An application whitelist is defined as the set of applications as well as application components, which are authorized to apply in an enterprise. This technology uses whitelists to decide which applications are allowed to execute on the host. Thereby it prevents the execution of unlicensed software, malware, and other unauthorized software. 

Application Whitelisting Basics

Basic definitions as per NIST :

Application Whitelisting Basics

Major Difference Between Application Whitelisting And Security Technologies

Major Difference Between Application Whitelisting And Security Technologies


Types Of Application Whitelisting

Application whitelisting is based on the following types:
1. Application files and folder attributes, which can be evaluated
2. Application resources handled
3. Whitelist generation techniques

1. Files and Folder Attributes

Application whitelisting can be available according to the variability of files and folder attributes that are listed below:

  • File Path

Application whitelisting based on this attribute permits the entire applications presented within a certain file path. Here, the path requires being prevented by some strict access control otherwise there would be a chance to allow any malicious files presented in the directory to be executed. 

  • File Name

The application or application components are permitted based on their File Name. If a file becomes infected or replaced, there would not be a change in the file name. Similarly, hackers could find a way to place the malicious file with the accepted file name format. Hence, it is recommended to use this attribute complied with other attributes. 

  • File Size

Accepting application based on the file size includes the assumption that malicious files have different file size as compared to the original. However, attackers can make the infected files to appear in same file size as their benign matching part. Therefore, this attribute is generally paired with other attributes like a file name.

  • Digital Signature Or Publisher

Application whitelisting are based on the digital signature provided by the publisher or the identity of the publisher. 

  • Cryptographic Hash

Whitelisting applications based on the strong cryptographic algorithm associated with the hash function is almost accurate regardless of the file path, file name and its digital signature until the file is updated. 

2. Application resources

Application whitelisting is often permitted or restricted based on monitoring executable. In addition, most of these technologies also include the capability to monitor some other kinds of application associated files like scripts, libraries, browser-plugins, macros, configuration files and application-associated registry entries. 

3. Whitelist Generation Techniques

Whitelist generation comes in two primary methods:

Method 1: Consider the vendor provided details on the known application’s characteristics along with organization generated details on the organization specific application’s characteristics. 

Method 2: Scanning the files on the clean host in order to form a good known reference point. 

Both methods are effective on their own until the application is updated or any new application gets installed.

Application Whitelisting Modes

Most of the application whitelisting come in two operational runtime modes:

1.Audit Mode

This mode allows whole items including those, which are not listed on the whitelist & logs their execution. It offers data in the process of continuous monitoring and analyses.

2. Enforcement Mode

This mode automatically permits and blocks the execution of whitelisted items and blacklisted items respectively.

Different Forms Of Enforcement Mode Are:

  • Whitelist Enforcement – Block the execution of entire items excepts the whitelisted items.
  • User Prompting – Depends on the user or administrators command to accept or reject the files, which are not whitelisted or blacklisted.
  • Blacklist Enforcement – Allows the execution of entire items excepts the blacklisted items.

Application Whitelisting Technologies Uses

In addition to the offering application access control, application whitelisting technologies can be employed in other purposes such as:

  • Software Inventory – This technology can maintain an inventory of the applications as well as application versions that is installed on each host. Useful in identifying unlicensed applications, prohibited applications, wrong version software, modified applications, malware, unknown applications, and unauthorized applications.
  • File Integrity Monitoring – Application whitelisting technologies perform continuous or frequent monitoring of attempted changes to the files. Useful in preventing files changes or report file changes.
  • Incident Response – Whitelisting technologies check the files on the host with the characteristics of malicious files captured after responding to an incident in order to find that they have been compromised or not.
  • Data Storage Access control -  Permits only the encrypted device or devices with a certain serial number.  Thereby restricts the file read, write & execution on the removable media.
  • Memory Protection – Prevents the attacks that affect the files in the memory.
  • Software Reputation Services – Reviews the software that the application is bundled with, in order to analyse for substantial security risk.
  • Anti-malware Technology Integration – Integrate with other malware analysis product to identify the malicious content.

Operational Environment Differences

When it comes on selecting & deploying application whitelisting, it is essential to consider the important differences in the operational environment. They are as follows:

  • Standalone Or Small Office/Home Office(SOHO) – Small or informal system installation, which is used for business or home purpose. It is, the least secure one.
  • Managed or Enterprise – Refers to the large organizational systems along with defined suites of software and hardware configurations, generally comprising of Centrally Managed IT products.
  • Specialized Security-Limited Functionality (SSLF) Or Custom – Includes systems in which the degree and functionality of the security don’t fit the Managed or Standalone environments.  It is a highly restrictive and secure environment.

Assessing Application Whitelisting Solution

The evaluating process includes the following steps:

1. Analysis of environment in which the hosts or the system will be functioning.

2. Consider whether a built-in application whitelisting or third-party solution are feasible

3. Test the perspective whitelisting technology in the monitoring mode to understand how it behaves

Planning And Implementation Of Application Whitelisting

For a successful planning as well as implementation of the application whitelisting, it is important to follow the step-by-step phased approached presented below:

Planning And Implementation Of Application WhitelistingInitiation

The initiation phase involves to determining the current as well as future requirements for the application whitelisting. It also aims to determine how those requirements can best be satisfied. The requirements need to consider are:

  • External Requirements – The enterprise may be subject to review by another enterprise, which requires application whitelisting.
  • System & Network Requirements – It is essential to understand the nature of these requirements to choose compatible solutions with the vital functionality. Factors to consider are:
    • Characteristics of devices, which require application whitelisting
    • Technical attributes of interface systems

Requirement Analysis Outcomes

  • Identification of types of applications / application components.
  • Determination of classes of whitelisting application, which should be applied to balance usability, maintainability and security.
  • Analysis of requirements documentations including performance requirements, security capabilities, management requirements, usability and maintenance requirements and the security of the technology.

Design

Once the requirements have been determined and the suitable technologies have been chosen, then the next action to focus on is designing a solution, which meets those requirements.   It is vital to make accurate design decision to prevent the application whitelisting implementation to be susceptible to compromise / failed. Major design factor to focus on are as follows:

  • Cryptography - It should be applied in three ways for the technologies. They are:

1. To create & verify cryptographic hashes for files & other application components.
2. To evaluate digital signature.
3. To protect the confidentiality & integrity of communication among the individual hosts & centralized management.

  • Solution Architecture - Involves the selection of software and devices to offer application whitelisting services & the centralized element placements within the available network infrastructure.
  • Whitelist Management - Involves the establishment of trusted publishers, updaters, users, etc.

Implementation 

Once the solution is designed, the consequent step is implementation & test of a design prototype. Initially, the action of implementation and testing should be performed on the test devices or lab. Only the application whitelisting solution in the final stage should be allowed to implement on the production devices. The factors of the prototype solution that need evaluation comprise the following:

  • Application Control Functionality
  • Management
  • Logging/alerting
  • Performance
  • Security of Implementation

Deployment

The next phase that comes after testing and resolving any issues is, deployment. An enterprise should follow gradual deployment from a small number of hosts. This will help to avoid several issues includes loss of availability. Most of the issues that happen are possibly happen on multiple hosts; hence, it is useful to determine such issues at the time of the testing process deploying the 1st hosts; hence those issues can be concentrated before widespread deployment. 

Management

The final stage is to ensure the long lasting. Managing an application whitelisting solution involves functioning the deployed solution & maintaining the architecture, software, policies and other solution components of the application whitelisting.

Some Typical Actions Are As Follows:

  • Updating the whitelist in order to add new / updated applications
  • Testing & applying patches to the whitelisting software
  • Deploying application whitelisting solution for additional platforms
  • Doing key management duties
  • Adopting policies as per the change in the requirements
  • Monitoring components for the security and operational issues
  • Regularly performing testing to guarantee that whitelisting is working properly
  • Performing regular vulnerability valuations

This article almost covers the basics of the application whitelisting and overview of the planning and implementation of the application whitelisting which are examined in the NIST Guide. 

Hack2Secure is as one of the few global vendors with capability to deliver End-to-End Information Security programs viz Training, Certification (PearsonVUE) and Services across Information Security domains aligned with Industry Security requirements and Best practices. Connect with us to explore more.

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10 Security Processes For Organizations To Adopt in 2017

As the technology continues to grow and evolve, businesses require focusing on the technologies range that they’re using and the day-to-day complications as well as problems that arise. Focusing their concentration on these things will support businesses to determine areas of both strengths and weaknesses. However, many companies do not have good enough security processes in place for preventing their confidential resources. For example, as per the statistic report of Barkly, the following chart illustrates that around 52% of organizations are not doing required security changes in 2017 even though they experienced an attack in 2016.

 Hack2Secure action plan for organisation in 2017

While businesses see security as essential, several may not completely understand how their enterprise is in danger and what step to take. Of course, most of the businesses have tried to determine the risks of cyber threats faced by their enterprise via audits or risk assessments and most possess some sort of controls or rules in place. Although these actions can still fall short to meet the ever-rising security demands. 

Businesses required to guarantee that their security processes are up-to-date as attackers continue to dig into new fields. Hackers use phishing or ransomware scams to attack organizations who mightn’t have the strong cyber security measures. There are several security compliance needs requiring to address. An organization must adopt proper security processes which stand agreeable to such fundamentals. Next, we are going to focus on some of the security processes that organizations should adopt in 2017 to ensure a secure environment for their businesses for current and future risks.

1. Possess A Security Strategy

Business should possess a security strategy mapped out that comprises: determine the assets that require protecting, assess how instant the threat is in the business & who requires access to particular details within the enterprise. 

2. Train Employees And Users

No matter how capable the users and employees, the human will be the weakest link in terms of IT security. Hence, it is important to train them regularly on the best practices of cyber security. The training should comprise how to identify a phishing email, generate & maintain strong passwords, stay away from dangerous applications, guarantee sensitive information isn’t taken and other associated user security risks.

3. Manage Paperwork

It is important to ensure security in both digitally and physically. The position of important paperwork or hard copies should be maintained properly because critical details may make attacking effortless if it becomes accessible by the wrong hands.
 

4. Update Software & Systems

With hackers constantly discovering new techniques and searching for new weakness, an enhanced security solution is only capable for so long. To prevent the business against security breaches, the organization should ensure that their hardware and software security is up-to-date with recent features.  

5. Make An Incident Response Plan

No matter, how well the organizations are following the security best practices and strategies, still they get breached. It is recommended to have a response plan that will support to limit the damage resulted from breach if happens and allows to remediate effectively. 

6. Create A Formal Security Governance Strategy

Develop and maintain a framework, which offers assurance security strategies are associated with and help the business is more vital than every advanced tool in the security stack. While selecting any of these methods, make sure that the program offers the capability to use a risk-based strategy and facilitates the team to find incidents, investigate efficiently and respond quickly. 

7. Encrypt The Data

Filesystems, stored data & across-the-wire transfers required to be encrypted with standard algorithms. Encryption supports to protect the sensitive data and prevent the data from loss and hacking.

8. Back Up Data

Organizations, which have been hit with Wannacry or Petya will tell the world how essential it is to ensure backing up the files. It is important for enterprises to maintain a complete working backup of entire data not only in the security hygiene perspective but also to meet emerging security attacks.

9.  Be Vigilant On Social Media

Most of the organizations now possess a social media existence. As like the personal information, the organization should be vigilant about details of the organization they share on social media. Hackers are capable to take the details that are displayed in social media and impersonate the business.
 

10.  Identify Insider Threats

While well-trained employee serves as the organization security front line, technology comes as the last line of safeguarding. Supervising the user activity prevent to avoid unauthorized behavior and check user actions to ensure there is no violation of security policy. In case if the insider threats are undetected, an organization might encounter a costly loss due to insider breaches. 

In short, the organization should follow some essential security processes to make the security a top in place in their business. Failing to follow these strategies could result in the severe security breach that could reach the organization out of business. We Hack2Secure has been offering the training and consultancy services to support organization to stay secure. 

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Essential Components In The Aim Of Achieving Total Security In The Cloud

When using cloud services, ensuring appropriate security protection could ultimately support to reduce potential loss of business. When planning to shift to cloud computing, it is incredible to have a better understanding of the advantages of potential security as well as the risk associated with the cloud computing. Both the customers and cloud service providers include the responsibilities of maintaining awareness, setting priorities, weighing alternatives and effecting alters in privacy as well as security to prevent essential loss of control. 


Here are some of the security risks that need to be addressed to ensure secure cloud computing:

cloud security risk


Components To Consider For Achieving Total Cloud Security 

For transferring data and applications to the cloud, maintaining the security level is very critical. Here are ten essential components to consider for achieving total security in the cloud :

componets of cloud
1. Assure The Existence Of Effective Governess, Risks & Compliance Processes

Organizations establish compliance policies & procedures to secure their corporate assets and intellectual property in the IT environment. These procedures and policies, the company security plan as well as quality improvement process create the organization’s risk management, security governance, and compliance model. Similarly, in the cloud environment, it is essential to document SLA (Service Level Agreement) that includes these requirements.  This will support to ensure that the data and application are secured based on the security governance and compliance policy. 

2. Audit Operational & Business Processes

Auditing the IT systems compliance is an important action to guarantee in the industry, government or corporate policies and requirements. The security audit of operational and business process in the cloud service is also an important aspect when it comes in terms of security consideration. Audits must be accomplished by a skilled and experienced staff. In addition, security audits should be taken based on the security control standards. 

3. Maintain People, Roles & Identities

People accessing the cloud platform should be logged and monitored regardless of their entitlement and roles, to offer an audit of the entire access to application and data. It is important to have a formalized approach for handling the people who access any of the software and hardware to store, execute or transmit applications and data. The cloud service provider should demonstrate and disclose these approaches to their customer. 

4. Protect Data And Information 

Though the organization moved to using the cloud computing infrastructure, data remains the core of the information security concerns. With the distributed nature of this infrastructure as well as shared responsibilities, data and information require added focus. Security considerations need to apply to data at rest and data in motion states. 
 

5. Enforce Privacy Policies

Since data protection and privacy is demanding importance, involving regulations and laws associated with storage, acquisitions, and use of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is recommended. The privacy policies should include the following aspects:

  • The scope of things to be protected
  • The objects to which the laws and regulations apply
  • The rules regarding the transfer of sensitive data to other regions
  • Whether the country includes the government data protection agency that includes special authority for data privacy.

6. Evaluate The Security Provisions

To safeguard the applications from a wide range of security breaches, it is incredible to understand the security provisions considerations as per the various cloud deployment models.  Each model, including IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) includes different requirements and responsibilities of security. 

7. Secure Cloud Network And Connections

It is important to ensure only the legitimate network traffics are allowed and the malicious network traffics are blocked. Customers and cloud service providers are required to assess the external network controls as per the following areas:

  • Traffic screening
  • Denial-of-service protection
  • Intrusion detection & prevention
  • Logging and Notification

8. Assess Security Controls Of Physical Infrastructure & Facilities

In cloud computing, the information security system depends on the security controls of the physical infrastructure as well as facilities of the cloud service providers. It is vital to assess whether the following security controls are addressed:

  • Physical infrastructure & facilities must be placed in secure areas
  • Control of staffs working in secure places
  • Protection from environmental and external threats
  • Equipment security controls
  • Human resource security
  • Backup, continuity, and redundancy plans

9. Maintain Security Terms In The Service Agreement

The security service agreement should include the security responsibilities and aspects like the security breach reporting.  Evaluating and reporting the compliance of cloud service providers regarding the data protection is a crucial metric of the efficiency of the entire enterprise security plan. 

10. Assure The Removal Of Exit Processes  

From the perspective of security, achieving reversibility is important once the customer has finished the process of termination. It is essential to assure that the data copies are permanently deleted from the cloud environment (including backup locations & online data stores).

The security threats, as well as security requirements in the cloud environment, differ for different deployment models.  The steps to mitigate such threats and implement the security controls also vary depending upon the cloud service model chosen. The above essential components remain as the common approach to achieve the total cloud security.

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An Overview On Incident Response Checklist

Planning as well as preparing for the surprising security incident is the greatest challenge, that IT professionals are facing today. A security incident is referred as the violation of law, policy or unacceptable action, which includes valuable assets. It is essential for the organization to come with a plan before an incident affects them. A perfect incident response plan can reduce the effects of the security breach and negative publicity. Furthermore, it is vital that a response plan is well-formulated, supported and regularly tested. Supporting with good policies are not enough for the successful, incident response, it requires checklist, procedures, tools, and training.

An incredible part of the incident response handling is the checklist. With the guidance of procedures, checklists offer direction for the incident handling team. Since the checklist requires frequent updates, they are often underutilized, overlooked or outdated in most organizations.  This article is about to make yourself understand the essential things about the incident response checklist.

Importance Of Incident Response Checklist

The checklist is used to reviewing critical logs while responding to a successful incident and also be applied for log review. A good checklist can address certain scenarios and break-down critical responsibilities into smaller pieces. It also supports the responders document the whole thing, which happens in an exact, standard as well as repeatable way. It will support the organization’s legal action. 

Guide To Create A Checklist

Deciding which topics to consider for a checklist can be complicated. It is essential to ensure that you have covered entire basis. There is no need to build so many checklists, which can overload the incident response team. Try to avoid creating an overly specific checklist, this will be less applicable to the varied scenarios. It is an ideal way to make a checklist for each threat which is widely faced by the enterprise. 

The initial objective of creating a checklist is identifying entire members of the incident response team. The next step involves providing employees with the written procedures of the incident response. 

Elements Of An Effective Checklist

  • The checklists should be maintained up-to-date to ensure that they are in the line of the policies and procedures of the organization and the industry best practices.
  • Only the major steps to be accomplished should be covered in the checklist.
  • The checklist should not exceed two pages.
  • Checklists should have proper approval (from management, human resources, legal, etc.) as like the policies & procedures
  • It is important to ensure that everyone involved in the task of incident response should be aware of the checklist in addition to the policies and procedures. Furthermore, they should aware where to determine them before a security incident happens. 

Things Should Not To Do With Checklists

  • Never use the checklists as the replacement for testing of or training on incident response plan
  • Checklists shouldn’t be excessively detailed. 
  • Avoid dictating response step-by-step since they can make checklist awkward. 
  • The checklist should be considered as the supplement of the decision-making of the incident response rather than replacing.

Incident Checklist Outline

The following are a walk through on the generalized incident response checklist.You can use these details as a starting point for your action of creating a checklist. 

Preparation

  • Identify ownership & responsibility for entire system of the organization
  • Clear communication channel
  • Incident Response plan aware of and potential to deal APT style attacks
  • In-house potentials or contract with partner for
  • Containment approach for APT
  • Legal Team
  • Press Team

Identification

  • Remote access trojan
  • Command & Control
  • Encrypted communications determined
  • Direct External Notification
  • Covert channel discovered
  • Data discovered outside the organization
  • Notification to enterprise staff should happen in a discrete manner
  • Host-based IDS/IPS alert of surprised data access, call, port open

Containment

  • Watch & learn Vs Disconnect
  • Extract & Find characteristic of adversary
  • Determine what is being theft
  • Determine legal ramifications
  • Is it proper to disconnect the whole segment from the network?
  • Contact Law Enforcement
  • Public Reporting?

Eradication

  • Imperative that entire affected systems be gathered, & complete forensic images build
  • Close the entire network courses of ex-filtrations
  • Close the entire course of re-infection
  • Remove entire C+C/ RAT/ Backdoors

Recovery

  • Close future network courses of ex-filtrations
  • Re-engineer systems to defense reinfection
  • Segment sensitive data to more restricted areas
  • Employ auditing for sensitive data access
  • Determine staffs in the environment who accidentally or intentionally supported APT

Lessons Learned

  • Measure executive stance towards information assurance and incident handling
  • Advance intelligence group for determination APT attack
  • A campaign to support staff members of various kinds of threats
  • Re-catalog & re-value possessions in front of APT approaches and targets
  • Progress methods for APT response
  • Combination of data from entire sources

The above information, offers the major actions to be performed in incident handling. The outline provides guidelines on essential things to be focussed while creating a checklist, it does not state the exact steps that must always be followed. They can vary according to the nature and type of the incidents.

