June 16, 2016

Network Security: The Unknown Unknowns

Using the Assimilation Project to Perform Service Discovery and Inventory of Systems

I recently thought of the apocryphal story about the solid reliability of the IBM AS/400 systems. I’ve heard several variations on the story, but as the most common version of the story goes, an IBM service engineer shows up at a customer site one day to service an AS/400. The hapless employees have no idea what the service engineer is talking about. Eventually the system is found in a closet or even sealed in a walled off space where it had been reliably running the business for years completely forgotten and untouched. From a reliability perspective, this is a great story. From a security perspective, it is a nightmare. It represents Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous “unknown unknowns” statement regarding the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.

Alan Robertson, an open source developer and high availability expert, likes to ask people how long it would take them to figure out which of their services are not being monitored. Typical answers range from three days to three months.

Read more at Security Week

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