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System Security and U. Rich Pethia Software Engineering Institute Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 15213 This work is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. CERT Coordination Center. The SEI established the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center in 1988.

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System security and u
System Security and U.

  • Rich PethiaSoftware Engineering InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA 15213

  • This work is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Cert coordination center
CERT Coordination Center

  • The SEI established the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center in 1988.

  • The CERT/CC’s mission is to respond to security emergencies on the Internet, serve as a focal point for reporting and resolving security vulnerabilities, serve as a model to help others establish incident response

  • teams, and raise awareness of security issues.


  • Since 1988, the CERT/CC has responded to over 100,000 security incidents that have affected hundreds of thousands of Internet sites; has worked over 5000 reported vulnerabilities, and has issued hundreds of advisories and bulletins. In addition, the CERT/CC has helped foster the creation of over 90 other incident response teams.

The internet has become indispensable to business government universities
The Internet has Become Indispensable to Business, Government, Universities

  • The Internet allows organizations to:

    • conduct electronic commerce

    • provide better customer service

    • collaborate with business & research partners

    • reduce communications costs

    • improve internal communication

    • access needed information rapidly

The risks
The Risks

  • While computer networks revolutionize the way you do business, the risks computer networks introduce can be fatal to a business.

  • Network attacks lead to lost:

    • money

    • time

    • products

    • reputation

    • lives

    • sensitive information

Surveyed Companies Identify Risks -1


Source - Computer Security Institute/FBI Survey

Surveyed Companies Identify Risks -2


Source - Computer Security Institute/FBI Survey

The Problem

  • In the rush to benefit from using the Internet, organizations often overlook significant risks.

    • the engineering practices and technology used by system providers do not produce systems that are immune to attack

    • network and system operators do not have the people and practices to defend against attacks and minimize damage

    • policy and law in cyber-space are immature and lag the pace of change

Strain on System Administrators - 1

  • There is continued movement to complex,client-server, peer to peer, and heterogeneous configurations with distributed management.

  • There is little evidence of security improvements in most products; new vulnerabilities are found routinely.

  • Comprehensive security solutions are lacking; current tools address only parts of the problem.

Strain on System Administrators - 2

  • Engineering for ease of use has not been matched by engineering for ease of secure administration

    • ease of use and increased utility are driving a dramatic explosion in use

    • system administration and security administration are more difficult than a decade ago

    • this growing gap brings increased vulnerability

Other Reasons for Concern

  • Many security audits and evaluations only skim the surface of the organization and its technology; major risks are often overlooked.

  • Lack of understanding leads to reliance on partial solutions.

More Sophisticated Intruders

  • Intruders are

    • growing in number and type

    • building technical knowledge and skills

    • gaining leverage through automation

    • building skills in vulnerability discovery

    • becoming more skilled at masking their behavior

Attack Sophistication vs. Intruder Technical Knowledge

network worms


“stealth” / advanced scanning techniques


packet spoofing

denial of service

DDOS attacks


www attacks




automated probes/scans


back doors

network mgmt. diagnostics

disabling audits






exploiting known vulnerabilities

password cracking

self-replicating code


password guessing







Its going to get worse 1
Its going to get worse - 1

  • Explosive growth of the Internet continues

    • where will all the capable system administrators come from?

  • Market growth will drive vendors

    • time to market, features, performance, cost are primary

    • “invisible” quality features such as security are secondary

Its going to get worse 2
Its going to get worse - 2

  • More sensitive applications connected to the Internet

    • low cost of communications, ease of connection, and power of products engineered for the Internet will drive out other forms of networking

    • hunger for connectivity, data and benefits of electronic interaction will continue to push widespread use of Internet technology

Its going to get worse 3
Its going to get worse - 3

  • The death of the firewall

    • traditional approaches depend on complete administrative control and strong perimeter controls

    • today’s business practices and wide area networks violate these basic principles

      • no central point of network control

      • more interconnections with customers, suppliers, partners

      • more network applications

        • “the network is the computer”

      • who’s an “insider”and who’s an “outsider”

Establish a Context-Sensitive Risk Management Process

-Critical assets





Security Requirements

Applications of Technology

Security Incidents


Technology Staffing



Self-Directed Assessment



Analyze and Prioritize


Prioritized Risks



Organization Improvements

Mission & Asset Value Data

Threat Data

Assessment & Planning


Effective security management programs must be sensitive to organizations’ goals and constraints.

Key Ideas

Identify critical assets (data, software, services, reputation) and protection requirements

Identify solution constraints: policy, regulation

Assess organization and technology against requirements

Develop strategy and plan to address deficiencies


Match responsibility with authority

Identify a core group to facilitate the process

Systematically walk through the steps with participation from all parts of organization

Develop actionable plan



Pervasive understanding of

security policy, management

practices and technical practices

Key Ideas

Organizations can improve the security & survivability of networked systems by adopting security policies and practices

Its simple, but its not easy


Translate actionable plan into policies and practices

  • borrow heavily from published work

  • assign roles & responsibilities

    Document, train, refresh

    Check up, measure, enforce

Crisis Management


Organizations need to build and mature a computer security incident response capability


Establish organizational focal point

Identify action plans for likely scenarios

Capture lessons learned & update plans

Key Ideas

Anticipate problems and desired outcomes

Pre-plan actions

Maintain ongoing awareness of evolving threats & vulnerabilities – adjust action plan accordingly

Get Plugged In


Many of today’s solutions won’t work tomorrow.

Key Ideas

Structured networking helps organizations stay on top of a dynamic and rapidly changing problem

Sharing lessons learned leads to better practices and policies


Identify networking opportunities (ISA, ISACs, ISSA, InfraGuard, I4, FIRST, etc.)

Plug in to group(s) of choice


CERT Contact Information

24-hour hotline: +1 412 268 7090

CERT personnel answer 8:30 a.m. —

8:00 p.m. EST(GMT-5) / EDT(GMT-4),

and are on call for emergencies

during other hours.

Fax: +1 412 268 6989

Web site:

Electronic mail: [email protected]

US mail: CERT Coordination Center

Software Engineering Institute

Carnegie Mellon University

4500 Fifth Avenue

Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890