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Why SWADLP Certification Is Best Suited For Software Security Professional

Everyone aware how vulnerable today’s desktop, web-based and mobile applications to a security attack. There is an evidence that the majority of the security issues are resulted due to the human error. Hence, companies are now turning their attention to the literacy and skills of their workforce. Their primary focus is on the certain roles as well as expertise on the technical team.  For clearly finding the right competencies, organizations are now following the strategy of recruiting certified people with the security capabilities to perform at their extreme potential. 

Among the few outstanding certifications for infosec professionals, SWADLP (Secure Web Application Development Lifecycle Practitioner) yield the desired result in the software security. The main reason is that it is launched with sufficient knowledge of where the skill gaps in the professionals exist. SWADLP applied the best approach to pinpoint this security learning requirement to allow the candidates to evaluate their current implementation level skills in order to enhance their competency. An added benefit of this approach is that it amplifies the awareness of the employees on learning requirements and supports break-down any obstacles to learn fundamental security skills. The evolution of this course indicated raised awareness and skills of software security.

Thousands of professionals can have attained the hands-on knowledge of the secure software development lifecycle by the SWADLP which would encompass the best quality of security aspects to avoid the happening of security incidents. The certification exam encompasses the hard-headed questions to ensure the prerequisite security SDLC skill set of the candidate.

Why Is SWADLP Certification Best Suited For Software Security?

SWADLP claims that for dealing with the risk, it is essential to embed the security needs within every process of the software development rather than considered as a separate tower. It aims to make the technology professionals understand the risk in business and its association to security. This certification has been remaining as the ideal platform for the professionals to analyse where they in the secure software development and demonstrate their competency to the organization. The professional should have a thorough knowledge of the application security standards, best practices, threats, as well as assurance methodologies to face this certification exam. In this way, SWADLP serving hard to fill the security skills gap, thereby supporting the organizations to tackle the security challenges. 

SWADLP attempts to ease the beginning point and make it simpler for professionals who have the willingness and interest to hunt security professions and are looking for a turning point in their security career. It offers the exact way to advance in this domain with the right knowledge and skill set. Most of the software development organization expects the professionals who have the strong background in the secure software development. 

Outline Of How SWADLP Certification Support Software Security

SWADLP certification covers the world recognized standards and best practices in order to ensure the professional’s knowledge as well as understanding level on the secure software development requirements. The main advantage of this certification is that it evaluates not only the acceptable competency in the security concepts, but also to function well with applying the proper procedures to identify and resolve security related incidents if any. Systemized into seven phases of the software development, SWADLP provides the necessary strategy for building security into the software design, development, testing as well as maintenance. Its main goal is making the security professionals capable enough to meet the security requirement during the software development. 

Hack2Secure swadlp certification path
 

Let us have a look at the roadmap of the SWADLP certification


Phase 1: Security Awareness

For building a secure product, it is mandatory to have an adequate awareness of the IT security programs, various security assurance methodologies, and standards. The concepts covered in this phase will provide the details of basic security fundamentals and related attacks. It focuses to make them as the human firewall to defend against the cyber threats.

Phase 2: Building Security Requirements

It is well familiar that requirement gathering is the most critical to the victory of any major development process. This phase of the course aims to make the candidates confident in collecting the entire security needs up front. 

Phase 3: Ensuring Secure Design

Architectural and design mistakes hold the notable positions that lead to a security compromise. Implementing security in the design phase of the development requires the security experts and architects who master in the design principles. SWADLP supports the professionals to enhance their knowledge in this prospect to build a best possible scenario for ensuring secure design.  

Phase 4: Secure Implementation

Most of the security incidents roots from the defects present in the source code when designing, implementing as well as integrating applications. The effective training plan of the SWADLP allows the developers to known the essential to follow secure coding principles & how to apply them, then integrate them into software architecture elements. It also educates the programmers to develop secure code. 

Phase 5: Web Application Security Testing

This phase involves in the process of validating that the candidate is capable enough to ensure that entire security requirements that were mapped out at the initial stage of the development lifecycle are being implemented correctly.  It covers the methodologies to identify the threats as well as vulnerabilities in each phase of the development process and insist to correct them in good time. 

Phase 6: Security Review & Response

This phase focuses to enhance and evaluate the knowledge of the participants in detecting as well as responding to software security incidents to ensure that they having insight on real threats and risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the products. The knowledge gained from this phase can support to determine recovery and auditing requirements for systems. 

Phase 7: Securing Maintenance Cycle

It is common in operation that anomalies might be uncovered, change in operating environments and rise of a new requirement in user surface. This phase introduces the software maintenance fundamentals that include definitions, terminology, maintenance host handling, upgrade maintenance and much more.  

In addition to expanding the technical skills vital to develop a secure software, SWADLP helping the people to defend the networks and system from the today’s threats. SWADLP certification and training has been designed with the practical requirements of the professionals in mind; hence, they can deploy what they have learned directly to their office.

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Skills Involved In Incident Response

Driven by enhancing sophisticated exploits as well as highly identified cyber criminals underground, the security breaches can demand an organization something more than the sensitive data. There is incredible to have a successful security program for ensuring secure endure of businesses. A security program should not only contain the ability to determine the vulnerabilities and reduce the influence through well-designed controls and architecture, but also the ability to respond to negative incidents when all else flops. This necessitates the organization to invest in incident response capabilities. They are also required to define as well as staff a team to rapidly understand the possibility and the influences of an identified breach. 
 

 What Is The Incident Response?

Incident response is defined as the organized strategy for addressing and handling the aftershock of an incident (also called as security attack or breach). The main goal of incident response is to manage the critical situation in a manner that reduces the recovery costs & time and limit damage including collateral damage to brand reputation. 

Skills Involved For An Incident Response?

For handling the incidents, organizations are in need to build a team commonly called CSIRT (Computer Security Incident Response Team). The team should include the set of skills as well as technical expertise to effectively respond to the incidents, communicate with the constituency and perform analysis tasks. The team should also be competent issue solvers and should effortlessly acclimate to change. In addition to this, some critical skills are involved in the process of incident response.  Being aware of, course of activities involved in incident handling, in addition, to prevent attacks from occurring or handling them from attaining worse, would support to achieve a sophisticated exploration of the skills required.  

  • Monitor networks and systems for intrusions
  • Determine security vulnerabilities and flaws
  • Perform risk analysis, security audits, penetration testing and network forensics
  • Perform reverse engineering proceeding with malware analysis
  • Develop a set of responses to address security problems
  • Generate protocols for organizational communication and handling with law enforcements when a security incident happens
  • Create an incident response plan, which includes the policies, procedures, security gap assessments, training, playbooks and table top testing
  • Produce technical brief and incident reports for administrators, management, and the end-user
  • Connect with other cyber-threat analysis groups
  • The followings are the basic personal and technical skills involved in the incident response process. 

Incident handling

Personal Skills

The incident response requires a wide array of personal skills since a major portion of the incident responding’s daily activity involves communication, presentation and more.

Communication - The effective communication skill is a critical element involved in incident responding. It is required to ensure that the team can effectively obtain and supply the information required to help. A large part of communication happens via the written word. The written communication can come in various forms, including:

  • Responses via email regarding concerning incidents
  • Documentation of vulnerabilities, incident reports, events and other technical details
  • Guidelines and notifications, which are offered to the constituency
  • Internal development of incident policies and procedures
  • Other additional communication to management, staff or other relevant agents

Hence, the staff of the incident responding team should be able to write concisely and clearly, explain the activities accurately and offer details that are simple to understand. Moreover, the effective spoken communication is also a vital requirement. This communication takes through face-to-face discussions or telephone exchanges. The staff’s method of communication, the tone of voice and the language should remain calm, professional and confident. 

Presentation Skill - The activities of incident response often need presentation skills required for a management or sponsor briefing, technical presentation, a panel discussion or some form of public-speaking engagement. 

Capability To Follow Procedures And Policies - Another notable skill required in incident response is the capability to follow as well as support the generated procedures and policies of the team and the organization. The staff should understand why and how the procedures and policies came into existence. They should be prepared to follow and accept the guidelines and rules to ensure a reliable and consistent incident response service.
 

Technical Skills

The basic technical skills have been categorized into two divisions:

             1.Technical Foundation Skills

             2. Incident Handling Skills.
 

1. Technical Foundation Skills

These skills need a fundamental understanding of the primary technologies and the issues, which affect the team or constituency. These skills are required to aware how software and systems are organized and how they function, the risks linked with the different technologies in use, & the approaches and strategies for securing, protecting and repairing the systems.

Security Principles - The team requires to have a basic understanding of fundamental security principles. This knowledge will help to understand the issues which can arise if corresponding security measure hasn't been implemented properly. 
 
Security Weakness/ Vulnerabilities - The skills in this area support to aware how the certain attack is injected in a hardware or software technology. The team should be capable of recognizing as well as categorize the most common kinds of weakness and associated attacks.  

Risks - There is incredible to have a straightforward understanding of security risk analysis. The team should aware the constituency of different kinds of risks. In addition, they should possess the knowledge of the network security concepts in order to recognize vulnerable points in the configurations of the network. 

Malware Analysis - The incident response team must aware how to achieve surface analysis to realize a malware, its characters and entire vital details from a high-range perspective.   They should be possessed with the skills to aware how malware attacks happen and are propagated, the damage and risks come with such attacks, mitigation and prevention strategies, exposure and removal processes as well as recovery techniques. 

2. Incident Handling Skills 

Within the wide array of technical skills, incident handling skills are subset involved in incident response. These skills are allied with the primary daily activities of the corresponding team.

Local Team Procedures And Policies - The team must possess the knowledge of the procedures and policies, which organizes the operation of the incident response activities. Each and every factor of the process will possibly lead back to a procedure or policy, which must be followed. The team requires this background knowledge and should possess a strong understanding of the guiding ideologies. 

Identifying/Understanding Intruder Techniques - The team should be possessed with skills on corresponding methods to prevent against the known threat techniques as well as the risks linked to the attacks.

Moreover, another incredible skill is the evaluation of and connection between the incidents to alarm a new attack technique, intruder tool, attack vector, etc. The staff should be able to:

  • Undertake technical evaluation of the intruder techniques and tools
  • Identify a new weakness
  • Determine new intrusion techniques as per the footprints & their effects

Incident Analysis - They must be able to analyse the incident and capable of finding the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is involved?
  • What time frame?
  • What has happened?
  • Where did the threat originate from?
  • Why did it occur?
  • How were the computer or application vulnerable?

They need to determine what important details are missing, the scope & effect of the activity and where the clarification is needed. They also require determining the attacks or tools used, time frames, the level of access compromised, implications or damage allied with the attack as well as the sites/hosts involved. 

Handling Of Incident Records - Another major skill required in the incident response or handling is the ability to maintain the incident records. To guarantee that these records are well-maintained, the team must aware the technology involved to handle the incident report records, aiding details and other associated files. The important thing to remember is that the incident records should be up-to-date, well-documented, and consistently maintained.

Whether you are a professional who is looking for a career in the security handling domain or responsible for forming an incident response team, just focus on the above skills to obtain a successful fit. 

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Walk Through On Step by Step Action Plan On Incident Handling

Every day, organization across the world suffer-attacks, frequently resulting in the substantial brand damage as well as financial penalties. Even one security incident is enough for the customer to lose trust on an organization and shift their business elsewhere. An immediate response when a breach occurs is incredible to reduce the destruction and loss. Hence, it is important for the organization to have a process plan to deal with the misuse of networks and system, thereby they can immediately aware what to do in case an incident occurs. 

What Are Security Incident And Incident Handling?

A security incident is an intrusion to an event finding a violation of security policies, standard security practices or acceptable user policies. Incident handling is a term that denotes the response by an organization or person when a violation or intrusion is suspected. A careful and organized reaction to a security incident can touch the difference between total disaster and complete recovery. 
Every organization has its own method for determining, defining as well as responding to the destructions of its security standards and policies. Here we listed some of the fundamental incident handling processes 

Six Basic Incident Handling Process:

Hack2Secure Incident Handling

1. Preparation 

Broadly, addressing the security issues includes the procedures to prevent the attack and how to respond effectively to the successful attack. Some range of preparation is required to reduce the potential damage results from an attack. Preparation for the incident can be done in two ways:

1.By having comprehensive and clear security policies and the hardware as well as software resources to enforce them. 
2.By having an evidently defined plan for responding to incidents and a trained team, which can implement the plan.

At the time of successful incident, a rushed decision-making might not be operative. On the other hand, by establishing procedures, policies as well as agreements, in advance, we can reduce the incident counts. 

The active plan for the preparation process includes:

  • Apply proactive techniques to avoid incidents
  • Mature Management Provision for an incident handling competency
  • Form and organize the skilled incident handling team
  • Establish an alternative communication plan
  • Offer Easy reporting facilities
  • Arrange training for the incident handling team
  • Build guiding principle of inter-departmental cooperation
  • Pay specific concentration to associations with system administrators
  • Establish interfaces to law implementation agencies & another incident response team

2. Identification

It is not possible to respond to an attack or incident unless it is detected. The process of incident handling should pay attention to the sorts of security associated events, and mechanisms in both hardware and software. It is also essential to concentrate where it is possible to detect the destructions of the security policies. In case the network comprises segments, which are not passive or even actively monitored, then it is essential to note that down.
 
The identification process includes the action of identifying whether an incident has occurred or not and in case one has happened, finding the nature of that incident. Usually, identification starts after noticing an anomaly in the network or system. This phase also covers informing as well as soliciting support from experts who can able to handle and resolve the issue. 

The activity plans covered in this process are:

  • Allocate a skilled person to be in charge of the incident
  • Determine whether the event is an incident or not (keep in mind that all the events are not the incidents.)
  • Keen to keep a verifiable chain of problem
  • Co-ordinate with the person who offer network services
  • Notify appropriate officials

3. Containment

Once an incident has been determined, proper actions must be started to reduce the influence of the attack. Containment involves the administrators or user to take actions to prevent remaining network and systems from the incident and limit damage. The main goal of this process is to prevent the attack from getting worse.

The activity plans in this process include:

  • Engage team to survey the situation
  • Maintain a low profile
  • If possible, avoid potentially compromised code
  • Back up the system
  • Identify the danger of continuing operations
  • Continue to discuss with system owners
  • Change passwords

4. Eradication

The eradication process involves in eliminating or mitigating the factors which resulted in the compromise of security. System security compromise can be distressing for the system owner and organisation. In case the incident handling team doesn’t adequately eradicate the issues of a successful incident, and in case another compromise takes place, then the management legally question the capability of the incident handling team. 

The activity plans involved in this process are:

  • Determine source and symptoms of the incident
  • Enhance defenses
  • Perform vulnerability analysis
  • Remove the source of the incident
  • Locate the recent clean backup

5. Recovery

The goal of the recovery phase is to fetch affected components back into the production atmosphere carefully, to ensure that it won’t lead another incident. Proper test, monitoring and validation of systems are incredible to put it back into production in order to verify that they’re not being infected again by malware or by some other ways.

The important decision to implement at this phase are:

  • Time & data to restore the operations
  • How to test & verify that the infected systems are clean as well as fully functional
  • The duration of intensive care to perceive for abnormal behaviours
  • The tools to monitor, test & validate system behavior

6.  Lessons Learned

The main goal of this phase is to learn a lesson from the incident. That lesson will support to perform better action in the future. Executing follow-up activity is one among the most appreciated activities in the incident handling. Organization, which follow up after the issue have been controlled can enhance their incident handling ability. The follow up action also supports to accuse those who have cracked the law.

A plan for incident handling is something that the organization must have in place. Follow the above step-by-step action plan to proactively defend your business against highly dangerous cyber-attacks, now and in upcoming years.

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Why Employees Are The Weakest Link In The Defense Against Ransomware

Parallel to the phishing attacks, ransomware is undoubtedly the most profitable and successful style of attack for the cyber terrorists. It is estimated that this attack cost targets nearly $1billion across the world. Instead of collecting the money, this bigger threat, leaving the company alone, few new alternatives are found to abolish the data as opposed to encipher with no ways of recovery. Uninformed and negligent employees can put the organizations in risk of ransomware. This situation leaves the organizations pondering what the next progression could bring. 

This attack comes with a far-reaching impact on the people and business. It is not just demanding the hard-earned money, but also the reputation as well as jobs. Ransomware possibly happened via phishing emails, which occurs by made the employees click the infected link, possibly a malevolent Microsoft Word file that enables the ransomware. This enforces to aware the fact, “Employees are the weakest link in the defense against ransomware”.

A report called, “The Rise of Ransomware” released by the Ponemon Institute also claimed that the employees are the weakest link that enables ransomware. They conducted the survey with 618 persons in the organizations who possess the responsibility for covering the infections of ransomware within their company. As per the report, here is the graph that depicts how confident that the employees can detect infections that result in ransomware attack.

Employee confidence

As shown in the graph, only 9% of persons are very confident and 20 % are confident that their workers can detect infections that could result in ransomware attack.

How Employees Place Companies At The Ransomware Infection Risk

Usually, ransomware enters into IT systems via phishing emails triggered by the employee. The important fact to consider here is that the most of the employees aren’t very well-versed in differentiating the legitimate emails from the fraud ones, which intends to inject malicious program onto their systems. The injection can be done by appending a call-to-action, making recipient to open an attachment, which includes a malware. If the malicious software or file gets installed onto the system, the malware starts to disable the function of the system and preventing the legitimate user from opening certain important files or from accessing those files.

Another way that causes the ransomware infection includes emails offering a URL, which recipients are prompted to click. Generally, the URL appears like a well-known and popular website. Hence, the recipients have no clue that there is something risk with the website. Once the URL is clicked, it will go to the malicious website and the malware is automatically installed on the computer. Once the malware gets installed, it includes the capability to spread across entire systems that it is linked to, thereby infecting as well as blocking the access to the whole network. 

Employee activity

With the reference to the report, “The Rise of Ransomware”, the following graph illustrates the activities of employees in an organization that possibly paves the way for the entry of ransomware attack:

60% of the employees using the third-party applications such as Slack, Dropbox, or Spotify on their business computers. 59% of employees used to click the link without ensuring its security for their personal use. 58% of employees are caught by social engineering or phishing scam, which appears like a legitimate business request. 57% of employees using their business computers to access their personal emails or social media accounts during working hours. 

How To Stop Employee’s Risky Behaviours To Prevent Ransomware

Entire organizations, regardless of size, should consider enhancing a data security culture to prevent from ransomware. Here are the three effective ways to make the employees to defenses against this attack. 

Training For IT Security Employees

1. Training

Offering employees with interactive training resources like webinars and seminars will benefit to support their own data security. Making employees more security savvy against the cyber threats can facilitate to defend the company’s information as well. 

2. Empowering

Communication from higher management level on the risk of cyber threats as well as the serious role every individual play in safeguarding the customers’ and business’ data. It is important to make the employees feel that cyber security is a threat to them. Encourage them to be vigilant as well as report issues to IT.

3. Incentivize

Incentivization or Gamification can really be the best way to solidify the security culture among the employees.  For example, implementing a scoring system for the employees who are reporting the doubtful emails to the security department. This approach can make every employee to carefully watch the security issues for the company. 

