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The Gear Myth: does more gear = more security?

AKA: Are you building a house of cards?

The gear myth is the mythical view that investing in more technology will inevitably make an enterprise network more secure. While there is a tremendous amount of new gear available to help make networks more secure, our perspegear-myth1ctive is that more gear, in fact,  may not only fail to achieve your security goals, but it may even add risk.

First let me visually explain the gear myth, then I’ll discuss why layering additional technology into a network can be counterproductive.

Initial state: we have some security risk, lets address it by deploying some new technology.

The image at left is a graph that shows how someone, say an IT manager, might view their level of security for a specific component of their IT environment. The scale shows that the level of security is very low.  Based on this assessment the IT department deploys some new technology.

The new gear is installed: everything is fine, no risk…. right?

After deploying some new gear, which in many cases is limited to buying expensive technology and lobbing it into the data center, the perceived level of security is much higher.

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Vendor Management: are your vendors secure?

If you ask the 50 banks that recently had customer data exposed when their accounting firm lost a number of their audit laptops to theft, the answer is no. Incredibly, the accounting firm’s lost laptops apparently did not utilize data encryption even though they contained sensitive customer information. This left the banks in the un-welcomed position of having to notify customers of a data breach.

Anecdotally, our experience doing security audits across many industries indicates that much (maybe even most) of the risk of sensitive data loss in an enterprise is associated with their vendor’s lack of adequate security controls.

Ironically, when a company outsources a service they are also outsourcing much of the security risk. For example,

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DoS-ing over Dial-Up

DoS, or Denial of Service attacks, are nothing new.  The main idea behind a DoS attack is to exhaust a devices resources (be it HTTP, some database backend, or any other form of  'service') until it can't respond to legitimate…

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I've been thinking about honeytokens a lot lately. While I've always been fascinated by honeypots, honeytokens are a little different spin on the same idea. A honeypot usually functions as a machine or device just begging to get hacked. It…

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Mozilla Collections

If you are anything like us, you can spend hours tracking down Firefox add-ons.  Recently, Mozilla announced the release of 'Collections', which allows you to create and store all of your favorite add-ons and customizations in one central place. If…

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