Thursday, March 4, 2021

How to gain advanced cyber resilience and recovery across the IT ops and SecOps divide


Cyber attacks are on the rise, harming brands and supply chains while fomenting consumer and employee distrust -- as well as leading to costly interruptions and service blackouts.

At the same time, more remote workers and extended-enterprise processes due to the pandemic demand higher levels of security across all kinds of business workflows.

Stay with us now as the next BriefingsDirect discussion explores why comprehensive cloud security solutions need to go beyond on-premises threat detection and remediation to significantly strengthen extended digital business workflows.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

To learn more about ways to shrink the attack surface and dynamically isolate process security breaches, please join Karl Klaessig, Director of Product Marketing for Security Operations, at ServiceNow, and E.G. Pearson, Security Architect at Unisys. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solution.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Karl, why are digital workflows so essential now for modern enterprises, and why are better security solutions needed to strengthen digital businesses?

Klaessig: Dana, you touched on cyber attacks being on the rise. It’s a really scary time if you think about MGM Resorts and some of the really big attacks in 2020 that took us all by surprise. And 23 percent of consumers have had their email or social media accounts hacked, taken over, or used. These are all huge threats to our everyday life as businesses and consumers.

And when we look at so many of us now working from home, this huge new attack surface space is going to continue. In a recent Gartner chief financial officer (CFO) survey, 74 percent of companies have the intent to shift employees to work from home (WFH) permanently.

These are huge numbers indicating a mad dash to build and scale remote worker infrastructures. At the end of the day, the teams that E.G. and I represent, as vendors, we strive hard to support these businesses as they seek to scale and address an explosive impact for cyber resilience and cyber operations in their enterprises.

Gardner: E.G., we have these new, rapidly evolving adoption patterns around extended digital businesses and workflows. Do the IT and security personnel, who perhaps cut their teeth in legacy security requirements, need to think differently? Do they have different security requirements now?

IT security requirements rise

Pearson: As someone who did cut their teeth in the legacy parts, I say, “Yes,” because things are new. Things are different.

The legacy IT world was all about protecting what they know about, and it’s hard to change. The new world is all about automation, right? It impacts everything we want to do and everything that we can do. Why wouldn’t we try to make our jobs as simple and easy as possible?

When I first got into IT, one of my friends told me that the easiest thing you can do is script everything that you possibly can, just to make your life simpler. Nowadays, with the way digital workflows are going, it’s not just automating the simple things -- now we’re able to easily to automate the complex ones, too. We’re making it so anybody can jump in and get this automation going as quickly as possible.

Gardner: Karl, now that we’re dealing with extended digital workflows and expanded workplaces, how has the security challenge changed? What are we up against?

Klaessig: The security challenge has changed dramatically. What’s the impact of Internet of things (IoT) and edge computing? We’ve essentially created a much larger attack surface area, right?

What’s changed in a very positive way is that this expanded surface has driven automation and the capability to not only secure workflows but to collaborate on those workflows.

We have to have the capability to quickly detect, respond, and remediate. Let’s be honest, we need automated security for all of the remote solutions now being utilized – virtually overnight – by hundreds of thousands of people. Automation is going to be the driver. It’s what’s really rises to the top to help in this.

Gardner: E.G., one of the good things with the modern IT landscape is that we can do remote access for security in ways that we couldn’t before. So, for IoT, as Karl mentioned, we’re talking about branch offices -- not just sensors or machines.

We increasingly have a very distributed environment, and we can get in there with our security teams in a virtual sense. We have automation, but we also have the virtual capability to reach just about everywhere.

Pearson: Nowadays, IoT is huge. Operational technology (OT) is huge. Data is huge. Take your pick, it’s all massive in scope nowadays. Branch offices? Nowadays, all of us are our own branch office sitting at our homes.

Now, everybody is a field employee. The world changed overnight. And the biggest concern is how do we protect every branch office and every individual who’s out there? It used to be simpler, you used to create a site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) or you had communications that could be easily taken care of.

Everybody is now a field employee. The world changed overnight. And the biggest concern is how do we protect every branch office and every individual who's out there? The world is different.

Now the communication is open to everybody because your kids want to watch Disney in the living room while you’re trying to work in your office while your wife is doing work for her job three rooms down. The world is different.

The networks that we have to work through are different. Now, instead of trying to protect an all-encompassing environment, it’s about moving to more individual or granular levels of security, of protecting individual endpoints or systems.

