FireEye Technical Briefing 19th March 2015 part 2

Ensuring Security is a boardroom imperative

This is a topic I’ve mentioned before, for security to be successful in a business it must be discussed, understood and supported at a boardroom level.  The below notes from this talk highlight some thoughts that very much align with my own around how we need to engage with the board to gain their buy in for security and security initiatives;


Security must be discussed with the board in business terms that they understand.

– need to consider your audience

– where do they get their knowledge from – e.g. non expert media and audit partners

– Consider things like Financial Integrity, Human Capital, Cash Flow Stability, Operations, Growth opportunities etc.


Educate that Compliance is not Security!


This is an absolutely key point for me, not just in relation to the board, there is often a perception at all levels of the business that meeting a compliance requirement equals security.  While there is definitely a place for regulations and compliance, I have had so many conversations where there is a push back on doing security right as a half way ouse to meet compliance requirements has already been planned or implemented.

My take is – Do security right and you’ll largely achieve complaint as well.  Do compliance and you will not be secure.


Do we understand their risk appetite?

– Do they actually know their own cyber risk appetite?

– Do they know how much cumulative risk they are carrying?

– These conversations need to happen..


Its about appropriate level of security.  Detection and incident response are key – you may / will be breached so this focus is critical.

We can’t deal in absolutes, it is about risk reduction and breaches being inevitable.

– Executives need to be brought on board with this mind-set.


Today’s Security paradigm;

– Breaches are inevitable

– Cyber security is mission critical, yet non core for the vast majority of organisations

– Your processes and response procedures must stand up to external scrutiny

– Security is a business risk issue, not a technology problem

– You need partners, not just products


Notes about current attacks;

– They are targeted

– Across EMEA, frequent attacks consistently seen in UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia – 5 countries account for about 60% of all attacks seen in these regions

– 4/5 of the largest EU countries by GDP are attacked across many verticals

– Government and Financial Services are targeted – 50%+ of all attacks across just 3 verticals


Spend is not a proxy for security.

 – Must do things right and have good processes as well as ther correct tool set


Security is like chess – complex but with a finite set of ‘moves’ – and remember the best people can still beat computers at chess!


Even if you do things right you may still be breached.

Need to raise Cyber Consciousness – guide your execs to quality reading and reporting, base on knowledge, not fear.

We must manage expectations, and define the win – base decisions on sound business rationale – such as the TFL DR plans for if Oyster compromised during peak times like Olympics or key football matches; These involved just opening the gates in the event of an issue and taking the potential hit for that day rather than interrupting key events

Successful Organisations…

– Don’t have changing stories – if breached be honest and consistent

– Can demonstrably prove diligence in responding to an attack

– Can articulate why we failed

– Are typically not afraid to talk about what happened in a more transparent way that builds confidence

– But need to be mindful of legal framework and ramifications

– Don’t take 200+ days to find an attack!

– Don’t wait for others to tell them about the attack – use good threat intel etc.

– Don’t let others control the disclosure

– Are able to withstand 3rd party inspection


Be bold, engage with your executives in terms they understand, do Security not Compliance, have great processes as well as tools, using intelligence and have great monitoring and incident response!