Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: William Schmarzo, John Esposito, Igor Drobiazko, Automic Blog, Elizabeth White

Blog Feed Post

Five Ways to Hire an InfoSec Consultant

Five Ways to Hire an InfoSec Consultant
By: Bill Mathews

This is not a nice post. This is not a post about posing great interview questions or how to tell if someone can actually do the job. No, this is a post about how to watch out for people you want to hire to help your company. You know the ones – the con-sultants, the slick ones, the rockstars, the ones you should fear. Some of these guys can be worse than the actual bad guys and here are five things to look for when you’re trying to spot them.

1) Shortcuts?

Are they promising you the world? One thing about information security that you should know upfront: there are absolutely no magic bullets. Anyone promising you one from a product or a particular process is lying to you. It requires a blend of products and a blend of methods, no shortcuts will help you – period.

2) Rock Out with Your NOC Out

Are they rockstars? So-called rockstars happen in every industry, it is just human nature and cannot be helped. The problem I’ve seen with most rockstars (almost universally in infosec) is that they are not the least bit interested in your problems. They are interested in getting paid and increasing their already big, and in most cases, undeserved reputations. You really have to be careful with these folks – a lot of them are just naturally talented public speakers so they get it on at various conferences and accumulate massive Twitter followings, making them think that those alone qualify them to dispense advice on applications and networks. In most cases, and sadly I’m not overgeneralizing here, they’ve never had any operational roles so they don’t really know what works and what doesn’t. So if it isn’t in the buzzword dictionary sitting in their blazer pocket, it just isn’t valid in their world. You’ll know these people by their insistence that whatever you’re currently doing is wrong – you should be using the method they developed or their tool they wrote because that is the only way to solve your problem. They won’t really listen to you, usually just nodding along with whatever you say until you hit the keyword they need in order to tell you how cool they are. Of course there are some “good” rockstars, so if you’re set on hiring an allstar look for one who has had operational roles in the past and actually appears to listen. Chance are though if they do that then they are very bad rockstars.

3) Lazy Web

Watch the website. Does it ever change? Chances are if they don’t have time to devote to their own website they’ll never get time to devote to protecting yours. Avoid the companies that never update their website or only list their products and services. Try to find one that offers practical advice and is active in the security community. When you’re looking for an outside company to help with your information security, try to find one that has something of their own to protect – a web service or their own network, many do not. This is a really self-serving one because, well, this is how our website is set up and we have a fairly sophisticated network of our own that we protect.

4) Agree to Disagree

Are they really just that agreeable? Good security people are contrarians, they just are. It is either the industry that attracts them or it creates them, either way few people in it are described as agreeable. If you’re in a pre-sales meeting and the sales person or consultant is constantly agreeing with everything you say, ask them what you need to hire them for if everything you’re doing is so right. I use this technique on a lot of our vendors because they are constantly nodding along and agreeing with everything we’re doing. They’re usually taken aback by that question but it really tells you who you’re dealing with. You need to know, upfront, what they are going to really be able to help you with. It is dangerous to have a security person agreeing with you all the time. Conversely, they shouldn’t be disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable, you have to strike a balance. This is a tough one because, as I said, the industry is filled with both contrarians and slick-haired salespeople. You need the former but should forego the latter. Someone can be a skeptic or a contrarian without being completely disagreeable or being a miserable person to be around.

5) Auditors in Disguse

Beware the auditor in a security person’s clothing. There are literally thousands of information security consulting companies out there. There are probably as many ways to categorize them as there are letters in the alphabet but let’s take a look at just two. The technical group and the auditor group. Now let me say upfront that I’m not denigrating real auditors here, the people that really do the audit job, I’m denigrating the pretenders here. You will find this very prevalent with companies that do penetration testing or vulnerability assessments. For a proper penetration test you really need a good technical person that can communicate both the technical risks and the business issues associated with that risk or exploit. You’ll be hard pressed to find this in just one person, so you want to hire someone with a penetration testing team as opposed to just some solo testers acting as a team. You’ll have a rough time finding the right team and you’re bound to make a few mistakes, but you really do need the best of both worlds.

Now penetration testing service companies come in two flavors – again the very technical and the not-so-technical auditing tester. Penetration testing is difficult and is very technical, so you cannot rely on a person just checking boxes to call your network well tested. You need someone who is doing more than just running a scanner and calling it done, you need a person who can actually exploit the vulnerabilities found. This is a skill that requires some sophistication and usually doesn’t lend itself well to “normal” people. You never want an auditor performing a penetration test and, vice versa, you would never want a penetration tester performing an audit. Why these two things are fused together so much is beyond me. If you’re hiring for a penetration testing company then hire for that, if you just need some audit work then hire for that – but do not hire one set of people and think you’re done, they are entirely different skills.

Of course, there is no 100% guarantee when it comes to the hiring process – you almost never see their true colors until it’s just too late. Be sure to keep sharp and use a little common sense when following these guidelines. If there’s anything else you think you should look out for, leave it in the comments!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Hurricane Labs

Christina O’Neill has been working in the information security field for 3 years. She is a board member for the Northern Ohio InfraGard Members Alliance and a committee member for the Information Security Summit, a conference held once a year for information security and physical security professionals.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...