A recipe for locking down systems

Security experts and business managers in federal agencies could have a better sense of which information systems in their organizations are highly vulnerable to cyberthreats and cyberattacks if new wares from several security management vendors live up to their expectations.

The vendors provide software that correlates data from devices such as firewalls and intrusion-detection systems and translates the information into meaningful reports and analyses that can be used to thwart intruders and cyberattacks.

Now the vendors are extending the reach of their wares by giving a broader set of users such as business managers, information technology administrators and security auditors information that links security data with business assets.

To that end, ArcSight Inc. unveiled ArcSight 3.0 software, which offers a new feature called Enterprise Impact. The software takes data generated by security devices and puts it into business-relevant intelligence that the security group and business managers can understand and put into action.

Intellitactics Inc. rolled out the fifth generation of its Network Security Manager, introducing more business assurance and automatic alert features and an incident response portal, so security teams can respond to attacks faster and in a more coordinated fashion.

Meanwhile, netForensics Inc. introduced a new user-based visualization capability, providing out-of-the-box security views for business users, security analysts and IT administrators. Users can focus on the most critical security threats first based on their job functions, according to Niten Ved, president and chief operating officer at

netForensics.

Most security event management vendors are being pushed by users to provide more asset clarification features, said Mark Nicolett, vice president of Gartner Inc.'s research division.

"Knowing quite a bit about the state of an asset helps the seecurity people do their job," Nicolett said. If a system has a security vulnerability that a particular cyberattack exploits, then the security operators know that system should receive priority. But if a system is not vulnerable to the attack, then it would receive a lower priority, he said.

Understanding the business use of the asset, such as what applications are running on the attacked server, is useful so intelligible reports can be generated for the business areas, Nicolett said.

With ArcSight's enterprise impact feature, business managers don't necessarily need security expertise to understand the status of certain systems. Through a browser or Web portal, they can view what's happening in real time with the supplier portal or inventory system.

The assurance level management feature in Intellitactics' NSM 5.0 allows users to define the areas and assets that are high priority. Additionally, an automatic alert assessment feature gives security operators the ability to quickly assess whether security alerts are actually threats.

Large government agencies struggle with the data overload generated by security devices and need tools that can aggregate large volumes of data, said Ray Hicks, director of security at Northrop Grumman Corp., who uses an earlier version of Intellitactics NSM to protect a large government client's network.

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