Cybercrime

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/The-Problem-with-Bots.aspxThe Problem with BotsGP0|#91bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d;L0|#091bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d|Cybersecurity;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a43444652018-04-01T04:00:00Zhttps://adminsm.asisonline.org/pages/megan-gates.aspx, Megan Gates<p>​It all started with a video game. Three college-age friends—Paras Jha, Josiah White, and Dalton Norman—wanted to gain an advantage in Minecraft, so they developed a powerful, and elaborate, method to do so.</p><p>Minecraft is a game where users create their own worlds and experiences by digging and building 3D blocks. One unique element of the game is that within the platform itself, players can link to individual-hosted servers to play in a multiplayer mode.</p><p>Hosting a server and renting space to other players is a lucrative business; some individuals make $100,000 a month, according to an investigation by WIRED.</p><p>To tap into this market, Jha, White, and Norman created a malware that scanned the Web for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that used default security settings for usernames and passwords. The malware then infiltrated the devices, which became part of a botnet army made up of 600,000 devices at its peak strength. </p><p>That botnet was dubbed Mirai, and it was used to launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against French hosting provider OVH in September 2016. It was so powerful that traditional DDoS mitigation techniques were ineffective against it. </p><p>Then, just after the OVH attack, Mirai hit security reporter Brian Krebs' website, Krebs on Security, kicking it offline for more than four days with an attack that peaked at 623 gigabytes per second, according to Krebs' account.<img src="/ASIS%20SM%20Callout%20Images/0418%20Cyber%20Chart.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:305px;" /></p><p>Authorities and researchers began to investigate the Mirai botnet, and soon began asking why—in addition to its targets—it was hitting Minecraft servers. They later determined that OVH was hit because it provided a service that helped mitigate DDoS attacks against Minecraft, and they ultimately discovered the three friends behind the botnet.</p><p>They confessed to creating the botnet as part of a scheme to allow people to pay to use it to push players off specific Minecraft servers in hopes that they would then pay to use an alternative server. Jha, White, and Norman all pled guilty to a variety of charges in December 2017, after Mirai's source code was released on the Internet. </p><p>While Mirai was unique in its scope, it was just one of hundreds of botnets that are active today and impacting organizations' networks in real time. For instance, cyber firm Fortinet's​ Threat Landscape Report Q2 2017 detected 243 unique botnets that were active, with 993 daily communications per firm.  </p><p>Fortinet found that approximately 45 percent of firms detected one type of botnet in their environment, while 25 percent saw two, and 10 percent saw three. Most of these botnets were detected in the telecommunications and carrier sector. </p><p>"Our data shows the majority of firms in our sample have one or two different botnets active in their environment at any given time," according to Fortinet's report. "Some, however, have 10 or more. And many of those frequently communicate with external hosts."</p><p>Because of this widescale activity, U.S. President Donald Trump included a section in his May 2017 cybersecurity executive order directing the secretaries of homeland security and commerce to assess actions that could be taken to "drastically reduce" the number of botnet attacks.</p><p>The secretaries were instructed to identify and promote action by stakeholders to improve the resilience of the Internet and communications ecosystem, and to "encourage collaboration with the goal of dramatically reducing threats perpetrated by automated and distributed attacks," in other words, botnets, according to the executive order.</p><p>In January 2018, the secretaries completed the first step of that process by issuing a draft report for public comment, Enhancing the Resilience of the Internet and Communications Ecosystem Against Botnets and Other Automated, Distributed Threats.</p><p>The secretaries solicited input for the report by hosting a workshop, publishing a request for comment, and initiating an inquiry through the president's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). They also consulted with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and State, as well as the FBI, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and others.</p><p>"Botnets threaten to undermine the Internet ecosystem, as well as the promise of next-generation technologies," said David Redl, assistant secretary for communications and information and the administrator for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in a statement. "This report clearly demonstrates the urgency of the problem, and this administration's commitment to taking on these threats and creating a more secure and sustainable Internet."</p><p>For instance, the report found that botnets are being used for a variety of malicious activities, including DDoS attacks, ransomware attacks, and propaganda campaigns carried out via social media.</p><p>These attacks, according to the NSTAC, threaten the "security and resilience" of U.S. communications ecosystems and the Internet, as well as its critical infrastructure. The NSTAC also assessed that IoT devices will be used by threat actors to launch global automated attacks.