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Re: [PEN-TEST] Evaluating Auditors Abilities
From: Edward Slusarski <Eslusars () NACCOIND COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2000 15:26:14 -0400

Hello Derrick,

This one has struck a nerve with me too.

I was in the big 6 at one point in my career and did IT auditing for various
companies.  I was instructed by the partner to only address the senior
management group of the company and not the administrators.  As usual, I did
not follow the orders and would always talk with the administrator about any
issues I noted.  If I did not learn anything in life, I learned that you
need to talk with the person running the show and not the person or people
trying to direct the show.

I moved into private sector and still hold this methodology to heart.  All
findings are discussed with the administrator to determine if he or she is
aware of the finding, is it a valid finding, and how can we work together to
address the risk that is beneficial to both of us (especially the users).
Unfortunately, any type of designations are not going to give you this type
of open communication unless you ask for it ... demand it !  Learning is a
two way street !

If the facts come from a BIG 4 or Consulting group, it has to be law, but it
is not.  Most of the IT auditors that I deal with in the public arena view
things at 20,000 feet and most of them are new out of school.  The really
heavy hitting IT auditors are their own consultants, trainers or intrusion
aids.  I am not knocking all public or consultants, but the market is so hot
that anyone with a little bit of knowledge and interpersonal skills is being
yanked out of the public firms and most consulting firms to go into Dot Com
Companies or high powered consulting firms.  This means it will only get
worse as the time goes on.

As for who top management will believe, it will always be the outsiders.

How can companies decide which auditors really do a decent job and are worth
their value ?  YOU NEED TO ASK AROUND AND GET OTHERS TO LET YOU KNOW WHO THE
BETTER ONES ARE.

Are there any certifications or Industry groups out there or on the horizon
that will evaluate and endorse auditors ?  CERTIFICATIONS OR INDUSTRY GROUPS
CANNOT VOUCH FOR OR KNOW IF THE PERSON AUDITING YOU HAS INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
OR CLASS.

What is the best approach from a Network Admin position to counter end
results delivered by auditors if they seem to be in error ?  1) TRY TO TALK
WITH THE AUDITOR FIRST TO DISCUSS THE FINDINGS - DO SO OVER LUNCH OR BEERS.
2) WORK UP THE CHAIN OF COMMAND SO THAT YOU HAVE AS MUCH BUY IN FROM THE
BOTTOM UP.  THIS GIVES YOU STRENGTH IN NUMBERS AND RESPECTABILITY WITH YOUR
SUPERIORS ON UP.

Has anyone else been through this, and is destined to get worse before
getting better ?  I CAN SEND YOU A LIST.

That is my rambling two cents.
Ed

THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS EMAIL ARE THOSE OF MY OWN AND NOT THAT OF THE
COMPANY THAT I WORK FOR.


-----Original Message-----
From: Derrick [mailto:Derrick () ANEI COM]
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 12:46 AM
To: PEN-TEST () SECURITYFOCUS COM
Subject: [PEN-TEST] Evaluating Auditors Abilities


Dear Pen-Testers,

        Recently I underwent something that had me thinking about Security
Auditing
companies and others (Big accounting firms that offer a side service of
auditing). Management decided that we needed to be audited by an outside
firm, which I am in full favor of. The problem came about in what an
un-named auditor did. Firewalls tend to cause false positives in some tests
and other anomalies that many auditors may not be aware of. So they
performed this audit which we did pick up and were aware of. What happened
next is what baffles me. The auditors did not understand the results that
nmap and other tools gave them. Near the end of the business day they
contact management proclaiming they have found numerous security issues and
even some backdoors in our network. After a long couple of days of testing
we found none of these issues were correct, and we then spent many hours and
several meetings explaining that the firm hired didn't seem to know what
they were doing. Management made the default comment of "We are paying them
a lot so they must be right, fix these problems". After several days of
explaining why they results were wrong and verifying the network we came out
to show that the auditors did in fact improperly interpret the results.
        The end result is management walks away wondering if they got ripped
off or
if we were just trying to cover problems. It also caused a lot of overtime
and extra work for us to explain and prove the network to management. So the
end questions are these.

How can companies decide which auditors really do a decent job and are worth
their value ?
Are there any certifications or Industry groups out there or on the horizon
that will evaluate and endorse auditors ?
What is the best approach from a Network Admin position to counter end
results delivered by auditors if they seem to be in error ?
Has anyone else been through this, and is destined to get worse before
getting better ?

Thanks for any thoughts or comments,
Derrick


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