Hope you understand the risk of leaving the employees unaware about the ransomware attack. Take a step to make your employees aware of the risk and prevent them from leaving your organization vulnerable to the ransomware. It is the first step of defense.

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Following Challenges for Application Security in Cloud

The advantages of cloud infrastructure such as enhanced productivity, efficiency, agility, and cost saving made the cloud influence the IT industries. Though cloud computing comprises the capability to share services and information using the internet without any requirement of physical infrastructure, it includes the vulnerability related to security threats that must be addressed. As services and information are shared over the internet, it is important to understand the security challenges associated with the application.

Regardless of where an application is placed, ensuring application security remains a major concern. It is the security concern that requires a great attention of organizations.

Applications On Cloud Are Exposed To A Broad Range Of Threats

Recently the primary attack surface has transformed to the application layer from the network layer. This is because the service interfaces and operating systems exist in the cloud have been toughened to expose a minimized profile. Therefore, attackers target more on the application framework or application logic than the server exists behind the toughened network perimeter. Though several applications are generated in-house, developers rarely focus on security and it potentially results in the security issues throughout the entire application lifecycle. Moreover, the wider acceptance of cloud technology means that attack routes are enhancing as applications influence external service providers for the platform, infrastructure, and software.

Generating a complete patch management system is essential; however, practically this approach ends up with costly and difficult. Typical applications are developed on the open source components by the 3rd party developers who depend on open web frameworks. While with the shorter development time and interoperability, it results with the expensive patch management to address security vulnerabilities. A mistake in one module of open source program should be patched for every instance it’s involved with. Hence, when it comes to a public cloud environment, with dynamic application frameworks and infrastructure, this can become very hard to handle.  

Application Security In The Cloud: Who Is Responsible?

A common question that several organizations arise is, Who is responsible for application security handling in the cloud? Is the application owner or cloud service provider owning this?

Application owners are responsible for the security of the applications, which resides in the cloud infrastructure. This is because the cloud service provider includes no visibility into the things happening at the application layer.

The following diagram shows which portion of the security relies on whom.

Security Relies

Following Challenges For Application Security In Cloud

In addition to open up a new trend for access, storage, productivity and flexibility, cloud also opened up several new security concerns. Here we listed some application security issues. Being aware of application security issues can support to build the effective cloud security strategy to prevent your business. 

1.  Application Vulnerabilities

Vulnerable applications are applications, which includes errors and faults that can perform malicious actions. It may involve accessing confidential data, stop a legitimate service to affect proper functioning, perform unwanted actions or send malicious applications to the devices. These applications are susceptible to hackers searching to exploit as well as attack. OWASP analyses such kind of weakness and exploits and publish OWASP top 10 list. Generally, entire application vulnerabilities in the traditional environment apply on the cloud computing infrastructure and the most predominant cloud-based application vulnerabilities are as follows:

  • Client-side injection
  • Server-side injection
  • Session Management
  • Logical Mistakes
  • Exposure of valuable data

2. Malware And Spyware

Another notable application security problem that affects several users and must be addressed before deploying an application in cloud infrastructure is the malware. Malware injections are codes or scripts embedded into the cloud services, which serves as valid instances and execute as SaaS to the cloud servers. In other words, the malicious scripts can be inserted into the cloud and appeared as the portion of the service or software, which is functioning within the cloud server themselves. In case the injection is executed successfully, the cloud starts functioning as per the malicious code. Thereby attackers can eavesdrop, influence the confidentiality and integrity of the data and steal data. The malware injection threat has become one of the major security issues in the system of cloud computing.
There is also need to focus on Spyware. It collects and uses the private and personal details like contact list, location, email and photos without any proper permission and uses these details in future for unwanted actions like cash fraud.

3. Bad BOTs

Recently, most visitors of the websites are BOTs. Approximately 30% of traffic results from bad BOTS or non-useful BOTs. While people do not think them as a security issue, yet, non-useful BOTs can have wasted 30% in server resources, leads to huge productivity loss. Bad Bots should be considered as the malware since they can inflict havoc on networks and computers. They can waste valuable resources, flood sites with DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and steal proprietary information. 

4. DDoS Attacks On Application Layer (Protocol Or Volumetric Exploits)

Protection from application layer DDoS attack has become a major consideration for the cloud service provider and application owners. 
Dissimilar to other cyber attacks that are focused on hijacking sensitive information, DoS assaults don’t try to influence the security perimeter. Instead, they try to make the servers and websites unavailable to authentic users. In some worst cases, the DDoS attack can be utilized as a cover up for other unwanted activities and affect the security appliances. 

5. Insecure APIs

Application Programming Interfaces offer users the chance to personalize their cloud experience. Keep in mind that APIs can become a threat to the cloud security because of the distributed in nature. APIs not only involves in offering the companies the capability to personalize features of the cloud service to meet the business requirements but also provide access, authentication and power encryption.  The vulnerability of the application programming interface present in the communication, which occurs between applications. APIs offer programmer and businesses the tools to create their code to incorporate their application with other critical software. While this can support programmers, they also include exploitable security risks. 

The above application security challenges can be hard to find and offer greater harm for the organization and users. It is best to stay ahead of the attackers to ensure that you mitigate them before attackers find & exploit them. 

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Understanding SQL Injection Attacks

Every day countless of web servers, as well as systems, are explored, scanned and attacked. Now the attacks have exceeded beyond worms and viruses. Particularly, vulnerable to hacker are a web application, web server security, application security software and entire website security. SQL injection is the most malicious hacking method. It is also referred as inference attack. The effectiveness and versatility of the SQL injection make it most preferred choice among the attackers.
In this attack, the hacker appends SQL query code as an input to a web form to gain access or alter the resources or data. 

What Are SQL Injection Attacks?

SQL injection technique exploits how the web pages of the target website communicate with its back-end databases. In a worst case, the hacker inserts some SQL statements into the web application via the web server and obtains the answers to those queries or achieve the execution of other related SQL statements. In case web application trusts the input entered by the user and doesn’t validate the details at the server, it is possible to be exploited by SQL injection attacks. When it comes to the data breaches situation, the SQL injection includes three main uses:

1. Query-sensitive data from databases
2. Alter significant data within databases
3. Provide malware to the application or system

Why SQL Injections Matter?

Still, the SQL language remains as the dominant way of inserting, retrieving and filtering data in the database. Even a loading of single web page requires loads of SQL queries to execute regardless of the size of the website or business. Hence, just armed with a web browser, an internet connection and some core knowledge of the SQL, cybercriminals can exploit the weakness in the web application by extracting data, determining or resetting user or admin credentials and utilizing it as an entry point for severing assaults on the network. Based on a report by Verizon Business, nearly 24% of payment card breaches happen due to SQL injection attack. This attack occupies the second position next to malware in terms of card breaches. 

Keep in mind that, this attack can function in any kind of SQL database; however, PHP-based websites are the major targets since they can be formed by anyone (for example, WordPress) and frequently includes plenty of valuable details about the clients within their database. 

Types Of SQL Injection Attack

SQL injection attacks can be categorized in various ways, according to the response received from the server, the sort of data withdrawal channel, impact point, injection point location, the intent of the attack, etc. 

Response received from the server:

  • Blind SQL Injections
  • Boolean-based blind injections.
  • Time-based blind injections.

Error-based SQL injections:

  • Union query type
  • Double query Injections

Sort of data withdrawal channel:

  • Inline
  • Out-of-band

Impact point:

  • First-order injections
  • Second-order injections

Injection point location:

  • Injection through user input form fields
  • Injection through cookies
  • Injection through server variables

Intent of attacking:

  • Identifying injectable parameters
  • Determining database schema
  • Performing database fingerprinting

Extracting data:

  • Adding or modifying data
  • Executing remote commands
  • Bypassing authentication
  • Performing privilege escalation
  • Evading detection
  • Performing denial of service

Damages Caused By SQL Injections

  • Stealing of user credentials like a username and password for criminals or commercial purpose and completely rubbing out of details or ruining the pages of the website.
  • Corruption of complete database as well as deleting of entire backups
  • Silent spying as well as monitoring activities by competitors.

SQL Injection Example

Generally, when a user of the website enters data into a front-end form on a website, then a SQL query is generated and sent to the database. For example, consider a logon form that submits the username and password submitted by the user to the database via a SQL statement. If the inputs are valid, the database responds and display the details required, whereas the inputs are not valid, the database shows an error message.

SQL Query Processing:

The below HTML code asks login information from the user:

Sql Processing
When the user clicks the login button after entering the logon information, the browser submits the following string to the server that includes the logon credentials:

sql processing 2

Let us consider, the SQL statement at the backend for validating username and password:

sql processing 3

If the user enters the information as shown below:

  • Username: admin
  • Password: E5gh@

The statement to be executed would be
sql processing with password

Let us see how the SQL injection activity happens. The diagram shows the steps that attackers were taken to exploit the authentication flaws:

Generated SQL statements and background process:

after sql processing

As a result of this execution, the attacker gains the entire details of the user.

Preventive Steps Against SQL Injection Attacks

Organizations can focus on following steps to prevent them from SQL Injection Attacks:

Never trust the user inputs – It must always be validated before use in SQL statements.

Stored procedures – These can abstract the SQL statements & consider the entire input as just parameters.

Prepared statements – It involves creating the SQL query as a first action and then treating entire submitted data as parameters. It has no influence on the SQL statement syntax.

Regular expressions – It is used to detect the harmful code and eliminate it before the SQL statement executions.

Proper error Message – This policy states that avoid revealing sensitive details and the location where the error happened on the error message.

Limited user access rights for database connection – Only required access permissions should be provided in the accounts for making a database connection. This can support minimize the SQL statements that execute dynamically on the server.

With the help of this blog, one can understand the methods to prevent and detect this attack. On the whole, keep in that for a complete defense, do not allow the job of hacker ease by allowing them to inject malicious code. 

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How To Protect Yourself From The Global Ransomware Attack

Cybercrime has been expanding upward and Ransomware is one among the dangerous cyber threats, which affects both consumers and organizations. Ransomware is a type of malicious software, which involves taking the system as a hostage and keeping it for a particular reason.  

Organizations and consumers require to be fully aware of the risk posed by this attack and develop defenses on ongoing priority. There are some multilayer approaches that can reduce the chance of attack. However, understanding the background of this attack can support to adopt the best practices. Let us begin with what ransom attacks are.

What Are Ransomware Attacks?

The ransomware attack is about to lock the target machine by encrypting its data to prevent the owner or user from using it until they accept to pay their demands. This malware is often spread by web pop-ups or email comprises locking features and threatening to abolish people’s data if they’re not agreed to pay. This global cyber-attack has transmitted over 200, 000 computers over 150 countries including, the U.S, Canada, UK, and Italy.

The following pie chart depicts the infection of ransomware by region during January 2015 to April 2016, as per the report of Symantec.

most countries affected in ransomware attack

In addition to the consumer, almost every sector of the organization has been targeted by this attack. Symantec analyzed and reported the statistic details of known sectors which encounter ransomware attack during January 2015 to April 2016.

The following diagram illustrates the statistics:

organisations

Factors Stimulating The Growth And Persistence

In recent times, several numbers of the key factors that drive the growth of this infection.

Here are some of them:

  • Strong Encryption Implementation – Support attackers to create robust threats
  • Arrival of cryptocurrencies – Operates as an alternative for traditional financial system
  • Effective infection vectors – Includes Malicious emails, Exploit kits, Malvertising, Brute-forcing passwords, Exploiting server vulnerabilities and much more.
  • Advanced attack techniques – With legitimate tools, attackers can hack the network by exploiting their vulnerabilities. 
  • Ransom-as-a-Service – Rise of RaaS has allowed even a little-skilled hacker to distribute the malware.

Severity Of Ransomware Attacks Over Traditional Security

The organization generally invests in the security solutions to prevent them from the ransomware infection. Based on the survey of barkly, the infections have successfully bypassed that solutions.

The following graph illustrates the protection gap as per the report:

bypassing

A surprising fact as per the survey is the half of these organizations react with double their investment in the same above-mentioned poor-performing solutions.

Here are the details of the investment: 

investment for infosec

How To Protect Yourself From The Global Ransomware Attack?

Hence, in order to effectively prevent the infection, it is essential to choose the proactive preventive measures in addition to the basic security solutions.
The simpler proactive methods to prevent the infection are focusing on the main delivery channels of injection and taking steps to prevent it from achieving a beachhead.

Preventing this infection involves focusing on the following things:

1. Preventing malware from being distributed via email
2. Preventing malware from being distributed via exploit kit
3. Preventing malware from beginning on an endpoint

1. Preventing Malware From Being Distributed Via Email

Email is the first infection vector for malware, a proper step should be taken to avoid getting wrong emails as well as clicking the link should not cause a data encryption disaster. As we aware that email filtering includes the holes of bypassing the attacks, there are some approaches that are proven to be effective to some extent.

These include:

  • Avoid clicking on the links without analyzing their URL
  • Avoid opening attachments from unconfirmed sources
  • Don’t share sensitive details over email
  • Don’t feel shy to report any phishing email
  • Have a limit of sharing office messages
  • Train your employees about the phishing emails with examples

2. Preventing Malware From Being Distributed Via Exploit Kit

Second dangerous infection vector is exploited kit or web drive-by. This involves infecting the victims when they accessed a compromised program or website.

There are two possible ways to prevent from attack via exploit kit:

1. Installing ad-blocker that can prevent the user from malevolent web advertisement.
2. Enhance the patch management.

Based on the complexity and size of the organization, maintaining the applications and systems updated can also support to prevent this attack.

Some of the frequently exploited vulnerabilities are:

  • CVE-2002-0953
  • CVE-2011-0877
  • CVE-2001-0876
  • CVE-2003-0818
  • CVE-2015-0204
  • CVE-2015-1637
  • CVE-2001-0680
  • CVE-1999-1058
  • CVE-2002-0126
  • CVE-2012-1054

Focusing on patching these vulnerabilities can influence a lot in your preventive measures.

3. Preventing Malware From Beginning On An Endpoint

Enhance the system capacity to make it harder the ransomware to encrypt its data and run effectively. The main thing here is, made changes in the computer system in the prospect of defence. The defence feature of the system should take steps automatically to stop the unwanted behaviour in addition to signalling about the presence of these behaviours.

Some of the adjustment needed to do in the setting of the system includes:

  • Disable MS office macros
  • Block executable files from running by following software restriction policies
  • Personalize anti-spam setting
  • Disable Windows PowerShell    
  • Deactivate AutoPay
  • Block known malevolent The Onion Router (Tor) IP addresses

Keep in mind that security is not about fixing in one single solution. It is about reducing the risk incrementally.

Ransomware severely relies on users not taking defense measures when managing suspicious files or links. Hope, the above information will help you understand the real facts and hint on where to start! 

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About Petya Ransomware Attack And Know How To Prevent

In recent times, cybercriminals disturb the digital world with their favourite business model, called, ransomware. Next to ‘WannaCry’ outbreak, ‘Petya’, a new ransomware weapon has made an international stimulation. On June 27, the Petya seized the global attention with some severe attacks in several countries including Europe, France, Denmark, the United States and India. Initially, when the threat takes place in Ukraine, several security experts found some similarities to the recent ransomware attack WannaCry.  

Petya attack involves that virus moving from one system to another within an infected enterprise; however, isn’t searching the World Wide Web for targets.  The security experts all over the world involved in great research to understand this recent threat. Since the experts have a lot of conflicts regarding the background of this threat, here we presented an overview of Petya with the details available up to now.

What Is Petya Ransomware?

Petya is a kind of ransomware that includes some similarity with the WannaCry attack. Kaspersky a security research company states that Petya threat could be different from Petya.A, PetrWrap or Petya.D.  This vicious kind of virus locks the hard drive and files on the computer with the help of encryption techniques. As of now, there is no effective tool to decrypt the settings. 

Here is a screenshot of the message displayed on the screen when it was hit by ransomware.

PetyaMassage

( Img source: technet )

Symantec, a security company confirmed that the Petya threat uses the exploit called “External Blue”, which was thought to have been generated by the US National Security Agency. And it was believed to be leaked in April 2017 by a cybercriminal group called Shadow Brokers. The main thing should note here is that the Microsoft has been fixed this vulnerability in ‘Security Update MS17-010’.  Machines that are protected against this vulnerability with ‘Security Update MS17-010’ are not infected by this certain spreading mechanism. 

However, Petya comprises some other tricks to spread inside the networks. Group-IB, Russian security company states that this threat used “LASDUMP” tool to gather the password and valuable details of the Windows systems and domain controllers over the network. 
This ransomware threat tries to encrypt the files with the file extensions that are listed below: 


 
Distinct from ransomware, Petya doesn’t add a new file extension to the encrypted files. Rather than, it overwrites the encrypted files. 

Enumerated Petya Technical Breakdown:

  • This version was hit on 18th June 2017
  • It scans the local network and attempts to spread by WMI calls and PsExec calls
  • It uses API calls to link Active Directory as well as DHCP environments
  • It uses a modified version of Mimikatz to scrapheap admin credentials

How Petya Differs From WannaCry?

The main difference between these two threats is their way of spreading. WannaCry uses one vulnerability whereas Petya uses multiple vulnerabilities. Next, WannaCry includes only encrypted files as the locking systems, but Petya includes something more than that. 

Who Are The Victims Of Petya Cyberattack?

The exact scope and size of the threats are still being researched; however, what official statements express is that it first took place in Ukraine. Next, it spread to the systems in the worldwide. It affects industries and business across the U.K, U.S, Denmark, India, Germany, France, New Zealand and Australia as per the report by CNN. The criminals had even attacked Mondelez, a snack enterprise that owns Cadbury and Oreos stuff. Most of the attacks are happening in random with targeting random email or IP address. People from all criteria get whacked with this threat, including small organization, large organization, physicians’ offices and even police departments.

How To Prevent From Petya?

In addition to the general tips to protect against ran    somware attacks that we discussed in our previous blog, Petya requires some additional tips:

  • Educate your employees with Staff Phishing Awareness programs to train them to identify suspect emails. In addition, make them aware of the impacts of clicking any unwanted links and opening attachments from unauthorized persons.
  • Ensure your computer is updated with Microsoft MS17-010 security or disable SMBv1 to prevent the Petya from spreading.
  • Guarantee entire critical security updates are applied rapidly with the stronger patch management process.
  • Ensure that your network is installed with recent antivirus that includes the definitions to detect as well as prevent the latest threats. You can also think about the using of Petya Infection Blocking as an alternative to Anti-Virus.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Device Is Influenced With Petya?

Don’t power back the computer or reboot your system; since the threat makes its damage at the sequence of bootup. It includes running of fake CHKDSK/CheckDisk with a fake warning as shown below:

( Img source: itsecurityexpert )

If you find any message like this, immediately power off the system and connect with Incident Handling Team or IT Security Office in your Organization.   

Recently, the Petya ransomware attack sounds to be spreading rapidly and indefinitely. It is essential to remain cautious against these kinds of attacks and make sure that the protections are implemented. 

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DDoS Attacks Are Possible On Web Applications

For many people who want to succeed in their online business, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attacks) attack would remain as the nightmare. Not only the sales and reputation, it can ruin everything they worked hard to build. Hackers can make a web application temporarily unavailable with the DDoS site. It can slow down a website.  

What Is A DDoS Attack?

There exists an enhanced array of attack vectors built to disturb the proper working of websites and web applications. These disturb are commonly known as DoS (Denial of Service) attack.  They are generally grouped with a single attack source. The situation where DoS attacks are stimulated from several sources opposed to the same victim, they are mentioned as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS).  Traditionally, this attack has been allied with botnets, which is a huge network of the victim systems (ranging from a hundred to more than ten million) that are controlled remotely. 

