About this session
Navigating through the pulsating neural networks of cybersecurity, this session brings to the fore a meticulously crafted exploration into a DATA-Driven Approach towards understanding and mitigating vulnerabilities in both AppSec and Infrastructural security spheres.
Vulnerabilities are more than mere code anomalies; they are the conduits that can potentially unchain a cascade of unwanted cyber events. In this awe-inspiring panel, join a squadron of cybersecurity mavens who will steer you through an introspective journey deep into the core of vulnerability complexity, reachability, exploitability, and the dense fog of contextual risk.
🚀 Key Takeaways:
Unveiling Complexity: Dissecting vulnerabilities to comprehend their intrinsic and extrinsic complexity. Psychology of Risk: Unmasking the psychological underpinning that influences stakeholders and drives critical security decisions. Diverse Vulnerabilities: Traversing the variegated landscape of vulnerabilities, exploring their diverse nature, and approaching mitigation with perspicacity. Dimension of Risk: Engaging in a riveting discourse on deployment amidst diverse risks, and tactfully managing them in the volatile cyberspace. The session promulgates an enriched discussion that intends to shift your perspective from merely dealing with vulnerabilities to strategically navigating through them, with a DATA-driven compass guiding the way. Whether you’re an Application Security expert, an Infrastructure Security professional, or a cyber enthusiast keen to expand your knowledge horizons, this session promises a blend of expert insights, tangible takeaways, and a forward-looking perspective on dealing with vulnerabilities.
Prepare to launch into a session where data meets depth, and experts decode the enigmatic realms of vulnerabilities in Appsec and Infra. It’s not just a session; it’s an expedition into the future of secure, savvy, and strategic cybersecurity.
Francesco Cipollone - 00:02 Denis, do you want to do the honor of introduction or shall I kick it off? I’ll do the honor, everyone. Thank you, everyone. For a very long session on Summit, I’ve been talking about data and data driven approach. So we have a fantastic panel that probably span and cover every possible aspect that you want of an organization, from application security to cloud security, to vulnerability management, to data driven approach to data science and CISO. So we have the best representative in here to discuss around the table on how to best approach vulnerability management from application security, cloud security infrastructure and traditional vulnerability management across the board and a data driven approach on this.
Francesco Cipollone - 00:52 Before further ado, I want to start and ask all the panelists to do an introduction so that for the very few people that don’t know you guys and I’m going to go in order, they’re going to know who you are and what contribution have you done so far. And you will, Mike, you’re the first in the list. Thank you so much for coming. Welcome.
Mike Shema - 01:15 Thank you, Francesco. This is exciting. To be real quick right now, I work at Block on their product security team and I’m also co host of the Application Security Weekly podcast where we talk about all types of things, vulnerabilities, and hopefully more than just vulnerabilities, which I think we’ll explore a bit more in this session.
Francesco Cipollone - 01:34 Brilliant. Jay, up to you.
Jay Jacobs - 01:38 Jay Jacobs. I am the co founder and data scientist at Scienti Institute, doing a lot of research and publications in the security space. Also the co creator of EPSs, the exploit prediction scoring system. And I think I’ll just leave it.
Mike Shema - 01:54 There.
Francesco Cipollone - 01:57 Just a tiny bit things that was Epssed in the last year. Thank you, Jay. John.
John Kinsella - 02:05 Good to be here. John Kinsella. I am doing a whole bunch of different things right now. I spent this year doing a bunch of independent work for startups, application security, working with some VCs and private equity more historically. My background is in application security, container security, cloud security, most recently as VP of Engineering at Qualis for their container security products.
Francesco Cipollone - 02:27 Happy to be here.
John Kinsella - 02:28 Also, I’m the other co host for Application Security Weekly.
Francesco Cipollone - 02:33 Radiant. Thank you very much, John. Chris, after you.
Chris Madden - 02:37 Hey, Frank, it’s an honor to be here. I heard they kept the best session until the second last. Rumor has it you may be able to confirm that. Yeah, I work at Yahoo Product Security. My name is Chris Madden and my overall existence, or point of existence, is to optimize the flow of software to our pipelines versus security risks. So I have a deep interest in all of the things that we’ll be talking about here as a practitioner.
Francesco Cipollone - 03:08 Brilliant. Thank you very much. Marius, over to you. Hi, guys.
Marius Poskus - 03:13 Good to be here. So, my name is Marius. I’m global vice president of Cybersecurity for Go Financial Services.
Francesco Cipollone - 03:21 Brilliant. All right, so we’re going to structure the panel, start discussing around different area and aspect of how modern organization works. And I think what I’ve seen so far is organization works either in silo way, so application security, infrastructure and cloud security. We want to break this meat and bring across the panel today all these aspects and connect it with risk and executive view and the metrics that matter. So we’re going to start on this very easy topic between application security and traditional vulnerability management, between Mike and John. What is your opinion on how we’ve been attacking the problem so far and how is this problem evolving in this modern age? That is a data driven modern age.
John Kinsella - 04:14 You want to go first?
Mike Shema - 04:15 Sure, yes. I think we have been attacking the problem, I think of so many vulners that attackers don’t care about and maybe I’ll kick it off like that because we have so many SAS, dast IST sea. We have so many ways to find vulnerabilities. It’s wonderful, we’ve got great observability, but then we turn that around and say cool AppSec thinks we should fix all the vulnerables or because it’s kind of one of those easy metrics to track. And I think one of the things I’d like to especially talk with John about is there’s all sorts of volumes that are cruft clickjacking CSRF Redos, lots of low impact or no impact XSS. I think some things that I’m kind of hinting at that some other panelists are going to pick up later on, but all of this comes at an opportunity cost as well.
Mike Shema - 05:07 There’s so many more interesting things that could be done and I’ll tease John a little bit. I love to talk about refactoring and rewriting code, but instead of just refactoring code, we could also actually be working on features or focusing on the features in the software we’re building rather than all the dependencies that we’re using.