</p><p>"With new botnets that capitalize on the sheer number of IoT devices, DDoS attacks have grown in size to more than one terabit per second, outstripping expectations," according to the report. "As a result, recovery time from these types of attacks may be too slow, particularly when mission-critical services are involved."</p><p>One prime example of the impact botnets have on the Internet is the Mirai botnet. In addition to its attacks on Minecraft servers, it was used to launch a massive DDoS attack on domain name service provider DYN, effectively shutting down the Internet on the East Coast of the United States for several hours.</p><p>"While the original Mirai variant was relatively simple, exploiting weak device passwords, more sophisticated botnets have followed; for example, the Reaper botnet uses known code vulnerabilities to exploit a long list of devices," the report explained. "The Mirai and Reaper botnets clearly demonstrate the risks posed by botnets of this size and scope, as well as the expected innovation and increased scale and complexity of future attacks."</p><p>The report identified six themes that pose opportunities and challenges to reducing the threat of automated, distributed attacks carried out by botnets, including that they are a global problem; effective tools exist to combat them, but are not widely used; products need to be secured at all stages of their lifecycle; education and awareness are needed; market incentives are misaligned; and botnet attacks are an ecosystemwide challenge.</p><p>"Botnets represent a systemwide threat that no single stakeholder, not even the federal government, can address alone," said Walter G. Copan, undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology, in a statement. "The report recommends a comprehensive way for the public and private sectors, as well as our international partners, to work together and strengthen our defenses."</p><p>These actions take the form of five goals in the secretaries' report: identify a clear pathway toward an adaptable, sustainable, and secure technology marketplace; promote innovation in the infrastructure for dynamic adaptation to evolving threats; promote innovation at the edge of the network to prevent, detect, and mitigate bad behavior; build coalitions between the security, infrastructure, and operational technology communities; and increase awareness and education across the ecosystem.</p><p>One of the main points in the report is the lack of security built into the increasing number of IoT devices on the marketplace. Many manufacturers continue to release unsecure devices because there are no requirements—or incentives—for them to release better products.</p><p>To combat this, the report recommends that the U.S. federal government adopt security standards for all devices it purchases. Doing so, the report argues, would push the marketplace to create more secure products without imposing new regulations or relying on a legislative solution.</p><p>"The federal government can use acquisition rules and procurement guidelines to amplify the market signal by requiring certain security features or properties," the report explains. "The private sector could establish an assessment and labeling mechanism for products that comply with the home profile. The private sector could also work with existing programs or establish new programs to evaluate products that comply with the industry profile."</p><p>While this is a move in the right direction, Michael Marriott—research analyst at Digital Shadows—says it is not enough to change the marketplace because so many IoT devices are developed outside of the United States. These products are then sold to an international market where they can be compromised to become part of a botnet.</p><p>"Making sure manufacturers are thinking about these types of considerations is important," Marriott says. "But there are devices developed outside the United States, so other approaches are needed as well."</p><p>John Dickson, CISSP, principal at Denim Group and a former U.S. Air Force officer who served in the Air Force Information Warfare Center, also expressed disappointment in the report, saying it was "completely devoid of specific policy ideas and recommendations."</p><p>For instance, Dickson says he would have liked to have seen more specific recommendations for the telecommunications and Internet service providers (ISPs) who have a major role in mitigating DDoS attacks carried out by botnets.</p><p>The report touches on the role that ISPs play, and it limits its recommendations to increased information sharing between ISPs and their partners to "achieve more timely and effective sharing of actionable threat information both domestically and globally."</p><p>This, Dickson says, is not enough. Instead, he would have preferred to see recommendations to block specific types of traffic or to monitor traffic to prevent botnet attacks. </p><p>"There is an incentive for telcos to do this—reducing spurious traffic on their networks," according to Dickson. "But they're likely to say there's a cost associated with doing that, which will be passed on to users."</p><p>Countries with more government control of ISPs have shown how this can work, Dickson says. For instance, countries like China and Saudi Arabia—which have greater government control of the Internet in general—have been more effective in preventing botnet attacks because they're able to block them from getting in.</p><p>"We don't have government control of our telcos anymore—it's much more Wild Wild West with more players and a bigger network," Dickson says of the U.S. system, making it more vulnerable to botnet attacks. </p><p>Security Management reached out to AT&T and Verizon for their reactions to the report, but neither of the companies responded. And as of press time, there were no public comments on the draft report.</p><p>The report was open for public comment until February 12, and its final recommendations are due to be submitted to President Trump by May 11.   ​</p>

