I'd like to expand on that idea with Defensible Network Architecture 2.0. I believe these themes would be suitable for a strategic, multi-year program at any organization that commits itself to better security. You may notice the contrast with the Self-Defeating Network and the similarities to my Security Operations Fundamentals. I roughly order the elements in a series from least likely to encounter resistance from stakeholders to most likely to encounter resistance from stakeholders.
A Defensible Network Architecture is an information architecture that is:
- Monitored. The easiest and cheapest way to begin developing DNA on an existing enterprise is to deploy Network Security Monitoring sensors capturing session data (at an absolute minimum), full content data (if you can get it), and statistical data. If you can access other data sources, like firewall/router/IPS/DNS/proxy/whatever logs, begin working that angle too. Save the tougher data types (those that require reconfiguring assets and buying mammoth databases) until much later. This needs to be a quick win with the data in the hands of a small, centralized group. You should always start by monitoring first, as Bruce Schneier proclaimed so well in 2001.
- Inventoried. This means knowing what you host on your network. If you've started monitoring you can acquire a lot of this information passively. This is new to DNA 2.0 because I assumed it would be already done previously. Fat chance!
- Controlled. Now that you know how your network is operating and what is on it, you can start implementing network-based controls. Take this anyway you wish -- ingress filtering, egress filtering, network admission control, network access control, proxy connections, and so on. The idea is you transition from an "anything goes" network to one where the activity is authorized in advance, if possible. This step marks the first time where stakeholders might start complaining.
- Claimed. Now you are really going to reach out and touch a stakeholder. Claimed means identifying asset owners and developing policies, procedures, and plans for the operation of that asset. Feel free to swap this item with the previous. In my experience it is usually easier to start introducing control before making people take ownership of systems. This step is a prerequisite for performing incident response. We can detect intrusions in the first step. We can only work with an asset owner to respond when we know who owns the asset and how we can contain and recover it.
- Minimized. This step is the first to directly impact the configuration and posture of assets. Here we work with stakeholders to reduce the attack surface of their network devices. You can apply this idea to clients, servers, applications, network links, and so on. By reducing attack surface area you improve your ability to perform all of the other steps, but you can't really implement minimization until you know who owns what.
- Assessed. This is a vulnerability assessment process to identify weaknesses in assets. You could easily place this step before minimization. Some might argue that it pays to begin with an assessment, but the first question is going to be: "What do we assess?" I think it might be easier to start disabling unnecessary services first, but you may not know what's running on the machines without assessing them. Also consider performing an adversary simulation to test your overall security operations. Assessment is the step where you decide if what you've done so far is making any difference.
- Current. Current means keeping your assets configured and patched such that they can resist known attacks by addressing known vulnerabilities. It's easy to disable functionality no one needs. However, upgrades can sometimes break applications. That's why this step is last. It's the final piece in DNA 2.0.
So, there's DNA 2.0 -- MICCMAC (pronounced "mick-mack"). You may notice the Federal government is adopting parts of this approach, as mentioned in my post Feds Plan to Reduce, then Monitor. I prefer to at least get some monitoring going first, since even incomplete instrumentation tells you what is happening. Minimization based on opinion instead of fact is likely to be ugly.
Did I miss anything?