Who Should Be Concerned About A DDoS Attack?

If you are functioning a gambling, financial service, high-income, competitive niche or a huge customer database website, you’re much more likely the target of the DDoS attack. The most common DDoS attack destination includes file sharing websites, the Internet, service providers and Domain Name Services. 

As per the report of Akamai, here is the statistical report of targeted industries:

industry affected by ddos attack

Effects Of DDoS Attack

In case this attack successfully overloaded a system along with good traffic volume as well as consumed critical resources like disk storage, bandwidth, database connections, CPU memory, etc., the intruder can restrict legitimate handlers from accessing the system. Moreover, these attacks can deadly damage an entire network. It also includes the ability to wear router processing capacity and even resources to cause the network stack. Consequently, they can lead to bandwidth collapse or fatigue. 

In recent times, the brand and business depend on the online presence, hence a protracted downtime could result in some costly effects. The hackers generally ask for ransom to quit their DDoS attacks. On the other hand, cyber terrorists and hacktivists are the attackers normally build the DDoS attacks to garner publicity or as an act of revenge.

Types Of DDoS Attack

DDoS attack vectors and techniques besieged at web application can be divided into three main categories:

Hack2Secure explains Types Of DDoS Attack

1. Volume Based DDoS

These kinds of attacks are altered to saturate the hosting infrastructure bandwidth of the web application by directing high network traffic to the victim. Volume based attacks are simple to initiate and don’t need identification as well as application weaknesses exploitations. At present, this sort of DDoS attacks has constructed hundreds of gigabits volume of traffic per second. Moreover, they have disturbed some of the world’s largest Internet providers.

2. Layer 3 DDoS Attacks

This sort of attack generally targets weakness and nuances in the TCP stack, which handles data transportation between the operating systems and infrastructure devices of the web application. Hackers promote specially designed packers to cause overflow or disturb TCP state details. This, in turn, causes additional work for the target device’s network processing functions and slow down the responses. 

3. Layer 7 DDoS Attacks

These attacks target a certain weakness in the web application configuration and intermediate supporting services. This would slow down, hang or crash the applications. In many cases, these attacks operate HTTP requests, which is sent to the web servers, exploits the vulnerabilities present in the custom code, web server software or business logic of the application. Since they focus on the certain weakness present in the code and logic of the applications, it is trickier to combat these attacks with filtering technologies. 

DDoS Protection

The DDOS protection refers to a series of actions that attempt or try to resolve the above-mentioned problems. It also protects the network from future attacks. Since the DDoS attacks differ in method and type, we can’t stop them all in one single solution. However, a proactive guideline can support to avoid this attack. Here are some of the useful recommendations to avoid the influence of DDoS attacks:

1. Conduct a Risk Assessment: Identify an important application and data of the enterprise and the potential impact that various attacks cause on the enterprise. 

2. Create a formal DDoS incident response procedure: Make sure that the incident response procedure includes preparation guidelines and attack response.

3. Deploy a layered DDoS preventive strategy: While preparing a strategy, consider the entire factor of the environment. Also review cloud, on-site and ISP-based solutions. 

4. Know ISP Options: Create an accurate list with names & contact details for entire ISP and 3rd party providers; hence, you can contact them in any emergency situation.

5. Learn Lessons: After an attack, irrespective of the result, learn something that could be useful in handling future attacks.

6. Test the environment – Regularly test the exposed systems to determine, and avoid weak points and limitations before grabbing hacker’s attention. 

7. Leverage handled security services: Assess the offerings of, any DDoS protection services provided by the security service provider.

Because of the raising possibilities of DDoS attacks on the web application, the organization should concentrate on the effective measures to prevent the attack. It is essential to find out an out-of-band preventive and management solution. 

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5 Step Process To Adopt Secure SDLC In An Organization

Every organization today is looking for ways to ensure and assure Secure Product. The trend now is to adopt “build-in” Security measures instead of spending money on “bolt-on” Security measures separately. It is ideal to adopt Secure SDLC as a process to integrate the required security controls at the appropriate level of the software development. 

Typically, companies handle a structured approach to delivering the product as per Client requirements. Since Software production structure varies from one organization to another and depends on several internal and external factors. It is required to ensure Security is adopted as a process integrated with existing workflow and methodologies.

sdlc process to follow

Now, if we want to adopt Secure SDLC as a process, we need to ensure below 5 Steps are followed, measured and effectively ensured.

1. Identify And Equip Key Resources & Stakeholders

Building Team is the first and most crucial part of Secure SDLC process implementation project. We need to ensure the correct resources are identified and structured based on the requirements of the secure SDLC to make the outlook for success. The number of stakeholders and resources will vary from one organization to another, depending on the software development strategy that it follows. However, we need to ensure team consist of individuals of different Role and Department. Here, individuals with Technical Expertise are equally important as that from the Leadership Team. Here is how your Secure SDLC Task

Force could look like:

position for cyber security professionals
Figure 1: Secure SDLC Task Force

 

Roles & Functions

Director

The director is responsible for the control, superintendence, and direction of the businesses and activities of the company.


CISO 

The chief Information Security Officer is a senior level executive. He is responsible for converting the complex business problems into effective security controls.


Project manager

The project manager is an individual who possesses the roles of planning, structuring, managing, handling, reporting as well as communicating on entire phases. 


Security Manager

Security Manager organizes and supervises the entire security activities of the company.


Risk or Compliance Officer

Officer manages the Corporate compliance program. He reviews and assesses compliance problems within the company.


Project Leader

The project leader is responsible for offering the functional subject matter knowledge and functional accountability and ownership for the results of the project.


 Assurance Team

The assurance team plan, direct and coordinate assurance programs to ensure products meets the certain standards. They also formulate the control policies. 


Architects

Architects create or select the appropriate architecture for systems, such that it matches business requirements, satisfies stakeholder needs and attain the expected results under certain constraints. 


Developer

Developers are persons concerned with the duties of secure design, test as well as maintenance of the program for the product.


Functional QA 

Functional QA assesses the products to ensure that it meets the business needs.


Regression/ Maintenance QA

Maintenance QA supervises the company’s security maintenance resources to prevent from downtime. 


Customers

Customers are the units of business with the requirement for the project being developed.


3rd Party Consultant

3rd Party Consultant is responsible for evaluating the product based on the secure SDLC framework. They also involve in document creation and review. 


Once the required resources are identified, then the organization should train them and ensure their expertise to develop the project successfully.

2. Analysis And Alignment

The organization needs to perform the analyse and alignment mechanism to visualize the association between its business strategies and processes. 
There is generally some important actions need to take for the analyse and alignment process. These include:

security for business process
 

3. Process Development

The process development phase involves the action of creating the most effective processes that offer the best results. It comprises several goals.

These follow:

  • Making efficient utilization of resources (money, time, staff, raw materials, and work)
  • Enhancing the product quality
  • Serving the requirement of the clients

This phase involves assigning the roles as well as responsibilities to the staff by matching their skills. Next, implement the measurement criteria and choose the tracking tools to measure the performance of the process management. This will support to achieve the following goals:

  • Identify the impacts of the business as per the project management enhancement initiatives
  • Compare the cost of project management benefits
  • Ensure that the project management initiatives, achieving its objectives

4. Implementation

The success of any structure is critically reliant on an effective approach to the implementation. This phase involves the action of executing the process management; hence that the idea becomes a reality. The first thing here is to ensure the end-user awareness about the secure SDLC. Human mistakes come next to the technology in terms of factors that leads to failure of the product. A proper action, including the training programs should take place to make the end user aware essential things about the product and how to remain successful against the security threats as well as risks. 

Form a define and development department, which should comprise the incident handling team. This team is responsible for creating threat information sharing, active defense, critical infrastructure protection and incident preparedness. They should also analyse the process continuously to ensure everything is running smoothly and take appropriate action whenever any issues arise. 

5. Evaluation 

A systematic approach for receiving the details regarding the performance of the organization as well as the aspects that influence the performance. This phase considers the organization process as the key unit of evaluation to ensure that the whole thing is running as per the framework.  

The above-discussed steps are prominent enough for secure SDLC implementation. Some additional steps may add for certain tasks based on the necessity and cost and time involved.

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Cyber Security Vs Information Security

With the prominent increase in the regular occurrence of the security breaches, organizations are in need to protect their essential information. When it comes to taking steps on security measures, companies often confused with an Information Security profession and Cybersecurity profession regarding which one is appropriate for their needs. In addition to organizations, professionals who want to determine which profession is best for their career often need to distinguish these professions. 

Often, we use the terms Information Security and Cybersecurity interchangeable, though they both are not the same thing. These terms come with both the overlapping and the difference. Let us have an overview of Cybersecurity Vs Information Security.

Definition Of Information Security And Cybersecurity

When searching on these terms, it is possible to come across the myriad of contradictory definitions. 

Information Security

Information Security (also known as InfoSec) guarantees that the data, including both physical and digital is safeguarded from unauthorized use, access, disruption, inspection, modification, destruction or recording. In case a business is beginning to generate a security program, Information Security is where they should start; since, it is the data security foundation.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity guarantees that the computers, data, and network of the organization is defended from the unauthorized digital attack, access or damage by the mean of implementing several processes, practices, and technologies.  This security is to prevent the data, network, and reputation of the company against the attack. 

Connection Between The Cybersecurity And Information Security

People never use the terms interchangeably unless there is a strong interconnection between those terms. The same thing happens on the Cybersecurity and Information Security.

A physical security component is available to Information Security and Cybersecurity. Either a data is stored digitally or physically, there is need to make sure that the entire physical access control is generated in place in order to avoid unauthorized access. 

Both practices consider the value of data.

In Information Security, the main concern is safeguarding the data of the company from the illegal access of any kind, whereas, in Cybersecurity, the main concern is safeguarding the data of the company from illegal digital access. 

Keep in mind that both of these practices consider the data as the utmost importance. Professionals belongs to both of these domains need to find what data is critical to the company.
 
As per the Novainfose, the Cybersecurity is considered as a subset of the Information Security:

Figure 1: How Cybersecurity is a part of Information Security

                                  

In Figure 1, Information Security is indicated as the super-set of the Cybersecurity. This is because anything in the land of cyber would comprise the information.
 
Figure 2: Information Security and Cybersecurity

                                      hack2secure_cybersecurity_vs_informationsecurity                                                                                 

                                                                                    According to the site Center for Cyber and Information Security, Information Security ensures the protection of both Digital and Analog information.  Cybersecurity ensures the protection of things, which are vulnerable via ICT (including both information (physical and digital) and non-information things).

 

Figure 3: Overlapping of Information Security & Cyber Security


hack2secure_cybersecurity_vs_informationsecurity1

                                                                                                                                                                        Figure 3 shows the clear relationship between the Information, ICT Security, and Cybersecurity. Both Information Security and Cybersecurity are synonymous.Since Information Security is the Information Technology protection, whereas ICT Security is communication and Information Technology protection.

Though the Information Security and Cybersecurity are closely overlapped, there are some essential differences between the two. 

  


To conclude, Cybersecurity is about to protect only the digital information while Information Security is to protect the information, irrespective of whether it’s kept digitally or not.

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Crucial Stages of Software Security Testing Life Cycle

Today’s most valuable commodity of business is none other than the Trust. Ensuring the security of the software or customer information is essential to maintain the good faith. As the applications evolve, the vulnerability risk rises to a great extent. A well-executed and powerful security testing plan can support to uncover the entire security as well as privacy issues in the software and application. Moreover, it is an ideal way to ensure that the software is well-protected from the illegal access and from dangerous vulnerabilities. 
According to the report of OWASP, a great software security professionals, the following are the some of the top security threats that affect the software: 

  • Injection
  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • Broken Authentication & Session Management
  • Security Misconfiguration
  • Insecure Direct Object References
  • Sensitive Data Exposure
  • Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  • Missing Function Level Access Control
  • Using Known Vulnerable Components
  • Invalidated Forwards and Redirects

The security testing has to turn out to be an undeniably critical part of the development strategy of an organization. The main reason for this is the raise of the security breaches, which organizations are fronting today. The scope of this article covers the essential things need to know about the software security testing and the crucial stages of the software security testing life cycle.

Security Testing Definition

Security testing is a process that ensures the systems, as well as applications in an enterprise, are free from vulnerabilities, which may lead to a big loss. The main objective of the security testing of any software is about detecting entire possible weakness and loopholes of the software that might lead to an information loss at the hands of intruders. The software security testing is measured in two varieties: the data protection and the data accessible. With the security testing, organizations can ensure their users that their details remain secure from unauthorized access and no one can access it without permission. 

Methods That May Be Used During Software Security Testing

Service Access Points -   This technique ensures that there are enough number of access points to co-operate with entire users and guarantee security.

Data Protection – This technique means that the data are secured with an encryption method and only the authorized user can see and access the detailed information.

Brute-force Attack – Guessing the right password takes several numbers of attempts. That is why applications and websites, restrict their number of attempts to log into the system.

System Access – With this technique, an access possibility is well-defined by the role as well as the rights of the authorized users in a definite management system. 

Cross-Site Scripting Or SQL Injections – Based on this technique, an application should possess special limitation to prevent hacker’s attack. 

Security Testing Vs Conventional Testing
A quick comparison between security testing and conventional testing of the software:
    

   

                 Security Testing           Conventional Testing
The attribute of this testing highlights what a software shouldn’t perform instead of what it should perform. The attribute of this testing highlights what a software should do. 

The main aim of this testing is to evaluate the negative needs reporting something that shouldn’t occur ever.   

For instance, “An external attacker shouldn’t be capable of changing the web page contents” and “unauthorized user shouldn’t be capable of accessing the data”. 

In order to apply conventional testing to the negative approach, we have to make every conceivable set of non-possible conditions.

 

Where To Begin Security Testing?

As per the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual,

“Fact doesn’t come from the outstanding leaps of detection, but rather from the slight, watchful steps of verification”. 

Approaching testing in a small and a comprehensible piece can ensure to avoid mistakes. The more complex the software need to test, the more complex the security program and increase the chances of flaws. 

For instance, consider the system handling complex tasks. Since adding more tasks to the system can increase the chances of mistakes, complicate the tasks and becomes slower & slower. The same things happen in the testing security. Hence it is essential to manage the complexity properly. This task can be accomplished by the proper definition of the security test.

The following seven steps can support to define the security test properly:

1. Define exactly what you have to protect and these are termed as assets.
2. Determine the area around the assets that comprise the protection mechanisms as well as services made around the assets. This step is termed as the engagement zone.
3. Define entire things outside your engagement zone, which you want to maintain your assets operationally.
4. Define how your possibility communicates with itself as well as with the outside.
5. Identify the tools, which required for each test.
6. Regulate what details you need to understand from the test.
7. Assure the software security test, which you have created follows the Rules of Engagement and some guidelines to ensure the proper security test process without making misconceptions, misunderstanding or false expectations.

Security Testing Framework

It is essential to build an end-to-end testing framework to assess and enhance the software security. Several organizations still consider the security testing as the portion of penetration testing. However, the things have changed. While performing penetration testing of a complex software, it is typically inefficient at determining the bugs and depends extremely on the tester’s skills. In order to improve the software security, it is vital to enhance the quality of the software. That states security testing should be carried out at each stage of software development life cycle:

These stages are as follows:

1. Definition
2. Design
3. Develop
4. Deploy
5. Maintenance

For instance, the Cyber Crime Website of the US Government details a study related to the recent criminal cases and the company’s loss. Based on the study, the typical loss exceeds USD $100, 000. With considering losses like this, software companies are suggested to concentrate on the security testing at the early stages of the software development rather than just following black box security testing that can only be carried out on products, which have finalized. 

With the reference to the OWASP testing framework workflow, here we presented the typical security testing framework (Figure 1), which can be developed within a company. 
This testing framework contains the following actions:

  • Before the development process begins
  • During definition & design process
  • During development process
  • During deployment process 
  • Maintenance & Operations

Figure 1: Testing Framework Workflow


                                     

This framework includes the tasks and techniques, which are suitable for the different stages of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). Organizations can use this framework to make their own software testing framework. This is not a perspective framework. The organization can extend as well as remodel this flexible approach to fit into their development process. 

Security Testing Methods

Based on the details covered in the OWASP Testing Guide, let us have a look at the different testing techniques that can be used when creating a security testing program. 

1. Manual Inspection and Review
2. Threat Modelling
3. Code Review
4. Penetration Testing

1. Manual Inspections And Review

Manual Inspections are the process of reviews performed by a human, which generally involves testing the consequences of people, processes, and policies. This method also comprises technology decisions inspections like architectural designs.
This method comes with the following benefits:

  • No technology support is required
  • Flexibility
  • Can be used in different variety of scenarios
  • Enhance teamwork
  • Can be carried out early in the software development life cycle

Drawbacks with this method include:

  • Time consuming
  • Require efficient human thought, and skills
  • Supporting materials not available

2. Threat Modelling

This is one of the popular techniques that are used by the software designers to treat the security threats, which their system possibly faces. This method involves the development of mitigation process for possible security vulnerabilities. It supports the developers to focus on their unavoidable restricted resources and the portions of the software that requires more attention. 
Advantages of the threat modelling include:

  • Can be carried out early in the software development life cycle
  • Flexibility
  • Enables to view the system in the prospect of attackers

The drawback of this method includes:

  • Relatively new technique to understand

3. Code Review

This method involves the process of manually evaluating the software source code against the security issues. 
Advantages of this method involve:

  • Accuracy
  • Fast
  • Effectiveness
  • Completeness

The drawback of this method includes:

  • Can’t detect run-time defects effortlessly
  • Require highly talented developers
  • Chance of missing errors in the compiled libraries

4. Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, commonly known as ethical hacking or black box testing, has been used in testing the security of the network for several years. In this method, the tester attempts to access the software as like the attackers to determine the exploit vulnerabilities. 
The penetration testing can be subcategorized into:

1. Introduction & Objectives
2. Information Gathering
3. Configuration & Deployment Management Testing
4. Identity Management Testing
5. Authentication Testing
6. Authorization Testing
7. Session Management Testing
8. Input Validation Testing
9. Cryptography
10. Error Handling
11. Client Side Testing
12. Business Logic Testing  

Advantages of the Penetration Testing are:

  • Fast
  • Economical
  • Comparatively, requires minimum skill sets

Drawbacks of this method include:

  • Taken at the final stage of the SDLC
  • Front influence testing only

Conclusion

Hope the above information would provide you an understanding of the software security testing. Security testing is the ideal way to measure how much secure your software is. As we discussed, it is highly suggested to include this testing as a part of the SDLC process. 

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Avoiding Top 10 Software Security Design Flaws

Most of the software related security defects happen not due to implementation bugs, but due to security flaws in embedded designs. Most of the flaws have persisted since decades but architects decided to avoid them. On April 2014, The IEEE Computer Society, the leading association for computing professionals, created the Center for Secure Design (CSD) with a foundation workshop along with other industry experts from organizations like Google, Twitter, Cigital and more to generate a report named “Avoiding the Top 10 Software Security Design Flaws”. This IEEE report lists out the top 10 of the most common security design flaws that they found in their internal design reviews and development programs and recommendations on how to avoid them. This IEEE report tries to shift the designers focus from bugs to design flaws.

Organizations have been focusing mostly on identifying and eradicating security bugs, and there are many reports listing the most common bugs. For example, OWASP Top 10. However, not many reports talk about the design flaws that may lead to generating security bugs. 

Neil Daswani, the member of Twitter's security engineering team said that "When you can solve a problem at the [software] design phase, it automatically solves a bunch of problems later on in the stages"

A report from the SEI again proves the priority of design-time security concern among the other phases of the application lifecycle. The initial stage of the architecture should consider security from the outset and that consideration should move forward towards the implementation as well as deployment. The demand of defects, particularly security defects can be higher once the software is deployed. On the other hand, the defects are typically cheaper in case they are fixed at initial design phases.  

