Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scan, Baby, Scan!

I recently experienced death by scanning (maybe death is too strong, extreme pain). The system I am supporting is eventually used by the government which means FISMA and by extension certification agents. I still do some certification agent work and I will say that it is still a foggy area. Some will take it to the Nth degree and dig in to every facet and crevice to get the best assurance possible. Others will do a superficial scan and call it a day.

My current annoyance in the ability to ascertain the security posture is this; the management of the little system wants as few vulnerabilities as possible, obviously. So naturally, their scanning policy is tailored to the system and to the excepted risks. The certification agent has their own process for assessment, good for them. However, their process does not include updating their process for the environment.

The two processes are at odds with one another, so we are constantly chasing vulnerabilities. Different tool sets, different time lines, different policy baselines, plugin updates, the list goes on. When I try to convince that less scanning needs to happen, we in fact get more.

Most people I talk to would agree, it would be good to run as many tools as possible at your environment. I am currently frustrated by it.

There really wasn't any point to this story except that scanning with 19,000 tools is helpful as long as everyone is on the same page and can adequately communicate that page. So far, I have apparently been an ineffective communicator or my communication has been accepted and then moved aside in an effort to portray a rosier picture.

A new plan will have to take shape now. Details to follow.

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