Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Mehdi Daoudi, Kevin Jackson, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Security, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Blog Post

Can You Measure the Success of Security Products? | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Buy security products based on ROI and not FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt)

As we have seen the growth in security challenges across the organization, we have also seen the growth in security spending and number of products that an enterprise buys. But have we, as an industry, been able to show that we are better off or worse? There is no clear yardstick to measure if a certain security product is making an enterprise more secure and if it I delivering the ROI that it promised. How do we get out of this FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) driven spending and get to a point where we measure impact based on risk and assess value more objectively.

I have been involved in producing and selling security products for two decades now. As a security vendor you always feel that there are too many products and tools out there and it's not easy to grab the buyer's attention. However, during the last four years or so things have accelerated considerably and we are all facing an explosive growth in the number of cyber security companies, product categories and a multitude of conflicting protections against the new, more sophisticated, more vicious, more targeted, attacks. I often ask myself what would I do if I were the buyer? How would I decide where to spend my budget? Especially since it's really difficult to assess the benefit of one product or compare the benefit of one product over another. There is no clearly defined yardstick to measure if a certain security product has made an enterprise more secure and is delivering the effectiveness it promised. Anton Chuvakin addresses this issue in his blog RSA 2016: Musings and Contemplations. I really laughed when he quoted an older article:

"You're proposing to build a box with a light on top of it. The light is supposed to go off when you carry the box into a room that has a Unicorn in it. How do you show that it works?"

I believe that a lot of buyers find themselves buying such boxes never knowing whether they will really do the job. We as an industry often steer away from making any promises that the light will in fact go off.

If I were a buyer, here are some things I would consider. Or really examples of applying logic vs. swallowing FUD:

  • Will lights go off when the unicorn shows up? Since you don't know, you have to figure out a test that will give you some confidence. Having spent some time in the endpoint security business I will provide the example malware protection. The unicorn here is a 0 day malware. Depending on how much time and people and budget you have for this, you can plan a very elaborate test and a bake-off between several vendors. Even if you don't, you must do the simplest due diligence, which is testing the product with known malware. A product that purports to identify 0 days must be able to identify any old malware. You can do a test of your own with existing malware or ask the vendor for three party lab reports. While this is a controlled environment, any outcome that shows less than 100% detection rate should be a strong red signal that you will not be protected from 0 days.
  • Layered defense? When a vendor is offering you a new product and you remind the vendor that you already have 10 appliances fulfilling 20 different security roles and you happen to already have a product in the same category as theirs, they might pull the "layered defense" card, or you might think that maybe they provide a layer that you are missing. How many layers do you need exactly? A lot has been said about the risk-based approach. I'm afraid that there is no better alternative. Enterprises need to assess their risks, understand what risk mitigations they already have, what risks they do not mitigate and what residual risk they are willing to live with. Once you do this exercise (which needs to be repeated and refreshed by new eyes every time), then you should go figure what products will complete your current defenses (sometimes it will be products you already have but do not utilize correctly; sometimes you will need to look for new products out there).
  • Listen to your own story. If there's anything that should teach you what you need to do next and provide you with the best feedback loop to your risk assessment, it is your security incidents. Almost all Incident Response plans or playbooks that I have ever seen have a "lessons learned" section in the end. While some enterprise security teams take this seriously, many teams find it very difficult to discuss and rehash solved cases or they are already on the next case and don't have the time or focus to learn from past incidents. Here we really need to learn from militaries that have been in the business of defense long before our industry came to be. I'll be surprised if there is any good military unit anywhere in the world that doesn't conduct serious debriefings after every major incident. This is how enterprises should consider their lessons-learned sessions. Even more important, perhaps, enterprises need to keep tabs of all incidents and see the trends that are emerging in a nutshell:
  • Incident Trends: Number of incidents increasing lately? This is a clear indication that something may be wrong with the security posture. The incident trends should be measured continuously and monitored against milestones like new security products deployed, employee education, etc. This way, you can measure the impact of what you do.
  • Incident Type Trends: Measuring the trends of different types of incidents is imperative. For example, if phishing incidents are growing, maybe the email security solutions are not effective (there can be other reasons of course). Understanding which types of incidents are most prevalent in the organization can help you decide the security strategy and need for security education.
  • These are just examples of how I think security buyers should be thinking. The bottom line is: FUD-NO! Test everything-Yes, apply logic-Yes.

    More Stories By Dan Sarel

    Dan Sarel is VP of Products and co-founder of Demisto. His interest in the cyber security world started about two decades ago. During these years he managed and helped design many security products in several disciplines. Building on his military experience that included programming and systems analysis training he started his career as a systems engineer at Radguard – at the time a pioneer in IPSec VPNs and PKI products.

    Dan went on to manage a sales engineering team and later worked on strategy and competitive intelligence projects at the company. Having served in other startups Dan moved to manage the VPN products at Check Point Software and ended up as the company’s Director of Product Management, overseeing the company’s successful enterprise products such as Firewall-1 and VPN-1. In 2006 Dan joined Sentrigo as one of its first employees. Dan was VP Product Management and Biz Dev during the short time it took to turn the company to a leader in Database Security and its subsequent acquisition by McAfee. At McAfee/ Intel Security Dan first served as VP Database Security and then accepted the role of VP Endpoint Security Strategy. Dan’s latest company is Demisto where he is a co-founder and VP of Product. At Demisto Dan and his colleagues are aiming high – providing the world’s most advanced security operations and incident response platform. Dan plans to create great security products for as long as he can.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    "Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
    "MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
    "There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    "Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    "IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
    WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
    Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
    In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
    Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
    It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
    Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
    A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
    To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
    An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
    When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
    Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...