This is the time of year when pundits and armchair/amateur analysts make predictions for the coming year. Given that only a tiny fraction of them predicted the Sonage of 2011 (not Sony specifically or the level of pwnage) or the RSA/Lockeed [↑, ↑, ↓, ↓, ←, →, ←, →, B, A] multi-faceted “supply chain” attack (most just predicting increased “nation state” hacks) or the decimation of trust in certificate authorities (not that we really trusted them before), it is hardly worth the time reading or seriously considering any post presuming to posit what will occur in 2012 (wait…I can’t resist…and it even fits in 140: “2012 Infosec Prediction: There will be more attacks just like the one this year if not worse in scale and/or magnitude #protip“).
Instead, why not get some resolve and take charge of what will happen in the coming year? “Resolution” & “resolve” have their roots in the Latin “resolvere“, which has a host of contextual meanings. One highly appropriate one is “to find the answer or solution to“. So, rather than pontificate, here are some “resolves” for you for 2012:
- Resolve to not buy any more products and to make serious use (beyond the typical 5% you are) of the ones you have. That may require ensuring your staff has appropriate training to automate where applicable and tweak appropriately where possible. It may also require a good amount of thinking. In most shops, the last thing needed is more tools. Figure out the best way to use the tools you have. Not only will it improve the efficacy of current investments, it will free up more capital for your business units to invest & grow.
- Resolve to actually have meaningful dialoge with your Internal Audit department. I’ve rarely come across an auditor who is truly evil (they do exist, tho). Most want to Do The Right Thing™, but many lack the technical skillset to turn that desire into a reality. You should make it a goal in 2012 to have you and your Internal Audit department toe-tapping from the same risk dance card.
- Resolve to join at least one cross-industry information sharing group. Even if it’s just kvetching at a local ISSA meeting, you should not underestimate the cathartic benefit of knowing you’re not alone. Joining or help to build a full-on entity like the ACSC, however, will even reap even larger dividends.
- Resolve to understand the business model of each of your business units (if you have more than one) and find a way to get a handle on their pain points (the ones you or your IT department are causing). Go out on sales calls; shadow call centers; watch highly experienced and effective folks as they get their jobs done by working around IT & security barriers you’ve helped put in place. You’ll come back with business justifications for all sorts of things (like adaptive authentication or revamping your outdated identity & access management model)
- Speaking of sitting… Resolve to spend three or more total business days at your IT Help Desk (great advice for non-security IT folk, too). You will first-hand observe the gaps in many of your processes (which you should then fix) and will also be able to put real faces & names to the pile of call statistics you ignore every month. I can also guarantee that you will then be spending a great deal of time revamping your incident response plan/procedures (you will see things you really won’t believe).
- Speaking of statistics… Resolve to pick three meaningful things to start measuring and find a way to collect the data, get access to the data and publish the data (including sharing it to Internal Audit and getting it in front of senior management). A great place to start is the . Your goal is to have at least one action item per month from this exercise (or pick different things to measure).
- Resolve to kick the effectiveness of your security awareness program up a few notches. Create an internal “YouTube” service that shows real attacks from end-to-end. Make your messages personal by tying in social media awareness, safe browsing practices and patch management with messages of how to help folks keep their kids safe online or themselves safe as they do online banking. Make the learning experience engaging (just like you demand of your kids’ teachers).
- Resolve to be the first organization of 2012 that has a sane password policy. (This one won’t be easy)
- Resolve to expand beyond the mystical forumlae for CVSS & CWSS and create the foundation for a true risk-centric security program. If you are looking for help/guidance, this rogues’ gallery is a good place to start. WARNING: you will actually have to talk to business/finance people. (*shudder*)
- Resolve to partner with just one development team and one Ops team and help get them rugged and visible.
Finally, resolve to do just one of the items on that list and you’ll be doing more good in 2012 than all of the prognosticators combined.