My new blog at sbin.cn

January 30, 2007

Due to the publicly known reasons, this blog at wordpress.com has been not accessible at China for a long time till last Spring festival (Feb.2006). It’s very difficult for me to update and manage this blog, while most of my readers from mainland can not read it since then. So I decide move it to a new site with good performance.

Hope you guys can change your bookmark and RSS feeds. I am sorry for the unconvenience for this move. Thanks for the great pleasure WP community gave me.

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A whitepaper on audit of SSH and RDP

November 14, 2006

BMST SAA startup at China, BMST, is exploring a new field in security audit by rolling out their ground-breaking product – Session-Auditor.  That’s good pitch in the hot compliance trends. Compared against those tradional host based audit systems and SPAN-sniffer like audit systems, SA can audit those encrypted protocols transparently, without necessity to install expensive agents at hosts. Another plus of this product is its built-in access control capability. That means you don’t need intranet firewalls to protect your mission critical servers from operation and administration terminals. Just use Session-Auditor.

More technical information are available at the new whitepaper at their website. Click here to download.


China telecom operators and Sarbanes Oxley Act Compliance

August 10, 2006

In recent 2 years in China, the main rhythm in telecom industry is the compliance journey of Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX). The four major telecom operators – China Mobile, China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, all have public-list at USA stock market. In a similar time schedule, each of them has spent a lot of man power and money on SOX compliance, to organize, to plan, to build up internal control oriented processes, to buy consulting services and tools, to collect operation records.

  • Plan and Organize

Typically, inside an operator, a 404 team, headed by a vice general manager level executives, was assigned to lead the compliance activities. Specialists in each of the main IT departments, e.g. Management Information System Department, Billing Department, Network Department, were assigned to be responsible for the implementation and follow-ups. A series of education has been conducted to improve the awareness of compliance.
All provincial operators are required by their HQ to complete the self-assessment and corresponding remediation in the first half year of 2006, so that they can collect enough records for external auditors to testify the effectiveness of internal control measures. Three of the BIG FOUR accounting firms are external auditors of the four operators – KPMG for China Mobile and China Telecom, Deloitte for China Netcom, and PWC for China Unicom.

  • Acquire and Implement

In order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of compliance controls, a series of nationwide security and governance projects are being undertaken, covering IAM (Identity and Access Management), auditing, ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) optimization and etc. Large amount of KPI (Key Performance Indicator) are setup and monitored to reflect the compliance status. Complete auditing systems are under continuous construction and improvement, while periodic and formal auditing processes for the compliance controls are designed and implemented.
We are glad to say that the enterprise governance structure and effectiveness has got unprecedented upgrade inside the four major telecom operators. There is no denying that SOX compliance journey is too expensive for mainland enterprises. The high cost of SOX has had many of enterprises to re-think their IPO plan to Nasdaq.

This page was also published at sbin.cn.

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12345678! Pyramid Framework

June 14, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, WHY and I worked out a holistic enterprise internal control framework. We named it as 12345678! Pyramid Framework. It help integrate the enterprise execution, IT control and security control methodologies and countermeasures.

  1. One Priority: Execution
  2. Two Hands: Technology and Management
  3. Three Layers: Decision Makers, Managers, and Execution
  4. Four Phases: Plan, Do, Check, Act
  5. Five Layer Controls: Control Environment, Risk Assessment, Control Activities, Information and Communications, Monitoring
  6. Six Risk Elements: Assets, Threats, Vulnerabilities, Safeguards, Risks and Opportunities
  7. Seven Information Criteria: Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Compliance, Reliability
  8. Eight IT Processes: Planning and Organization, Acquisition & Implementation, Delivery and Support, Monitoring and Evaluation

Do you like it? We know there has been much space left for it to be perfect. But it help guide your thinking ways when you prepare proposals or do planning. Its original form is in Chinese. Click here for more.

If you think it helpful or have any suggestions, just leave me a comment.


Best practice on password management

April 29, 2006

This morning I read a good essay named "Security Myths and Passwords" by Prof. Eugene Spafford. Prof. Eugene told us his doubt on  those  best practices on password management policy, like "monthyly change", based on the interesting origin of this "best practice".

The defects and even failures in most of enterprise security defense systems can be root caused into problems in "security execution", ie. the discrepancy between the policy and the real environment. The security manager just book those best practices into their "policy", while not considering their staff, their skills, the data to protect, the threats to contain/mitigate…


More on SOX – VoIP

April 18, 2006

Gary Audin wrote a good post on VoIP and SOX, very unique view point and insight. Gary reviewed the goal and criticized the maturity and operationality of SOX and even predicted the modification in the near future.

The SOX goal is to insure the reliability of publicly reported financial information. Corporate boards, enterprise executives and directors, attorneys, auditors, small business owners, rank and file employees and security analysts have expanded duties as well as penalties as result of the SOX act. The legislation was not thoroughly debated. The result is being questioned, delayed and will probably be modified. It is a moving target where auditors may develop new policies and requirements in the future. My initial comments on SOX will found in the previous Blog, “Putting up with SOX”.

Further, Gary discussed what IP telephony (IPT) / VoIP systems might bring to SOX compliance.

IP Telephony systems will have IP phones that may access the Internet and softphones that are compromised. These could be the man-in-the-middle for attacks or malicious behavior. The call server could be hijacked to create denial of service for the VoIP service. Trojan break-ins could access financial information from an IPT device. Even when there are security personnel and procedures in place, if they are handled poorly and the CEO and CFO falsely report that they are diligent in their control, penalties may occur.

….

Do not wait for the audit. The results can be costly. Be proactive as you move to VoIP/IPT.

IMHO, because SOX is a financial oriented act, so if VoIP/IPT is not your business, ie. revenue generator, you might not cover VoIP auditing in your SOX compliancy audit, because in general they are not used to process and control those financial numbers. However, it's different to those VoIP operators, where security control of VoIP billing directly impact the final financial results and morever the shareholders' benefit.


Identity is the foundation for everything we do

March 24, 2006

Sarbanes Oxley is bring blossoming business opportunities not only to the big 4 accounting firms, but also to a lot of software vendors, Among those technologies and products involved in SOX compliance programs, identity management is the focal point that a lot of giant vendors fight for, Microsoft, IBM, CA, BMC, HP, Oracle, Novell, Sun and …. I am very happy to see the following diagram:

GM Director of software

where John Jackson from GM said "Identity is the foundation for everything we do".

"Ten years ago, the prevailing assumption was that if you were on the GM network, then you were a GM employee," says Jackson, who is on the board of the Liberty Alliance, a consortium developing protocols for sharing identities.

"Today, we have dealers and suppliers [on the network] that are not a part of GM. Add the fact that we are completely outsourced, and it becomes critical to track who you are and what rights you have so we can make sure that people only get to the information they are allowed to get to. Identity is the foundation for everything we do," he adds.

So important is this that GM has a 12-person identity group within the security team. The group continues to consolidate internal directories while expanding its identity federation deployment and building out virtual directories and SSO capabilities.

Users and analysts agree that identity is seeping into corporate infrastructure.

"In five years, what we talk about today as identity and access management will just be another part of the infrastructure, and it won't be sold separately. It will be part of your security foundation," says Sally Hudson, a security research manager at IDC.

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