Cybercrime

 

 

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https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Hacked-Again.aspxBook Review: Hacked Again<p>​ScottSchober.com Publishing; ScottSchober.com, 202 pages; $34.95</p><p>If you are seeking useful security advice on how to mitigate or prevent cybersecurity breaches, <em>Hacked Again</em> is a good resource to have in your library. </p><p>Author Scott Schober, a business owner and wireless technology expert, discusses pitfalls that all businesses face and the strategies used to mitigate cyberattacks. He discusses malware, email scams, identity theft, social engineering, passwords, and the Dark Web. </p><p> Another important concept is having systems in place to enable information access both as the data breach is occurring and afterwards. Most companies’ IT departments will have an incident response team; however, the individual user needs to know what to do when breached. Schober offers advice for that. </p><p> The abundance of personal information on social media is another concern of the author’s. He states that we are twice as likely to be victims of identity theft from these sites. He also reminds us that no matter how we try to eliminate risk, we’re never completely protected from a cyberattack. </p><p> Many cybersecurity books are more advanced, but Schober’s style is easy to follow, and he explains concepts and theories without confusing the reader. When concepts become overly technical, he incorporates scenarios to explain what these technical terms mean. Students, IT professionals, and novices would benefit from this book. They will learn that everyone must be aware of cybersecurity and stay on top of evolving trends.</p><p>--</p><p><em><strong>Reviewer: Kevin Cassidy</strong> is a professor in the security, fire, and emergency management department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is a member of ASIS.</em><br></p>GP0|#91bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d;L0|#091bd5d60-260d-42ec-a815-5fd358f1796d|Cybersecurity;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Rise-of-the-IoT-Botnets.aspxRise of the IoT Botnets<p>​There are many doomsday cyber scenarios that keep security professionals awake at night. Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and current vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., in 2015, shared his: waking up to the headline that 1,000 smart refrigerators were used to conduct a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to take down a critical piece of U.S. infrastructure.</p><p>Cerf’s nightmare scenario hasn’t happened, yet. But in 2016 thousands of compromised surveillance cameras and DVRs were used in a DDoS attack against domain name server provider Dyn to take down major websites on the East Coast of the United States. It was a massive Internet outage and, for many, a true wake-up call.</p><p> At approximately 7:00 a.m. on October 21, Dyn was hit by a DDoS attack, and it quickly became clear that this attack was different from the DDoS attacks the company had seen before. </p><p>It was targeting all of Dyn’s 18 data centers throughout the world, disrupting tens of millions of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and resulting in outages to millions of brand-name Internet services, including Twitter, Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix.</p><p>Two hours later, Dyn’s Network Operations Center (NOC) team mitigated the attack and restored service to its customers. </p><p>“Unfortunately, during that time, Internet users directed to Dyn servers on the East Coast of the United States were unable to reach some of our customers’ sites, including some of the marquee brands of the Internet,” Dyn Chief Strategy Officer Kyle York wrote in a statement for the company. </p><p>A second attack then hit Dyn several hours later. Dyn mitigated the attack in just over an hour, and some customers experienced extended latency delays during that time. A third wave of attacks hit Dyn, but it successfully mitigated the attack without affecting customers.</p><p>“Dyn’s operations and security teams initiated our mitigation and customer communications process through our incident management system,” York explained. “We practice and prepare for scenarios like this on a regular basis, and we run constantly evolving playbooks and work with mitigation partners to address scenarios like this.”</p><p>The attacks caused an estimated lost revenue and sales of up to $110 million, according to a letter by U.S. Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) sent to former U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson.</p><p>“While DDoS attacks are not uncommon, these attacks were unprecedented not only insofar as they appear to have been executed through malware exploiting tens of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, but also because they were carried out against a firm that provides services that, by all accounts, are essential to the operation of the Internet,” the letter explained.</p><p>These devices were part of the Mirai botnet, which is made up of at least 500,000 IoT devices, including DVRs and surveillance cameras, that are known to be in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, and Spain, among other nations.