• Security assessment interviews/questionnaires versus reality

    22 Mar 2022

    Not long ago, I performed what I call a security operations review where I asked various questions about how IT and security are managed within an organization I was working with. One of the topics was on patching and vulnerability management. I got a lot of good information, including specific details on how Windows, macOS, and even third-party patches are taken care of. Everything sounded great and I expected to see very few findings with my internal vulnerability scans and penetration testing…

    It was actually quite the opposite.

    Even though periodic and consistent patching was taking place – and boxes were checked – the network was rife with operating system and third-party software vulnerabilities. This included vulnerabilities that were easily exploited via Metasploit which means that an attacker could use exploit code to gain full access to the systems (including via locking them down via ransomware) and no one would ever know about it until it’s too late.

    Let this be a reminder that talk is cheap. Even when you have controls, procedures, and written policies…nothing trumps reality. Go beyond basic audits and questionnaires to validate that the right things are taking place. Whether it’s patching or any other aspect of information security, trust but verify.