One of the challenges of building and running information technology systems is solving novel problems. That's where frameworks like scrum and agile come in– getting from the unknown to the known with a minimum of frustration and waste. Another challenge is performing known tasks correctly every single time. Here runbooks, checklists, and documentation are your friend. And yet, despite a crowded market for IT process automation offerings, misconfigurations and missed patches are still a problem– and not just a problem, but the root cause of 75-99% of outages of breaches depending on platform. Executable Documentation
Given the complexity of modern information technology, assessing cyber risk can quickly become overwhelming. One of the most pragmatic guides comes from the Center for Internet Security (CIS). While CIS provides a comprehensive list of twenty controls, they also provide guidance on the critical steps that "eliminate the vast majority of your organisation's vulnerabilities." These controls are the foundation of any cyber resilience platform and at the center of UpGuard's capabilities.
UpGuard makes a cyber resilience platform designed for exactly the realities that necessitate regulations like New York State Department of Financial Services 23 NYCRR 500. On one hand, businesses need to store, processes, and maintain availability for growing stores of valuable data; on the other, the very conditions for market success open them to attacks from increasingly sophisticated and motivated attackers. Balancing these requirements makes a business resilient, and UpGuard provides the visibility, analysis, and automation needed to thrive while satisfying regulations like NYCRR 500.
So I've finally gotten the go-ahead from higher-ups to join the twenty-first century and use cloud hosting. Now I need to prove that running in AWS is not just easier than maintaining our own farm, but more stable and secure. To do this, I need to be able to monitor each of my instances for configuration drift, ensure that they are properly provisioned, and maintain visibility into dependencies like load balancers and security groups. Fortunately, UpGuard provides all of this information, so even if something were to go wrong I could catch it before someone else does.
Technology conference season is in full swing, with so many events going on that even large ones like PuppetConf and Amazon Re:Invent have been forced to overlap. While part of the UpGuard team traveled to Las Vegas, two of us stayed in San Francisco for a different style of conference. Far from the madding crowds of general interest vendor-backed extravaganzas, we presented at FinDEVr, a conference with a few hundred people and a sharp focus: improving the technology of financial services.
We've just updated the architecture of our Policies feature to optimize them for scale and usability. Once you've scanned your first node, creating policies to validate desired state is the next step.
UpGuard's "three waves" methodology helps businesses achieve digital maturity through a three step process: gain visibility, establish test driven infrastructure, and then automate what you can also validate. In our last release we focused on improving visibility with an improved data visualization, a search engine, and group differencing. Now we've revisited our testing platform to make both incremental improvements and fundamental changes.
UpGuard is built to answer the fundamental questions of configuration management: how are my systems configured, are they configured correctly, what's changed since yesterday, what's for lunch– the stuff you absolutely need to know. In its first release, UpGuard satisfied the first three by scanning and recording configuration state, continuously testing with policies, and giving users the ability to difference configuration state over time or between nodes. But one thing was missing: the ability to difference a group of nodes all at one time.
More than ever, UpGuard provides the ability to know how your environments are changing and to identify the deviations that increase your risk for failed change, outages, and security incidents. Here we quickly cover how UpGuard addresses the needs that every IT organization has through visualizations that allow you to start solving your problems today.
On March 18, 2015, system administrators and developers received ominous news: two high severity vulnerabilities in OpenSSL would be announced the next day. Since Heartbleed, OpenSSL had been on a bad streak, and it looked like things were only going to get worse. Operations, development, and security teams braced for impact and then– it wasn't really that bad.
The fate of CSO John in The Phoenix Project is a good parable for illustrating the dynamic and often conflicted relationship between Security and IT Operations. Security can either become a separate, obscure, and increasingly irrelevant group that everyone else resents–sounds pretty good, huh?–or it can be integrated into broader framework of the development cycle. Security John goes through a mental breakdown before finally understanding how to adapt and survive, but it doesn't have to be that hard.
In July of 2014 Jon Hendren, also known as @fart, began a journey to become a DevOps thought leader. Using his audience of 70k+ followers on Twitter, he spread a simple message: Jon Hendren is a DevOps thought leader.
There's no doubt that in 2015 DevOps is real, and strong, and it is your friend. If you aren't investing in DevOps now, you should be. Ask anyone, or just be quiet while they yell at you, and you'll hear that you need DevOps. We can get behind that to a certain extent. We love the principles of DevOps, we take it seriously in our own development practices at UpGuard, and we design our software to be equally usable by Devs and Ops to solve their shared problems. We've been listening and contributing to the DevOps conversation for a few years. Here's the problem: almost nothing has changed in that time.
We've seen a landslide of vulnerabilities announced in the last few months, from ShellShock to Poodle, and it looks like that trend will only continue. The discovery of a critical vulnerability in Windows SChannel–and the even worse problems introduced with a hasty patch–has added a heap of unplanned work for Windows IT pros. UpGuard provides a really easy way to validate that the update has been successfully applied and the registry keys deleted. In addition to giving you validation that patches have been applied now, our Schannel check can be run automatically to protect against regressions.
When you want to win, you don't attack where your opponent is strongest; you hit them where they're weakest. Quarterbacks throw to the receiver covered by an injured corner, bike thieves look for the bike with the weakest chain, and lions drag down the wildebeest at the back of the pack. The larger the surface area, the more likely there is to be variation in the strength of defense, and the larger the difference between the strongest and weakest points.
There’s no right place to start with DevOps, but there are reasons that different people choose to start. There are also ways of communicating that make it more likely to take succeed in your organization. Being aware of the people you are talking to and the processes they work within can make your DevOps experiments more likely to grow into a business-wide culture.
So a cat walks into a bar. No, that’s not right. He walks into a box. The cat gets bombarded with radiation. It used to be a bar but a lot of people died from the radiation so they turned it into a box. Is the cat dead or alive?
Cyber resilience is a fundamental change in understanding and accepting the true relationship between technology and risk. IT risk (or cyber risk, if you prefer) is actually business risk, and always has been. And the cybersecurity industry, for what it's worth, has generally avoided this concept because it goes against the narrative that their respective offerings—whether it's a firewall, IDS, monitoring tool, or otherwise—would be the one-size-fits-all silver bullet that can keep businesses safe. But reality tells a different story.