Tips to Avoid Top 10 Software Security Flaws 

Here, we provided an overview of the “Top 10 Security Flaws That Need To Avoid” based on the reference of the IEEE report concerning the same. 

1. Don’t trust without validating.
2. Use a flawless authorization mechanism.
3. Authorize, though authenticated.
4. Isolate control instruction from data and never access the untrusted control instruction.
5. Define a strategy that guarantees entire data are validated explicitly.
6. Use cryptography properly.
7. Discover the sensitive data and find secure methods to handle them.
8. Always think in user’s prospects.
9. Aware the impact of integrating external components on the attack surface.
10. Be adaptable when considering upcoming changes to actors and objects.

"Bugs and flaws are two very different types of security defects, we believe there has been quite a bit more focus on common bugs than there has been on secure design and the avoidance of flaws, which is worrying since design flaws account for 50 percent of software security issues." says Gary McGraw, CTO at Cigital.

1.    Don’t Trust Without Validating

According to the report, the design of placing authorization, access control, policy enforcement and any sensitive data on client software, often leads to compromise in the security. In addition, the data coming from an untrusted client environment should be considered as scams and must be validated before performing security tasks. If these data need to be stored on the client software, they must be designed to cope with potential compromise.

2.    Use A Flawless Authorization Mechanism

The goal of the secure design is to prevent an attacker gaining access to the data without authentication and preventing a user from changing its identity without re-authentication, once authenticated. It is recommended to use the authentication techniques like “something you know, something you have and something you are”. Avoid sharing of information like IP numbers and Mac addresses. Use a time-based token that is not predictable. Design automatically log out process. And use single method component for authenticating users.

3.    Authorize, Though Authenticated

Authorizing the users after authenticating them is equally important. Not all authenticated users should be given access to every aspect of the system. User’s authorization depends upon factors like the context of the request, the location and time of the request. For some sensitive operations, authentication should be a continuous process. Common infrastructure can be used for authorization check.  

4. Isolate Control Instruction From Data And Never Access The Untrusted Control Instruction

This report suggests segregating the control instructions and data using hardware capabilities because co-mingling of data and control instruction can be vulnerable to attack. Keep an eye on injection prone API’s which may lead to injection risks. Use hardware capabilities to separate code and data. Use compilers to control untrusted data. Be careful of Exposed reflection, Eval functions, and Query languages.

5.  Define A Strategy That Guarantees Entire Data Are Validated Explicitly

It is suggested to ensure centralized validation mechanism, and canonical form of data validation to validate data before entering into the system. Use implementation level language type to watch out for assumptions about validity. Try and use blacklisting instead of whitelisting.

6.  Use Cryptography Properly

Use of cryptography is very important to ensure the confidentiality of data. This report lists out a number of activities to ensure while design. Some of them are:

  • Build your own systematic algorithm.
  • Use of standard algorithm and libraries
  • Protecting the cryptographic keys.
  • Getting the cryptography right at once.
  • Avoid non-random randomness

7.  Discover The Sensitive Data And Find Secure Methods To Handle Them

Identify data that are sensitive and find ways to protect them. Data sensitivity is context-sensitivity. Classify data coming from external sources into categories and create policies to handle them. Consider all data protection requirements (For example - Integrity, confidentiality, etc.). Identify trust boundaries. Plan to change over time.

8.  Always Think In User’s Prospects

Design a system in a way that it is easy to use, deploy, configure and update. Also consider user’s cultural biases, habits, and physical abilities. Make default security features enabled for users who are unaware of system security. Don't assume that users are security aware. Facilitate secure configuration feature for those who are interested. Avoid features like user fatigue, security decisions to users etc.

9.  Aware The Impact Of Integrating External Components On The Attack Surface

This report recommends that designers should always check their external components for security as they are risky to use. When including external components always give time to the development process to consider security impact. Don't trust them until applied and reviewed controls. Always isolate components. Only configure them to use for functionality to be used and watch out for extra functionalities. Document everything and design for flexibility.

10. Be Adaptable When Considering Upcoming Changes To Actors And Objects

While designing a security implemented software always be ready for changes like threat change, environment and conditions etc. Always consider security updates. Be flexible to change the security properties on certain scenarios, for example when the code is updated. It should be designed in a way to isolate a feature, or toggle between functionalities. Always have a plan for “Secret Compromise” recovery. Design “Agility” into the system. Always consider the crypto breaks and code signing.

This report clearly defines that design flaws are equally important as like bugs for any software. By shifting the focus from bugs to design flaws will save developers a lot of time and money and can save the software develop threat vulnerabilities in the design later. 

"It's important to ask questions that identify what all the different ways the software will get used," Daswani says. 

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ISO IEC 12207 2008 Systems and Software Life Cycle Processes Overview

                                                                                 Download the Complete Article

In our previous blogs we have been discussing about the available frameworks and standards set by different organization for software Development processes. Another industry standard related with Secure SDLC process and practices is from ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

Read: 
Summarizing OpenSAMM Requirements 
BSIMM7 Software Security Framework A Quick Walk through 
NIST SP 800 64 Secure SDLC Consideration High Level Summary

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) along with IEC (The International Electro Technical Commission) provides an international standard for software Lifecycle Processes as ISO/IEC 12007. This International Standard sets a common framework comprises of Process activities and tasks to be utilized by all software practitioners to develop and manage software products or services during the different phase of development lifecycle.

ISO 12007 provides the Lifecycle Process Reference Model, which can act as the adoptable reference model by an organization based on Business needs and Application domain. This assist process assessors to determine capability of the organization’s implemented process and to provide source material for further improvement in same.

This Standard Categories itself in 2 subdivision of processes

1. System Lifecycle Processes dealing with Software System

  

2. Software Specific Processes dealing with software product or services related processes.

  


Let’s walk through these processes in brief

1. System Context Processes

1.1 Agreement Processes

It describes a set of Agreement processes which happens from the start of the software till its retirement. It involves several key parties in the process like Acquisition, supply, development, operation and maintenance. Each process is defined in terms of its activities and tasks.

1.1.1 Acquisition Process 
The purpose of the Acquisition Process is to ‘obtain’ product/service requirements that satisfies need of the acquirer (Client). It begins with identifying the customers need and ends with the acceptance of the Product/Service needed by the acquirer. And continues with tasks like issuance of proposal, selecting a supplier, and defining the management for the acquisition process.

This process results in clearly defined agreement for the acquirers requirement and expectations, selection of the product/service that satisfies the acquirers need, defining the cost, schedule to meet the need, and any other requirement to be agreed between the acquirer and supplier.

This Process consists of certain activities and task that can be seen below in the chart.Acquisition_Process

1.1.2 Supply Process 
This life cycle process contains the activities and tasks to provide the product/service to the acquirer that has been agreed upon in the requirements. This process is initiated by entering into the contract with the acquirer with the agreed requirements to provide a software service. The process then continues with the identification of the procedure and resources to manage the services. Then the product is installed depending upon the agreed requirements.

This Process consists of certain activities and task that can be seen below in the chart.

1.2 Organizational Project-Enabling Processes

Organizational Project-Enabling Processes consists of different processes to initiate the system procedure.

1.2.1 Life Cycle Model Management Process 
This process defines the policies, procedures, Lifecycle model and processes that can be adapted and applied using effective measures and tools, with respect to the scope of this international standard.

The successful implementation of this model ensures a well-defined policies and procedure, and accountability for lifecycle management. This process includes activities like:

a.Process Establishment, where suite of organizational processes for all software life cycle processes and models according to business activities are established, documented and published
b. Process Assessment, where procedure to assess/review records and activities are developed, documented and applied
c. Process Improvement, ensures required activities related with suggested improvements are collected, evaluated and analyzed for further process changes

1.2.2 Infrastructure Management Process 
This process defines the activities, tools and facilities needed to acquire, establish and maintain an enabling infrastructure services to the project throughout the lifecycle.

1.2.3 Project Portfolio Management Process: 
This purpose of this process is to initiate and sustain the necessary projects to meet the organization's objective. Under this process, investment authorities, resources and budget are selected, and continued monitoring is done to confirm they justify continue investment or not.

1.2.4 Human Resource Management Process: 
This process helps in identifying the skilled resources to perform the activities of the life cycle to meet the organization's, project and customer’s objective. It also defined the ways to develop, maintain and enhance their skills and competencies.

1.2.5 Quality Management Process 
This process defines the framework for objectively assuring the compliance and quality objectives of product/services with their requirements and to monitor the customer satisfaction with those quality objectives. Corrective Actions are taken if these are not met.

1.3 Project Processes

The Standards is written for general, large or complex projects. The standard is valid to be applied in projects of any size. It consists of several processes to be applied.

1.3.1 Project Planning Process 
Primary purpose of Project Planning process is to produce and communicate effective and workable project plans, determining scope of project Management and Technical activities

1.3.2 Project Assessment and Control Process 
This process helps in assessing the project work as per the plan and scheduling. It also determines that the project is working under estimated budget and satisfies the project objectives.

1.3.3 Decision Management Process
This process determines the most valuable and accurate action for the project and their alternatives by taking desirable decisions for the project.

1.3.4 Risk Management Process
The scope of this process is to define strategies to identify, monitor and mitigate the risks that occurs during the life cycle process. Some of the important activities includes

a. Risk Management Planning, which provides policies and guidelines under which Risk Management needs to be performed. It also defines roles and responsibilities of involved parties along with evaluation metrics
b. Risk Profile Management, provides context of Risk Management Process including threshold conditions under which Risk may be accepted
c. Risk Analysis, describes Categories, probability of occurrence and consequences of each risk identified.
d. Risk Treatment, contains recommended measures, actions and alternatives to different stakeholders.
e. Risk Monitoring activity provides measures to evaluate effectiveness of Risk treatment along with process to monitor for new risk and sources throughout its lifecycle.
f. Risk Management Process Evaluation, contains activities related with Information collection for purpose of process improvement and generating Case Studies accordingly. It also defines periodic review outcome for identifying systematic project and organizational risks.

1.3.5 Configuration Management Process
This process is employed to identify, define, and baseline software items in a system, to control changes and releases of the items, to record and report the status of the items and modification requests; handling and delivery of the items.

1.3.6 Information Management Process 
The scope of this process is to manage and provide the valid, complete and confidential information to relevant parties. It also make sure that the information is transformed and disposed-off when needed.

1.3.7 Measurement Process
The purpose of this process is to identify the information needs of the project, to identify appropriate set of measures, to collect and analyses the data, and to demonstrate the quality of the product.

1.4 Technical Processes

This consists of different technical procedure that defines the technical aspect of the project.

1.4.1 Stakeholder Requirements Definition Process 
The scope of this purpose is to identify the stakeholders and their needs and requirements and validate the operational serves to confirm that it meets those needs. Project should implement following activities and task according to Business requirements:

a. Stakeholder Identification, process is about identifying stakeholders who are interested in the system throughout its life cycle
b. Requirements identification, providing details of stakeholder requirements, also including constrain/unavoidable conditions and consequences of existing agreements and (management & technical) decisions. 
c. Requirements Evaluation, to analyze complete set of elicited requirements
d. Requirements Agreement, to provide detailed requirement and expectation set
e. Requirement Recording, in form of suitable requirements management through lifecycle and beyond to provide traceability to source of stakeholders need.

1.4.2 System Requirements Analysis Process 
This process transforms the stakeholder’s requirement into technical requirements that will be used to design the system. The selected techniques are performed to finalize the solution, cost and schedule is also determined and selected requirements are communicated to respective parties.

1.4.3 System Architectural Design Process
The purpose is to identify the system elements that meets the defined requirements. It includes establishing top-level architecture of the system with allocated all system requirements, followed by a systematic evaluation process for proper traceability, consistency, appropriateness of standards and feasibility of operation and maintenance.

1.4.4 Implementation Process
This process helps in defining the specific system element.

1.4.5 System Integration Process
This process helps in integrating the specified system elements in project to produce a complete system defined as per defined requirements and customer expectations.

1.4.6 System Qualification Testing Process
This process is about testing the system to ensure the implementation of each requirement for compliance and assure the readiness of the system for delivery.

1.4.7 Software Installation Process
This process defines the installation of the software product and assure the readiness of the product to be used in the target environment.

1.4.8 Software Acceptance Support Process
This process helps to derive the acquirer acceptance of the product by certain tests and reviews and if any problems are detected during acceptance that needs to be communicated to the respective party.

1.4.9 Software Operation Process
The purpose of this process is to test and operate the software product in its intended environment and provide consultation and assistance to the customer. 

Primary activities included in this process are:

a. Preparation for operation, where operator develop well documented plan and set operational procedures for performing activities and task of this process.
b. Operation Activation and Check-Out, this includes performing acceptable operational testing before release of product in production environment.
c. Operational use, includes activities related with setting up required environment as defined under user documentation
d. Customer support, should be established to provide assistance and consultation to users as requested.
e. Operation Problem Resolution, includes process related with forwarding identified problems to related stakeholder and setting-up Software Problem Resolution process for same.

1.4.10 Software Maintenance Process
This process helps in modifying the system product and provide cost effective support to the software product as and when required.

Primary activities to be implemented by Maintainer should include:

a. Process Implementation, for Software Maintenance with documented executable plans and procedures.
b. Problem and Modification Analysis, process to analyze problem report or modification request for its impact on organization and related systems
c. Modification Implementation, process to determine which system component needs modification. Further Technical processes to be considered for modification implementation.
d. Maintenance Review/Acceptance, includes reviews and required approval for satisfactory completion of modification request
e. Migration, process and activities to be considered if environmental changes are considered. Plan needs to be developed, documented and systematically executed.

1.4.11 Software Disposal Process
This is the end of the process, describing the effective handling over of the product to the customer and disposing off or storing of any software elements in lieu of compliance, leaving the environment in an acceptable condition.

2. Software Specific Processes

2.1 Software Implementation Processes

This consists of different processes to be used on the produced software.

2.1.1 Software Implementation Processes
This process helps in producing the system element also known as “system item” to be implemented as a software product or services that satisfies the architectural design requirements.

2.1.2 Software Requirements Analysis Process
This process defines the requirements to be allocated to the system which is further tested to analyses their impact on the system.

2.1.3 Software Architectural Design Process
This process provides a design for the software that will implement the specified requirements.

2.1.4 Software Detailed Design Process
During this process a detailed design of each software component is developed which can be available for testing and coding.

2.1.5 Software Construction Process
Here all software units are verified against their requirements and constructed as per the defined design.

2.1.6 Software Integration Process
This process defines the integration of the software unit and software components to produce software items, consistent with software design demonstrating functional and non-functional software requirements on complete operational platform. 

2.1.7 Software Qualification Testing Process
This process helps in identifying that the software product meets the requirements established in sync with the compliance.

2.2 Software Support Processes

These processes lists the number of processes to support the produced software

2.2.1 Software Documentation Management Process
This demonstrate the process of identifying the documentation of the produced software, develop and maintain the recorded information produced during the process.

2.2.2 Software Configuration Management Process
This process helps in maintaining the integrity of the software items, storing, handling and delivering them to the concerned parties. Primary activities implemented by the project as a part of this process are:

a. Process implementation, includes Software Configuration management plan describing related activities, procedures and schedule along with roles and responsibilities of stakeholders performing these activities
b. Configuration Identification, scheme for proper identification of Software items requiring version control and related management activities
c. Configuration Control, provides process to identify, record and evaluate change request.
d. Configuration Status Accounting, includes management records and status reports showcasing status and history of controlled Software items.
e. Configuration evaluation, to ensure functional completeness of Software items against requirements.
f. Release Management and Delivery related activities including required documentation of same.

2.2.3 Software Quality Assurance Process
During this process quality assurance check is done on the product and assurance is provided that the product meets the pre-defined plans and requirements.

Primary activities defined as a part of process are:

a. Process Implementation, includes establishment of Quality assurance process suited to the project and in compliance with established requirements and plans
b. Product assurance, process ensuring all plans as per contract are documented and delivered. It also assures acceptable delivery of Software Product to acquirer (client).
c. Process Assurance, process to ensure all software lifecycle processes are as per contract and plans.
d. Assurance of Quality Systems, includes activities accordance to ISO 9001 clauses.


2.2.4 Software Verification Process
The purpose of this process is to verify the software work products or services and identify any defects. This explains the product meet the requirement and then it is made available to the customer. Primary activities includes Verification of all Requirements, Design, Code, integration needs and Documentation. 

2.2.5 Software Validation Process
Under this process all work products are validated for the specific intended use according to the requirements.

2.2.6 Software Review Process
The scope of this process is to review the management and technical progress against the objective throughout the life of the product. Problems during review are identified and recorded as well. Primary activities of this process includes

a. Process Implementation, process and setting resource requirements for periodic reviews. It also includes process to document and distribute result to required stakeholders.
b. Project management reviews, to evaluate project status as per applicable project plans, schedules, standards and guidelines.
c. Technical Reviews, to ensure product or service under consideration are complete, comply with Standards and specifications, Properly implemented suggested changes (as per Change Management plan) and  adhere with applicable schedules.

2.2.7 Software Audit Process
The product then goes through the audit process to determine that the software work products meets the compliance, plans and agreement.

2.2.8 Software Problem Resolution Process
This process demonstrate that all the problems are identified, analyzed and resolutions are implemented.

2.3 Software Reuse Processes

These consists of three processes

2.3.1 Domain Engineering Process
This process helps to develop and maintain domain model, domain architecture, build relationship with other domains, and assets belonging to domain are identified.

Primary activities includes

a. Process Implementation, involving creation and execution of Domain engineering Plan. 
b. Domain Analysis, includes activities like defining Domain Boundaries, building Domain Models, constructing Definitions and Terminologies and conducting Reviews. Domain Models and analysis reports should be submitted to Asset Manager.
c. Domain Design, includes creation and documentation of Domain Architecture along with selected Asset evaluation.
d. Asset Provision, should include activities like documentation and Classification of Assets. Asset Evaluation as per Organization’s acceptance and certification procedures.
e. Asset Maintenance, includes analysis of Asset modification request and choosing implementation options according to impact, Business requirements and Organization Policies.

2.3.2 Reuse Asset Management Process
The purpose of the Reuse Asset Management Process is to manage the life of reusable assets from conception to retirement. Primary activities includes

a. Process Implementation, like Asset Management Plan to define resources and required procedures for managing assets.
b. Asset Storage and Retrieval Definition
c. Asset Management and Control, related task based on asset acceptance and certification criteria. If asset is accepted, it can be made available for reuse through Asset storage and Retrieval mechanism.

2.3.3 Reuse Program Management Process
This process defined the reuse strategy for potential reuse opportunities, and manage and control organization's reuse program.

Primary activities in this process includes:

a. Initiation, includes task like implementation of Reuse Program as per organization’s reuse strategy and scope.
b. Domain identification, includes identification and documentation of domains which require and investigate reuse opportunities. Further these identified domains are evaluated, reviewed and scoped for future usage.
c. Reuse Assessment, process to assess organization’s reuse capability, domain reuse potential, recommendations and improvement plans
d. Planning, involves activities related with proper creation, documentation and maintenance of Reuse program implementation Plan. This plan should be reviewed and evaluated for required implementation feasibility as per organization’s reuse strategy
e. Execution and Control, includes activities required for reuse program implementation, progress monitoring and re-structuring requirements
f. Review and Evaluation, process for periodic assessment to get reuse program align with organization’s strategy. It also involves, required changes to reuse program and improvement in same accordingly. 