John Kinsella - 05:26 There’s the concept of so I’ll try to address this with the engineering management hat on and if you think about application security, a lot of our just think about applications start there first. Frequently when we think about features, we’re thinking about what are we designing and developing for our customers, whether that’s an internal customer or a public customer, they’re paying in one way or another or we wouldn’t be here. But there’s also the features we can be creating from a security point of view and those could be something simple like how to make sure this application is easier to check if it’s secure or is it being attacked or things like that.
John Kinsella - 06:00 So I think what we’ve seen, Francesco, is going from that point where we’re just purely whack a mole when back in the day there was just enough moles in a room that we could count them and play Whack a Mole. And I think a large portion of what we’re going to be talking about here is as that number has grown to this crazy scale. We ain’t got enough hammers, we ain’t got enough people, it’s not going to work. Right, so we can’t have a top ten list for everything. So how do we actually focus on what we want to do here and narrow that down? So I think that’s what modern AppSec is about.
Francesco Cipollone - 06:32 Yeah, no, I do agree with your point. There seems to be, though, still the affection top ten lists. We had the top ten LLM vulnerability OAS top ten has always been top. We had the top vulnerability exploited or the top methodology of vulnerability exploited. And when it really matters what are a little bit from an upset perspective, the metrics in the old age, I think Mike touched it a little bit on before and in the modern age, that matters. And I think I want to then after later on, ask the same question to Chris because I know he has a very good opinion on it. So it’s going to make a very good discussion point. Mike and John, over to you.
John Kinsella - 07:19 The way I think about this. And I’m not going to look at a pure metric to start. I’m just going to look at the concept of where we’re around, which is it starts thinking about asset inventory, which we’re 2030 years into security, maybe 50, pick a number. But we still don’t know what the hell we’re securing in many cases. And where I want to do is pivot that to an application security point of view. Some of the more modern tools, which I like out there, that you could call them scanners, are not giving me that list of every asset and every vulnerability on it. It’s what can an attacker see and what can they actually compromise or actually have some sort of effect on? That gives me more where I’m going.
John Kinsella - 07:58 This is I want a list which is I want a metric which is something I can execute on, something that’s manageable, something that I can make an actual difference, not just in that number going down, but in the security of my product. So that’s the way I think about it in general, I think, is what our listeners are going to see here as we talk through this is there’s no one metric which is going to be perfect for everybody. Depending on where your application is, what type of end team you have, or how your company is set up, there’s going to be different metrics that will have a better representation of the state of security of your application.
John Kinsella - 08:36 So I think Mike probably going to look at this from a slightly different point of view, but I like to think of it just I’ll leave the actual numbers and things out and let’s look at the high level and then start focusing down in okay, what does that mean for me?
Mike Shema - 08:49 Yeah, and I want to piggyback on that by extending that aspect of what are we trying to communicate and how are we communicating with metrics, et cetera. Probably the only thing that bugs me a little bit more than Top Ten lists is metrics that use pie charts. So hopefully there’s no pie charts in the rest of this panel. But the reason I picked that up is if we look at I’m going to just pick on the top ten API. For example, it has broken authorization in so many. It has three or four items or just broken authorization. And there’s a nuanced taxonomy. But how much of this is actionable? And I think that’s what I wanted to hit is the top Ten list giving the developer something actionable?
Mike Shema - 09:27 Or are we just talking about the taxonomy of this is a type one cross site scripting. This is a type two, this is the type of cross site scripting that is blue. Developers don’t care about that. They care about what is the impact to a degree. Meaning, how should I prioritize this, but should I be using a same site cookie? Should I be using is this actually input validation or is it really an aspect of access control or an RBAC application? Or we should be using encryption in a different application layer encryption. And I’m rattling a couple of these off randomly to highlight, basically developer activities that don’t really get called out in those top Ten lists. They get called out if a Top Ten list says Insecure Design.
Mike Shema - 10:13 That’s a little too vague because if you just invert that and say you should have secure design. Secure design doesn’t mean you don’t have any volumes. It means we have to have a longer conversation probably than we have time for now.
Francesco Cipollone - 10:26 And how do you measure that upstream and downstream? How do you measure the effect of security design? And how do you inform security design? But we don’t want to offend the OS Top Ten 2021 with security design making the showcase and appearance. But I really like what you said on the actionability, and I think from a security perspective, we get even stuck on the naming convention because we have CVE, CWE, Mitron, Attack, CAPEC, and The Promise. A lot of these are even disconnected from each other. So we have domain of information that sometimes don’t translate to engineering. Do I need to upgrade a cookie? Do I need to do input validation? What do I actually need to do with this? But on that subject, I think you’re.
John Kinsella - 11:09 Working on a top ten list of metrics there.
Chris Madden - 11:14 Please don’t with pie charts.
Francesco Cipollone - 11:20 Top ten pie charts that are most hated in the community. But on the metric subject, we often debate with Chris on which metrics are actually more measurable. And we’ve done fairly modern studies, and I really love the approach that Chris has done from a pure data driven approach. And he’s speaking to several conference about his approach and the data effect that he’s seen, but without singing the praise too much. Chris, over to you.
Chris Madden - 11:51 Tell us frank, please, if you can keep the mic, if you’re willing to sing a few bars, then go for it. I won’t steal your thunder, but no thanks, Frank. Yeah, so let’s maybe for context, I’ll start by describing where we came from and these points will probably resonate with a lot of folks in development environment. So what we had when we started, we had a mature new vulnerability management capability run by my rock star colleague Lisa for many years. And it basically triages new vulnerabilities and makes decisions about know when they should be fixed by priority.
Chris Madden - 12:29 And we use it as a first pass triage, a bit like in a kind of medical know, there’s always a first pass triage done before you get into the more details and a second pass, and it’s a first pass triage for CVEs and the things like the asset impact, the reachability, the remediation, all of that comes in as a second pass. All right? All those things are important. We talked about asset inventory earlier on. All these things are important. The business and runtime context for understanding the overall risk, that’s kind of the end determination. But when you don’t have enough hammers to do the whack a mole, you want to do a first pass triage to decide, well, okay, which ones do we go after?
