Oct 04 2011
Last night I got an email from Jim Engineer at e-Rainmaker PR stating that Kevin Mandia from Mandiant would be appearing before Congress. I’m always interested in hearing the leaders in our industry speak to members of Congress, because it reveals a lot not only about how the thought processes of the folks who are presenting to Congress, it also reveals what our Congressmen think about security. This hearing was no different from most, in that it showed there are definite agendas at work,but it also showed that the biggest concern for our Congress is the threat of China to our businesses and intellectual property, in addition to attacks on government properties. I live tweeted as much of it as possible and I’d like feedback in the form of comments if you found it valuable. Or even if you didn’t. Any misquotes are my own and are attributable to trying to listen and tweet at the same time.
General Hayden impressed me the most of the three speakers. His main message was that the issue of cyber-security is a not something we should be in a rush to come up with ‘the answer’ for, but that we should be looking at having long conversations about what needs to be done in a thoughtful, logical manner. While he encouraged legislation, he made it clear he wants the goal to be outcomes, not just compliance. He was level headed and clearly understood the difference between security and compliance, something Kevin Mandia also backed up.
I thought Kevin was underutilized in this conversation. He had some very good, clear thoughts on the subjects at hand, but the members of the committee seemed to give his testimony less credence, since it didn’t directly feed into the narrative they were trying to lead to. His strongest statement was, “You will be breached, the security compromise is inevitable.” He followed it by stating that “In our last fifty incidents, forty-eight of them learned of the compromise from external third-parties like the FBI”. That’s a pretty damning statement about the state of detection in our industry today.
And then there was Art Coviello. I’m not going to dig too deeply into Mr. Coviello, but he was being a good CEO while also being an intellectually dishonest security professional, if you could call him a security professional at all. Statements like “Our advanced technology allowed us to detect and react to the attack in progress” and “We were within hours of being able to stop the compromise” and other comments about how ‘swiftly’ RSA responded to the compromise go directly against the timelines in the press and against the history of how RSA notified the public and their customers of their compromise. Remember, they didn’t even have a Chief Security Officer before the compromise, there was no one at the C-level responsible for security. I was very unimpressed with Mr. Coviello today.
Not much will come from this Committee meeting, but it was educational to learn what message the members of Congress wanted to put out and how businesses are willing to help them. It was also a lot of fun to live tweet it and see what security professionals around the country think. Marty Roesch from Sourcefire (@mroesch) was especially cynical and entertaining. But there were a lot of people who had good feedback and questions, for which I’m thankful.
Feedback on live tweeting is very appreciated, leave comments and expect me to do the same next time I have time and opportunity. And here’s the press release from Jim.
For your information, MANDIANT
CEO Kevin Mandia will offer testimony to the House Intelligence
Committee at the invitation of Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) tomorrow Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kevin is available to comment on his testimony should you have an interest in pursuing.
To view the testimony please visit:
“Cyber Threats and Ongoing Efforts to Protect the Nation” 10:00am – 1:00pm ET HVC-210
· The Honorable Michael V. Hayden, Principal, The Chertoff Group
· Mr. Arthur W. Coviello, Jr., Executive Chairman, RSA
· Mr. Kevin Mandia, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, MANDIANT
Chairman Rogers on the Cyber Security Hearing:
“Examining the threat of cyber attacks against the United States is of
utmost importance. The threat of cyber attacks continue to evolve. What
started out as a kid in the basement hacking into a school computer to
change a grade, has evolved into entire nation states focused and
determined to exploit our nation’s cyber systems. The Committee will
review recent developments in the evolution of the cyber threat against
the United States by nation state actors and others. Additionally, we
will evaluate the status of the United States government’s efforts at
providing cyber security within the government, the status of cyber
security in the private sector, and the sharing of government
information, including intelligence information, with the private sector
to enable it to better defend and protect our nation’s most critical
PS> I think I only heard the dreaded “APT” once, from Art Coviello. Figures.