Hacked Opinions: The legalities of hacking – Adnan Amjad

Deloitte's Adnan Amjad talks about hacking regulation and legislation

Deloitte's Adnan Amjad talks about hacking regulation and legislation with CSO in a series of topical discussions with industry leaders and experts.

Hacked Opinions is an ongoing series of Q&As with industry leaders and experts on a number of topics that impact the security community. The first set of discussions focused on disclosure and how pending regulation could impact it. Now, this second set of discussions will examine security research, security legislation, and the difficult decision of taking researchers to court.

hacked opinion small Thinkstock

CSO encourages everyone to take part in the Hacked Opinions series. If you would like to participate, email Steve Ragan with your answers to the questions presented in this Q&A. The deadline is October 31, 2015. In addition, feel free to suggest topics for future consideration.

What do you think is the biggest misconception lawmakers have when it comes to cybersecurity?

Adnan Amjad, Deloitte Advisory Cyber Risk Services, Vigilant Practice Leader (AA):

There seem to be misconceptions on both ends of the attack spectrum, from the nature of whom the attackers are to who should have been able to pre-empt an attack.

First, there is a perception that cybersecurity attacks are highly centralized and coordinated. While there are sophisticated and coordinated attacks, it is essential to recognize that cyber threat actors are often dispersed with non-traditional financing and command and control structures.

The second misconception is that when a company experiences a breach it is the result of a single failure or the responsibility of a single person. However, it is essential to recognize that there is typically a long road of systemic failures that lead to a breach. While it is appropriate to hold IT and InfoSec individuals accountable it is essential to acknowledge that these decision makers can be hamstrung by budgetary decisions, staffing challenges, or the culture of the business.

What advice would you give to lawmakers considering legislation that would impact security research or development?

AA: Provide legislation that includes incentives to business decision makers to prioritize security, not just regulatory and legal penalties for failures. This is important because security is often viewed as a cost center to a business.

This perception tends to persist until a breach occurs that costs the company more money than would have a mature security program. Currently, the regulatory and legal environments mirror this thinking. Legislation should move businesses towards adopting a culture of security across all business lines.

If you could add one line to existing or pending legislation, with a focus on research, hacking, or other related security topic, what would it be?

AA: Policy efforts such as NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework for Critical Infrastructure have begun attempts to incentivize adoption of secure policies and practices.

Legislators should build on efforts such as this to add incentives to businesses to disclose breaches and suspected malicious activity sooner and to start the investigation and remediation processes immediately upon disclosure.

Now, given what you've said, why is this one line so important to you?

AA: There is a great deal of variation in the timelines that companies take to remediate after a breach. Forensics teams are often engaged for legal purposes shortly after a breach; however, the work of remediation can be left for months while legal proceedings unfold and business operations resume.

During the time that vulnerabilities are left unremediated the attack can continue, the attacker can leave backdoors for reentry, and the risk of a future attack continues to grow. Depending on the company’s line of business this can mean that consumers, national security, and/or business interests continue to be impacted.

Do you think a company should resort to legal threats or intimidation to prevent a researcher from giving a talk or publishing their work? Why, or why not?

AA: There are many reasons why companies should seek to collaborate with researchers before pursuing any legal action.

First, as a business leader you don’t want to stifle innovation and future collaboration. The private sector directly benefits from the largely pro bono work of the researcher community. Companies should be pioneering programs to encourage collaboration with researchers, which could take many forms: expanding bug bounty programs, offering publishing opportunities, speaking opportunities, employment and more.

Also, many companies employee individuals in a research capacity and setting a precedent of retaliation could jeopardize the work of your own employees.

Finally, all companies today are seeking to attract top cybersecurity talent and actions such as these could alienate those you are trying to hire. With the title “Hacker” being the hottest job on the market embracing researchers and encouraging collaboration could be a good way to entice talented researchers to your company.

What types of data (attack data, threat intelligence, etc.) should organizations be sharing with the government? What should the government be sharing with the rest of us?

AA: Collaboration between the private sector, security researchers, and government is in a renaissance period. There need to be specific venues that bring together actors across sectors and industries for sustained data and knowledge exchange with limited liability. Currently, one such venue is the NCFTA.

In such a setting companies could be expected to share attack data from potentially criminal sources and the government could declassify and share attack signatures. While the government has made steps towards promoting information sharing with the private sector, formalized in an Executive Order signed earlier this year, there remains little access to classified information.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Hacked Opinions

More about CSODeloitteLeaderQ

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Steve Ragan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place