Archive: 2011-09

Recently George Jones and I attended USENIX Security '11. We hosted an evening Birds of a Feather (BoF) session where we asked a question of some significance to our CERT® Network Situational Awareness (NetSA) group:

Is Large-Scale Network Security Monitoring Still Worth the Effort?

One of the foundational principles behind most organizations' network security practices is still "defense in depth," which is implemented using a variety of security controls and monitoring at different locations in an organization's networks and systems. As part of a defense-in-depth strategy, it has become commonplace for organizations to build enterprise security operations centers (SOCs) that rely in part on monitoring the extremely large volumes of network traffic at the perimeter of their networks. There has been a recent trend toward increased investment in (and reliance on) network monitoring "above the enterprise" in order to simplify sensor deployments, decrease cost, and more easily centralize operations. At the same time, the idea of a well-defined defensible perimeter is being challenged by cloud computing, the insider threat, the so-called advanced persistent threat problem, and the prevalence of socially-engineered application-level attacks over network-based attacks. For an opinion piece about how things have changed, read Rik Farrow's article in the USENIX magazine ;login:.