Security "Bits"

Security's House Of Cards

By Annie Wang | February 19, 2015 at 12:07 PM


For the big “House of Cards” fans like myself, the upcoming 3rd season of the hit show can’t come soon enough. More witty remarks from the always entertaining Francis Underwood and insight into the dark political games being played on Capitol Hill. Naturally this excitement seeped into my workday and I started drawing parallels to work.

Security, in a way, is its own house of cards. IT teams build their security houses using their favorite playing cards i.e traditional firewalls, SIEM solutions, MDM solutions etc. Like the card game (and Francis Underwood) the bigger their house grows the more worried they become. In this case the fear of hackers sweeping into their company’s infrastructure, causing their carefully stacked and balanced security house to topple over and fall. The added pressure of the CFO reminding them of all the money being poured into IT security, and that the investments better be worthwhile, doesn’t help. It’s a tough position for the IT team to be placed in because if their security house of cards falls, guess who it’s landing on? Them. 

At the same time, building a security house of cards is absolutely a necessity because without it there is no way to maintain control and keep the menacing black hatters from running off with company data. The trick is to build a strong foundation. A foundation that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep at night, waiting in horror for the sound of a call from work saying your infrastructure has been breached, and sensitive data is now being pilfered by an Eastern European cyber criminal gang called Carbanak.

Today, the move to cloud applications and BYOD in the workplace has called for a new architecture plan for the security house of cards. One that acknowledges the weak points of traditional IT security methods, and uses modern security technology to fortify itself. But what does a strong security house of cards look like? 

Building a strong Security House of Cards

A strong house of cards is built with 3 things in mind: 

1. Breach prevention is a myth – Today, it is only a matter of time until a company experiences a breach. There is no full proof way to guarantee with 100% confidence to keep hackers, or angry employees from entering your system and stealing data. This is difficult for many people to come to terms with. Limiting the damage from a breach once it has already occurred is what is most important now.

2. Need for intelligent design -  The design must allow for visibility into not only the Shadow IT apps running in-house, but into all data being exfiltrated outside of the company. This is key in limiting the damage from breaches. It must provide a granular, but still actionable level of intelligence. What sensitive data is leaving, where is it travelling to, and whom is receiving it should all be captured. Traditional firewalls cannot provide this level of visibility and SIEM solutions push out way too many alerts to make use of.

3. Resiliency – If a hacker breaches the system it shouldn’t cause your house to come toppling down. Instead it stands strong and uses its intelligent design to track data and minimize data leakage. Also, it should be able to work with BYOD devices, given that 46% of organizations are planning to hire contractors this year and that by 2017 50% of companies will force employees to use their own devices. Employees no longer want to cede control of their mobile device and want increased mobility and privacy. The smartest companies are aware of this. MDM solutions force employees to give control of their own personal device over to their employer.

Your security house of cards is only as strong as the foundation it stands on. Like Frank Underwood, IT must fight to maintain control or see the less deserving take what they've worked so hard for.

Chris Hines

Product Marketing Manager at Bitglass




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