Chris Madden - 13:13 So the first pass automated triage was weren’t using CVSS scores, even though most of the tools in our desktop ops pipeline report them, we don’t use them. We use the CVSS base score parameters and other input data. This flow was based on a flowchart. And one of the things was that exploitation was a key decision node in the flowchart and that’s what Sysac recommends. But many practitioners don’t use the whole exploitability aspect when they’re prioritizing. And the output numbers, this basically were an SLA. It wasn’t high severity. Do I need to fix it now or later or whatever? So that was kind of what we had. In addition then, Frank, you would have mentioned about Silos and we had a mature DevSecOps pipeline with several tools across the stages.
Chris Madden - 14:06 But we wanted to bring the tools and the teams and the data together to inform risk. And that’s an important aspect as well. Risk doesn’t exist in isolation and there’s different tools and teams involved in detecting and remediating risk across the pipeline. So we wanted to bring all that together and in trying to come up with a solution, we looked around about what was out there and we know newer things like Sys, what’s that, how can we use it? EPSs that Jay will talk about and various other data sources. And we wanted to know, okay, we have internal data, we have about exploitability, we have our tool data and then we have external. How do we combine all that into something that gives us that first?
Chris Madden - 14:49 Past three azure Risk so we can whack the right mold and some of the things we wanted out of that. So we want to combine all these available data sources to inform risk beyond the CVSS score. And as part of a B sides presentation early in the, you know, presented this risk taxonomy, trying to put all these elements together to give a user guide orientation to what they do and how to use them. We wanted to share the data and the risk based prioritization across the tools and the teams within our company. So we standardize on that. We wanted to understand and validate whatever solution we come up with. And this is important. Any tool I use, whether it’s for risk prioritization or for scanning source code, I will always benchmark it and make sure I understand and validate it.
Chris Madden - 15:43 As a product security engineer, it’s on me to ensure that I’m asking developers to fix the right things. I talked about my point of existence is to optimize the flow of software versus security risk. So it’s on me to understand these tools. So we needed something that was understandable not just by the techies, but by the executives. If something is ranked, whatever zero or high, what does that look like? It needs to be immediately understandable to both the techies and non techies. So then, given all of that, where were coming from and what we had and what we wanted, we landed on SSVC. And the key part about SSVC it’s decision trees. The SSVC was originally developed by the smart folks at CMU Sci and it’s now been run by some of the same smart folks within CISA.
Chris Madden - 16:41 And it’s a way to given different input data sources around about exploitation and automatability and technical impact to rank vulnerabilities and in our case, CVE. So pretty much what we had all of the goodness of the SSVC decision trees. But it wasn’t a decision tree, it was a flowchart. And I really liked that. With a decision tree, one, it’s immediately understandable, they’re super understandable versus a complex flowchart. And two, you can validate them. You can get code to generate decision trees or validate does your decision tree make sense, so you can validate them automatically as well. So yeah, it wasn’t a big step for us to go from our flowcharts to our decision trees. And yeah, that’s really it.
Chris Madden - 17:35 And at the end of the day, people need to understand of all the vulnerabilities, which ones are the most important, which ones do we need to fix first and why? The why bit is important and understand that this actually makes sense. It isn’t some black box spitting out a number and you have to blindly trust it. As I said, given my point of existence, I struggle with that. So that’s kind of the journey to decision trees and SSVC for first pass triage of vulnerabilities so we can whack the molds that we need to whack.
Francesco Cipollone - 18:14 And focus on the critical that are actually critical because not all the critical are critical.
Chris Madden - 18:18 Indeed, absolutely. Yes. Focus on the real criticals. Would the real criticals please stand up?
Francesco Cipollone - 18:28 As you mentioned two or three data sources because not all the data sources can add value and sometimes can add noise and some others are interchangeable. And we’ve seen that with the research data that we did. Some others are more trustworthy. If you scrape GitHub, you might find 9998 potential POC, but of that number, just 400 actually have high exploitation and verified exploit. And I really like your approach on SSBC that is getting a little bit more granular and taking the various data sources to actually go in that decision tree and making it as a framework base so that you can insert some of these data sources that you consider trustworthy.
Chris Madden - 19:14 Yeah. And it turns out if you look at the data sources that are the best indicators for exploitation, and if you kind of rank them like that, if you start off with, say, internal data, if there’s something shows up in your book, bounty or incident response, the numbers there are let’s say an order of magnitude is in one. It could be one to ten in terms of vulnerabilities. Then you have things like Sisikev actively exploited, but not in your organization, but in the wild population 1000. Then you get into like EPSs and certain thresholds. The numbers become slightly bigger depending on your threshold. But it doesn’t suddenly jump to 200,000. It’s a more manageable figure. And then you have things like active exploitation is the CVE in Nucleus or Metasploit, two k, three k populations.
Chris Madden - 20:03 So the populations interestingly gradually increase in terms of if you walk down the likelihood of exploit, then you get into active or sorry, exploit available and then the populations then kind of explode. They’re less useful and there’s more of them as indicators of exploitation. When Sister says use the indicator of exploitation for your risk management.
Francesco Cipollone - 20:31 Brilliant. And those are all I like the fact that you end up going to a matrix that is both understandable as priority one, two and three as a single number that can be made a decision on and it drives away from pure SLA. That is, I think an approach that I like originally, but it very quickly showed a weakness in term of approach because it’s flat and it doesn’t have all that contextual aspect that you mentioned. But on that subject, I wanted to involve a little bit more Marius and what is his opinion about the metrics from his perspective that really matters when talking about vulnerability, risk and all these aspects? What’s your think?
