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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Monitoring Your Change Control Processes

Post by Morey Haber February 3, 2011

I have responded to a number of RFPs (Request For Proposal) in my day and recently I have seen a trend in some of the questions. While the question varies between requests, there seems to be a growing trend that users want vulnerability assessment tools to not only identify vulnerabilities, but to also track changes to the scanned hosts configurations as well. All major vendors have the ability to perform vulnerability assessment delta reports or scan comparison reports, but the trend suggests businesses want more. They want comparisons on everything from open ports, software installed, processes running, and even changes to users and groups. This may sound fundamentally logical, but it is out of scope for a traditional vulnerability assessment solution that just records missing security patches and misconfigurations. So what is leading up to this trend ? Regulatory compliance and the need to manage change control procedures.

If we dive into PCI DSS 2.0, you will notice that Requirement 11 requires users to have a change control procedure for IT assets and to enforce and monitor the procedures. Having a process is relatively simple enough, but monitoring it is what people are looking for. So let us take a step back and figure out how we can do this in your business. If you inventoried all of the software, hardware, and appliance solutions in your toolkit, can you identify any solution that touches and records data from every asset connected to the wire? Some ITIL solutions using a CMDB might and some Asset Inventory solutions might as well. Consider your vulnerability assessment solution does this as well. Now consider that you can schedule scans on a frequent basis, take a snapshot of the assets state, and record it in a database. Could you generate a delta report that shows you changes for your environment ? Absolutely, yes! Now consider your toolkit can scan for vulnerabilities, recommend and perform remediation tasks, monitor change control, report on regulatory initiatives, provide delta reporting across all collected information, and you have effectively implemented a Unified Vulnerability Management solution. If you have not done this, please continue to read on and I will show you how eEye’s Retina Solutions can do this for you.

First, Retina is a Unified Vulnerability Management solution that not only collects information regarding missing security patches and configuration problems, it collects data on asset hardware, installed software, processes, services, users, user groups, shares, and ports. All of this information is collected from our distributed scan engines and placed into a database. This information can be collected via our network scan engine (the Retina Network Security Scanner) or through our endpoint agents (Blink or the Retina Protection Agent). The data is available in our management console (Retina CS) and can be reported on by job within Retina CS or over longer periods of time using Retina Insight. The architecture below illustrates this:

 

 

After logging into Retina Insight, a user can generate reports by selecting two time ranges to compare and create a delta / comparison report that can be used for monitoring and reporting on the effectiveness of your change control processes. The screen shot below is from a Retina Insight report that illustrates the tracking of changes per asset far beyond just vulnerabilities.

 

 

Now, taking this one level down, Retina Insight allows full drill down capabilities to see all of the changes with the proper time/date stamps as to when the changes occurred to provide complete transparency into the data.

 

Unified Vulnerability Management provides much more than just vulnerability assessment. Core functionality built into the solution allows for more than just vulnerability scanning and reporting. It can handle critical business requests for compliance initiatives, such as monitoring change control processes, and verifying that unauthorized changes are not being made to assets. Retina is designed to do this. In answering RFPs, I like answering these questions because eEye can do more than just vulnerability assessment. We can solve your real world problems from regulatory compliance and change control.

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