I now have smart thermostats and a smart doorbell. I don’t want anybody attaching to those. I don’t need somebody talking to my kids through those things. In the same vein, I don’t need somebody attaching to my company’s OT environment and doing something silly inside of there. So, in my opinion, it’s less about the overarching IT environment, and more about how to protect the individuals.

Gardner: To protect all of those vulnerable individuals then, what are the new solutions? How are the Unisys Stealth and ServiceNow Platform coming together to help solve these issues?

Collaborate to protect individuals

Klaessig: Well, there are a couple of areas I’ll touch on. One is that Unisys has an uncanny capability to do isolation and initially contain a breach or threat. That is absolutely paramount for our customers. We need to get a very quick handle on how to investigate and respond. Our teams are all struggling to scale faster and faster with higher volume. So, every minute bought is a huge minute gained. Right out of the gate, between Unisys and ServiceNow, that buys us time -- and every second counts. It’s invaluable.

Another thing that's driving our solutions are the better ties between IT and security; there’s much more collaboration. For a long time they tended to be in separate towers, so to speak. But the codependences and collaborative drivers between Unisys and ServiceNow mean that those groups are so much more effective. The IT and security teams collaborate thanks to the things we do in the workloads and the automation between both of our solutions. It becomes extremely efficient and effective.

Gardner: E.G., why is your technology, Unisys Stealth for Dynamic Isolation a good fit with ServiceNow? Why is that a powerful part of this automation drive?

Pearson: The nice part about dynamic isolation is it’s just a piece of what we can do as a whole with Unisys Stealth. Our Stealth core product is doing identity-based microsegmentation. And, by nature, it flows into software-defined networking, and it's based on a zero trust model.

The reason that's important is, in software-defined networking, we're gathering tons of information about what's happening across your network. So, in addition to what’s happening at the perimeter with firewalls, you are able to get really good, granular information about what's happening inside of your environment, too.

We're able to gather that and send all of that fantastic information over the ServiceNow Platform to your source, whatever it may be. ServiceNow is a fantastic jumping point for us to be able to get all that information into what would have been separate systems. Now they can all talk together through the ServiceNow Platform.

Klaessig: To add to that, this partnership solves the issues around security data volume so you can prioritize accurately because you’re not inundated. E.G. just described the perfect scenario, which is that the right data gets into the right solution to enable effective assessment and understanding to make prioritizations on threat responses and threat actions based on business impact.

That huge but managed amount of data that comes in is invaluable. It’s what drives everything to get to prioritizing the right incidents.

Gardner: The way you're describing how the solutions work together, it sounds like the IT people can get better awareness about security priorities. And the security people can perhaps get insights into making sure that the business-wide processes remain safe.

Critical care for large communities

Klaessig: You’re absolutely right because the continuous threat prioritization and breach protection means that the protective measures have to go through both IT and security. That collaboration and automation enables not just the operational resilience that IT is driving for, but also the cyber resilience that the security teams want. It is a handshake.

That shared data and workloads are part of security but they reflect actual IT processes, and vice versa. It makes both more effective.  

Gardner: E.G., anything more to offer on this idea of roles, automation, and how your products come together?

Pearson: I wholeheartedly agree with Karl. IT and security can’t be siloed anymore. They can't be separate organizations.

IT relies on what security operations puts in play, and security operations can't do anything unless IT mitigates what security finds. So they can't act individually any more. Otherwise, it's like telling a football player to lace up their ice skates and go score a couple of goals.

IT relies on what security operations puts in play, and security operations can't do anything unless IT mitigates what security finds. So they can’t act individually any more. Otherwise, it’s like telling a football player to lace up their ice skates and go score a couple of goals.

Gardner: As we use microsegmentation and zero trust to attend to individual devices and users, can we provide a safer environment for sets of users or applications?

Pearson: Yes, we have to do this in smaller and smaller groups. It’s about being able to understand what those communities need and how to dynamically protect them. 

As we adjust to the pandemic and the humungous security breaches like we found at the end of 2020, protecting large communities can't be done as easily. It’s so much easier to break those down into smaller chunks that can be best protected.

Klaessig: It’s also around protecting best based on the applications. I think that has a big impact because you can say, “Hey, these are the applications critical for our customers and our organization.”  Therefore, anyone who has access to those, we monitor that much more closely, or they are automatically prioritized at the top of the queue if there's an incident.