</p><p>The botnet, which was created in 2016, has been used to conduct high-profile, high-impact DDoS attacks, including the attack on security researcher Brian Krebs’ website, Krebs on Security—one of the largest DDoS attacks known to date. </p><p>“Mirai serves as the basis of an ongoing DDoS-for-hire…service, which allows attackers to launch DDoS attacks against the targets of their choice in exchange for monetary compensation, generally in the form of Bitcoin payments,” according to Arbor Networks’s Security Engineering and Response Team (ASERT) threat intelligence report on Mirai. “While the original Mirai botnet is still in active use as of this writing, multiple threat actors have been observed customizing and improving the attack capabilities of the original botnet code, and additional Mirai-based DDoS botnets have been observed in the wild.”</p><p>This is because shortly after the Dyn attack, Mirai’s source code was published on the Internet, and “everyone and their dog tried to get their hands on it and run it in some form or another,” says Javvad Malik, a security advocate at AlienVault, a cybersecurity management provider.</p><p>Mirai is “out there and the problem is, there isn’t any easy mitigation against it,” Malik explains. “A camera or a webcam, there’s no real, easy way to patch it or update it, or there’s no non-technical way your average user could patch it. And most users aren’t even aware that their device was part of the attack.”</p><p>There are more than 25 billion connected devices in use worldwide now, and that amount is expected to increase to 50 billion by 2020 as consumer goods companies, auto manufacturers, healthcare providers, and other businesses invest in IoT devices, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.</p><p>But many of the devices already on the market are not designed with security in mind. Many do not allow consumers to change default passwords on the devices or patch them to prevent vulnerabilities.</p><p>The Mirai botnet—and others like it—take advantage of these insecurities in IoT devices. Mirai constantly scans devices for vulnerabilities and then introduces malware to compromise them. Once compromised, those devices scan others and the cycle continues. These devices can then be used by an attacker to launch DDoS attacks, like the one on Dyn.</p><p>Some manufacturers have sought to remedy vulnerabilities in their devices by issuing voluntary recalls when they discover that they’ve been used in a botnet attack. But for many other manufacturers, there’s not enough incentive to address the problem and most consumers are unaware of the issue, says Gary Sockrider, principal security technologist at Arbor Networks.</p><p>“Consumers are largely unaware. Their devices may be compromised and taking part in a botnet, and most consumers are completely oblivious to that,” he explains. “They don’t even know how to go about checking to see if they have a problem, nor do they have a lot of motivation unless it’s affecting their Internet connection.”</p><p>DHS and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) both recently released guidance on developing IoT devices and systems with security built in. In fact, NIST accelerated the release of its guidance—Special Publication 800-160—in response to the Dyn attack.</p><p>But some experts say more than guidance is needed. Instead, they say that regulations are needed to require IoT devices to allow default passwords to be changed, to be patchable, and to have support from their manufacturers through a designated end-of-life time period.</p><p>“The market can’t fix this,” said Bruce Schneier, fellow of the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, in a congressional hearing on the Dyn attack. “The buyer and seller don’t care…so I argue that government needs to get involved. That this is a market failure. And what I need are some good regulations.”</p><p>However, regulations may not solve the problem. If the United States, for instance, issues regulations, they would apply only to future devices that are made and sold in the United States. And regulations can have other impacts, Sockrider cautions.</p><p>“It’s difficult to craft legislation that can foresee potential problems or vulnerabilities,” he explains. “If you make it vague enough, it’s hard to enforce compliance. And if you make it too specific, then it may not have the desired effect.”</p><p>Regulations can also drive up cost and hinder development if they are not designed to foster innovation. “Compliance does not equal security, necessarily,” Sockrider says. “Part of compliance may mean doing things to secure your products and services and networks, but there could always be vulnerabilities that aren’t covered…. You’ve got to be careful that you’re covering beyond just compliance and getting to true security as much as possible.” </p><p>So, what steps should organizations take in the meantime to reduce the risk of their devices being compromised and used to launch attacks on innocent parties?</p><p>If a company already has IoT devices, such as security cameras or access control card readers, in its facilities, the first step is segmentation, says Morey Haber, vice president of technology for security vendor BeyondTrust. </p><p>“Get them off your main network,” he adds. “Keep them on a completely isolated network and control access to them; that’s the best recourse.”</p><p>If the organization can’t do that and it’s in a highly regulated environment, such as a financial firm subject to PCI compliance, it should replace the devices and reinstall them on a segmented network, Haber says.</p><p>Organizations should also change all default user accounts and passwords for IoT devices, Sockrider says. “Disable them if possible. If you can’t, then change them. If you can’t change them, then block them.”