Marius Poskus - 21:13 You know, it obviously depends where your vulnerability program sits. But the first and I guess the foremost and most important metrics that you start with, as John mentioned, so obviously asset register, asset criticality. So obviously that allows you to determine and gauge risk because obviously crown jewels obviously will have a different risk than someone’s receptionist laptop somewhere where does not have access to critical data. So that’s an important start. Then we go into software list as well. So you know, who owns particular parts of the software, what kind of enterprise software do we use? So you start with two registers and then we can start iterating and translating that into risk language. So I guess as we talk about exploitability and all of that all comes down to the risk.
Marius Poskus - 22:03 So I normally like to split it out so you can start trends between business units. So which business unit is carrying more risk than another one? And I think metrics is important but as we are changing and we are rapidly moving at this speed and agility nowadays we can’t keep whacking a mo. So I normally now change a bit the perspective and how we do things. Obviously it starts with a top down approach and support of the vulnerability management program to give you authority to actually change culture within organization. Because normally the thing is culture is not something that you can implement overnight. Anyone who started doing DevSecOps know it takes twelve to 18 months to get it anywhere near where you want it to be.
Marius Poskus - 22:53 But what I like is and what I talked about business units and trends between the risk, I like to see trends in those risks because to me if one of the business units are trending up, yes, we can do whack a mole based on risk prioritization and solve vulnerabilities. But obviously if there is a trending up vulnerabilities, something is broken. So we go to root cause and analyze whether there is broken business processes, whether there is patching that doesn’t work and hopefully sometimes to get it off the ground it’s much harder and it takes much more work but I feel that over the long term yields much more benefits. If we can fix the broken processes, how do developers code and how can we improve their coding practices instead of just fixing vulnerabilities and creating tickets for them to fix them.
Francesco Cipollone - 23:46 I do agree and I like that approach on historical trends and also seeing the thing that matters for two reasons because you can give business unity ability to operate at specific risk level versus another risk level. So sometime risk reward opportunity, you might want to release a bunch of feature because you might go out of business tomorrow if you don’t release those things. And hence vulnerability and even the critical risk are actually not the most critical things on your table and being able to adjust your approach on a risk based perspective is really powerful. So I really like that and I.
Marius Poskus - 24:23 Think it’s very important to understand the business context because your business context will dictate how you solve risk. Because if you look at for example any young company who trying to grab a large market share, they might have a much larger risk appetite because obviously they need to grow and operationalize their product and grab as much of the market share. When you reach a certain level of maturity, you will bring the risk appetite down.
Francesco Cipollone - 24:54 I do agree. And in some of patterns and trending have you find any behavior also understanding and making the business unit compete as a driver to actually drive down risk or drive down vulnerabilities? There a psychological aspect in making team or business unit compete with each other.
Marius Poskus - 25:16 Yeah, and that’s the thing. It depends how I guess there’s a couple of angles you can do. You can gamify a lot of it and create a sort of healthy competition, but it’s a very fine line between competition and obviously becoming a toxic. But I guess the important part of it is create an understanding, create a relatable training and structure of understanding why these specific risks that we have. Why do we need to solve these specific risks and what’s the impact? And I feel that’s where normally is the disconnect between especially if we talk with development teams, sometimes we just tell them go and fix this vulnerability. But unless they are given the context and understanding of why do they need to fix that vulnerability, the chances are it creates a learning curve where you might not see that vulnerability in the future.
Marius Poskus - 26:05 Instead of just whacking a ticket and say please solve it.
Francesco Cipollone - 26:09 Most of the time it’s not just one vulnerability but it’s 20,000 vulnerabilities. Like can you please fix this list and randomly choose? But on that subject, sorry, I just.
Marius Poskus - 26:22 Wanted to add on that thing. I think as well, normally when you go into and expand into various departments, you get a pushback saying oh, security is not a problem, but it’s about how you I always try now to relate security with quality. So security is part of the quality properties. So if you want to build a quality code, security has to be built in. Because when I always say to people, when you left the house this morning, did someone lock the door for you? No, you did it yourself. So security is part of your responsibilities in your area.
Francesco Cipollone - 26:53 I like that analogy.
John Kinsella - 26:55 I want to jump into there real quick because I think going back to what I was talking about originally, you’re asking what is application security? I think what Marius is just saying sort of hits it. One of the things we’ve seen over the last few years is application security was it used to be a part of the security team, right? Like those dudes in the back who sort of knew what coding was. But they’re security people. And we’re now seeing that development teams are pushing the budget for application security. So a lot of development teams out there are actually embracing that they need to do this AppSec thing. But at the same time as they embrace it, they want to do it in a way which makes sense to them.
John Kinsella - 27:29 So I think as we’re picking these metrics or what they are, that might be something to also keep in mind. It’s like who’s consuming that metric? Is it Marius? Is his directors or is it like a manager? Or is it the dude who’s actually doing the code?
Francesco Cipollone - 27:43 I like that and I think it’s changing and it depends on the maturity curve of the organization and also the ownership. And back. On the first point, I think we have organizations that consider upsec separately from CLOUDSEC and infrastructure security, and then you have the more modern organization that look at the full you build it, you own it with SRE and Observability, where you have full control of your application security stack all the way down to the code and the patching and the infrastructure. So the metric that matters to one organization I found very painfully don’t matters to other organization and the threshold that matters for one organization and the methodology don’t matter for others. But back on the vulnerability overload, I wanted to introduce Jay and the work that they’ve done. They’ve been fascinating work that they’ve done on EPSs.
Francesco Cipollone - 28:37 And I want touch on the angle on EPSs and application security because I think it’s not a subject that we talked enough and when it works and when it doesn’t but before diving in, what is EPSs? Jay?
Jay Jacobs - 28:50 So EPSs is the exploit prediction scoring system and it basically was born out of the concept that if what was it that Lord Kelvin quote about? If you can’t manage what you can’t measure kind of a thing and basically you don’t learn unless you have feedback. If you think about trying to hit a golf ball, if you always hit a golf ball and never looked where it went, you probably wouldn’t improve much, right? Same thing with vulnerability management and basically anything that if you want to do better, you have to look at what’s actually being exploited and or compromised and the impact and all the other stuff because a lot of the earlier comments were absolutely right, it just comes down to risk. And one element of that I thought was relatively easy to measure in vulnerability management was that exploitation.
