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GCN : December 2012
FEATURE CYBERSECURITY mans would fit into the decision loop. With attacks occurring and evolving at the speed of IT, human response times no longer are adequate to counter many threats, even with a trained workforce available to do the analysis and make decisions. But false positives and unintended consequences are facts of IT systems, and some observers are concerned that turning too much authority over to the machines could do more harm than good. So the effort is moving ahead at a deliberate pace. "We want to make sure we have as much input as possible," the DHS official said. The goal of Automated Collective Ac- tion is defined in the RFI as processes within the system or community of inter- est that pick automated courses of action to be carried out by the ecosystem in re- sponse to cybersecurity threats. "Policies, procedures, technology and a high level of trust are necessary to en- able automated collective action," ac- cording to the DHS/NIST document. "An appropriate level of human intervention might be required to ensure unintended consequences do not result from flawed courses of action. Determining which cy- bersecurity events are normal and which are unauthorized or malicious remains a major challenge." SOME TOOLS IN PLACE Like environmentalists, who are en- couraged to think globally and act lo- cally, a secure cyber ecosystem would combine local response with global awareness. The concept is not entirely new, and pieces of it already are being developed in the form of standards and best practices such as the Security Con- tent Automation Protocol developed by NIST for use by agencies in assessing, monitoring and reporting on system se- curity status. But moving from these isolated parts to an integrated, autonomous ecosys- tem that crosses enterprise boundaries remains a challenging task, the RFI ac- knowledges. "Implementing automated collective action in defense of the cyber ecosystem will require a partnership and a common collective vision among the private sector, academia, government and consumers." Much of the concept of a secure cy- ber ecosystem is an effort to correct the shortcomings of a networked envi- ronment that was not developed with security in mind or even with an un- derstanding of how it would be used by individuals, businesses and govern- ments, said Michael A. Brown, a former fed and now manager of federal business for RSA, the security division of EMC. Functionality in the Internet and its as- sociated networks and applications often were developed with little thought given to standards or security, and these ap- plications became business critical tools only after they had entered widespread consumer use, said Brown, a retired rear GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM 19 ++ INTEROPERABILITY, which includes semantic elements such as standardized lexicons; technical interoperability between di erent brands and types of products and tools; and policy. Security management already is taking advantage of some of these elements; Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP), for instance, is an example of semantic interoperability. The challenge is moving beyond management to operational security. AUTHENTICATION, which is necessary to provide the trust needed for information sharing and automation. "The Emerging National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace may serve as a model," according to the Reitinger paper.