defense

IBM launched its IBM Security App Exchange at the tail end of 2015, so it has been live for almost a year now. We always thought the App Exchange had significant potential, but we’ve been blown away by its success with our customers and other security vendors. We now have security information and event management (SIEM) customers imploring other vendors to provide a QRadar app as a prerequisite to joining their security operations. It has also helped IBM demonstrate its security immune system in a tangible way.

App Exchange Offers Market Insights

The program has been so successful that we passed our 12-month target for third-party vendors and apps on the Exchange after only seven months. We are currently seeing approximate monthly totals of:

  • 3,500 downloads;
  • 35,000 visits; and
  • 11,000 unique visitors.

These numbers illustrate the App Exchange’s value to IBM customers, partners and the overall market. We’ve also trained over 90 security vendors in app development and have a vibrant backlog of third-party and IBM apps that we are planning to launch over the next few months.

One thing that was clear from the outset was the wide variety of security operations that the apps are addressing. This offers some interesting insights into what products are hot in the security market. While the IBM Security App Exchange is product-agnostic, it is currently dominated by apps for the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform, followed by IBM BigFix and IBM X-Force. Because QRadar sits right in the center of organizations’ threat detection and response processes, most systems involved in security operations should interface with it in some way.

Since the App Exchange launched, we’ve added over 70 apps that fall into the following broad categories:

  • Visualizations;
  • Threat Intelligence;
  • User Behavior Analytics (UBA);
  • Incident Response;
  • Endpoint Detection and Response;
  • Hunting;
  • Compliance Use Cases; and
  • Other Threat Detection Use Cases.

High Demand for Use Cases

The first set of stats shows the relative number of apps on the App Exchange in each category. Apps that fall into the categories of Threat Detection Use Cases and Compliance Use Cases account for more than half the offerings. Demand is high because these are the first use cases that most organizations address when implementing security operations.

The third most common set of apps fall into the category of User Behavior Analytics. The market is piping hot for these apps due to the fact that more than 50 percent of threats fall into this category. Demand for apps that fall into the Threat Intelligence category is similarly high.

App use representation on IBM Security App Exchange

Download Ratios

The second set of stats show the relative ratio of app downloads in each category. Again, the top category is Threat Detection Use Cases. This is very closely followed by User Behavior Analytics, with both Visualizations and Threat Intelligence hot on its heels. It’s interesting that Visualizations ranks so high in downloads while the category includes a relatively small set of apps. This may represent an unmet need.

Of course, download statistics are skewed by the length of time some apps have been available on the App Exchange. QRadar UBA, for example, has only been available for four months, but is already the third most downloaded app. Some newer apps in the areas of Endpoint Detection and Response, Incident Response and Hunting, while low in volume and relative downloads, are growing quickly. It’ll be interesting to review this trend in another six months to a year.

Proportion of app downloads on IBM Security App Exchange

Key Takeaways

In summary, the key insights we can take away from this data are:

  • Threat Detection Use Cases, Threat Intelligence and User Behavior Analytics are at the forefront of most security programs.
  • Organizations place great value in threat, risk and incident visualizations, and there may be unmet demand in this area.
  • Compliance use cases are still an important foundation.
  • We’re starting to see a real pickup in areas of Endpoint Detection and Response, Hunting and Incident Response.

That’s just a sampling of the insights we can draw from the App Exchange statistics. We’ll continue to track the App Exchange’s development and shine a light on what apps are gaining traction in the market. Stay tuned!

Visit the IBM Security App Exchange


Security Intelligence

You are driving in your car with your 10-year-old son in the passenger’s seat. A ball bounces in front of your car and you hit the brakes hard while simultaneously throwing your arm in front of the child, acting almost automatically. That’s called muscle memory, and it is a big part of what organizations need when responding to cyberattacks.

Cyberattack Defense Is Muscle Memory

When asked how to launch an effective cyberattack defense effort, most people give technology-related answers: Beef up the firewalls, fortify the network, and deploy better intrusion detection and security analytics solutions.