</p><p>For organizations that are looking to install IoT devices, Haber says they should plan to install them on a segmented network and ask integrators about the security of the devices. </p><p>Sample questions include: Do they maintain a service level agreement for critical vulnerabilities? What is the lifespan of the device? How often will patches be released? </p><p>“And the last thing that becomes even more critical: What is the procedure for updating?” Haber says. “Because if you have to physically go to each one and stick an SD card in with a binary to do the upload, that’s unfeasible if you’re buying thousands of cameras to distribute to your retail stores worldwide. There’s no way of doing that.”</p><p>Organizations should also look at their policies around allowing employees to bring in their own devices to the workplace and allowing them to connect to the network. </p><p>For instance, employers should be wary when an employee who brings in a new toaster connects it to the company Wi-Fi without anyone else’s knowledge. “That type of Shadow IT using IoT devices is where the high risk comes from,” Haber explains. </p><p>And organizations should also look to see what they can do to block inside traffic from their network getting out. </p><p>“Think about it in the reverse; normally we’re trying to keep bad stuff out of our network, but in this case, we want to keep the bad stuff from leaving our network,” Sockrider says. “Because in this case, if an IoT device on your network is compromised, it’s not necessarily trying to attack you, it’s trying to attack someone else and you can be a good citizen by blocking that outbound traffic and preventing it from doing so.”</p><p>While companies can take steps to reduce the likelihood that their devices will be compromised by a botnet and used to attack others, attacks—like the Dyn attack—are likely to continue, Malik says.</p><p>“We’ll probably only see more creative ways of these attacks going forward,” he explains. “At the moment, it’s primarily the webcams and DVRs, but you’re probably going to see different attacks that are more tailored towards specific devices and maybe even a change of tactics. 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https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/A-Professional-Path.aspxA Professional Path<p>​Until recently, security has been considered a trade, with practitioners fighting for proper standing in the institutions they protect. But the industry is now at a crossroads.</p><p>Before us lie two paths. One is a continuation of the status quo. We may continue to glide down this road, but it is not a self-determined path. It has been chosen for us because we have not clearly defined security’s role. Given this failure to self-define, security has traditionally been defined by others by the task it performs, such as information security, investigations, physical security, or executive protection. This type of definition diminishes the value of the security function; our role is more than just our allocated tasks.</p><p>The second road is one of self-determination and opportunity. It offers a chance for the industry to advance from a trade to a fully respected profession. On this road, we can take control of the dialogue, shape the conversation surrounding our field, and make our own way forward. As an industry—with ASIS taking the lead—we can keep advancing until security is considered a profession.</p><p>How can we advance on this second road? First we need a clear definition of the role of security in the private sector. We also need a core base of knowledge that supports our understanding of that role, which can be taught—not only to college students, but to transitioning personnel coming into our industry and to our hiring managers. There also needs to be an established expectation that practitioners will share this knowledge of security’s role and the core competencies associated with it. </p><p>ASIS International has already started defining this role through the concept of enterprise security risk management (ESRM). With its embrace of ESRM, ASIS has positioned our industry to travel down the road of opportunity and self-determination, with ESRM as the guiding principle to help chart our course.  </p><p>Not everyone in the industry is ready for this journey, however. For some who may have heard of the concept but still find it vague, questions remain. Primarily: What exactly is ESRM and why is it needed?</p><h4>What is ESRM?</h4><p>At its core, ESRM is the practice of managing a security program through the use of risk principles. It’s a philosophy of management that can be applied to any area of security and any task that is performed by security, such as physical, cyber, information, and investigations. </p><p>The practice of ESRM is guided by long-standing internationally established risk management principles. These principles consist of fundamental concepts: What’s the asset? What’s the risk? How should you mitigate that risk? How should you respond if a risk becomes realized? What is your process for recovering from an event if a breach happens? Collectively, these principles form a thoughtful paradigm that guides the risk management thought process.</p><p>When pursued, these questions elicit valuable information, and they can be asked of every security-related task. For instance, investigations, forensics, and crisis management are all different security functions, but when they are discussed within the ESRM framework they are simply different types of incident response. </p><p>Similarly, every function of physical and information security, such as password and access management, encryption, and CCTV, is simply considered a mitigation effort within the ESRM paradigm. These may seem to be merely semantic differences, but they are important nuances. When we define these functions within the ESRM paradigm, we also start to define the role we play in the overall enterprise.</p><p>ESRM elevates the level at which the role of security management is defined. Instead of defining this role at task level, it defines the role at the higher, overarching level of risk management.  </p><p>By raising the level of security’s role, ESRM brings it closer to the C-suite, where executives are considering much more than individual tasks. And by defining the role through risk principles, it better positions the security function within the business world at large. Business executives in all fields understand risk; they make risk decisions every day. Using ESRM principles to guide our practice solidifies our place within the language of business while also defining the role we play within the business.</p><p>For example, consider a company with a warehouse and a server. In the warehouse, security is protecting widgets and in the server, security is protecting data. Under the common risk principles, we ask: What are the risks to the widgets and data?  How would we protect against those risks? Who owns the widgets, and who owns the data? </p><p>We may decide to put access control and alarms on the warehouse or a password and encryption on the data. In both instances, we’re protecting against intrusion. The goal is the same—protection. For each task, the skill set is different, just like skill sets differ in any other aspect of security: investigations, disaster response, information technology. But the risk paradigm is the same for each.</p><h4>Why We Need It</h4><p>We need ESRM to move beyond the tasks that security managers and their teams are assigned. For instance, if you manage physical security, your team is the physical security team. If you do investigations, you are an investigator. If you manage information security, your team is the information security team. </p><p>But these tasks merely define the scope of responsibility. Our roles are broader than our assigned tasks. Our responsibilities should be viewed not as standalone tasks, but as related components within our roles as security risk managers.   </p><p>Having a clear, consistent, self-defined role provides significant benefits. First, it preempts others from defining our role for us in a way that fails to adequately capture and communicate our value. </p><p>Second, it helps better position ourselves in the C-suite. C-level executives often struggle with what security managers do, and where to align us. This is often reflected in the frustrations expressed in some of our own conversations about needing a proverbial seat at the table. In one sense, this exclusion may seem justified: if we can’t define our role beyond describing our tasks, why would upper management charge us with higher-level leadership and strategy?</p><p>Third, it provides guidance to our industry. Greater use of ESRM will provide an always-maturing common base of knowledge, with consistent terms of use and clear expectations for success.  </p><p>This benefits not only practitioners in our industry, but also all other executives who may need to interact with the security practice or work with the security manager. This can be especially valuable during times of change, such as when a security manager switches companies or industries, or when new executives come into the security manager’s firm.</p><p>In those situations, security managers often feel that they are continually educating others on what they do. But this endless starting over process wouldn’t be necessary if there were a common understanding of what security’s role is, beyond the scope of its responsibilities.​</p><h4>Why Now?</h4><p>This industry at large has talked about ESRM for at least the last 10 years. But as relevant as the topic was a few years ago, the present moment is the right moment for ESRM because security risks now have the potential to become more disruptive to business than in the past.  </p><p>There are several reasons for this. The use of technology in the current economy has allowed businesses to centralize operations and practices. While this consolidation may have increased efficiency, it has also made those centralized operations more susceptible to disruption. When operations were more geographically dispersed, vulnerabilities were more spread out. Now, the concentrated risks may have a more serious negative impact to the business. </p><p>We are also moving beyond traditional information security and the protection of digitalized data. Now, cybersecurity risks pose threats of greater business disruption. For example, the threats within the cyber landscape to the Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to cause more harm to businesses compared with the negative effects they suffered in the past due to loss of information.</p><p>Many executives understand the significance of these risks, and they are looking for answers beyond the typical siloed approach to security, in which physical security and information security are separately pursued. They realize that the rising cyber risks, in tandem with the increasing centralization of business operations, have caused a gap in security that needs to be closed. </p><p>Boards are also becoming more engaged, which means that senior management must also become engaged, and someone will have to step in and fill that gap. That could be a chief risk officer, a board-level committee, an internal audit unit…or security. Hopefully, it will be the latter, but to step up and meet this challenge, security professionals must be able to consistently define their role beyond simply defining their tasks. ​</p><h4>Making the Transition</h4><p>What we need is a roadmap toward professionalization.  </p><p>ASIS is leading the effort of defining security’s role through ESRM. At ASIS 2017 in Dallas, you will hear more conversation around ESRM as well as more maturity and consistency in that conversation.  