We can group things out based on use and the impact to the business. And again, this all contributes to the prioritization and the response when we coordinate between the two solutions, Unisys and ServiceNow.

Gardner: So it’s an identity-driven model but on steroids. It's not just individual people. It's critical groups.

Klaessig: Well said.

Pearson: Yes.

Gardner: How can people consume this, whether you’re in IT, security personnel, or even an end user? If you're trying to protect yourself, how do you avail yourself of what ServiceNow and Unisys have put together?

Speed for bad-to-worse scenarios

Klaessig: The key is we target enterprises. That's where we work together and that's where ServiceNow workflows go. But to your point, nowadays I'm essentially a lone, solo office person, right? With that in mind, we need to remember those new best practices.

The appropriate workflows and processes within our collective solutions must reflect the actual individual users and processes. It goes back to our comments a couple of minutes ago, which is what do you use most? How often do you use it? When do you use it, and how critical is it? Also, who else is involved?

That’s something we haven’t touched on up until now -- who else will be impacted? At the end of the day, what is the impact? In other words, if someone just had a credential stolen, I need the quick isolation from Unisys based on the areas of IT impacted. I can do that in ServiceNow, and then the appropriate response puts a workflow out and it’s automated into IT and security. That’s critical. And that’s the starting point for the other processes and workflows.

Gardner: We now need to consider what happens when you inevitably face some security issues. How does the ServiceNow Security Incident Response Platform and Unisys Stealth come together to help isolate, reduce, and stifle a threat rapidly?

Pearson: The reason such speed is important is that many of you all have already been impacted by ransomware. How many of you all have actually seen what ransomware will do if left unchecked for even just 30 minutes inside of a network? It’s horrible. That to me, that is your biggest need.

Whether it is just a regular end-user or if it’s a full-scale, enterprise-level-type workflow, speed is a huge reason that we need a solution to work and to work well. You have to be fast to keep bad things from going really, really wrong.

One of the biggest reasons we have come together with Stealth doing microsegmentation and building small communities and protecting them is to watch the flow of what happens with whom across ports and protocols because it is identity based. Who’s trying to access certain systems? We’re able to watch those things.

As we’re seeing that information, we’re able to say if something bad is happening on a specific system. We’re able to show that weird or bad traffic flow is occurring, send that to ServiceNow and allow the automated operations to protect an end point or a server.

Because the process is automated, it brings the response down to less than 10 seconds, using automated workflows within ServiceNow. With dynamic isolation, we’re able to isolate that specific system and cut if off from doing anything else bad within a larger network.

That’s huge. That gives us the capability to take on something fast that could bring down an entire system. I have seen ransomware go 30 minutes unchecked, and it will completely ravage an entire file server, which brings down an entire company for three days until everything can be brought back up from the backups. Nobody has time for that. Nobody has time for the 30 minutes it took to do something silly to cost you three days of extra work, not to mention what else may come from that.

With our combined capabilities, Unisys Stealth provides the information we’re able send to the ServiceNow platform to have protection put in place to isolate and start to remediate within 10 seconds. That’s best for everybody because 10 seconds worth of damage is a whole lot easier to mitigate than 30 minutes’ worth.

Klaessig: Really well-said, E.G.

Gardner: I can see why 2+2=6 when it comes to putting your solutions together. ServiceNow gets the information from Stealth that something is wrong, but then you could put the best of what you do together to work.

Resolve to scale with automation

Klaessig: We do. And this leads us to do even more automation. How can you get to that discovery point faster, and what does that mean to resolve the problem?

And there’s another angle to this. Our listeners and readers are probably saying, “I know we need to respond quickly, and, yes, you’re enabling me to do so. And, yes, you’re enabling me to isolate and do some orchestration that ties things up to buy me time. But how do I scale the teams that are already buried beyond belief today to go ahead and address that?”

That’s a bit overwhelming. And here’s another added wrinkle. E.G. mentioned ransomware, and the scary part is in 2020 ransomware was paid 50 percent of the time versus one-third of the time in 2019. Even putting aside the pandemic and natural disasters, this is what our teams our facing.

It again goes back to what you heard E.G. and I touch on, which is automation of security and IT is what’s critical here. Not only can you respond consistently quicker, but you’ll be able to scale your teams and skills -- and that’s where the automation further kicks in.

Businesses can't take on this type of volume around security management with the teams they have in place today. That's why automation is so critical. As attacks escalate, they can't just go and add more people in time, right?