While technology is certainly important, the responses coming from your organization during and following the attack — the human side of the equation — are even more vital. Yet despite a wealth of good advice, I estimate that in 8 of the last 10 large-scale breaches, the response from the organization under attack did as much or more damage than the attack itself. Most of that damage was reputational.

Why is that? Very few C-level executives have been trained in crisis leadership. They seldom have to make urgent decisions in near-real time. The usual practice is to build a team around executives to provide input. They carefully study these inputs and weigh them against other information to develop a set of options. Eventually, they fashion a response. This could happen days or weeks later — or, in some cases, not at all.

The Worst Response Is No Response

That explains why the response to a major breach is so often little or no response at all. Often the blame is directed at some vague state-sponsored source when, in reality, the company has no legitimate suspects because attribution is very difficult. That’s when problems arise beyond the actual damage from the breach. Customers worry about their personal information. Suppliers and partners get antsy. Tort lawyers start to circle overhead. Confidence in the organization drops while suspicion mounts.

Most all of this post-attack damage is avoidable and unnecessary. First, all organizations must presume that they will fall victim to a major breach at some point. There is no safe harbor, as should be evident to anyone listening to the news these days.

Second, the management team needs to undergo in-depth training in crisis management when an attack does happen. This team needs to prepare and rehearse responses for customers, suppliers, regulators, the media and the board. Of the 50 states in the U.S., for example, 47 of them have their own unique breach disclosure laws. You must develop a plan in advance that comply with these laws specific to any states in which you do business. These responses must be ingrained as executive muscle memory.

Filling the Gaps

To help IT professionals thoroughly prepare to deal with cyberattacks, IBM opened its X-Force Command Center (XFCC), a simulator designed to train executives in the crisis leadership skills they’ll need to respond to a breach. In the all-day course at the XFCC, teams will first experience a highly realistic, simulated cyberattack. They’ll be exposed to the variety of ways the technical staff tries to detect and stop the attack and then swing into recovery mode.

Participants will spend the second half of the day planning the proper response steps and rehearsing them. The central idea is to infuse executives with the confidence and experience of doing something that their MBA training and business experience likely failed to address. Leadership during a cyberattack defense effort requires a full-throttle response in hours, not days or weeks.

Discover How IBM X-Force Command Centers Are Changing Security

A Predetermined, Definitive Response

Think back to the Tylenol scandal of 1982, when criminals tampered with bottles and laced the pain-relieving pills with poison that killed several people. Tylenol’s maker, Johnson & Johnson, immediately removed the product from all store shelves, even though there was no indication of a manufacturing problem. The parent company trusted its brand to survive such a hit, and indeed it did. The company was widely applauded for its leadership in a time of crisis and its near-instant response.

Breaches will continue to happen, possibly even at an accelerated pace, given the growing interconnectivity all around us and the expanding threat surface that comes with it. The worst thing a company can do in response is what so many end up doing — nothing. Instead, be prepared to meet the crisis with predetermined, definitive responses.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about how IBM’s X-Force Command Centers will help clients stay ahead of the most advanced threats?

  • Visit the XFCC website;
  • Read the datasheet: How IBM X-Force Command Centers Are Changing Security;
  • Download the white paper: The Role of Cyber Ranges and Capture the Flag Exercises in Security Incident Response Planning;
  • Watch the video.


Security Intelligence

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SANS Information Security Reading Room


Munish Gupta

Senior Security Architect, Infosys Ltd

Munish Gupta, CISSP is working as Principal - Information & Cyber Risk Management with Infosys Ltd (NYSE: INFY) . He has rich experience of around 13+ years in providing...

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During most of my discussions with C-level stakeholders, a major question arises: What can we do to add further defense to our public cloud deployments? Are the built-in cloud security controls sufficient for my business, or do we need more?

My answer is quite simple: Yes, you need additional controls, depending on the workloads you are going to deploy in public clouds.

A Shared Responsibility

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud services built on the shared responsibility model allow the organization to assess what additional security controls are needed. It’s the organization’s responsibility to secure the workload hosted in cloud environment; the cloud provider will be responsible below the operating system (OS) layer only.

