Thursday, November 20, 2014

ICMC: Is Anybody Listening? Business Issues in Cryptographic Implementations?

Mary Ann Davidson, Chief Security Officer, Oracle Corporation

A tongue in cheek title... of course we're hoping nobody is listening!  While Ms. Davidson is not a lobbyist, she does spend time reading a lot of legislation - and tries not to pull out all of her hair.

There are business concerns around this legislation - we have to worry about how we comply, doing it right, etc.  Getting it right is very important at Oracle - that's why we don't let our engineers write their own crytpo [1] - we leverage known good cryptographic libraries.  Related to that, validations are critical to show we're doing this right. There should not be exceptions.

Security vulnerabilities... the last 6 months have been exhausting. What is going on?  We all are leveraging opensource we think is safe.

We would've loved if we could've said that we knew where all of our OpenSSL libraries were when we heard about Heartbleed. But, we didn't - it took us about 3 weeks to find them all! We all need to do better: better at tracking, better at awareness, better at getting the fixes out.

It could be worse - old source code doesn't go away, it just becomes unsupportable.  Nobody's customer wants to hear, "Sorry, we can't patch your system because that software is so old."

Most frustrating?  Everyone is too excited to tell the world about the vulnerability they found - it doesn't give vendors time to address this before EVERYONE knows how to attack the vulnerability. Please use responsible disclosure.

This isn't religion - this is a business problem! We need reliable and responsible disclosures. We need to have good patching processes in place in advance so we are prepared.We need our opensource code analyzed - don't assume there's "a thousand eyes" looking at it.

Ms. Davidson joked about her ethical hacking team. What does that mean? When they hack into our payroll system, they can only change her title - not her pay scale. How do you think she got to be CSO? ;-)

Customers are too hesitant to upgrade - but newer really is better! We are smarter now than we used to be, and sorry we just cannot patch you thousand year old system. We can't - you need to upgrade! The algorithms are better, the software is more secure - we've learned and you need to upgrade to reap those benefits.

But we need everyone to work with us - we cannot have software sitting in someone's queue for 6 months (or more) to get our validation done.  That diminishes our value of return - 6 months is a large chunk of a product's life cycle. Customers are stuck on these old versions of software, waiting for our new software to get its gold star. Six weeks? Sure - we can do that. Six months? No.

Ms. Davidson is not a lobbyist, but she's willing to go to Capital Hill to get more money for NIST. Time has real money value. How do we fix this?

What's a moral hazard? Think about the housing market - people were making bad investments, buying houses they couldn't afford to try to flip houses and it didn't work out. We rewarded those people, but not those who bought what they could afford (or didn't buy at all) - we rewarded their bad risk taking.

Can we talk with each other?  NIST says "poTAHto", NIAP says "poTAHto" - why aren't they talking?  FIPS 140-2 requires Common Criteria validations for the underlying OS for higher levels of validations - but NIAP said they don't want to do validations

We need consistency in order to do our jobs. Running around trying to satisfy the Nights Who Say Ni is not a good use of time.

And... The entropy of ... entropy requirements.  These are not specific, this is not "I know it when I see it". And why is NIAP getting into entropy business? That's the realm of NIST/FIPS.

Ms. Davidson ends with a modest proposal: Don't outsource your core mission.  Consultants are not neutral - and she's disturbed by all of the consultants she's seeing on The Hill.  They are not neutral - they will act in their own economic interest. How many times can they charge you for coming back and asking for clarification? Be aware of that.

She also requests that we promote the private-public partnership.  We need to figure out what the government is actually worried about - how is telling them the names of every individual that worked on code help with their mission? It's a great onus on business, and we're international companies - other countries won't like us sharing data about their citizens. Think about what we're trying to accomplish, and what is feasible for business to handle.

Finally, let's have "one security world order" - this is so much better than the Balkanization of security.  This ISO standard (ISO 19790) is a step in the right direction. Let's work together on the right solutions.

[1] Unless you're one of the teams at Oracle, like mine, who's job it is to write the cryptographic libraries for use by the rest of the organization. But even then, we do NOT invent our own algorithms. That would just be plain silly.