Open Source Cybersecurity Automation

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Russ Holmes

04 January 2018


2018 has barely begun and we’ve already been hit with significant bad news about cyber vulnerabilities. Among others already disclosed during the new calendar year, both Intel and VMware have announced that major cyber flaws have been discovered in their products. And, of course, attempts to fix these issues are having negative impacts on some common anti-virus products.

This is certainly not unique to these tech giants since barely a week goes by without some significant cybersecurity flaw or breach being uncovered. It’s safe to say that these disturbing reports will not be coming to an end anytime soon.

Although it may sometimes feel like it, this doesn’t mean that we should all throw our hands up about how hopeless the cybersecurity situation has become. We can only play the hands we’ve been dealt, and that requires continued efforts at locking down our systems with the many powerful tools we have at our disposal.

Cyber Hygiene Best Practices

Whichever tools you determine are appropriate for your security needs, none will be effective unless one first follows sound cyber hygiene practices. Among the most important of these is ensuring your underlying system adheres to the latest security best practices and is, at the very least, compliant with industry standards and government cybersecurity regulations. Breaches that are advanced by either willful or negligent disregard for these universally acknowledged best practices can be hard to explain – or forgive.

While best practice “table stakes” can be overwhelmingly voluminous and complex to implement and maintain, one does not have to go it alone. In many cases, it’s now possible to transition an existing DevOps platform to a best practices DevSecOps approach, then maintain systems compliance via automated self-healing Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) routines.

Open Source Help

A powerful Open Source offering now available to help address this is known as SIMP (Systems Integrity Management Platform). SIMP was originally developed within the US Intelligence Community to enhance their own ATO (Authority to Operate, federal-speak for C&A) and compliance efforts and is now available for anyone to leverage via GitHub. It only seems fair that we can take advantage of SIMP since it was our tax dollars that funded its development!

Currently riding on the open source DevOps automation technology known as Puppet, SIMP continually scans an environment (in either a development and/or production phase) and provides current system status against a range of cybersecurity benchmarks. Among these are NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FIPS 140-2, HIPAA, SOX, PCI-DSS, DISA STIG and others. SIMP can operate within either an on-prem and/or cloud environment and, should a vulnerability be found, can automatically apply remediation actions to immediately correct the flaw, or simply report this information back for further study and action.

With SIMP’s ability to enhance the C&A process, as well as help ensure systems remain compliant once deployed, an organization’s human IT assets can confidently turn their focus to other urgent cyber issues that require attention.

For more information on this Open Source tool, visit the SIMP project website at simp-project.com, or download it at github.com/NationalSecurityAgency/SIMP.

Russ's experience spans more than 20 years of technology sales leadership across Federal, as well as State & Local Governments, Higher Education and commercial markets, most recently as Director of Federal Health and Civilian Agencies for Hortonworks. His leadership experience also includes roles as Vice President of Civilian and Commercial Sales for Centrifuge Systems and Senior Vice President for Enterprise Applications for DLT Solutions.

As Vice President of Sales, Russ is focused on leading corporate sales activities across the entire range of markets served by Onyx Point.

At Onyx Point, our engineers focus on Security, System Administration, Automation, Dataflow, and DevOps consulting for government and commercial clients. We offer professional services for Puppet, RedHat, SIMP, NiFi, GitLab, and the other solutions in place that keep your systems running securely and efficiently. We offer Open Source Software support and Engineering and Consulting services through GSA IT Schedule 70. As Open Source contributors and advocates, we encourage the use of FOSS products in Government as part of an overarching IT Efficiencies plan to reduce ongoing IT expenditures attributed to software licensing. Our support and contributions to Open Source, are just one of our many guiding principles

  • Customer First.
  • Security in All We Do.
  • Pursue Innovation with Integrity.
  • Communicate Openly and Respectfully.
  • Offer Your Talents, and Appreciate the Talents of Others

simp, compliance, automation, security

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