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Re: "Increased Cyber Awareness"
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 13:45:36 -0500 (CDT)

Forwarded from: JohnE37179 () aol com

Is it Time to Rethink the Fortress Paradigm for Security?

Building fortresses and redoubts as secure enclaves in a dangerous
territory have been a part of the security culture since before
gunpowder. The strategy has as its central tenet the building of
strong walls with very limited access as means of keeping the enemy
outside and the good guys inside.  Whether as a walled city, a castle
on the Rhine, the Alamo, or a fort on the American frontier, all
utilized the same strategy. In more modern times this strategy was
expressed in the Maginot Line and can be found in the employment of
computer firewalls and the use of encryption.

The core element to this strategy is keeping the bad guys on the
outside and the good guys on the inside. What happens when the bad
guys are already on the inside? We see this happen time and time
again. We see it when the bad guy enters the inside through the use of
identity fraud, social engineering or otherwise disguised as a
customer, employee or authorized user. We saw it in the attack on
America on September 11, 2001.

The failure of security was that all of the weapons were turned
outward when the enemy was already inside. This enemy not only was
already inside, but utilized our own resources against us. The weapons
were of domestic manufacture and use, the targets were inside, the
perpetrators were inside and well integrated into our infrastructure.
Nothing but motive came from outside.

We know that 80% of our losses to fraud come from inside. We operate
in a culture and an economy that depends on open doors for citizens
and customers.  As the digital age morphed us from a face-to-face
economy to one of digital anonymity we failed to adjust our underlying
security strategy to deal with the enemy within. We perpetuated the
myth that the enemy would attack from outside the system.

We give great lip service to the concept of trust, but we try to
create trust by directing our strategies to defining those who are
trustworthy as being those inside and those untrustworthy are defined
by being outside. By doing this we are perpetuating a myth. If we are
to design and implement effective security strategies, we must
concentrate on recognizing the enemy within our walls. It may be that
we don???t need walls at all. We talk about building trusted systems,
but systems cannot be trusted. The concept is really meaningless.
Trust is a concept that applies to users not systems.

Trust is earned, not conferred by fiat. Trust belongs to individuals,
not systems. Individual users come and individual users go. Systems do
not exist in vacuums, they include users. If the trusted user is not
part of the system, the system by definition cannot be trusted.

Building trust for users cannot be finessed by simply accepting all
customers or employees as trusted ab initio. It is not enough to
accept an employer???s word or the use of wallet information. This is
giving the keys to the kingdom to the bad guy and then throwing open
the doors.

Trust must be established not once, but every time a user is
encountered.  Giving any applicant a token, private key or certificate
without first establishing beyond a doubt that the user may be trusted
only perpetuates the illusion of trust were no trust really exists.

It is time to move away from the fortress, which has become obsolete
and fashion a new paradigm that builds security around the trusted
individual user instead of the fortress system.

John Ellingson
Edentification, Inc.

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