While cloud providers are getting more mature and trying to offer a broader range of cloud security controls, it’s still the bare minimum. AWS provides the security group and NaCl capabilities as the minimum, for example, but not intrusion prevention controls, web application level security, threat intelligence capabilities or other features.

Another problem is that public cloud providers only provide site-to-site VPN, not client-to-site termination capability. This means that you need to route your user traffic (even for your remote users) through your corporate network, which results in performance issues, additional cost and increased complexity.

Next-Gen Cloud Security Controls

So now the question is: What should we do to add additional security controls at the perimeter of our public cloud deployments?

Security gateways and firewall providers are getting quite mature, and offerings are more aligned with industry needs. Next-gen firewall and UTM products are built for virtual environments from the bottom-up.

Investing more into these next-gen products will ensure better control of your public cloud and make your life easier during audits. Deploying a next-gen virtual firewall in your public cloud environment will also allow your security administrator to define context-based rules and ACLs to protect your environment. Additionally, it will permit your remote users to directly terminate to the public cloud environment.

In a nutshell, additional cloud security controls are worth every penny of your investment.

Read the IDC white paper: A CISO’s Guide to Enabling a Cloud Security Strategy

Topics: Cloud, Cloud Security, Cloud Services, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)


Security Intelligence

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SANS Information Security Reading Room

Black Hat: 9 free security tools for defense and attacking

A Black Hat conference audience, 2015

Credit: Steve Marcus, Reuters

When Black Hat convenes next week in Las Vegas, it will be a rich environment for gathering tools that can be used to tighten security but also -- in the wrong hands -- to carry out exploits.

Researchers presenting generally point out the value these releases hold for researchers like themselves who operate in experimental environments as well as for enterprise security pros who want to build better defenses against such attack tools.

[ An InfoWorld exclusive: Go inside a security operations center. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security newsletter. ]

Presenters will detail a broad range of exploits they've carried out against devices, protocols and technologies from HTTP to internet of things gear to the techniques penetration testers use to test the networks of their clients.

Here is a sampling of some of the scheduled educational briefings coming up next week along with a description of the free tools that will accompany them. 

HTTP/2 & QUIC -- Teaching Good Protocols To Do Bad Things

Presenters: Carl Vincent, Sr. Security Consultant, Cisco, and Catherine (Kate) Pearce, Sr. Security Consultant, Cisco

These two researchers took a look at HTTP/2 and QUIC, two Web protocols used to multiplex connections. The researchers say they are experiencing déjà vu because they have found security weaknesses in these protocols that are reminiscent of weaknesses they found two years ago in multipath TCP (MPTCP). Back then they discovered that because MPTCP changed paths and endpoints during sessions, it was difficult to secure the traffic and possible to compromise it. "This talk briefly introduces QUIC and HTTP/2, covers multiplexing attacks beyond MPTCP, discusses how you can use these techniques over QUIC and within HTTP/2, and discusses how to make sense of and defend against H2/QUIC traffic on your network," according to the description of their talk. They say they will release tools with these techniques incorporated.

Applied Machine Learning for Data Exfil and Other Fun Topics

Brian Wallace, Senior Security Researcher, Cylance, Matt Wolff, Chief Data Scientist, Cylance, and Xuan Zhao, Data Scientist, Cylance

This team applied machine learning to security data to help analysts make decisions about whether their networks are facing actual incidents. They say lacking an understanding of machine learning can leave you at a disadvantage when analyzing problems. "We will walk the entire pipeline from idea to functioning tool on several diverse security-related problems, including offensive and defensive use cases for machine learning," they write in describing their briefing. They plan to release all the tools, source code and data sets they used in their research. They'll also include an obfuscation tool for data exfiltration, a network mapper and a command and control panel identification module.

GATTacking Bluetooth Smart Devices - Introducing a New BLE Proxy Tool

 Slawomir Jasek, IT Security Consultant, SecuRing

The internet of things is rife with devices that make use of Bluetooth Low Energy, but they don't always take advantage of all the security features of the technology. "A

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