The ISO/IEC 12207 is the first International Standard that provides a complete set of processes for acquiring and supplying software products and services. These processes helps in improvement of software throughout its lifecycle by evolving modern software methods, tools and techniques and engineering environment. This International standard will help organizations to indulge themselves in acquiring the proper development process and develop a product which will be accepted internationally.

At Hack2Secure, We work closely with organizations to improve their Software Development Lifecycle processes and assist them in adopting and implementing role of Security in these processes. 

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Summarizing Open Software Assurance Maturity Model OpenSAMM Requirements

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Earlier, Information Security was all about protecting your network from malicious activities. But today, with the evolution of technologies and extended usage of devices and applications, information security has become a Business concern for any organisation. We now have to re-work on our development processes, methodologies to improve maturity of Application Security and adopt related Practices.

Many organisations have come up with their own frameworks to help this initiative keeping their Business requirements in view, however these frameworks lack flexibility and might be too complex for some organizations to adopt. Industry needs a model which is simple, defined and measurable. One such model is The Open Software Assurance Maturity Model (OpenSAMM), which is viable and can define building blocks for an assurance program.

About OpenSAMM

The Software Assurance Maturity Model (SAMM) developed by OWASP in 2009 is an open (free & vendor neutral)  framework assisting organizations in understanding, formulating and implementing Software Security strategy, which can be customized completely based on risk faced by the organization. 

Benefits:

  • Analyse existing Software Security Maturity state of an organization according to the followed practices and assurance programs
  • Build a balanced Software Security assurance program in a systematic and well-defined iterations
  • Demonstrate improvements in Security Assurance program and Software Security maturity
  • Define measurable Security activities across an organization.

 

Understanding the Model

At highest level, OpenSAMM defines 4 critical Business functional blocks, each providing 3 Security practices. So, in-total of 12 Security Practices, each practice is measured at 3 Maturity Levels, also called as Objectives.

To Summarize, we have,

4 Critical Business Functions (B.F.)

4 B.F. x 3 Security Practice = 12 Security Practices (S.P.)

12 S.P. x 3 Maturity Levels = 36 Objectives

Let’s, walk through these Business Functions, Practices and required objectives in brief:

A. Governance

Governance is all about the way Organization Manages Software Development Activities. It provides relations between effective Business Processes and Development groups, by providing effective measurable process and engagement rules.

1. Strategy & Metrics (SM)

This practice involves building Strategy to collect metrics defining organization’s Security posture. It assists in establishing a framework within organization for a Software Security Assurance program.

Objectives

Strategy & Metrics Practice has 3 related Objectives, focussing on Establishment of Strategic Roadmap, which assist in measuring Data and other Software Asset values based on Business Risk. It also help is assessment of possible Security expenditure required to maintain Security posture.

2. Policy & Compliance (PC)

This practice primarily focuses on external legal and regulatory requirements and driving internal Security Standards to ensure required business purpose and compliances are met.

Objectives

Policy and Compliance Business Practice has 3 related objectives, focussing on understanding of relevant governance and compliance requirements to the organization. This understanding assists in establishing Security Baseline (Policies and Standards) and related practices. It also assists establishing required compliance/quality gates for projects. Overall objective is to understand pre-project Risk and establish measures to manage them.

3. Education & Guidance (EG)

This practice is all about ensuring Educating and Guiding workforce involved in Software Lifecycle with required knowledge and resources to design develop and deploy secure software. This practice assist teams in proactively identify and mitigate related Security Risk in their domain.

Objectives

Primary objective of Education and Guidance practice is to educate all personnel in Software life-cycle on Security Requirements and provide guidance according to their Role. Like, Developers should be trained on Secure Programming and Deployment practices. It also includes providing mandatory awareness Security Training and Certification programs.

B. Construction

Construction concerns the processes and activities related with Business Goals and Development projects. Overall it defines process of Building an Application, which includes activities related with Product management, Requirement gathering, High-level Architecture specification, detailed Design and implementation analysis.

1. Threat Assessment (TA)

This practice involves identification of project level Functional Threats and Risk to Software. Processes like Threat Modeling assist in such analysis.

Objectives

Primary objective of this Security Activity is to identify and understand impact of possible Threats to an organization and project, assisting organization to granularly define and implement Security Controls. This includes threats against both internal and third-party software.

2. Security Requirements (SR)

This practice is all about building proactive practices, providing expected Software security behaviour. As a part of project initiation, security requirements along with functional expectations are collected for high-level business purpose.

Objectives

Mandated across projects, objective of this practice is to ensure Security explicitly during Software requirement gathering process. This increase granularity of Security controls against business logics and known risk including from 3rd party dependencies and SLAs.

3. Secure Architecture (SA)

This can also be taken as a pro-active Security practice to ensure Security is ensured by default in Software Design itself.

Objectives

Primary objective of this practice is to consider security in Software design and related processes itself by using known secure services and design principles. Establishment of formal reference security design architectures and patterns are done as a part of that 

C. Verification

As name suggest, it is related with verification and testing of Software. It focuses on processes and activities related to how organization review and analyse (test) produced entities throughout Software development.

1. Design Review (DR)

This practice is focussed on assessment of Software design and architecture for security concerns. It involves detailed data-level design inspections and enforcement of Baseline expectations at design level.

Objectives

Identification of Software Attack Surface, analysis against known Security Requirements, Development of Data flow diagrams and inspection of complete Security mechanism are few objectives of this process. It also includes adding requirements in Release Gates related with design review, which needs to be applied across projects.

2. Code Review (CR)

This practice focuses on software source code inspection for Security vulnerabilities. It involves integration of Code review practices in development process and setting measurable expectations for same.

Objectives

Objectives include creation of review checklist from known security requirements followed by both Automated and Manual code analysis process. It also includes adding requirements in Release Gates related with secure code review, which needs to be applied across projects.

3. Security Testing (ST)

This practice focuses on software inspection in runtime environment for Security concerns. It also involves adding Security Functional aspects in automated environment. Security testing results should play major role in project release acceptance criteria.

Objectives

Primary objective of this Security practices is to at least establish a process of performing basic security test based on implementation and Software requirements and then further effectively automate the complete process. Security testing phase should be part of Release Gate criteria.

D. Deployment

Deployment business requirement talks about processes and activities related with Software release procedures. This also includes how products are shipped to end users, deployment of same and expected operations in runtime environment.

1. Vulnerability Management (VM)

Vulnerability Management practices defines the required processes for handling Vulnerabilities and Operational incidents. It talks about methods of collecting information from reports and analysing root case for the concern. 

Objectives

This includes building of High Level Plan for effective Vulnerability or Incident Management, which may involve creation of Security Response Team and establishment of Incident Response process for same. Along with these, a process should be established to effectively conduct root-cause analysis and collection of incident metrics.

2. Environment Hardening (EH)

This practice assists in hardening of Security posture in the surrounding environment of Deployed Software.

Objectives

This includes maintaining of operational environment specification along with identification and installation of Security upgrades and patches. Establishment of Patch Management process is a part of Environment Hardening practices. Along with these, consideration should be taken on deployment of required operation protection tools and expansion of audit program to analyse environment configuration.

3. Operational Enablement (OE)

This Security practice primarily focuses on communicating Secure Deployment and other critical information to end-users. Providing details on Security configuration, features and Best Practices are part of same.

Objectives

Primary objective here is to document procedures especially alerts and critical security information in form of Operational and Security Guides. This also involves creation of pre-release change management procedures. Effective validation criteria should be established like Code Signing etc. Audit program should also be expanded for this prospect.

 

Building Assurance Program

The main purpose of using SAMM is to build a software assurance model for an organisation. This process begins with the Security assessment using existing model in the organisation. After the assessment, OpenSAMM proposes several roadmaps templates to choose from. Organizations can further customize their roadmap based on these templates, which explains which section of Security practice needs improvement and try to achieve the required level.

 

The Open SAMM Model is quick and easy to deploy and will help organisations to improve their Software Security state by building Assurance Program, according to organisation structure and understanding. It allows them to do self-assessment with some guidance to gain valuable insights on their Software assurance matters and help Demonstrate concrete improvements to their security assurance program. Their future plan also includes mapping them with existing standards like ISO, PCI and more.

Hack2Secure can assist organizations in analysis and adoption of OpenSAMM model for Secure SDLC process implementation. Our Training, Certification, Consultation, Testing and Assessment services can assist organizations across the OpenSAMM model requirements.

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BSIMM7 Software Security Framework A Quick Walk through

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With the continuous increase in data breach, organisations have started taking Security seriously and have also introduced Secure Software Development (SDLC) programs in their systems. But the dilemma is that they don’t know where to start from. Even though they are investing into security activities, measuring the impact of these security services are often overlooked. Which results in over investment on low-impact activities. There are many standards and frameworks developed for such organisations to measure their state of Software security. One such Framework is called The Building Security in Maturity Model (BSIMM). 

What is BSIMM?
BSIMM is a software security measurement framework established to help organisations compare their software security to other organisations initiatives and find out where they stand. 

“The Building Security In Maturity Model is a study of existing software security initiatives. By quantifying the practices of many different organizations, we can describe the common ground shared by many as well as the variation that makes each unique”.
[Source: BSIMM]

The model is based on the study done on organisations across the industries like financial service sectors, Healthcare sectors, Software sectors, cloud providers and more.

How does BSIMM work?

The model is based on observational science around software security. Over the years of research and findings, it provides a common measuring stick with using 113 activities for organizations. These activities are broken into 12 practices organized into 4 Domains viz. Governance, Intelligence, SSDL Touchpoints and Deployment. BSIMM’s Software Security Framework (SSF) and activity description provides a common mechanism to explain elements of Software security initiatives, thus enabling organizations to uniformly compare their maturity model accordingly. BSIMM7 is the 7th major version of BSIMM model.

Advantages of adopting BSIMM7 framework:

  • Enables organizations to start a Software Security Initiative (SSI)
  • Provide standard measuring criteria  to measure and comparing SSI within domain or Industry
  • Helps organisations to learn from other’s mistakes. So that they don’t repeat the same. It helps the members of The BSIMM community by bringing together people from companies who've measured and they can compare notes and realize that often they have the same problems. 
  • It will help them to plan, execute and measure initiate of their own without having on board any third party for the same. The analysis consists of around 100 big companies like Microsoft, EMC, Google etc, which can help you leverage the years of experience captured in the model and help you improve your own software security initiative. 
  • It gives you the clarity on what is “the right thing to do”.
  • This model will helps industries and business units, measure the current state of their software security initiative, identify gaps, prioritize change, by applying scientific principles and determine how and where to apply resources for immediate improvement by comparing it with other existing Security Software initiative organisations. 
  • It helps in Cost reduction through standard, repeatable processes.


BSIMM Framework
BSIMM7 Framework is the study 113 different activities of 4 domains consisting 12 Practices: 
Ref: https://www.bsimm.com/framework/

Bsimm maturity model

A. Domain: Governance
These are practices assisting companies to organise, manage and measure a Software Security Initiatives (SII). 

1. Strategy & Metrics (SM): 

This practice ensures Security Process planning and publication assisting in defining Software Security Goals and required measurement metrics. Identify Quality Gates along with definition on roles and responsibilities. It also talks about Awareness related education programs especially for Management/Executives to ensure well-informed decision making

2. Compliance & Policy (CP): 

As name suggest, Compliance and Policy practice has focus on regulatory or compliance drivers such as PCI DSS and HIPPA. It consist of activities related with PII obligation identification, defining Security Policy and processes to fulfil such requirements like defining SLA, Contracts, audit scope etc.  

3. Training (T): 

Training is required to have basic security knowledge for all level of participants in SSDLC. Awareness Training should be mandatory for all along with identification training requirement based on individual Role and Responsibility. 

[Also Read: Equip Your Workforce To Counter Application Security Resource Gap & Industry need Resources with Secure SDLC skills ]

B. Domain: Intelligence

These are practices results in collection and identification of corporate intelligence related with SSI. Pro-active Security Guidance along with processes like Threat Modeling define different activities.

4. Attack Models (AM): 

In this practise developer think like an attacker and create knowledge of technology specific attack patterns. These knowledge will then guide decisions about code and controls. Data Classification, collecting information on technology-specific attack patterns, building possible attack list and related case studies etc are some of the major activities as part of defining Attack Models.

[Also Read: Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Control Implementation ]

5. Security Features & Design (SFD): 

SFD practice provides guidance of building, reviewing and publication of proactive security features, building or providing pointers to secure-by-design frameworks along with mature design patterns for major security controls. 

6. Standards & Requirements (SR): 

This practice explains the standard explicit security requirements for the organisations. It assist in both building recommendation and tracking of standard Security Controls to be used aligned with Industry standards. Creation of review board, SLA checkpoints and policies to handle open source risk are part of same.

[Also Read: Security Requirement CheckList Considerations in Application Development ]

C. Domain: SSDL Touchpoints

This domain is the most familiar of the four. It talks about essential security best practices required in Software development phases (SDLC). 

[Also Read: Integrating Security across SDLC Phases]

7. Architecture Analysis (AA): 

Primary goal of this practice is to build the quality control, by performing security feature and design review process for high-risk applications.  

[Also Read: Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Control Implementation & Threat Modeling Process for Secure Design Implementation ]

8. Code Review (CR): 

As name suggest, this practices includes activities related with Secure Code implementation and review process. Defining different Roles involved in Code review process, Standards to follow in Coding along with process for Defect management is part of same. It also provides track for both manual and automated code review process. 

9. Security Testing (ST): 

This practice deals with activities related different Security Testing methods like Black-box, Fuzzing, Automation, Risk driven White Box Analysis etc. It deals with vulnerabilities in application construction. 

D. Domain: Deployment

This domain includes practices that deals with network security and software maintenance requirements. Software configuration, maintenance and other environment issues and their impact are detailed in this domain.

10. Penetration Testing (PT): 

This practice involves the activities related with vulnerability discovery and correction of security defects, on to the software that has moved to deployment. This needs to be done adhering to standards and reuse of approved security features. Handling external Penetration Testing process and defining scope for same is part of such activities.

11. Software Environment (SE)

This practice includes activities related with Secure Software Deployment and maintenance. Usage of Code protection mechanism, publication of Installation and Secure deployment practice/guides, Configuration documentation etc are part of such activities. It also talks about mechanism related with application behaviour monitoring and diagnostics. 

12. Configuration Management & Vulnerability Management (CMVM): 
The goal of this practice is track activities related with patching, version control and change management. It also deals with building Incident Handling plans and simulate responses in software crisis.

BSIMM standards are highly accepted by organisations across the industries and it is also helping them to compare their software security initiations with industry peers. This is helping them to increase their business units, and drive their budgeting. According to number of Security reports, the computer security industry as a whole is growing fast at a rate of about 8.9% per year, generating between $20 and $40 billion in revenue annually. Currently, Software Security accounts for 10% in that growth and is growing at twice the rate per year.
 
Hack2Secure  assist organization is adoption of BSIMM framework along with evaluation and implementation of Security controls across Secure SDLC phases.

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NIST SP 800 64 Secure SDLC Consideration High Level Summary

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Secure SDLC has been an influencing factor when it comes to Application development. Looking at the number of increasing threats and attacks across the industries, almost all the organisations are now focusing on integrating Security in their Application development process to avoid any such instances in future. Security should be incorporated at the early stage of development cycle rather than doing it later. However this needs to be done keeping in mind the guidelines and frameworks set by The Information Technology Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other organisation to add cost effective security step by step in all the phases of SDLC.

The guide presented by NIST SP 800-64 rev2 complements the Risk Management Framework by having a comprehensive approach of managing risk and appropriate level of security based on the levels of risk. It helps in providing the way of  integrating security functionality and assurance into the SDLC.

[Also See Blog: Integrating Security Across SDLC phases]

To be most effective, information security must be integrated into the SDLC from system inception.

                                                                     Ref: NIST SP 800-64 rev2

Early integration of security in the SDLC ensures max. ROI in Security programs.

How?

  • Early we identify possible Security concerns, lower the Security Control Implementation and Vulnerability mitigation Cost
  • Awareness of potential engineering challenges that one may encounter in future.
  • Challenges and Effective Security control implementation
  • Identification of shared security services and reuse of security strategies and tools, reduces overall Development cost
  • Ensures Security is build-in, improving overall Security posture of a product
  • Informed executive decision making through comprehensive risk management in a timely manner.

 

NIST SP 800-64 rev2 guide focuses on Information Security components of SDLC. First describing Key Security Roles and Responsibilities in SDLC and thereafter detecting relation between Information Security and SDLC.

Key Roles and Responsibility in SDLC:

During the whole SDLC process many Participants are involved to perform different activities in the different phases. Some of the key roles and their responsibilities is explained below:

Authorizing Official (AO): Executive responsible for acquiring/operating of an information system at an acceptable level of risk.

Chief Information Officer (CIO): Responsible for Planning, Budgeting, investment, Performance and acquisitions.

Configuration Management (CM) Manager: Responsible streamlining Change Management Processes and controls changes which may affect Security Posture of the System

Information System Security Officer (ISSO): Responsible for ensuring the security of the system throughout the Lifecycle.

Privacy Officer: Responsible for ensuring the privacy of procured services or system.

Program Manager: Manages the functional system requirement during SDLC and responsible all business and program handling during Lifecycle process.

QA/Test Director: Responsible for reviewing system specifications and determines test needs, and works with Program Managers to plan activities leading up to field test activities. Also responsible for system test, evaluation and execution of test plan as mentioned in specification.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO): responsible for imposing policies of integrating security into SDLC.

Software Developer: Responsible for Secure Coding, implement controls and other CM issues.

System Architect: Responsible for designing and maintaining the system architecture. Also ensures quality of specification, documentation etc.

System Owner: The system owner is responsible for the procurement, development, integration, modification, operation, and maintenance of an information system.

 

Incorporating Security into SDLC

In NIST guide, SDLC process has been described as a 5-step Process. Each step is assigned set of security tasks.

Theses phases are

  • Initiation phase
  • Development/Acquisition Phase
  • Implementation/Assessment Phase
  • Operations/Maintenance Phase
  • Disposal Phase

Let’s discuss the standards set by NIST for each one of the phases:

Initiation Phase:

During this phase the enterprise establishes the project goals and system requirements and document it. It will help in early planning and risk assessment which will help developers to define the threat environment in which system will operate. NIST standards require organisation to categorise the impact of their security breach, i.e., loss of Confidentiality, Integrity or Availability, in 3 levels, Low, Moderate or High and to select appropriate security control. Security categorization standards assist organizations in making the appropriate selection of security controls for their information systems.

Major Security Activities in Initiation Phase:

  • Initiate Security Planning
    • Identify Key Security Roles & Stakeholder Security Integration Awareness
    • Identify Sources of Security Requirements
    • Outline Key Security Milestones
    • Security Reporting Metrics
  • Categorize Information System
    • Based on Potential Business Impact, Risk analysis
    • Assist in making appropriate Selection of Security controls
  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Privacy impact Analysis
  • Ensure use of Secure Information System Development Processes
  • Plan for required Security Training

[Also See Blog: Security Requirement CheckList Considerations in Application Development]

Development/Acquisition Phase:

At this stage, the system is designed, purchased, programmed, developed, or otherwise constructed.  

Major Security Activities in Development/Acquisition Phase

  • Initial Risk assessment
    • To evaluate System’s design and Security Requirements
    • Evaluate Security Controls effectiveness
  • Select and Document Security Controls
  • Design Security Architecture
  • Security Control implementation in System Design
  • Develop Security Documentation
    • Configuration Management Plan
    • Contingency Plan, Incident Response Plan
    • Continuous Monitoring Plan... etc
  • Security Assurance analysis
  • Different hardware, software etc Cost consideration
  • Initial  documents for System Certification and Accreditation

[Also See Blog: Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Control Implementation]

Implementation/Assessment Phase:

At this stage the developers review the system design by installing the system security features and tests its functionality before placing the system into operation, as described in the specifications. Security controls are integrated at the operational site through established techniques and procedures. The results are supposed to be documented to be used in later phases.

