After the OPM breach many friends and colleagues who have served the US government feel angry and are worried that they and their families are exposed and vulnerable to attack. I felt the same when Aetna sent me a breach notice for my daughter. Who has their data? How will it be used to attack us? It’s sickening.
The resignation of the head of OPM won’t help. Accountability in this context has no meaning. A new head of IT will arrive, and the infrastructure will still remain vulnerable, and millions of citizens’ PII will still be up for grabs. The Federal Reserve Bank and the US Navy will still use Windows XP, and when I next visit, I’ll once again hear stories about how hard it is to move the infrastructure forward. Enough! Doing nothing is not an acceptable posture.
There is good and bad news in this story. The bad is obvious, but the good is that I’m seeing for the first time a realisation that we have to fundamentally fix our nation’s computing infrastructure. A realisation that buying more security widgets that fail to detect the bad guy, isn’t going to help. I’m seeing customers realise that software sandboxes can’t stop Hacking Team zero days (that are already being used to attack us) and that legacy AV is quite simply not enough. And while its great to read about recommendations from analysts that you purchase breach detection tools, that’s a woefully bad response, because the bad guy has probably already won.
I’m hopeful that what will emerge on the part of practitioners is a determination to stop the breaches. Now we need some simple recipes to make it a lot harder to penetrate our vulnerable infrastructure.
Here are two simple steps that every organisation can take to dramatically enhance their security.
- Move your PCs (and VDI desktops) onto a separate network segment that is logically in the DMZ, and treat every PC like an untrustworthy BYOD mobile device. Never trust it. Assume that it is the enemy, because in this context it is.
- Micro-virtualise the endpoint. Eliminate the attacks – even the HT 0days – by design. Over the last 30 days we have seen targeted zero day attacks on our customers’ endpoints at a shocking scale. One customer has experienced a unique targeted attack every single day. Why is this shocking? Remember that isolation technology/micro virtualisation is the last line of defense. Every one of these attacks has flown through the proxy, next-gen firewall, IPS, IDS and any other network widget, and it has survived every form of signature and behavioural analysis. Thankfully we stop these attacks – every one – without knowing good from bad.
By Simon Crosby, Co-founder and CTO, Bromium