In other words, businesses can't take on this type of volume around security management with the teams they have in place today. That’s why automation is so critical. Comprehensive tooling increases detection on the Unisys side, and that gives them not only more time to respond but allows them to be more effective as well. As attacks escalate, they can’t just go ahead and add more people in time, right? This is where they need that automation to be able to scale with what they have.

It really pays off. We’ve seen customers benefit from a dollars and cents prospective, where they saw a 74 percent improvement in time-to-identify. And now 46 percent of their incidents are handled by automation, saving more than 8,700 hours annually for their teams. Just wrap your head around that. I mean, that’s just a huge advantage from putting these pieces together and automating and orchestration like E.G. has been talking about.

Gardner: Is it too soon, Karl, to talk about bots and more automation where the automation is a bit more proactive? What’s going to happen when the data and the speed get even more useful, but more compressed when it comes to the response time? How smart are these systems going to get?

Get people to do the right thing

Klaessig: The reality is, we’re already going there. When you think of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), we’re already doing a certain amount of that in the products.

As we leverage more of the great data from Unisys, it drives who can resolve those vulnerabilities because they have a predetermined history of dealing with those types of vulnerabilities. That’s just an example of being able to use ML to align the right people to the right resolution. Because, at the end of the day, it still comes down to certain people doing certain things and it always will. But we can use that ML and AI to put those together very quickly, very accurately, and very efficiently. So, again, it takes that time to respond down to seconds, as E.G. mentioned.

Gardner: Are we going to get to a point where we simply say, “J.A.R.V.I.S., clean up the network”?

Pearson: I hope so! Going back to my old days of being an admin, I was an extremely lazy admin. If I could have just said, “J.A.R.V.I.S., remediate my servers,” I would have been all over it.

I don’t think there’s any way we can’t move toward more automation and ML. I don’t necessarily want us to get to the point where Skynet is not going to delete the virus, saying, “I am the virus.” We don’t need that.

But being able to automate helps overcome the mundane, such as resetting somebody’s password and being able to pull a system offline that’s experiencing some sort of weird whatever it may be. Automating those types of things helps everybody go faster through their day because if you’re working a helpdesk, you’ve already gotten 19 people with their hair on fire begging for your attention.

If you could cut off five of those people by automating and very easily allowing some AI to do the work for you, why wouldn’t you? I think their time is more valuable than the few dollars it’s going to cost to automate those processes.

Klaessig: That's going to be the secret to success in 2021 and going forward. You can scale, and the way you're going to scale is to take out those mundane tasks and automate all of those different things that can be automated.

As I mentioned, 46 percent of the security incidents became automated for our customer. That's a huge advantage. And at the end of the day, putting J.A.R.V.I.S. aside, the more ML we can get into it, the better and more repeatable the processes and the workflows will be -- and that much faster. That's ultimately what we're driving toward as well.

Gardner: Now that we understand the context of the problem, the challenges organizations face, and how these solutions come together, I'm curious at how this actually gets embedded into organizations? Is this something that security people do, that the IT people do, that the helpdesk people do? Is it all of the above?

Everybody has role to reap benefits

Pearson: The way we usually get this going is there needs to be buy-in from everybody because it's going to touch a lot of folks. I'm willing to bet Karl's going to say similar things. It's nice to have everybody involved and to have everybody's buy-in on this.

It usually starts for us at Unisys with what we're doing with microsegmentation and with a networking and security group. They need to talk to be able to get this rolled out. We also need the general IT folks because they're going to have to install and get this rolled out to endpoints. And we need the server admins involved as well.

At the end of the day, this goes back to being a collaborative opportunity ... for IT and security to join together. These solutions benefit both teams and can piggyback on investments they have already made elsewhere.

When it comes down to it, everybody's going to have to be involved a little bit. But it generally starts with the security folks and the networking folks, saying, “How can I protect my environment just a little bit more than I was before?” And then it rolls from there.

Klaessig: I agree. At the end of the day, this goes back being a collaborative opportunity. In other words, when we look at this, this is the opportunity for IT and security to join together. These solutions really benefit both teams. And oftentimes, it actually can piggyback on investments they've already made elsewhere.

And that's a big advantage as well. Going forward, I strongly believe in -- and I've seen the results of this -- being a driver toward greater collaboration. It is that type of deployment and should be done in that manner. And then quite frankly, both organizations reap the benefits.

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