Jay Jacobs - 29:37 That we can actually go out and gather evidence of exploitation and I can go into great detail about how we define that and go after it and capture that data because that’s a huge part of this. But we basically get that evidence of exploitation and then we try to model what it takes to predict that moving forward. And there’s all sorts of interesting tricks and things that we can do to talk about how the past can or does not inform the future and we can measure that. And so that’s largely what EPSs is. We gather all this evidence of exploitation activity, we’ve got a good. List of data partners that we’re trying to grow and we use that data then to predict future exploitation activity.
Jay Jacobs - 30:20 And so every day for all of the published CVEs, we publish a score that is the probability that CVE will be exploited one or more days out of the next 30 days. And we’ve got a lot of material published on this. We’re just at our third paper, peer reviewed academic paper and a lot of stuff on the website and some of it we have to update. But it’s all out there. We’ve got a lot of stuff out there on it. And so that’s what EPSs is. It’s all about CVEs and the probability of exploitation.
Francesco Cipollone - 30:50 Brilliant. And there is an interesting angle in here because library has CVE and library have a version while code is a little bit more harder to measure because it’s not static like a CVE, it’s not a timestamp version. And I think what I’ve seen at scale is EPSs has a fantastic effect where you can actually measure something that is fixing a specific version while in code is actually more challenging because it depends a lot on the context. And you’ve done a lot of work on this. Tell us a little bit more about this very interesting aspect.
Jay Jacobs - 31:27 Yeah, the difference between CVEs and what those represent and then you have CVEs in the open source libraries and then you’ve got vulnerabilities in custom code and these are fascinating area to study. First off, it’s just super fun. But the system, I think, of exploitation, when something gets a CVE, there’s so many things that happen, right? Information gets published, we typically have something that we can start to log evidence of exploitation for. Without that CVE, it becomes super hard to correlate. Someone has this vulnerability. And how do you write a signature, detect it and what do you call it at that point? And how do you bring different data sources together? Becomes much more problematic without any sort of common nomenclature. But when these things get published into a CVE, I think that maybe the attackers become more aware.
Jay Jacobs - 32:22 They start to realize, hey, this is out there. And when you have a custom piece of software that may not be widely distributed and it’s only in your one location that may not have the same exploitation landscape but when you start talking about open source code where it is widely distributed and it does become more like an infrastructure type of thing like a firewall or router or something or desktop It starts to become more like that CVE publication public distribution thing. And so there’s a lot of nuances here, but it’s definitely a fascinating area to study.
Francesco Cipollone - 33:00 No, I do agree and I see that. One thing that I’m curious about though, the more we’re going to rely on EPSs, whether an attacker start looking at the known EPSs data so the low exportability score to actually sidetrack if everybody’s using EPSs or everybody’s using a score to use the negative score. So when things get implemented at scale, then we have a big spot and sore spot.
Jay Jacobs - 33:35 Yeah. So to answer your first question about are the attackers going to shift and start using ups for it? And I hope so. Anything we can do that forces the attackers to shift has got to be a good thing. But also that sort of goes to why we need to update this stuff. This isn’t like we aren’t going to build a model and be like, hey, we’re done, we got it. It’ll be good for next 20 years. It won’t be. We’re trying to retrain these every six to twelve months. And during those months we’re measuring, how is it still performing, how are we looking at 30 days ago we said these probabilities, how did it perform according to the data we’ve collected? But you have to keep updating.
Jay Jacobs - 34:14 So if the attackers are going to shift, and they do, and they will, we have to keep updating our knowledge and keep updating what we expect them to do moving forward and measuring that performance going forward.
Francesco Cipollone - 34:26 Now, that’s brilliant. And I think you publish on the website several example and I talked a lot several example where EPSs catch up with the data source that you can see, as well as example where EPSs catch up very quickly like log four J, I think, was the more evident one where specific data source catched it or scored it a little bit faster than EPSs scored it and then kind of converging. What are your thoughts on that subject? If somebody has to use EPSs, how to optimally use EPSs? Yeah.
Jay Jacobs - 35:06 So big picture first, it does come down to risk, and EPSs is only the exploitation, right? And so it is not an entire risk picture you want to talk about. Okay, if exploitation activity occurs first, is this even in my environment? If it is, do I have any compensated controls? How am I going to resist? How am I going to detect all of those things? And then the asset criticality and what’s on the asset? What’s going to happen if it is compromised? All of that stuff. And so EPSs is one part of that entire decision. And then the other thing, going back to sort of the timing, the first thing you should do is always act on intelligence first. Like if you know something is actively being exploited, don’t check EPSs because EPSs is a probability.
Jay Jacobs - 35:52 It’s sort of like if I flip coin before I flip it and I say, what is the chance of heads? And you’re going to say 50%. And then I flip it and I look at it and I said, do you want to change your opinion? Because you’re wrong. You’re like, no, you don’t have any other new information. But then if we show you and it either is or isn’t, you want to act on that information, right? If you know the answer, don’t go looking at an estimate of the answer, right? So if something is being exploited, go after that. Like log for J, for example.
Jay Jacobs - 36:20 We did a write up on the website and I think in the opening paragraph I said, if you’re around and working that weekend, December 10 of 2021, or whatever it was, and you need to check a scoring system for this vulnerability, you’re probably doing your job wrong, right? I mean, like, the internet was on fire for it and so then to use that as a poster child to say how good or bad EPSs was, it’s sort of irrelevant at that point. But EPSs is 100% data driven and so it’s going to react to the data that it can get its hands on. It doesn’t interpret people’s various connotation that they’re putting out on social media or anything like that. It may look for like volume of posts about something and so there’s some nuance there, but it does look for other things.
