Hacked Opinions: The legalities of hacking – Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson talks about hacking regulation and legislation

Ben Johnson, from Bit9+Carbon Black, 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. This week CSO is posting the final submissions for the second set of discussions examining 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 have thoughts or suggestions for the third series of Hacked Opinions topics, or want to be included as a participant, feel free to email Steve Ragan directly.

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

Ben Johnson, Chief Security Strategist, Bit9+Carbon Black (BJ): That threat intelligence, or lack thereof, is the problem. The problem is our aging, poorly designed corporate infrastructures that are understaffed and often at the mercy of decision makers who don’t take security seriously.

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

BJ: Embrace security research and development, fund more initiatives to train cyber defenders, share best practices for monitoring events, and provide incentives for companies who conduct thorough, realistic security audits on a consistent basis. A second point is that compliance and security are two entirely different concepts - you can be compliant and have terrible security.

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?

BJ: I would add a line that gives schools funding for cyber security degrees as well as provides grants to citizens who want to become cyber defenders.

Now, given what you’ve said, why is this one line so import to you?

BJ: The lack of cyber security talent is becoming a national crisis. We are completely understaffed, and even when we fill seats, the individuals are often not at the level they need to be. Furthermore, most universities are still mostly focusing on computer science and not explicitly building significant cyber security degrees or concentrations. The threat is growing and yet our pool of talent is falling further and further behind.

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?

BJ: If a researcher is up front with a company, I think the company needs to applaud that researcher and embrace the opportunity to work together to make that device or software safer. Too often companies slap the researchers who are doing the right thing and that helps no one.

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?

BJ: The government should take the lead on sharing best practices, threat intelligence, and custom-developed defensive tools. Organizations should share relationship data, not just atomic pieces of information, and then the government should process that and supply any conclusions or useful processed intelligence back to anyone who wants it.

For example, the fact that a particular malicious application ran in my environment is useful, but showing what sites that application communicated with and what its behaviors were are invaluable. Finally, the root causes for day-to-day alerts are not shared enough - only the major breaches seem to have the resulting root cause shared with the wider community, and, even then, it’s not always disclosed.

From a human perspective, some teams are good at workflow and operationalizing responding to alerts and finding root cause. Many other organizations are not sure how they should structure their team, how they should build their security stack to enhance their team, and how they should be measuring their effectiveness. All of these lessons learned need to be shared much more bountifully.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Hacked Opinions

More about CSOQ

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Steve Ragan

Latest Videos

  • 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

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts