How not to do security
- 02 June, 2015 15:04
Opening the Check Point Cybersecurity Symposium, Kellman Meghu, Head of Security Architects at Check Point Software, started the event with a series of warnings from popular DVDs and movies - you know the ones - messages telling you “Piracy is Bad”.
Meghu's presentation was told from the perspective of the Galactic Empire’s security posture and response from the first Star Wars movie - a novel and entertaining approach to a subject that is often presented a dry and boring array of statistics and technical jargon.
“When there’s a breach, it’s important to take the time to learn what caused that,” he says.
You have to start with what the business is. For the Galactic Empire, the mission was to rule the galaxy by using fear to control the planets. They did this with the Death Star.
"However, CSO Darth Vader noticed an authorised transmission” says Meghu. As a result, he investigated the breach. Vader and his team were able to identify the most important data that was being lost - the plans to the Death Star. These were the plans that were critical to the Empire’s business plan.
However, Vader’s fears are realised when the plans are transferred to a removable device - R2D2. So, even though Vader finds the source of the leak, the data is out of control. This is a data loss incident - although this requires acknowledgement by the executive team that data is lost and there is a risk.
Using scenes from the original Star Wars movie, Meghu illustrated the data loss and risk assessment process. As we know from the movie’s conclusion their risk assessment was flawed as they underestimated the impact of the data loss.
The rebels used a number of different techniques to penetrate the Death Star when captured. By stealing a Storm Trooper uniform, Luke Skywalker is able to move through the environment.
Unfortunately, Mehgu’s presentation was interrupted several times as he received an flawed iMessages that caused his iPad to restart mid presentation - highlighting the vulnerability of some systems.
There were myriad other failures on the Death Star. For example, R2D2 is able to connect to any terminal - there’s no device validation. Connections between systems are easy as there’s no intersystem isolation.
Then there’s the role of Han Solo - a contractor. He’s only in it for the money and isn’t committed to the cause - at least initially.
On the Rebel side, there’s an analysis carried out where they analyse the target, find a weakness and then execute an attack plan.
Meghu highlighted some of the challenges in the response of the Empire. Despite all the data they had about the Rebel’s attack strategy, they went on gut feeling rather than the available data. As a result, the Death Star was destroyed.
When you look at the problem, Meghu says the problem was one of security policy.
The BYOD (Bring your own Droid) policy was flawed. There was technology for controlling droids but the measures weren't used.
The Death Star was a stunning piece of technology but there was;t enough thought put into how the technology could be used. In fact, by Return of the Jedi, the Empire built a new star that was breached.
There was no encryption for data and strong user authentication was lacking.
"If you’re doing your job right, you won’t even know the things you’ve stopped".