As the leading security management professional organization, ASIS is best positioned to guide us through the roadmap from a trade to a profession. </p><p>The ASIS Board of Directors has made ESRM an essential component of its core mission. It has started incorporating ESRM principles into its strategic roadmap, which means that ASIS is starting to operationalize this philosophy—a critical step in building out this roadmap. Other steps will be needed; it is essential that volunteers, both seasoned and new to the field, embrace this shift towards professionalization for it to gain traction.</p><p>This transition will not occur with the flip of a switch. It will take dedication to challenge our own notions of how we perceive what we do, the language we use to communicate to our business partners, and our approach toward executing our functions.  It will take time and comprehensive reflection, and the ability to recognize when we don’t get it right. We may not be totally wrong either, but thoroughness in developing consistency is critical.</p><p>There are some core foundational elements that need to be in place for this ESRM transition to be successful. First, there needs to be a consistent base of knowledge for our industry to work from: a common lexicon and understanding of security’s role that is understood by practitioners and the business representatives we work with. </p><p>We also need both a top-down and bottom-up approach. New security practitioners entering the industry from business or academia, or transitioning from law enforcement or the military, need a comprehensive understanding of risk management principles and how a risk paradigm drives the security management thought process. There should be an expectation that these foundational skill sets are in place when someone enters the security field. Working from a common base of knowledge, these ESRM concepts should be incorporated into the security management curriculum, consistently established in every security certification, and inherent in job descriptions and hiring expectations at every level.  </p><p>We also need to build expectations regarding what security’s role is, and how it goes beyond its assigned tasks, from the top-down—among executives, boards, hiring managers, and business partners. A clear and common understanding of security’s role will make it easier to define success and the skill sets that are needed to be successful. Organizations like ASIS will assist in providing the wherewithal to support these leaders. </p><p>If we truly are security risk managers, then there must be an expectation of foundational and comprehensive risk skill sets when hiring decisions are made. There could be educational opportunities through ASIS, through global partnerships with universities, and through publications coordinated with organizations that reach the C-suite, such as the Conference Board of the National Association of Corporate Directors.</p><p>Clearly academia needs to play a role as well. College students interested in entering this dynamic industry will come in more prepared to assist security leaders and businesses with a solid knowledge base of security risk management fundamentals. And once a rigorous ESRM body of knowledge is established, ASIS has the clout, expertise, and standing to provide a certification for academic institutions that meet concepts in their curriculum, which would will provide for a more consistent understanding of security’s role.</p><p>ASIS has established ESRM as a global strategic priority and has formed an ESRM Commission to drive and implement this strategy. One of the commission’s first steps is developing a toolkit comprising a primer and a maturity model.</p><h4>Benefits to ASIS Members</h4><p>There is a question I ask of every can­didate I interview: “Tell me about a time when you’ve been frustrated in this industry.” </p><p>Every answer comes down to one of two issues. One, we do not know and cannot clearly define our role. Two, our business partners cannot clearly define our role. Both of these frustrations are manageable, and both are our fault as an industry for not establishing clarity.  This leads to strained relationships with our business partners in how we are perceived and how likely our expert guidance is to be accepted.</p><p>Having a clearly defined security role through ESRM helps build a foundation for a more satisfying career in the security industry. It would provide us with proper standing in our enterprises, and better positioning for us to have a seat at the table for the right reasons, ones that executives understand and can support.</p><p>For the practitioner, a consistent security program through ESRM provides a framework to bring together security mitigation tasks under one proper umbrella: physical, investigations, cyber, information, business continuity, brand protection, and more. </p><p>The human resources industry has professionalized over the last decade or so. We see this through their standing within business, their seat at the table, and their upgrades in title and pay. Now, with the rise in threats and potential business disrupters, our industry has an opportunity. Business leaders and boards are looking for answers.  We have the necessary skill sets and a dedicated and supportive professional association in ASIS to take the lead.</p><p>We are at a crossroads.  It is time to choose the path of self-determination, take control of this conversation, and make the transition from trade to profession.</p><p><em>Brian J. Allen, Esq., CPP, is the former Chief Security Officer for Time Warner Cable, a former member of the ASIS Board of Directors, and a current member of the ASIS ESRM Commission. ​</em><br></p>GP0|#28ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997;L0|#028ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997|Strategic Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465