Jay Jacobs - 37:07 Like one of the biggest variables that blew my mind was the number of references in a published CVE is a huge predictor. Just the number of URLs in a CVE is a very large predictor. And I think log for J is what, over a few hundred at this point in that CVE? Yeah. And so the average CVE in these years, the last few years, like two or three, so when you see something with over 300, it’s kind of a good indicator that there’s something going on there, right? And so the model has sort of figured that out. And then there’s other things, like, do we see a published exploit, all of that stuff. So if something is published and it doesn’t have any exploit code out there, it has two references in the CVE, it’s got this, it’s got that.
Jay Jacobs - 37:54 It’s going to be scored low, right? It’s looking at the environment, the model is looking at the data it’s able to collect and it’s going to score low or towards the bottom or something. But sometimes if it’s Microsoft and it’s this particular attribute and this type of vulnerability, it may jump up without some of the huge red flags. And so, I mean, that’s basically what it is. It’s going to react to the data at hand and generally it does pretty good, but it will be wrong at times. Absolutely. And so if you have other information, use that first. If you don’t have information, like if you don’t know if it’s being exploited, that’s where EPSs is going to come into play.
Jay Jacobs - 38:31 It’s going to help you with beyond the few hundred or a few thousand that you may have evidence of exploitation for, how do you look at the rest of them? And that’s what that’s going to be good for.
Francesco Cipollone - 38:42 Thank you so much. And I think it’s risk reward opportunity. If you are a specific national state that is going to be highly targeted at day zero of a ground zero attack, or if you’re a particular software provider that has a chain of very critical hospital, or if your national state or if you’re critical, national infrastructure. Your risk profile is going to be entirely different and hence the time to react will be entirely different. While 98% of other folks out there, they just need to be a little bit better than their neighbor. And that’s where EPSs, I love EPSs because of that.
Jay Jacobs - 39:23 Yeah. And to that .1 of the pushback that we often get with EPSs is that we don’t offer categories, we don’t say this is a critical, this is a high, anything like that. We’ve got a score between zero and one. And the reason is, I think someone said it before if you’re a small organization, you may have a larger risk appetite you may be more tolerant of taking more risk on, and your threshold for what to fix might be completely different than, say, a large, mature financial institution may consider a whole different threshold as being critical. And we got to fix it this month or this next two days. And those thresholds are going to vary. So for us from a central organization to say these are critical and these are hot, I think that’s a terrible thing to do as a central organization.
Francesco Cipollone - 40:07 And I praise your effort on resisting on a top ten score or a scale of four aspect of marketing because I like the fact that will stimulate the industry to go to a more risk based approach and probabilistic approach and consider other aspect that is like critical element and not all of it. And you might want to just use EPSs to a specific bucketing system, but that’s entirely up to your risk appetite.
Jay Jacobs - 40:37 Yeah, go ahead.
Mike Shema - 40:40 I was going to say if I could add real quick, I wanted to expand one of the things that Jay you had mentioned mentioning log for J or just like these are probabilities in the spirit of what can AppSec do? AppSec can also help with the idea of run a tabletop exercise before the next zero day or the scary log for J or whatever, take a volume, say what if the EPSs score is the magic 100%? Let’s just roll that. And that type of tabletop exercise can help you say, well, do we have an asset inventory? Even mature organizations probably don’t have one, but it can start to help you say, well, we have a pretty good one in the cloud because AWS knows how to bill us for our resources so we could find those resources. But maybe we’re missing.
Mike Shema - 41:24 We have these other gaps as well as it’s going to get that sense of can we fix this fast? Meaning is our CI CD pipeline, do we have tests that don’t have like a break glass capability to them? So we actually have to wait 6 hours to push through a release. And all these can be done in the much lower stress environments when you’re not over that weekend of dealing with Log for J. So that’s one of those things that AppSec, I think, can help with and spend time on this more strategic, more helpful to the organization than just go fix this.
Jay Jacobs - 41:57 Yeah, and think about the scramble just in Log for J, about finding where it is exactly to your point, like the asset inventory and all that. So sorry, Chris, go ahead, no worries.
Chris Madden - 42:07 Yeah, I was going to plus one on what Mike said is in the asset inventory is important and the software inventory as well is what software? What libraries have you got? The other interesting thing that where AppSec can help but nobody uses is understanding root causes for things is in gathering all your data, doing the data analysis, coming up with the root causes is your software ten years old. Whatever open source dependencies or whatever the thing is, coming up with the root causes for all your software and data in your OpSec pipeline is a fairly simple thing to do with the exploratory data analysis tools, but nobody does it. And it can be done at your leisure before the next zero day critical thing drops.
Francesco Cipollone - 42:52 Maybe I’m gonna be fictitious here, I’m gonna be controversial. Shall we stop calling it threat modeling exercise and call it business continuity exercise? Because that’s what lock for J was. We were on the brink of being afraid to be crippled or the zealous vulnerability. And depending who you are, which side of that data breach you wear is still business continuity. As long as we call it security or upsetting, it’s going to be really getting in the realm of, yeah, that’s a security thing. As soon as we call it, well, let’s do a business assessment of like, do we have the asset information? If we lose this asset, what is the business impact of that? Do we know that our third supplier or our software supplier is going to be compromised with this? What is the impact from a business perspective on our critical survivability?
Francesco Cipollone - 43:46 I found that calling it with different name can bring maybe different people on the table.
Marius Poskus - 43:53 Yeah, sorry, I’m just going to add Francesco. I think it’s the way I think the whole industry is trending as well because we’ve been talking in the latest San CISO networking event as well. So 2010s were all kind of us trying to reduce the likelihood of risk, which always been done sort of at the perimeter and edge security, whereas 2020 feels like it’s inevitable that something’s going to happen. So how we can reduce the impact and we shifted from reducing the likelihood to reducing the impact and actually, should something happen, how do we still maintain business operations and actually still take money? So I think that’s where our industry is moving now.
