Daily Tech Digest - December 22, 2021

Cybersecurity spending trends for 2022: Investing in the future

Despite the steady state of funding, CISOs aren’t going to be flush with cash. Security leaders and executive advisors say security departments must continue to show that they’re delivering value for the dollars spent, maturing their operations, and, ultimately, improving their organization’s security posture. “Organizations know that risks are increasing every day, and as such, investments continue to pour into cybersecurity,” says Joe Nocera, leader of PwC’s Cyber & Privacy Innovation Institute. “We’re hearing from business leaders that they’d be willing to spend anything to not end up on the front page of a newspaper for a hack, but they don’t want to spend a penny more than is necessary and they want to make sure they’re spending their money in the right areas. That’s going to require the CEO and CISOs to work together. CISOs need to know what the right level of protection is.” Nocera adds: “Cyber investments are becoming less about having the latest products from tech vendors and more about first understanding where the business is most vulnerable, then prioritizing investments by how likely an attack will occur and how substantial that loss could be to the business.”

Why CISOs Shouldn’t Report to CIOs in the C-Suite

A very common complaint I hear from CISOs is that they do not receive the resources they need to secure their enterprises. While some companies understand how and where the CISO fits into the leadership structure, the majority do not. One individual that works for a local government told me he took a position as a CIO rather than a CISO because he “knew the CISO role was that of a fall guy.” He believes he was only offered the CISO position because the CIO wanted someone to blame if things went badly. This example clearly shows the conflict of interest that exists when a CISO reports to a CIO. One CISO working in the industrial market told me that there’s an “inherent tension between me and others that report to the CIO.” This frequently occurs due to the trade-off between security and efficiency, which impacts business units throughout an enterprise. When manufacturing wants to continue running a legacy system with outdated software and the CISO says no, this impacts revenue. 

Why Do We Need An Agile Finance Transformation

Embracing agility strategically and tactically while encouraging a fail-fast environment ensures teams have adaptable processes, collaborative mindsets, and a bias for continuous improvement. An agile finance function is prepared to provide assurance for financial results and contribute to strategic decisions in the face of evolving market conditions, the accelerated pace of change, and the introduction of unforeseeable circumstances. CFOs, controllers, finance and accounting professionals, and students alike are, therefore, encouraged to develop agile and scrum expertise to elevate individual, functional, and organizational performance, further strengthening the finance function’s value proposition for decades to come. Utilizing agile and scrum to redefine approaches to core activities like financial planning and analysis, internal audit, and financial close can position management accountants to better support the unprecedented number of transformation initiatives organizations embark upon today. Further, the agile finance function can realize elevated outcomes, maximized value, and expedited delivery, enabling their organizations to adapt to changing priorities with agility and data-backed insights.

Mozilla patches critical “BigSig” cryptographic bug: Here’s how to track it down and fix it

Many software vendors rely on third-party open source cryptographic tools, such as OpenSSL, or simply hook up with the cryptographic libraries built into the operating system itself, such as Microsoft’s Secure Channel on Windows or Apple’s Secure Transport on macOS and iOS. But Mozilla has always used its own cryptographic library, known as NSS, short for Network Security Services, instead of relying on third-party or system-level code. Ironically, this bug is exposed when affected applications set out to test the cryptographic veracity of digital signatures provided by the senders of content such as emails, PDF documents or web pages. In other words, the very act of protecting you, by checking up front whether a user or website you’re dealing with is an imposter …could, in theory, lead to you getting hacked by said user or website. As Ormandy shows in his bug report, it’s trivial to crash an application outright by exploiting this bug, and not significantly more difficult to perform what you might call a “controlled crash”, which can typically be wrangled into an RCE, short for remote code execution.

Zero Trust Shouldn’t Mean Zero Trust in Employees

An effective zero trust experience works for and empowers the employee. To them, everything feels the same — whether they're accessing their email, a billing platform, or the HR app. In the background, they don't have broad access to apps and data that they don't need. This comes down to building a well-defined and measurable "circle of trust" that is granted to an employee based on their role and team. With these guardrails in place, you're removing the friction and providing a good user experience while establishing more effective security. Security teams must be able to clearly and reliably enforce a trust boundary that's extended to employees based on what they need to get their jobs done. From there, zero trust is about building out those guardrails so that the trust boundary is maintained. No more, no less. Zero trust should be implemented across the entire HR life cycle, especially when staffing shortages and the Great Resignation have caused hiring and turnover fluctuations.

