By Jeremy Kirk
IDG News Service
Security managers have to keep their cool and clearly communicate with
CIOs during a crisis affecting company networks, a top security official
with Microsoft said Wednesday.
Otherwise, trying to educate CIOs in a panic mode will complicate how an
attack is countered, said Greg Galford, Microsoft security architect,
who gave a presentation at the EuSecWest 2007 security conference in
London on Thursday.
Galford was a technical lead during a massive attack on Microsoft's
network in 2000 that prompted the company to make many changes to its
networks and its response approach. He now works with Microsoft's
Security Response Center, which handles new vulnerabilities and exploits
affecting the company's software.
The hacking attack in 2000 wasn't a huge surprise, since Microsoft was
using much of its own newly developed software that had security faults,
Galford said. At the time, the company wasn't nearly as vigilant as it
is now about security, he said.
Microsoft had a huge web of insecure connections leading to its
corporate network, including employees who worked from home and
connections security officials were unaware even existed, Galford said.
The company also mistakenly made public much information on how its own
corporate networks were constructed, which likely aided hackers. One
network engineer had even made most of the information on his hard drive
available over the Internet, he said.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," Galford said.
During its response, Microsoft learned hard lessons in how to
communicate developments up the chain of command. Technical people have
to be separated from management. CIOs need to be told regularly when
they will be briefed again after receiving an update, Galford said.
"We had executives coming down to the offices of people that were doing
the actual technical work," Galford said.
Ideally, management should be briefed before a crisis, so they know how
the response will proceed, Galford said. Also, security managers need to
know how to communicate in nontechnical terms for CIOs who may not have
the same background, he said.
CIOs "are always worried about what's going on," Galford said.
The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.
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