Mike Shema - 44:41 I hear definitely the aspect in the CIA triad availability as the primary aspect of that business continuity but in the spirit of what you’re going for, BCP sounds great. And then maybe also throw in like privacy aspect because a lot of organizations now have a chief privacy officer or fall under CCPA GDPR and there’s a difference between log four J. Did that just impact continuity, impact availability or was that on a system that has customer data privacy? So I’d be happy to move on from just calling everything threat modeling and aligning that language with the people that are involved because a lot of BCP and privacy typically don’t have very strong AppSec presences.
Francesco Cipollone - 45:28 Brilliant. So let’s move on from application security threat modeling into business continuity and how can we use the data driven model to actually assess hold on our asset inventory that we’ve been fighting for years or our supply chain that is I don’t think it’s a new thing. We’ve been fighting this since threats and we don’t seems to learn the lesson of there is a particular library or a particular piece of software that might impact across the board. But what I’ve seen and I want to hear the opinion on the panel is the likelihood and the perspective and the amount of time those library got attacked made all the business shift in terms of likelihood of those things to happen. Strats happened one point in time and then there was quiet up until OpenSSL, Heartbeat and few others.
Francesco Cipollone - 46:26 Well right now we’re seeing an exploit of a software library, open source library on a very much more consistent basis. What’s your opinion? Let’s start with Mike.
Mike Shema - 46:39 I get to talk again. I think Struts is interesting. I think there was an article, somebody wrote a blog post this summer about Equifax pointing out that Equifax for the most part fixed their struts, what they knew of within 48 hours. What they got caught out on was their asset inventory didn’t cover this legacy system. I think if I remember correctly, the legacy system wasn’t even exploited until roughly 30 days after the vulnerability had been announced. So I guess I want to pull this back. My answer will come back around to asset inventory which John started us off with and the time to response and the metrics around time meaning perhaps time that you can identify are you exposed to this? The time it takes to fix, but it would hesitate to gamify that.
Mike Shema - 47:35 But also and maybe a little bit of EPSs would helps out this but the time you’re taking away from your developers, meaning you’re telling them about all these low risk vulnerabilities or you’re just telling them fix this, fix this in the sense of so many alerts that’s just a distraction. So I guess I’ll throw in my time as my dimension being a Doctor Who fan.
Francesco Cipollone - 47:59 Brilliant. Chris, what’s your opinion on it?
Chris Madden - 48:03 Yeah, so long time ago, I won’t say which company I was working in, I was aware of the risk associated with software and open source software. And just because we’re talking about open source software just to highlight, that doesn’t mean all the vulnerabilities are open source, it just means that 80% of the software in our apps is open source. And we’re talking about that here. There’s all the vulnerabilities in the software we write, which is separate, right? So just to clarify that a long time ago within a company I had put together this software supply chain risk management value stream, which was an adjunct to our software assurance for the software we write.
Chris Madden - 48:43 And trying to explain, look across our build pipeline, the open source software that we intake, it’s a risk and here’s why and software supply chain and all that and it was like what’s all that about? And then SolarWinds came along and then life as we knew it changed and everyone knew what that was about. So it’s kind of funny to see how the perspective changed and it’s the gift that keeps on giving. We have the Spring shells, log for J’s and shells and they’re all these things. And now software supply chain risk management, it’s become a thing and everyone knows what it is, no explanation required. And that’s a good thing. It exists.
Chris Madden - 49:24 We’re now interestingly, I think, at the stage where there’s a lot of standards popping up around it, and there’s many in a sort of separate recent effort, I was involved with a professor working with industry, let’s say companies. And developing a proactive software supply chain risk management standard so people could look at it without having to read the 20 different standards on supply chain to figure out, well, what do I need to do? What’s everyone else doing? And what do I need to do? So this whole concept of software supply chain, it’s maturing as sort of on the back of solar winds, et cetera, but we’re not there yet. You hear about S bombs, we should all have S bombs, but in reality nobody has working S bombs.
Chris Madden - 50:19 I think, and that’s a strong statement, but they’re not at the point where everybody’s using them and they’re useful. My colleague DJ has a whole podcast with the thought leaders on that is called Thebomb Show. And so S bombs will come as well as a follow on. So it’s an area that’s maturing and there’s lots more to happen in this space.
Francesco Cipollone - 50:46 Brilliant. And I think with Steve Spring that we discuss about even the evolution of bomb to P bomb and softer bill of material that is extending away from just pure libraries to actually asset management. It seems to joke and go back to asset management, but on that software asset management, john, what’s your opinion? Are we going to get to that point or are we going to just circle on it?
John Kinsella - 51:15 I think software asset management, we should have a chance and the reason I’m going down this path is more and more of what we’re doing is automated. Less and less of what we have is a developer has a mercury repo, like underneath the desk or something like that, right? We’re using most of us are really shifting towards GitHub actions. I don’t know, pick the Amazon or de Aure version of it, but some sort of centralized code base. S bombs, I think are and we covered on ASW earlier this year, s bombs themselves are fairly easy to generate, lots of ways to do it. The question is, what do you do with them? Now you’ve got this other thing to track in your inventory, the tools. Are they’re improving compared to where they were a year ago?
John Kinsella - 52:01 But still, this is definitely one of the situations where the thing was made before the things were made to do something with that thing. So inventory is improving. I think the one interesting thing back from the earlier comment about internal versus open source code, the internal code is just where when you create the vulnerabilities, you keep them to yourself versus with open source, you share the vulnerabilities with everyone else. So you still have to do something with them. Right? You have to track them. You have to understand where they are. They’re probably going to be harder to find since you don’t have signatures or sort of more common methods of tracking those things down. But yeah, I think a lot of this also comes down to that maturity model. Like, where is someone like sort of both how big is an organization?
