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Meetings and minutes
|Dates and locations||CISO meeting at TNC2014, 19 May 2014, Dublin, Ireland|
28 September 2012, Ljubljana, Slovenia
26 September 2013, London, UK
3 December 2013, on-line
20 March 2014, Cambridge, UK
24 February 2104
19 May 2014, Dublin, Ireland
3-4 September 2014, Utrecht, Netherlands
1st NREN Chief Security Officers’ Meeting
28 September 2012
Hotel Slon, Ljubljana, Slovenia
A meeting of individuals designated as security officers within TERENA National and International Members was suggested by the TERENA Advisory Council at its meeting in May 2012. The aim was identify the security interests of these organisations beyond incident handling and response, to identify who (if anyone) was responsible for security affairs, and to determine whether there is any requirement for wider collaboration within the TERENA community.
To this end, a meeting was organised adjacent to the 37th TF-CSIRT meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia to which NRENs were asked to send their Chief Security Officers (CSOs). This is a relatively new concept within research and education organisations, so it was expected that many, if not most of these organisations would not officially have a nominated CSO. However, organisations were asked to send the person most fitting the role, or who might fulfil such a role in future.
A number of discussion points were circulated in advance of the meeting as follows:
The meeting was held using an open discussion format. This report summaries the outcome of the discussions and the conclusions that were formulated.
Why are Chief Security Officers necessary?
A Chief Security Officer is usually a senior level executive within an organisation responsible for information security. This may include systems, network and data security; incident response and handling; regulatory compliance; risk management; and disaster recovery. They are commonplace in medium-to-large commercial companies, and are increasingly employed in government and other types of organisation. However, the concept is relatively unknown within the research and education community, and very few NRENs appear to have a designated CSO.
CSOs have become increasingly important as organisations become almost totally reliant on IT information systems. Whilst not all NRENs operate truly mission critical systems, incidents can still cause a great deal of disruption and damage, and resolving them can cost significant amounts of effort and money. In addition, there can be a significant loss of reputation that can ultimately affect the continued existence of an NREN, and even expose them to legal liabilities.
What is the role of a Chief Security Officer?
It was generally agreed that a CSO needed to advise management on security matters, and in crisis situations, even have the ability to execute emergency powers. As a result, such roles ideally needed to be part of the management team, or at least have a very close working relationship with it. A pre-requisite for assessing and mitigating risks was to compile and maintain an inventory of assets, to understand operational requirements, and to define the role and extent of the CSO responsibilities. For example, system and network security would traditionally be expected to fall under the remit of a CSO, but their role should also encompass physical access to buildings and data storage. In addition, security awareness training, a public relations policy for dealing with the press, and even a social media policy for employees may be required in the modern environment.
It should be clear that the primary responsibility of a CSO should be to assess and document potential risks to IT services develop a policy for minimising these risks, and then to have a disaster recovery plan in the event that the worst happens. Other responsibilities might be to ensure compliance with regulatory and other legal requirements, and to implement processes that might lead to external certification in due course (which typically takes 3 to 5 years). In some circumstances, a CSO might even take a role in advising law makers in the development of appropriate legislation. It is extremely important to establish and maintain communication channels between key members of staff. It is also important these channels are regularly tested, and possibly even periodic drills held to ensure that everyone in the process understands what is required from them.
Who has a Chief Security Officer?
Only CERN, DANTE, CSC (parent organisation of Funet) and UNINETT currently had an officially designated Chief Security Officer, although in the case of DANTE, this was a very recent appointment in response to an external audit. Most other organisations had someone who advised on security matters, but these duties were mostly undertaken on an informal basis and they had no powers or responsibilities in crisis situations. The persons informally advising on security matters were usually those working in Computer Incident Response and Security Teams (CSIRTs), largely because these are often the only established security-related activities within organisations. Incident handling and response is a specialised aspect of security though, and is usually not concerned with physical security and disaster recovery. CSIRT staff are typically concerned with enforcing policies, but not making those policies.
Who has a Disaster Management and Business Continuity Plan?
Every organisation present had some sort of disaster management plan, although the exact nature of these varied considerably. Seven organisations had formal organisationwide plans, two had separate departmental plans, whilst two had unofficial plans. However, only three organisations actually had plans for alternative (off-site) provision of services in the event of disaster. Three organisations had actually been forced to implement their crisis management/recovery plans in the past, whilst a further organisation enacted their plan in response to an external disaster (earthquake). These plans had generally proved adequate, although in one case the plans had ultimately proved inadequate due to unforeseen complications relating to an ongoing and extreme external crisis. It was generally felt though, that NRENs were reactive rather than proactive with respect to crisis management.
2nd NREN Chief Security Officers’ Meeting
26 September 2013
Chairman: James Davis, Janet
Notes: Michael Nowlan, TERENA
The meeting was a follow-up meeting from the NREN Chief Security Officers’ Meeting 28 September 2012 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The meeting did not have a large attendance, there were only 9 attendees representing 8 institutions. It is clear that any future meetings will have to be advertised outside the TF-CSIRT framework to ensure that adequate numbers of appropriate staff from the NRENs attend. There were TF-CSIRT side meetings being held at the same time as the CISO meeting which meant that some NREN representatives could not attend the meeting. There was a round table discussion on the major items arising out of the Ljubljana meeting and the TAC discussions from June 2013.