Major Security Activities in Implementation/Assessment Phase

  • Create Detailed Plan for Certification & Accreditation (C&A)
  • Integrate Security into Established Environments or Systems
    • Integration and Acceptance Testing
    • Enabling Security control settings
  • Assess System Security
    • Validate system functional and security requirements
    • Testing of Security Controls and their resiliency
  • Security Accreditation: Authorize Information System to process, store or transmit information

Operations/Maintenance Phase

At this phase, system is operating and continuously monitored to ensure the pre-established requirements are incorporated, and hardware, software components are added or replaced. Configuration Management (CM) and control activities is required to establish an upgrade  of hardware, software, and firmware components for the information system and to document any actual change in the system, which is essential to ensure continuous monitoring and reporting the status of the comprehensive information security program.

Major Security Activities in Operations/Maintenance Phase

  • Review Operational Readiness to handle unplanned modifications to system
  • Perform Configuration Management and Control activities to ensure consideration of potential security impacts due to specific changes in the system
  • Conduct Continuous Monitoring to ensure effectiveness of security controls over time

Disposition

At this stage the contract closeout and the disposal of the systems is provided. An orderly termination of the system is done by preserving all the vital information of the system according to the record management regulations so that it can be reactivated in future if needed. It also ensures that the data is deleted, erased or written over as necessary, Hardware and software should be archived, dispose of as directed by the authority.

Major Security Activities in Operations/Maintenance Phase

  • Build and Execute a Disposal/Transition Plan
  • Ensuring Information Preservation (Backup) and Retrieval methods
    • Legal requirements related with Record retention, when disposing systems
  • Media sanitization policy to prevent unauthorized information disclosure
  • Hardware and Software disposal policy
  • System closure or disassembling policy

 

Additional areas for Security Considerations

The developers should use NIST SP 800-64 as a reference document in conjunction with other NIST publications throughout the development of the system. “Building Security In” is a Security management technique that implements specific security considerations during SDLC phases. Let’s walk through different security oriented considerations for Service-based or cross-IT platform initiatives.

Supply Chain and Software Assurance

This process require to showcase best practices and methodologies to promote security and integrity in the hardware and software. It should target three goals. Trustworthiness, Predictable Execution and Conformance. Towards these goals, acquisition managers and information security managers should factor in risks posed by the supply chain as part of their risk mitigation efforts.

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

It is an architectural design, where existing or new functionalities are packed as services. These services communicate with each other by passing data from one service to another. NIST SP 800-95, Guide to Secure Web Services, provides more information on SOA security considerations. Scoping of Security boundary, assigning Risk Level and managing security expectations across stakeholders and getting aligned with agreement are few of the Security management challenges with SOA.

Specific Accreditation of Security Modules for Reuse

It provides developers trusted codes that can be reused when needed, at a reduced cost that must be relied upon to provide security functionality across a broad range of projects. Same process is described in NIST SP 800-37.

Cross-Organizational Solutions

It provides value and benefit to multiple organizations by providing access to memorandum of agreement or service-level agreement. MOA or SLA should specifically describe Security features, requirements and expected performance levels to ensure all parties are adequately protected. It should also talk about test and validation responsibilities, incident response procedures and monitoring and operations policies.

Technology Advancement and Major Migrations

As the technology advances the existing systems should also be migrated or upgraded to cope up with the current technology advancement. Consideration must be given not only to integrating security into the SDLC for new systems and the integration of systems, but also to the overhaul, upgrade, or migration of systems to address technology advancement.  

Data Center or IT Facility Development

It deals with the physical security solutions. Data centre is the storage upon which the applications are built. Customers using the data centre facility should only be provided with matrix of redundancy along with protection mechanism. Data at Rest and in-transit should be separated, along with features assisting in implementing Separation of Duties and Auditability should be strictly enforced. Like, Usage of VLANs for administrative traffic and applications.

Virtualization

The use of virtual machine is a great idea of cost saving. It can provide additional Security in terms of Isolation and Recovery, but needs additional planning for risk imposed due to virtualization implementation like Data Interception, DOS to host’s resources etc.

Above is the high level summary of NIST Special Publication on Security considerations in SDLC, assisting organizations by providing guidelines for building security into their SDLC process. This will help them to build cost effective, risk appropriate security control identification, development and testing.

Hack2Secure Secure SDLC program is completely based on different Industry security standards and practices, providing organizations an end-to-end solution to learn, adopt, integrate, implement and analyse Secure SDLC process. Our Secure SDLC workshop integrated with globally available Certification Program, equip professionals with required skills for Secure SDLC adoption. Hack2Secure exclusive Secure SDLC Consulting service assist organizations to adopt Secure SDLC framework and assist in integrating as a part of their process.

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Threat Modeling Process for Secure Design Implementation

Security in IT industry is a challenge in itself, and we have discussed some of them in our previous blogs. Security in an Application Design is important to keep the application secure from any vulnerabilities, low cost involvement in threat detection and minimizing the risk of redesigning the application. [Read: Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Implementation]

Now the question arises is HOW? How can this be done? How can an application design team discover and avoid vulnerabilities in their application? Well!! Among multiple methods available to analyse and evaluate Application Design Security, Threat Modeling is one of the most popular and widely implemented process. 

As mentioned by F. Swiderski and W. Snyder, in the Threat Modeling. Microsoft Press, 2004, “A threat is the adversary’s goal, or what an adversary might try to do to a system”.

Threats are NOT Vulnerabilities.

Threats Live forever, they are Attacker’s Goal

Threat Modeling is a structured, systematic and iterative approach of analysing security of an application. It can be taken as a process identifying potential threat that an attacker might use to identify gaps and vulnerabilities in the system. Threat Modeling is all about thinking from Attacker’s prospect and evaluate Security controls and resiliency.

Threat Modelling Process

A good Threat Model allows security architects to estimate the attacker’s entry point and attack complexity required to breach-in. It is an Iterative process that start from the design phase and typically continue throughout the development lifecycle. This is because it is almost impossible to identify threats in a single check. 

The threat modeling process usually involves 

  • Defining Assets or Resources to be protected
  • Identifying the entry or access points to these assets
  • Threat Analysis and associated Risk evaluation 
  • Development of mitigation strategies. 

Let’s discuss each step in brief:

Step 1: Define

  • Identify Security Objectives & Assets: 

Security objectives provide goals to ensure Core Security principles in a system viz. Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability, Authentication, Authorization and Accountability. These objectives help engineers to focus at each goal closely and evaluate entry point security resiliency against attacks. It will also identify critical assets like Servers, Processes, Systems, and Communication Interfaces.

Threat model can be designed for a particular system’s functionality or for a System as a whole. Security objectives defines scope of Threat Modeling process by defining critical assets.

  • Whiteboard the Architecture: 

At this stage the architect will create a diagram of the architecture on a white board. This will be defined in terms of person, process and data flow, which together will explain the structure of your application.

Step 2: Design

  • Define Attack Surface and Trust boundaries

Attack surface is the area where an attacker may conduct an attack while Trust boundaries are the locations where the level of trust changes. For example Network may form a trust boundary as Internet can be access by everyone but only trusted level will have access to the organization systems.

Once basic blueprint of System is defined, Attack surface and Trust boundaries should be declared to further scope the model objectives. Like, if we are defining Authentication mechanism in a system using 3rd party A.A.A. servers (e.g. Active Directory), we may not be worried about Security Attacks on them. But should consider threats related with communication channel and Data flowing from them.

  • Define Threats: 

In this step the designer will identify threats to the system that might compromise your security objective and effect your application.  This process involves analysing the assets and their attack goals, examination of entry and exit points, Applications feature and layer, and related communication channels. To conduct this process, security architects usually follow S.T.R.I.D.E. approach to examine object impact against different attacks.
Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information disclosure, Denial of Service and Elevation of privileges.

Step 3: Measure

  • Prioritizing Threats: 

Initial Threats defined under Design Steps are quite elaborative. We need to define their scope and priority based on their Impact on System. Threat priority is usually depends on Risk and Cost of damage along with cost to fix. Both Direct and Indirect Risk (Reputation Loss, Brand & Trust Value etc) are considered in this case. 

  • Design Optimization for Threat Mitigation: 

Once, we have list of prioritized threats, next consideration should be done for different Security control adoption and design optimization to reduce/control/transfer Risk associated with these identified Threats. Small design changes related with adoption of security best practices or standards will assist in optimizing Threats at greater extend. 

  • Re-Validate Design: 

This is where integration of Threat Modeling actually starts. We may not get final design in one cycle as any change in old design may re-introduce different attack vector and threat. Architects needs to re-validate the design for applicable threats and the process goes on. 

Step 4: Document

After completion of process when design is agreed to be send for Implementation Phase, documentation or Reporting of complete exercise is to be done. This document is called as the Threat Model Report. This report is further utilized by the developers for the rest of the process as a reference. Report can also be shared with testing team to deduce applicable test scenarios.  

Threat Modeling Challenges

Although Threat Modeling is the most effective way to reduce the risk in an application, designers still face certain challenges while carrying out the whole process. Some of regular changes are like,

  • Process is Time Consuming
  • Requires Mature SDLC 
  • Advanced Skills and Real time exposure to different Threats
  • It is a Proactive measure which means it may not be directly related to business operations but will help organisation in long run.

Threat modeling process helps in mitigating all the risks that may occur in future, providing great level of security to the organisation. It helps to ensure that the security should be built into the system rather than addressed as an afterthought. It is a repetitive process and one needs to explore continuously to discover any new type of threat and attack to the system. 

Hack2Secure's Secure SDLC and Secure Design Services helps organisation in developing Threat Model and related processes. We assist organization to design, define, detect and analyse application architecture from Security prospect and assist in implementing appropriate Security controls and Risk optimization against related Threats to the application. 

We also assist professional and organizations in adopting it as a part of process and develop required skills with our Secure SDLC Workshop, accompanied by a globally deliverable and proctored Certification Program, SWADLP, assisting organizations to fulfil the exponentially increasing demand of Security Resources.
[Read: Equip Your Workforce To Counter Application Security Resource Gap ,  Industry need Resources with Secure SDLC skills

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Security Requirement CheckList Considerations in Application Development

In our previous blogs, we have been discussing about Secure Software Development LifeCycle and ways to ensure Security across SDLC phases. [Read Blog: Integrating Security Across SDLC Phases] We have also discussed that Security should be integrated at the earlier stage of lifecycle instead of doing it later, which will reduce cost and risk of redesigning the software all over again. 
[Read Blog: Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Implementation]

To follow same, Process of integrating and ensuring Security should start from the very first stage, which is Requirement phase, where we gather Security Requirements, Build Checklist and Define Security definitions along with Quality Gates.

What is Requirement?

The IEEE Standard 729 defines requirements as: 

  • A condition or capability needed by a user to solve a problem or achieve an objective.
  • A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system…to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed document.
  • It has been said that, Without Software Requirements, Software will Fail.  Without Secure Software Requirement, Organizations will.

Requirement Process in SDLC

Requirement Phase is the initial, most important and the fundamental phase of the SDLC. At this stage the development team or the management along with inputs from the sales team, domain experts and Marketing team, will gather information from the client about their requirements for the product. 

The process of Information gathering is done in 4 steps:

  • Feasibility Study
  • Requirement Gathering
  • Software Requirement Specification
  • Software Requirement Validation

All this information is recorded in a Requirement Document or Specification Sheet. This document will allow Engineers to understand what a product should do. It might include, Product overview; Specification of the functional, technical, economical and other operational environment of the product; the model that is to be used; a specification of the user interface; specification of how errors will be handled; and a listing of possible changes to the system. 

Secure Software Requirements

From Security prospect, Requirement Document should also capture, Product Security Requirements like Compliance needs, Industry Security Best Practices and any specific regulation to be followed from Industry or Deployment scenario. This document should also provide Security Definitions and Quality Gates, to ensure proper validation can be carried out.

Building Security Checklist is a challenging task, as Product specification may vary with respect to Industry, deployment environment and considered Standards. Broadly, we can categorize Checklist content to satisfy 4 areas of Application/Software Security viz. Core, General, Operational and Regulations. Let’s walk through these areas and have glimpse of same:
 

1. Core Security Requirement

C.I.A. Triad [Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability] & A.A.A. [Authentication, Authorization and Accountability] are the core Security areas around which every product/software Security controls are defined.

Confidentiality: 

Confidentiality Requirements address protection against Disclosure of Sensitive Data to Unauthorized Individuals. We need to consider controls to ensure confidentiality is ensured when Data is at Rest, In-Transit and also when it is processed. Processes like Encryption, Steganography, Masking etc assist in assuring Data and Process Confidentiality. Security Checklist should contain specifications required to implement these like, Protocols to Use, Encryption Strength, usage of Processes ensuring confidentiality like Random Number Generator etc.

Integrity: 

Integrity requirements is needed to ensure Reliability and Accuracy of the information. Reliability can be ensured by checking software functionality and Accuracy can be ensured by checking that the data is modified by authorized person in authorized manner and by Ensuring that handled data is Complete and consistent. Implementation of Security Controls like Hashing, Digital Signatures assist in ensuring Integrity. Specifications like Protocols, Data Randomness Strength (e.g. Salt Length) etc should be captured as a part of Security Checklist.

Availability: 

Availability Requirements ensures protection against unwanted destruction or disruption of Service. These are tricky requirements and should be captured as a part of Service Level Agreement (SLA) components like measurement of Maximum Tolerable Downtime [MTD] and Recovery Time Objective [RTO]. 
Requirement sheet should also contain measures to define and analyses Business Stress Analysis [BIA]. These measures should be in both Quantitative (Cost to Fix/Restore, Legal Obligations etc) and Qualitative (Reputation Loss).

Authentication: 

We know, Authentication is all about ensuring llegitimacy and validity of the Identity. Requirement Document should clearly define Authentication requirements like which method to use (Digest, Token, Smart Card, Biometric), how Two Factor Authentication mechanism will flow, who will store and process sensitive data, any 3rd party mechanism to utilize (e.g. Active Directory), Single Sign-On (SSO) if needed etc.

Authorization: 

Authorization defines permissions to be assigned to All Authenticated entities. Security Checklist should capture how these Access will be granted like based on ROLES or RULES along with Granularity of them, Implementation of Best Practices like Least Privilege, Service Authorization etc. 

Accountability:

Accountability is all about building record of user action and act as Detective Control. It helps in detecting when Unauthorized User makes a Change, or when an Authorized User makes an unauthorized change. Security Requirement spec should clearly define logging and auditing Requirements, How-What-When to capture in accordance to Industry Security Standards and Best Practices. It should also define need of Storage, Rotation and Disposal of same.

2. General (Application) Security Requirements

From Application/Software Security prospect, General security requirements should capture proper Session, Error and Configuration management needs.

Session Management: 

Sessions are used to maintain state. In usual Application communication, on successful user/process Authentication, Session Identified (ID) is issued to Track authenticated state. It is compulsory when dealing with Stateless Protocols like HTTP. Product Security requirement sheet should capture methods and measures required to Secure Sessions. Requirements defining Uniqueness and Randomness of Session (Non-Guessable), Expiry, Non-reusability etc should be defined. 

Error Management:  

In Application, providing Errors and Traces are the part of usual process, when any un-wanted or un-scoped condition is encountered. From Security Prospect, we should clearly define what should be the level of information to be displaced in such scenarios to avoid Disclosure Threats like revealing of any Internal Application architecture, Design and Configuration Information.
 
Configuration management: 

Configurations drive application features and functionality. Specific practices and measures should be defined to avoid any Sensitive Data leakage and Security of these. Measures like Initialization and Disposal of Global Variables, Hashing/Encryption of Sensitive data etc should be clearly defined as a part of same.

3. Operational Security Requirements

Once Application/Software is developed and deployed, Security should also be considered when it is Operational in environment to avoid any unwanted disclosure or leakage. 

Deployment Environment: 

Security Requirement list should capture information about environment in which Software will be deployed and who will be using same. Environment Compliances and Industry Standard requirements are driven with this information. 

Archiving: 

Archiving is required to ensure Business Continuity, Regulatory Requirements and Organizational (Retention) Policy. It is important to capture archiving requirements to comply with organization’s policy and regulations. Measures like Where (media type) and How (online/offline, format, encryption) Data will be stored, Data retrieval policy etc should be clearly defined as part of requirement sheet.

Anti-Piracy: 

It is a part of Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) requirement. It includes Code Obfuscation, Signing, Anti Tampering, Licensing, IP Protection mechanism. This requirement should be clearly addressed during Requirement Gathering to avoid any future disperancy and legal obligations.

4. Some More Security Requirements

Sequencing & Timing: 

Sequencing and Timing design flaws can lead to Race Conditions or TOC/TOU Attacks. Race Windows, usage of Atomic Operations or Mutex Requirements (Mutual Exclusions or Resource Locking) must be identified as a part of Security Requirement

Procurement Needs: 

This is required to get proposals from qualified contractors. It should specify the scope of the desired procurement, define the evaluation process, and delineate the deliverables and requirements associated with the project.

International Regulation:

International Regulation and Compliance needs should also be discussed and captured as a part of Security Requirement Gathering.

So, now we can visualize, that it is very important to get the requirement phase correct and in-place in SDLC process. Cost of Implementing Security Control or measure identified in this phase will be negligible with respect to scenario, if any such flaw or requirement is detected in later stages. Requirements Analysis is a phase which should not be underestimated as it will lay the foundation of the project

Hack2Secure specifically focuses on this phase of the Secure SDLC process as we know the pros and cons of neglecting it. We pay special attention on this as a part of our projects and also assist organizations to adopt as a Checklist and Product Baseline Requirements. [Ref: Hack2Secure’s Secure SDLC oriented Service Document]. Before presenting it to the clients, Requirement document should be reviewed by Security Consultant and Assurance Team, Planning team, Project Managers and others. These people are continuously involved in this phase to monitor the process, Review and Perform Risk Management, if needed. 

Adding to same, our dedicated Secure SDLC Workshop assist professionals to acquire this skill. Hack2Secure has also recently launched a dedicated Certification program on Secure SDLC, proctored and delivered globally by PearsonVUE.

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Secure the Design for Low Cost Security Control Implementation

Today, where new Security Threats are emerging at exponential rate, we require our assets, including Data and Systems to be protected. In current environment, Web Applications are considered as primary source of Security Attacks. One needs to adopt and implement different processes and controls to ensure it to have in-build protection to counter possible attacks against Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of the Assets and should meet a set of defined security requirement. 
 
In traditional Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), for a long time Security has not been considered as one of the major Requirement. It is usually considered in end of Testing Phase or under Review phase, when complete software of designed and developed. But today the scenario has been changed and Security is considered as one of the important Business requirement and organisations are adopting processes and methods to ensure Security from start i.e. from Requirement Phase itself, where collection of Security Requirements and development of Security assurance methodologies take place.

Design Phase

Most Security Defects are born during Implementation, where product blueprint is converted into functional reality. Although the most expensive ones, are those that are introduced in the Design phase due to ignorance of Security measures in product architecture for example by considering incorrect or in-adequate technology and control implementations. 

The Design phase is commonly defined as the set of actions that will translating detailed product requirements into complete, detailed Design vectors. This document focuses on how to deliver required functionality and act as instruction guide for Implementation phase. From Security prospects, it requires understanding of assets that needs to be protected, deployment environment, data flow, users who will access the assets, and all other possible gaps for the attacker. A proactive approach of paying close attention to security during the design phase prevents expensive redesign and yields substantial benefits during all later phases of the SDLC. 

