September 2, 2014

Context Aware Security: Is It Time for Your Organization to Implement this Approach in Protecting Its Assets?

Photo Courtesy of ComputerWeekly.com

Photo Courtesy of ComputerWeekly.com

Has your organization adopted a “context aware” IT security model?  Perhaps, it has adopted a single password model of IT security approach —and, if it has done so, then as members of your organization’s information and network security team, it is your responsibility to at least consider the benefits of moving beyond an IT security equivalent of “putting all your eggs in one basket” to an IT security model smart enough to add context to a security event.

As Leon Ward states in a recently posted article, “…..context aware security is the use of situational information (such as identity, location, and time of day, reputation and so on) to improve information security decisions. In practice this means that applications accept ‘you’ as ‘you’ not merely based on whether you have used the correct password, but based on whether you are behaving like you. By doing this, it ensures that more accurate security decisions are taken to provide better protection against advanced threats.”

From an IT security perspective, your organization may be facing a generation gap when it comes to combatting today’s attacks. Adversaries are using next-generation attack methods while many organizations are relying on tactical, static security solutions to solve a problem at point in time. And the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Designed for another time, most point-in-time first generation network security devices can’t keep pace with challenges like advanced attacks, performance demands and automation.

One of the major responsibilities of information security team members is to inform upper management of this potential risk management threat and to advise management that it may well be time to begin to review, evaluate and perhaps begin the transformation to context-aware and adaptive security infrastructure as IT security teams consider the replacement of legacy, static security infrastructure, such as firewalls, as well as secure web gateways and endpoint protection platforms.

To assist the awareness of this risk, please consider looking at the information provided by the links below:

  1. Context Aware Security: Why Behavior Beats Passwords” by Leon Ward
  2. A Dynamic, Context-Aware Security Infrastructure for Distributed Healthcare Applications” thesis by Junzhe Hu and Alfred C. Weaver, Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904.
  3. A Context-Aware Security Architecture for Emerging Applications” by Michael J. Covingtony, Prahlad Fogla, Zhiyuan Zhan, Mustaque Ahamad, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology.
  4. Context aware security: How to find out who is doing what to your data systems” by Bob Tarzey, Service Director, Quocirca, Copyright Quocirca © 2013.
  5. The Future of Information Security is Context Aware and Adaptive“, Gartner RAS CORE Research, Neil MacDonald.
  6. Context Aware Computing and the User Experience”, Slideshare by William Clark, David W. Clearley and Avivah Litan.

If applicable, please pass this information along to those other IT risk management and disaster preparedness team members in your organization.

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