Feature

Big Brother's Watchful Eye

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Hardening Still Essential
In August 2003, when the Blaster worm turned internal clients against the network, security fundamentally shifted from a hardened perimeter guarding against external threats to a more internal approach, says David Giambruno, director of strategic technology and security at Pitney Bowes. Enterprises have been forced to devote more attention and energy to monitoring and hardening their individual desktops and mobile devices.

Giambruno's means for addressing this challenge is data correlation--breaking down the security silos of data residing in firewalls, IDS/IPS, AV, servers and desktops. With security tools such as ESM and SIM, and internal policy enforcement solutions, Pitney Bowes is drawing in millions of events per day and correlating them against known pieces of its infrastructure to gain a granular view of its security posture and how the company can best mitigate risk.

"It's all about information, not the data; everything is delivered in context," says Giambruno. "We process 50 million correlations a day, and it's all automatic. Every time, I bring that data source in, I correlate it with what I know about my network. Everything I do is now red, yellow or green."

Organizations are turning to dashboards to facilitate correlation and provide quick reports of the enterprise security posture. The Information Security/TheInfoPro survey found that 27 percent of responding enterprises have security

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dashboards in use, and another 23 percent plan to implement dashboards over the next 18 months.

Complementing security information systems and dashboards are basic security tools that automate the process of vulnerability discovery, configuration management and patching. Most surveyed enterprises have invested heavily in these technologies.

Patch management products are being used in 76 percent of enterprises, and another 20 percent are planning to roll out patching systems over the next 18 months. Vulnerability management products have a deployment base of 67 percent, with another 21 percent planning implementations through 2006.

"If you keep you systems up to date and follow the basic tenets of systems management and control, you can maintain security," says Giambruno. "It just takes a little discipline."

Spending: Steady & Stable

According to Information Security/TheInfoPro's Technology Survey, enterprise security spending remained relatively constant in 2005. Of the 179 Fortune 1000s interviewed, most (52 percent) said that their 2005 security budgets remained unchanged from the previous year, while 27 percent said spending was increasing.

Industries with the most dramatic trend towards increased security spending are telecommunications and technology and financial services; 36 percent in each reported budget increases as they respond to regulatory pressures. Energy and utility companies showed a shift up as well. While all respondents in these sectors reported flat or reduced spending in 2004, 18 percent reported budget hikes this year, mostly because they're wrestling with the security of their increasingly IP-connected infrastructures.

Consumer goods, retail, industrial and manufacturing companies' security spending remained stable, indicating that they're deep into multiyear security plans. Expect spending in these sectors to decrease as their security deployments come to fruition.

Most health care organizations say their security spending is either decreasing or stable, most likely because of the completion of HIPAA-related deployments, which were due last month.

Government security spending is stabilizing or slightly increasing as many agencies cope with FISMA, which requires certain degrees of security assurance and infrastructure integrity. FISMA compliance is the mechanism used in Congress' annual report card on government security.

In general, enterprises are devoting most of their budget dollars toward higher-level compliance projects through infrastructure and management improvements. The smaller projects remain focused on improving perimeter security, either through the replacement of aging technologies or the deployment of new network- and host-based systems.

The near-even spending patterns in 2004 and 2005 are further indications that enterprises are deep into their security plans. Survey respondents indicate that this spending pattern will remain constant through 2006, as many of these deployment plans are completed.

-Lawrence M. Walsh & David Taylor

This was first published in April 2005

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