Ensuring Secure Software Design is a challenging activity and must be performed with great care and clear goals. These goals can be defined by following Secure Design Principles and considerations, evaluating Attack Surfaces and performing Threat Modeling for analysis and Threat optimization.
 
Why do we need Secure Design?

There are many reasons why we do need secure Design in an application. 

  • Less Cost involved in Threat Detection and Management: 

Implementing Security controls have impact of both Product Cost and Schedule. Adopting Secure Design measures will reduce the relative cost and negative effects on security ROI to fix these vulnerabilities. 
Cost of fixing vulnerabilities is calculated to be 30 times as high as the cost to correct the faults at the design phase as per Microsoft SDL: Return-on-Investment doc. Additional costs may include a signi?cant loss of user productivity and confidence. And thereby reducing your total cost of software development. 

  • Minimal Re-design and Consistency: 

When application is developed with security in mind, there will be a minimal need to redesigning it. It will also reduce the chances of having the software redesign all over again, if the design is done at the early stage using standards for architectural design, which will in turn make the process more consistent. 

  • Ensures Defense-in-Depth: 

It will help to ensure defense-in-depth by assuring the multiple layers of security control at the earlier stage and providing the redundancy in case of any vulnerability attack. 

Increases Resiliency and Recoverability of the Software: 
Security Designed into software decreases the chances of attacks, which in turn assures resiliency and recoverability of the software. 

  • Added Reliability, Application is less prone to Attacks: 

By introducing Security in the design phase of an application, adds a sense of reliability and makes it less prone to attacks. You would know that your application has been designed securely and almost all the loopholes for the attacks is been checked and rectified. So there are a very less chances of attacks. It also makes the software easily maintainable. 

  • Business Logic Flaws can also be Addressed: 

Business logic flaws allows attacker to misuse the application by finding the gaps in the business rules. A Developer can address these business logic flaws at the design phase itself and can implement Security so that he can stop attacker taking advantages of the same.

  • Ensures “Build-In” motive, instead of “Bolt-it-on” Security:

Secure design will support the “Build-in” motive in security as opposed to “Bolt-it-on” at a later stage. The “Bolt-it-on” is a more costly, time consuming, and will generate low quality software. It is also at a later stage, is unreliable and inconsistent.  

  • Assist in detecting Architecture (Flaws) and Implementation (Bugs) issues: 

In design phase, as there is no coding done, developers are more concerned about the design issues related to software assurance. Threat modelling and secure architecture design review will help detecting both the architecture flaws and Implementation issues. 

  • Assist developers to Streamline Implementation: 

If Secure Designing is done properly then the developers will get sense of confidence in streamlining the next stage of implementation properly. 

Practices for Secure Design
There are certain Processes that one can use to apply Secure Design in SDLC Process. They are

  • Attack Surface Evaluation
  • Threat Modeling

Attack Surface Evaluation:-

Attack Surface is the measure of all the different point that is exposed to be exploited by a Threat Agent. Attack Surface evaluation attempts to enumerate list of features that an attacker will try to exploit. 

Threat Modelling :-

Threat modeling is a Systematic, Iterative and Structured technique to visualize all possible Threat Scenarios in existing design and then defining countermeasures to prevent or mitigate the effects of threats to the system. 

Threat modeling allows development teams to anticipate attacks by understanding how an adversary chooses targets (assets), locates design flaws in entry points and conducts an attack. A well-implemented threat model will identify the assets that need to be protected, what are the threats to these assets, the attack that could be used, and under what conditions the attacks will be successful. Not only is this important for identifying potential threats, but also in understanding what application defences must be defeated in order for a threat or series of threats to be realized.

Secure Software does not happen by accident, it required Security to be considered as Business issue, not as one of the Product Requirement for Compliances and Assurance. Security should not be addressed at the end of the product cycle, instead it must be ensured across the phases. [Read: https://www.hack2secure.com/blogs/integrating-security-across-sdlc-phases.] This will provide great level of Security to the enterprise.

Hack2Secure's Secure Design and Threat Modeling Service is a part of Secure SDLC Service Suite.  Where we assist organization to design, detect and analyze application architecture and design flaws. It provides a set of documents like security objectives, identification of relevant threats and corresponding countermeasures that can be used to create security specifications and security testing. 

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Industry need Resources with Secure SDLC skills

Being an Organisation, are you worried about the security of your company’s data and other sensitive information? Well!! You should be. Looking at the increased rate of high profile cyber-attacks, even to some well-known big companies, like IBM, Sony, Facebook and many more, threat of cyber-attacks and its impacts are among the biggest worries of businesses today costing them billions of dollars annually along with the reputation loss.

Security Resource Crunch

The biggest reason for this is that the organisations do not have the right resources to handle situations like these. According to Michael Brown, CEO at Symantec, “The demand for the (cybersecurity) workforce is expected to rise to 6 million (globally) by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million,”. A recent survey of IT decision makers across the U.S., Europe and Asia, it has been seen that now firms are aware about their resource crunch and are worried about data security and are bringing Security in the forefront of their challenges. This is the reason why Information Security jobs are the most in demand and the highly paid jobs in recent times.  For example the top paying cybersecurity job is a security software engineer with an average annual salary of $233,333, according to a recent report from the job board Dice. 

Requirements of Security Professionals

Organisations throughout Government, Finance and other industry are now hiring Experienced Security Professionals, who can prevent, detect and respond to the attacks coming their way. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Peninsula Press in 2015, there are over 200,000 cyber security job openings in the U.S. 

Although organisations are ready to invest in the “right talent” to protect themselves from vulnerabilities, they are finding it really difficult to get skilled professionals who understands the current and cyber theft evolving environment. For example, businesses have a tough time finding talent for secure software development, intrusion detection, and attack mitigation. There are ample amount of IT Professionals in the market but a very few of them are experienced in Security domain.  The challenge in finding skilled professionals can be partially attributed to a lack of adequate training.  Hence companies are looking to hire Security expert professionals who can help them instantly instead of hiring IT Professionals and then give them training, as they do not have that much time and money to do so. Instead, they are preferring individuals with Professional degree with an add-on quality Certification in Information Security. 

Career in Information Security Domain

Right now, Industry is focusing on this skilled staff shortage issue and have started various educational programs and research facilities to meet the gap of Security resources. Yes it is true that it was difficult to find the right training a decade ago, but it is not the case anymore. Today there are many accredited universities, colleges, technical and trade schools offering courses in different information security domains likes, testing, coding architects, developers etc. 

The career scope of information security is perhaps highest in the domain of information technology (IT). If you have any of the InfoSec Certifications that means you have a career set ahead of yourself. There are almost endless gamut of options and specialities to you to choose from. Looking at the demand for this you will never be unemployed in this domain. You just need to be enthusiasts enough always to research and learn about new tools and technologies that might give you edge over others.

Secure SDLC can help

Organisations are focusing now in applying Security from the scratch of Application/Product/Software Development, so that there is no loopholes for hackers to attack later. In this situation where organisations are struggling hard to find experienced Security professionals, they have now turned towards their existing workforce, to adopt similar skills based on their roles and responsibilities and have also started on adoption of Security processes and standards to implement build-in security measures in their Product. Secure SDLC program can assist in this, which is all about integrating and ensuring Security at every phase of Development Lifecycle and can surely help to secure the software from being exploited by hackers. Secure SDLC can help organisations across different domains like Developers, Architect, testers etc. Secure SDLC trained Professionals can ensure low cost build-in Security controls aligned with Security Standards and compliances. This not only save organisations money but also reduces possible attack surfaces leading to attack scenarios. 

Importance of Secure SDLC Certification

We can see, adoption of Secure SDLC process is an important necessity of an organisation. And companies are preferring individuals with Security Certifications over IT Professionals. Secure SDLC Certification will add feather to your crown by giving you extra knowledge in your domain and adding on to your existing skills. Experienced Individuals can take Secure SDLC Training to add on to their existing skill set which will increase their market value and make them industry ready. For example, if you are a Developer you can learn Security coding, If you are a tester, then you can learn about Security Testing, Architects can learn about Secure Design Principles and Methodologies, not only that if you are from the management side then also you have an option to get learning in Risk Management and requirements Domain. To put this in a simple word, Secure SDLC has scope for everyone to fulfil all business objectives.

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Equip Your Workforce To Counter Application Security Resource Gap

Currently numerous web/mobile and cloud applications are available in the market with different capabilities to perform multiple task at a time. These applications are prepared with lots of hard work and dedication. But along with the development of applications, their exploitation is also occurring at large level. Malicious People are continuously pushing their efforts to breach the Program/Application data by bypassing its security. This has compelled, Software Development companies to included Security in their primary focus list along with Software Feature and Functionality, to defend against ever-rising possible Threats in their application. Every day, we need to research and develop new Security programs and Countermeasures against these threats, making Jobs in cyber security domain to grow 74% times faster than IT jobs, leading to big Security skill-crunch and Resource Gap in this domain. US News and World Report ranked a career in information security analysis fifth on its list of best technology jobs.

Application Security Resource Gap

At present, there is a great demand of Information Security experts in the sectors like IT, finance, manufacturing and defence services. But the supply is not sufficient as compare to the demand. This situation has occurred because institutions offering Information Security programs are very less in number. Right now, Industry is focusing on this shortage and have started various educational programs and research facilities to meet the gap of Security resources. Secure SDLC program is one of them, which assist in integrating and ensuring Security at every phase of Development Lifecycle and can surely help to secure the software from being exploited by hackers. Organizations have now started to equip their resources with Secure SDLC process and procedures according to their Roles, so individual can “build-in” security in a product as per their roles in development lifecycle.

Secure Software Development Life Cycle [Secure SDLC]   

The Software development life cycle is defined as a structure of well organised sequence to develop the software projects. Secure SDLC is a small integration of Security in these sequenced steps. Some steps which need to be followed to complete the whole process are listed as below:-  

Security Requirements
First of all the Security Requirement is monitored that which Level of security is needed for the Application, what are Security Compliance Requirements, Standards to follow etc. On the bases of requirement, a Phase Gate is settled to monitor and manage the risk.

Secure Design
After gathering all the information regarding security requirements, application’s blueprint or structure is to be defined. It should include information about every possible Threat applicable to the design and impose security controls accordingly.

Secure Coding
The process of secure coding is initiated to make a secure program. In this procedure, Security Coding Best Practices are followed to improve the quality of software. After Coding of every functional chunk, review of program against security checkpoints and programming flaws should be done.

Security Testing
After the construction of whole program, test of its vulnerability is performed to check the faults. In this process, possible security gaps are identified which may be responsible for future attacks. It recognizes the full capability of a program under extreme circumstances.

Deployment
After testing the program in every positive and negative situations, it is then deployed. Its compatibility is reviewed after configuring it with company server. At this stage network architecture suitability with the industry is also checked. All possible weaknesses are identified in deployment that a hacker might use to bypass the Security.

Need of Secure SDLC
The gap of resources ion Application Security has increased because most part of the world is unknown to the ever-increasing threats and possible attack scenarios. Hackers today are continuously discovering new exploits to harm applications. To counter this, application development companies have to upgrade their security programs with new features. Big companies are mostly targeted by the cyber criminals to steal their valuable data or exploit their existing application which automatically decrease their market value. Due to the lack in availability of professional cyber security experts, companies are now facing concerns like Ransomware, Software Piracy, Data Leakage etc or to the worse, some are now dependent on illegal hacker’s services unwillingly. They have to share their confidential information with hacker to protect the company from any possible threat.

Procedure to Train the work force

  • Existing work force is much familiar to the threats which their product may face. A company can train their workforce to counter the possible cyberspace threats.
  • First of all implement Security as a Business Process, ideally processes like Secure SDLC should be implemented to Build-in Secure Software instead of relying Bolt-on Security controls at the time of Deployment.
  • Introduce Security definitions, define Risk Handling Criteria and assign Responsibilities according to individual Role in application Development. For example Assurance team should be equipped with proper Security Checklist and must define Security Gates and qualification criteria, while Development Team should be aware of Secure Coding practices and guidelines.
  • Determine the threats which are currently affecting or are possible on an Application. Procedures like Threat Modeling assist a lot in achieving the same. Workforce must be creative enough to find the unique solutions because of the flexibility of challenges. Every new threat could be different from the previous one. So the members must be dependent on their own creative mind instead of traditional knowledge.
  • Prepare a team and provide them diverse training and knowledge to perform different activities. Training must be a continuous process because every day new threat may arise which needs new training skills. A centralized Security Office or Team or Interest Group with individuals from specialized roles can be formed for appropriate and effective decision making.
  • Workforce must continuously monitor the threats attacking on their applications, especially related with 3rd party libraries. Along with this activity, team must be flexible enough to give priority for current situation.
  • Companies have also now understood the importance of Security Integration as a process and have now started considering individuals with Security knowledge over others. This has open new set of opportunities with individuals to adopt career in Information Security. Now, instead of taking it as a separate domain, they can now easily top-up their existing skills with required Security processes and methodologies to achieve new professional heights.

Hack2Secure understands the need of Security in an Application Development process and has come up with a unique Secure SDLC program and developed Security services across it. As a part of the same, we also deliver dedicated Workshop and Certification programs based on globally recognized Industry Security Standards and best practices from NIST, OWASP, CERT, PCI-DSS etc.

Secure Web Application Development Life Cycle Practitioner (SWADLP) Certification program is delivered and proctored globally via Pearson Vue, to evaluate individual's implementation level skills in Security practices required to ensure Secure Application Development.

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Integrating Security Across SDLC phases

Today, Hackers are continuously looking for any vulnerability, flaw or weakness in an application that could be exploited to compromise the security of it. This exponential increase in a number of security attacks and vulnerabilities has ensured security assurance is taken as one of the primary requirements in an organization.

Integrating security into the development of an application or software is necessary to decrease its risk of susceptibility to attacks and exploits. Traditional methods of security testing were performed on a finished product. However, with the rise in the intensity and the number of attack vectors, it has become necessary for organizations to include it as a part of every phase of an SDLC.

The following graph depicts the cost of addressing security at different stages of the software development lifecycle:

Different stages

Software Development Lifecycle is a process which defines the various steps involved in the development of a software. It is adopted as a standard procedure by organizations to meet the industry requirements and deliver high-quality and secure software. The aim behind having a well-defined procedure is to meet the customer expectations within the specified timelines and cost estimates.

Looking at the different aspects of it including threat modeling, analysis, secure design and secure coding practices, Secure SDLC can be an intimidating task. There are various models of SDLC, like Agile, Waterfall, V-shaped, iterative and more, are defined and developed according to the industry requirements. However, the flow of a typical SDLC consists of 7 stages. Let’s discuss these phases in brief and explore H2S security key in each phase:

Secure SDLC: Phases – End-To-End Information Security Services

Secure Sdlc

1. Security Training & Awareness

“There is only one way to keep your product plans safe and that is by having a Trained, Aware and a Conscientious Workforce” 
                                                                     

This is the first step towards Secure SDLC, where we build security aware workforce. It is very important for an organization to educate its workforce about security concepts, possible threats and attack scenarios so that they will be able to define and evaluate security risk and definitions. Training and Awareness programs need to be organized to learn about security assurance and methodologies, security policy, procedure and best practices. Being trained and certified in terms of secure software development would support to enhance and self-assess their own skill sets.  

2. Building Security Requirements

“Without Software Requirements, Software will Fail.
Without Secure Software Requirement, Organizations will.”

Establishing correct security requirements is often a hard-learned lesson, but is very important for software development in order to avoid any confusions later. It includes:

  • Gathering Security Requirements
  • Ensuring Security Baseline
  • Building Security Checklist
  • Defining Security Gates
  • Setting Risk Definition
  • Referring Security Maturity Models
  • Implying Compliances & Regulations

3. Secure By Design

“Treat Security As An Integral Part Of Overall System Design”

        - NIST SP 800-27: Engineering Principles for Information Technology Security

Using the prepared requirement document, product architectures are designed. From security prospect, it should be designed to combat any possible security threat. Processes like, Threat modeling will help you to analyze attack surfaces and possible threat scenarios in existing product design.

The indispensable actions at this phase include:

actions at SSDLC phase include
 

4. Secure Implementation & Coding

In the development stage, where security control implementation takes place, usage of secure coding practices is equally important. Ensuring security in code review process and analyzing standard checkpoints generally occurred at this stage to ensure it has the features and functions securely specified. At this, it is important to imply the secure coding practices like CERT Secure Coding Standard and OWASP Secure Coding Practices. Furthermore, there is essential to perform security code/peer review, which can be done by manual review and dynamic & static code analysis. Evaluating the code against the CWE Top25 Programming Error can influence to a great extent during implementing safeguards & countermeasures. 

5. Security Verification / Testing

In the testing stage, the developed product is evaluated to handle possible security attacks and vulnerabilities or security defects. A dynamic analysis of the product should be done by testing its security components to detect the loopholes. Different security testing tools, techniques, and methodologies are required to verify security of the product. The most common approaches that we recommend are:

  • Risk Based Approach
  • GREY Box Approach 
  • Testing Across SDLC 
  • Dedicated Testing LAB 
  • Optimized as per Industry and Business Policies 
  • Integrated Vulnerability Analysis

6. Security Review & Response Plan

Even after so many precautions and testing, unexpected errors may crop up in the product. To reduce the later risk, Security engineers may have to build a Final Security Review Plan. This plan includes tasks like:  

Organizations should have dedicated, skilled staff who should be responsible for Deployment and Procurement Risk. The review tasks that they are going to perform in this phase include Compliance Check, Configuration Check, Threat Modeling, Audit Policies, Processes, Standards & Procedures, & Customizable as per Business Requirements Detailed Reporting.

7. Security Escalation & Maintenance

Every software needs regular maintenance to keep up to date with new technologies and tools and emerging attacks. Organizations should have a maintenance plan ready to provide customers after service help. Security maintenance includes three main actions to perform. They are: 

3rd Party Library Updates

The above-mentioned process defines that by integrating security at every phase of the development process is essential for developing secure software and will further reduce overall Security Control Implementation cost, Handle Active and Passive Losses, etc. Apart from this, educating your workforce on security awareness, secure coding best practices, and available frameworks will help you to avoid risk at the very first place.

Hack2Secure understands the need of security in an Application Development Process and has come up with a unique Secure SDLC program and developed its security services across it. For more details on Secure SDLC Services, Click Here 

We also provide Workshop and Certification program on Secure Software Development Lifecycle based on globally recognized Industry Security Standards and best practices from NIST, OWASP, CERT, PCI-DSS, etc. This program assists an individual with enormous opportunities to learn about SDLC, and will give you hands-on exposure and relevant Case Studies to assist in integrating Security at every phase of Web Application Development Lifecycle.

For more Details on Secure SDLC Workshop, Click Here 

Secure Web Application Development Life Cycle Practitioner (SWADLP) Certification program is delivered and proctored globally via Pearson Vue world’s largest online Testing Organization, to evaluate the individual's implementation level skills in security practices required to ensure Secure Application Development. It will ensure candidate's awareness of Application Security Challenges, Threats, Standards, Best Practices and Assurance Methodologies along with hands-on implementation level knowledge and skill-sets.
For more Details on Secure Web Application Development Lifecycle Practitioner (SWADLP) Certification, Click Here 

Hack2Secure provides the overall solutions to organizations that will be helpful for you to develop a secure, flawless and threat free Application, and make your product differentiated from others. An organization needs to understand that securing your SDLC is a continuous process and not a one-time job. It will help them to pay attention to every single detail and perform in a structured manner so as to minimize threats or entry points for an attacker.

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