The end user customer base of the NRENs is somewhat different to a normal customer base, they are all at arm’s length and are customers of downstream connected sites, and they live in a world of academic freedom where normal rules, policies and procedures are challenged all the time. NRENs should be taking care of their own security and not just offering security as a service to their connected institutions. NRENs face security risks in their own rights and should have robust processes and procedures to handle these risks.
There was some discussion on certification along the lines of ISO27001. Funet/CSC had recently achieved certification and Janet are considering getting certification for individual services, starting with the more achievable ones and then rolling it out to others.
Senior management in the NRENs should appoint a dedicated or a designated Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in each NREN. These CISOs should have a direct reporting line to Senior Management in the NREN to ensure that security policies are being observed and enforced in the NREN and to flag any breaches to Senior Management.
The role and responsibilities for the NREN CISO are outlined and are taken from the COBIT definition of the role of the Chief Information Security Officer
Role and Responsibilities of the NREN CISO (from COBIT).
The CISO is the liaison between executive management and the information security programme. The CISO should also communicate and co-ordinate closely with key NREN stakeholders to address information protection needs.
The CISO must
Span of control
The CISO is responsible for:
Authority level/decision rights:
TF-NOC Task Force meeting
20 March 2014
There was a session dedicated to security related discussions at the 10th TF-NOC meeting on 20 March 2014 in Cambridge, UK. The invited speakers of the panel were:
The panel concluded that the network security issues are handled by the NOC very well. At the NRENs’ level there seems to be a healthy relationship and regular communication (i.e. clear escalation path) between the NOC and CSIRT teams. Most of the cases the CSIRT person is the member of the NOC team anyway. Information security areas other than the network security are much more concerned including e.g., stuffing, customer services or finances.
The representative of the UK National Crime Agency emphasized the importance of the notification of local law enforcement bodies (police) about security bridges. Even if no investigation is started immediately, collecting and analyzing information is important. In case of security incidents, collecting as much information as possible and at the same time not contaminating evidences is very difficult in IT. Sharing best practices in this field would be beneficial. It also turned out that however most of the NOCs have contacts to local police (e.g., JANET has an MoU signed with the UK Crime Agency) notifications are very rare. NOC personnel have to be trained on in which cases and how low enforcement should be notified. The role of the CISO could be to overlook this procedure at the NREN level.
There was a requirement to investigate the possibility whether specialized TRANSITS security trainings can be given to NOC personnel on legal/policy issues and reporting of security bridges (including the collection and preservation of evidences). Lionel (TF-CSIRT chair) offered invitation to TF-NOC participants to TF-CSIRT meetings.
The participants agreed that attracting the right people is difficult. We need both management awareness and identification of key personnel at NRENs. For raising management awareness, a CISO meeting will be organised at TNC2014.
TNC2014 - CISO Session
19 May 2014
Chairman: Wayne Routly (DANTE)
List of attendees:
After a brief introduction to the TERENA CISO group initiative given by Wayne Routly (DANTE), Alf Moens (SURF) elaborated on the main drivers and objectives of such a group of high-level security experts. Building trusted relationship and coordination within and beyond the NRENs’ security teams is the most important aspect. Advocating the use of standards and sharing tangible implementation practices would be the key, besides trying to agree on common policy requirements. There is a growing demand and pressure on the NRENs from the universities to be able to talk to one single CISO person at managerial level. Coordination and clear escalation paths are as much important as swift policy decisions and compliance with the corresponding EC directives. There is a need for a dedicated role and a single person (i.e. contact/decision point) at NRENs to achieve and maintain the necessary trust level for the national as well as international user community.
Peter Szegedi (TERENA) threw the open question to the audience on how to proceed and asked for a roll call. SWITCH, GARR, SURF and RENATER noted that they already have a dedicated CISO person and the majority of the other NREN representatives were interested in finding an overall structure for their internal security related activities including CSIRT and NOC. NIIF mentioned that they have an official ISO certification that would be the good example to follow by others. Christoph Graf (SWITCH) commented that creating a TERENA Special Interest Group (SIG) would indeed be more appropriate than a task force at this stage. A quick show of hands indicated that about 80% of the attendees would participate in such a SIG.
Albert Hankel (SURFnet) said that SURFnet is willing to organize an “NREN Security Strategy Workshop” after the summer where all the interested NRENs are invited to. This meeting can also be the official kick-off meeting for the new TERENA CISO SIG. Alf Moens (SURF) and Wayne Routly (DANTE) volunteered to coordinate the workshop preparation and later on participate in the Steering Committee of the new SIG.
The logistic details of the SURFnet Workshop will soon be circulated on the TERENA CISO mailing list. Everybody is welcome to join the mailing list.