Understanding Black Box Testing - Types, Techniques, and Examples

To ensure that the software quality is maintained and you do not lose customers because of a bad user experience, your application should go through stern supervision using suitable testing techniques. Black box testing is the easiest and fastest solution to investigate the software functionalities without any coding knowledge. The debate on white box vs. black-box testing is an ever-prevailing discussion, where both stand out as winners. Whether you want White box testing or Black box testing depends upon how deeper you want to get into the software structure under test. If you want to test the functionalities with an end-user perspective, Black box testing fits the bill. And, if you wish to direct your testing efforts towards how the software is built, its coding structure, and design, then white box testing works well. However, both aim to improve the software quality in their own different ways. There are a lot of black-box testing techniques discussed above. 

CIO priorities: 10 challenges to tackle in 2022

From robotic process automation to low-code technologies, there's a whole suite of tools that claim to make the application development process easier. However, automation should come with a warning: while these tools can lighten the day-to-day load for IT teams, someone somewhere must ensure that new applications meet stringent reliability and security standards. Increased automation will mean IT professionals spend more time engaging and overseeing, so focus on training and development to ensure your staff is ready for a shift in responsibility. With all the talk of automation and low-code development, it would be easy to assume that the traditional work of the IT department is done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the tech team is set to change, but talented developers – who work alongside their business peers – remain a valuable and highly prized commodity. To attract and retain IT staff, CIOs will need to think very hard about the opportunities they offer. Rather than being a place to go, work is going to become an activity you do in a collaborative manner, regardless of location. 

Cloud numbers don’t add up

The problem is aligning ambition with reality. It’s perhaps also a weirdness in the definition of “cloud native.” The Cloud Native Computing Foundation defines “cloud native” as enabling enterprises to “build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds.” There’s nothing particularly modern about a private cloud/data center. Scott Carey has described it thus: “Cloud native encompasses the various tools and techniques used by software developers today to build applications for the public cloud, as opposed to traditional architectures suited to an on-premises data center” (emphasis mine). If going cloud native simply means “doing what we’ve always done, but sprinkled with containers,” that’s not a very useful data point. “Cloud first,” however, arguably is. If we’re already at 47% of respondents saying they default to cloud (again, my assumption is that people weren’t thinking “my private data center” when answering a question about “cloud first”), then we have a real problem with measured spend on cloud computing from IDC, Gartner, and even the most wide-eyed of would-be analyst firms.

The Dark Web: a cyber crime bazaar where data is a hot commodity

Everyone is aware of the Dark Web’s reputation as a playground for cyber criminals who anonymously trade stolen data and partake in illegal activities. While in the past it required a degree of technical knowledge to transact on the Dark Web, in recent years the trading of malware and stolen data has become increasingly commoditised. As a result, marketplaces, hacker forums and ransomware groups sites are proliferating. Bitglass recently conducted some research that shines some light on exactly how Dark Web activity, the value of stolen data, and cyber criminal behaviours have rapidly evolved in recent years. What we found should trigger alarm bells for enterprises that want to prevent their sensitive data from ending up on the Dark Web. Back in 2015, Bitglass conducted the world’s first data tracking experiment to identify exactly how data is viewed and accessed on the Dark Web. This year we re-ran the experiment and embellished it, posting fake account usernames, emails and passwords that would supposedly give access to high-profile social media, retail, gaming, crypto and pirated content networks acquired through well-known breaches.

Disaster preparedness: 3 key tactics for IT leaders

Once risks are identified and impacts are evaluated and scored, implement an appropriate risk response. This includes risk treatment options to accept the risk, mitigate the risk with new or existing controls, transfer the risk to third parties – often with insurance or risk sharing, or avoid the risk by ceasing the business activity related to it. A risk assessment can be coupled with a business impact analysis (BIA) that provides input into business continuity and disaster planning. A BIA identifies recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs), critical processes, dependence on critical systems, and many other areas. It gets to the 80/20 rule where rather than create costly recovery strategies for 100 percent of all critical business functions, you want to focus on the 20 percent of the business processes that are the most critical and need to be recovered quickly in a disaster event. Once a BIA is completed, organizations can determine their recovery strategies to maintain continuity of operations during a disaster. Business continuity plans should be based on the BIA and updated at least every year.

Quote for the day:

"Tact is the ability to make a person see lightning without letting him feel the bolt." -- Orlando A. Battista

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