Daily Tech Digest - July 12, 2023

4 collaboration security mistakes companies are still making

If organizations don’t provide access to vetted collaboration tools, employees will likely find their own and use insecure solutions, said Sourya Biswas, technical director, risk management and governance at security consulting firm NCC Group. “Therefore, while it’s important for organizations to embrace digital collaboration, at the same time they should prevent installation and use of unapproved tools, via mechanisms such as restricted local admin access and managed browser solutions.” Even when collaboration tools are vetted and approved, organizations must be cognizant of the different collaboration platforms that each employee is allowed to access in order to prevent sensitive data from being exfiltrated and avoid providing new attack vectors for bad actors, said Michael McCracken, senior director of end user solutions at SHI International, a reseller of technology products and services. In addition, IT needs to maintain central control over these tools, said AJ Yawn, partner, risk assurance advisory at Armanino, an independent accounting and business consulting firm.

EC Says European Private Data Can Flow to Compliant US Companies

The business community had been waiting for guidance on how data privacy policy might look in the EU, says Dona Fraser, senior vice president of privacy initiatives with BBB National Programs, a nonprofit that oversees national, industry self-regulation programs. With the former EU-US Privacy Shield rendered invalid in 2020 by the European Court of Justice, new policy was needed. Fraser says companies wanted to comply and be able to safely conduct business without worry of intervention or whether or not their consumers were being treated properly, but policy was in limbo. The announcement about the new framework seems to have restored confidence in the program. “This week,” she says, “we’ve received an enormous amount of inquiries from current and past participants saying, ‘What's next, what do we do?’ The eagerness that we’re hearing in the marketplace is, for us, from a business perspective, it’s great to hear.” Logistics of the framework and the approval process for businesses still need to be worked out, Fraser says, but now the door is open for companies that halted work with data from Europe to reemerge.

CISO perspective on why boards don’t fully grasp cyber attack risks

A CISO needs to understand the knowledge and background of the board members to be able to translate technical jargon into business language and something familiar with the target audience. I approach this by relating technical jargon to everyday situations or business scenarios, something the board can easily grasp. To be effective at this style of communication, I collaborate with other business leaders outside of the technology groups to optimize business alignment. Focusing on the potential business impact of cybersecurity risk also allows a CISO to frame technical issues in terms of their consequences such as financial loss or damage to the company’s brand. It is equally important to be concise and avoid over-embellishing cyber-risks, while still focusing on the strategic objectives you are asking the board to weigh in on. To bridge the gap between board members and CISOs to promote the mitigation of cyber-risk, it is essential that a CISO enhance communication, educate board members about cybersecurity risks and promote a collaborative approach to decision making.

Data Management at Scale

If your company already has a high level of data management maturity or is decentrally organized, then you can begin with a more decentralized approach to data management. However, to align your decentralized teams, you will need to set standards and principles and make technology choices for shared capabilities. These activities need to happen at a central level and require superb leaders and good architects. I’ll come back to these points toward the end of this chapter, when discussing the role of enterprise architects. Besides the starting point, there are other aspects to take into consideration with regard to centralization and decentralization. First, you should determine your goals for the end of your journey. If your intended end state is a decentralized architecture, but you’ve decided to start centrally, the engineers building the architecture should be aware of this from the beginning. With the longer-term vision in mind, engineers can make capabilities more loosely coupled, allowing for easier decentralization at a later point in time.

Designing High-Performance APIs

By incorporating specific design principles, developers can build APIs that scale effectively and operate efficiently. Here are key considerations for building scalable and efficient APIs: Stateless Design: Implement a stateless architecture where each API request contains all the necessary information for processing. This design approach eliminates the need for maintaining a session state on the server, allowing for easier scalability and improved performance. Use Resource-Oriented Design: Embrace a resource-oriented design approach that models API endpoints as resources. This design principle provides a consistent and intuitive structure, enabling efficient data access and manipulation. Employ Asynchronous Operations: Use asynchronous processing for long-running or computationally intensive tasks. By offloading such operations to background processes or queues, the API can remain responsive, preventing delays and improving overall efficiency. Horizontal Scaling: Design the API to support horizontal scaling, where additional instances of the API can be deployed to handle increased traffic. 