John Kinsella - 52:51 How many of these cats are you trying to herd? But then also, how sophisticated are you in your herding? Right? I don’t know. What my analogies today? Do you have a bunch of sheep hounds that are really well trained for your whistling? Or is it like you’re just sort of like throwing rocks and hoping that the sheep go in the right direction? So there’s a lot of wherever you are on that maturity model is going to come down to which one of these tools you’re going to be using and how do you use it. I mean, okay, imagine if I gift you like a five person shop, some hundred and $50,000 asset inventory software inventory system that would take two or three guys full time to run, plus the training, plus everything else. It’s useless to them. Right?
John Kinsella - 53:33 So it’s not just the sophistication of the metrics, the tools, how do you find these things, but also has to be matched with what are the capabilities of that organization, where are they on that maturity curve?
Francesco Cipollone - 53:43 And I like the maturity curve, but we have few minutes, so I want to just manage touch Jay and Marius. Jay, what’s your opinion on are we getting more and more mature or less mature?
Jay Jacobs - 53:57 I would love it if we can look back in five years and look at the time now and sort of laugh at how archaic we are or something like that, like we advance so much that this looks ridiculous, that would be awesome. But I want touch on this automation thing that John was talking about and I think that’s so critical. I think it is absolutely critical and more from remediation standpoint. So if you’re building libraries, open source code, anything like that, they’ll have some reuse. The ability for people to put that in place, put a new version in place without the hassle is really critical. And so as we’re studying remediation times, if anybody remembers Microsoft from like 2000, they were terrible at security, just absolutely terrible and pretty widespread.
Jay Jacobs - 54:44 And they would put out patches that would bring down systems and one of the biggest things they did was made those patches more reliable and then they started patch Tuesday and made the timing more reliable. And now they are one of the fastest platforms to get remediated when vulnerabilities are found and CVS are issued and getting patches out there. They are one of the most quickest remediation things to happen on networks. Now google is catching up with Chrome being autofix, things like that in open source we need to be able to give people that trust that when something needs to be updated that it can be updated if it’s going to cause hassle. One of the worst things actually slowest to be remediated is Java.
Jay Jacobs - 55:25 It is by far one of the slowest things in any network to get updated and remediated because I think anybody who worked with it knows that pain. And so I think that’s one of the areas that from a remediation and robustness of resilience of code we need to work on that remediation and fix strategy and make that a lot more painless.
Francesco Cipollone - 55:45 I like the example because I think regression testing the scare of something to be broken and the ramification of upgrading and bumping up a library of, God forbid, a source control or a Java virtual machine from one version to the other that’s going to break completely. The method or even Spring Boot and the rest of the methods are still terrifying because of the amount of regression testing that people want to do. But we’re getting better where risk reward is actually lower and lower and reachability versus just bumping up a library is getting less rewarding on actually decompiling that library and identifying where is the vulnerability versus just pump up the library. Marius, what’s your opinion on it?
Marius Poskus - 56:36 I think we are moving in the right direction. I think especially because we are working now in everything’s becoming interconnected, most of the organizations moving into the cloud. So I think the way we can negate some of the work that we do in some of the manual work is we now can start scaling our governance policies in cloud at scale. So as long as we set our correct governance structure and strategy. You can fix some of the stuff just by policies of enforcing repeatable processes time and time again of how and what you fix and then whatever you need to test. And obviously you can again create an automated test where you just have a person overlooking instead of actually person doing those tests. So I think we’re on the right track.
Marius Poskus - 57:23 We just obviously there’s still some time to go until we get there. But I think as technology evolves, our thinking evolves and how we address be, I think hopefully we’re going to get there soon.
Francesco Cipollone - 57:38 Brilliant. And we just time. So I want to leave everyone with the hope that in five years, as Jay said, we’re going to look at this podcast and this panel and we see we advance so much that now all the asset management are done, risk assessed. We have real time information about the assets. The exportability and attacker don’t have a chance anymore to bridge. But unfortunately, I’m a pessimist and an optimist at the same time. So I think we’re going to face a different kind of challenges and we all going to have a job tomorrow as we have it today, defending our organization. But hopefully it’s going to be a little bit less stressful and a bit more interesting than just chasing up a library in a patch. Everyone, thank you very much for the time that you came today.
Francesco Cipollone - 58:23 It’s been a brilliant panel. I know that we’re at the time, if you want to leave with the last thoughts, I’m going to just do around and do the round of very quick last thoughts on the subject I’m going to gain. Start with Mike.
Mike Shema - 58:37 You don’t have to fix all the talk. Have a different conversation with your developers about anything other than just fixing a bunch of volumes. Talk about design, something like that.
Francesco Cipollone - 58:47 Brilliant.
Jay Jacobs - 58:48 Jay, I think the biggest thing is feedback. Whatever you’re doing, try to do it in a way that you can look at the feedback from your decisions and actions, including design and all of that stuff.
Francesco Cipollone - 59:01 Brilliant.
Chris Madden - 59:02 Chris, I think understand your data that’s really understand what you have and the data from your tools and put it together. Holistically disclaimer. No live moles were whacked in the making of this presentation.
Francesco Cipollone - 59:18 I love that.
Chris Madden - 59:19 John.
John Kinsella - 59:22 I’m going to say think about your budget, right? So it doesn’t matter if you have 10 million things out there to fix or five, but it comes down to what is that budget? Both monetary plus your resources, plus your skill set. And then based off that, you have to figure out what you’re going to do with it.
Francesco Cipollone - 59:37 Brilliant. Marius?
Marius Poskus - 59:40 I would say take your organization on the culture journey and how we can collaborate between the teams and get them together. It’s not operations versus security or versus development. It’s how we work together and get that problem solved.
Francesco Cipollone - 59:56 Fantastic. And I’m going to. Leave everyone with the last thought. That is, let’s stop calling it Vulnerability management, application security, and let’s call it Business continuity and survivability. Everyone, thank you so much. It was a beautiful panel. And stay safe out there. See ya.
Chris Madden - 01:00:16 Thanks, Frank.
Francesco Cipollone - 01:00:17 Bye bye.
Marius Poskus - 01:00:17 Thank you.