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A Discussion on Effective Audit of User Access

Actionable Intelligence

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In my other blog, I recently discussed how Actionable Intelligence seems to be the achilles heal of SIEM solutions.  I promised to continue that discussion with a few words about NetVision’s approach to the problem.  And it’s quite simple actually.

The SIEMs and enterprise log management vendors seemed to have started from a different viewpoint.  They began by thinking about the dozens (or hundreds) of systems and applications that generate logs.  They thought about how to best collect logs from heterogeneous sources and then attempted to correlate information across different types of data.  For some organizations, these solutions must seem heaven-sent.  How else would you deal with all that log information?  How else would you collect, capture, and store those logs in case you need to look through them in the future?

Where they seem to fall short, though, is in providing actionable intelligence about what’s happening in the environment.  How could they?  They collect logs from hundreds of systems at once.  Even if it’s possible to setup alerts or actions based on some activity, someone would need to figure out how to interpret the logs, understand what possible values would be in the logs, configure the appropriate response to each event type in each system, and constantly monitor and keep them all up to date.  Doesn’t sound fun.  Certainly not simple.

Our angle of sight is different.  We see the core network directory (Microsoft Active Directory or Novell eDirectory) as the heart of the network.  It grants network access (sometimes local access to the workstation) and is often used to authenticate requests from VPNs, portals, and other systems.  A new account in the directory means a new identity to keep track of and a new potential threat on the network.  So that’s where we’ve focused since 1995.

We are buried deep within the core network directory and related file systems.  We don’t scrape logs and we’re not worried about what logs are being generated by some router or web server out in the network. Because of that focus, we have been able to build extensive tools that make it easy to filter on the types of events and information that are important to you.  And we’ve taken it a step further.

With our SIMON managed service, you don’t have to know anything about creating policies or configuring filters.  We do it all for you based on best-practices, years of experience, and your own personal needs.

The end result?  Actionable Intelligence.

You get emails when you want them that tell you who made a change, what change they made, and the before- and after- values.  Some events just write to the database, others kick out files, others generate alerts.  Some decisions are based on the resource (domain admins group).  Other decisions are based on the actor (employees scheduled to exit the company), the attribute changed, or even the time-of-day.  Data is transformed immediately into information and then analyzed and re-routed as appropriate.

This isn’t some future reality either.  We’ve been doing this a long time.  And we keep getting better.  I can’t wait to tell you what’s next for us.

Audit Monthly

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Audit Monthly is NetVision’s monthly newsletter featuring tips and information on effective security audit.  In addition to the main content area, monthly recurring side-bar sections include:

  • Auditor Tips – features tips and insight from security audit industry veterans.
  • Product Corner – includes highlights and updates from NetVision’s product management group.
  • From the Field – provides real-world stories from NetVision’s field sales and service teams.

Subscribe to Audit Monthly.

Deloitte’s Global Security Survey

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Here is the link to Deloitte’s 6th Annual Global Security Survey.  There’s some very interesting information in the survey:

  • The number one problem found by information security auditors: excessive access rights
  • The number one cause of failed security projects: lack of resources
  • The number one root cause of Information Systems failures: human error

The survey also discusses the changing role of the CISO.  Go take a look!

Security in a Recession

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There’s an interesting article over at CSO titled 5 Tips for Managing Security in a Recession.  It has some good advice for people trying to maintain security and audit-ability on a restricted budget. 

The final paragraph talks about the value of outsourcing being cost-cutting but warns of the security risk.  We thought about that a lot last year during our planning meetings for SIMON.  Ultimately, we concluded that we could put out a solution that recovers budget without introducing security risk by implementing an appliance-based approach on-site that is managed by experts.  You outsource the pain, but not the data.  The data stays safe at home.

The Cost of Compliance

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Everybody is talking about the cost of non-compliance. But what about the enormous cost of achieving compliance? For many, that cost seems to make the assurance of being compliant seem hardly worthwhile (think insurance). You wouldn’t pay $20,000/yr. for homeowners insurance that covers up to $100k/yr. …especially when the threat of catastophe seems unlikely.

The bottom line – there are better ways to approach the problem. If you’re laying out every regulation and trying to map some control in your environment to each of the requirements, you’re probably paying way too much in both cost and effort. Simplify by taking a multi-regulatory approach. And (of course) leverage pragmatic solutions that cut costs to acheive the same goal. Spending what amounts to some large percentage of the potential threat cost is not your only option! That’s the idea behind SIMON.

About NetVision

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Founded in 1995, NetVision is a pioneer in Identity & Access monitoring and reporting. NetVision provides periodic assessment and real-time monitoring capabilities with superior event filtering and from-the-source data collection. NetVision is focused on providing relevant answers to critical identity & access questions across platforms on core network directories and file systems.

New Blog

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Welcome to NetVision’s new corporate blog. We look forward to many interesting conversations!

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