Why SUSE is forking Red Hat Enterprise Linux

To understand what’s happening here, we need to go back a few years. In late 2020, Red Hat made a crucial change to CentOS Linux (the Community Enterprise Linux Operating System). For the longest time, CentOS was essentially the free (as in beer) version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Red Hat’s flagship distribution. Red Hat acquired CentOS in 2014 after a lot of turmoil in the CentOS community and gained a permanent majority on the CentOS board. “The CentOS project was in trouble,” Gunnar Hellekson, Red Hat’s VP and GM for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, told me. “At the same time, we needed a way to collaborate with other communities — OpenStack in particular at the time. And we said, well, here’s an opportunity! We can take the CentOS project. Now we have something that is freely available and close enough to RHEL to do the development on — and then that gives us a way to work in the community. And then when customers move into production, they can go on to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.”

The Disconnected State of Enterprise Risk Management

Compliance, with its myriad frameworks, standards and mandates, remains the primary means by which we assess and maintain the risk posture of our national, defense and private sector entities. Compliance is how we gauge our resilience, determine shortcomings and prioritize mitigation efforts to resolve them. Compliance, ostensibly, is how we determine where to point our limited security resources in the form of controls to ensure protection against threats. And yet, while the threats occur in real time, our compliance efforts remain relegated to a historical reporting function, capturing our prior state at best or, worse yet, someone’s subjective opinion of an organization’s security posture. After all, most compliance programs today are best characterized as “opinion farming at scale,” built on surveys or manual assessments of controls by human analysts, who in turn depend on the cooperation and information of countless system owners. No matter how high you stack those opinions, they don’t turn into facts. 

Downsides to using cloud autoscaling systems

Autoscaling can reduce costs by optimizing resource utilization, but savings are not guaranteed. I have seen autoscaling systems lead to unexpected cost increases. For example, rapid and frequent scaling operations can generate additional charges that are often unexpected. This will undoubtedly happen if resources are not managed efficiently. I’ve seen unpredictable workload patterns or sudden spikes in demand trigger autoscaling processes. This results in more instances or resources provisioned, but also a potentially enormous cloud bill. The only way to work around this is to carefully analyze and forecast workload patterns to balance scalability and cost-effectiveness. ... Certain applications don’t work well with autoscaling systems. Legacy or monolithic applications that rely on static configurations or have complex interdependencies may not perform very well with autoscaling systems. Of course, there is a fix, normally rewriting a portion of the entire application to leverage autoscaling more efficiently.

Defining the CISO Role

CISOs are tasked with the strategic leadership of information security for their companies. This can entail building a cybersecurity program and overseeing the teams that execute the policies that underpin that program. The responsibilities are many and varied. For example, Heins is responsible for incident response, security engineering and operations, identity and access management, cloud and application security, and governance, risk, and compliance. Effectively implementing cybersecurity demands that CISOs spend much of their time engaging with stakeholders throughout an organization: board members, other executives, and people in other departments. They also spend part of their time on external engagement. Meg Anderson, vice president and CISO of investment management and insurance company Principal Financial Group, notes that she talks with her CISO peers about emerging threats and best practices. That part of the job can help CISOs think about how to structure their programs effectively and build a pipeline of talent for the future.

Security First! Strategies for Building Safer Software

Having security involved in the initial stages of a software development process always made sense, as with bug fixing, it is faster and cheaper to address security issues early on. But, particularly in larger enterprises, it was rarely done in practice. By the same token, individual development teams would tend not to invest in security if they saw it as the role of a dedicated security team and thus somebody else’s problem. This pushed security to the right, as one of the things that happened between development and deploying to production, where security becomes more difficult and often less effective. It also led to friction between the development and security teams, since the two groups had conflicting goals: Developers were under pressure to ship more features more quickly, and saw security as a gatekeeper, slowing down or even halting development to allow time to investigate issues. At its most extreme, developers felt, security’s ideal situation would be that nothing would be deployed to production at all — after all, if nothing is running, then nothing can get hacked.

Quote for the day:

"One must be convinced to convince, to have enthusiasm to stimulate the others." -- Stefan Zweig

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