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Cybersecurity: How a layered approach keeps this F1 team’s data secure

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The internet needs to be fixed, but who’s responsible?
ZDNet’s Danny Palmer talks about the current state of the internet and cybersecurity, which is wobbly. He tells TechReppublic’s Karen Roby what needs to be done in order to fix the security issues for the next generation. Read more: https://zd.net/2Wt2MzJ

Gary Foote, CIO at Rich Energy Haas F1, says information is critical to the success of the Formula 1 racing team – and that’s why the establishment of a data security strategy is one his key business priorities.

“We’re in a competitive sport, so our asset is the data that helps make us more reliable and quicker on a circuit,” he says. “The data that we’re generating – from conception in design, to being used creatively by partners, and onto the race track – is crucial and we have a complex data model where information is flying all over the place but must be kept secure.”

Foote says his organisation is focused on two main types of data: business information, such as finance figures and HR records; and the product information relating to the car, which is best-described as Haas F1’s intellectual property.

SEE: Digital transformation: A CXO’s guide (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

He says both of these data types are “hugely important” and must be managed across a dispersed geography: “We’ve got data movement all over the place and, as a result, data security becomes a bigger challenge than it might be for other organisations and even some of the other teams in F1.”

Haas F1 has an operations centre in the UK, where Foote is primarily based, and an office in the US, which houses the firm’s sister racing team, Stewart-Haas Racing. There are two additional centres relating to design partners in Italy, and the team also maintains a mobile operation that moves around the globe fulfilling race-day duties.

One of the main explanations for that geographical dispersal is the team’s business model. In an attempt to keep costs low, Foote says the model relies on outsourcing as much non-core expertise as possible.

“And when you outsource expertise, by definition you outsource data,” he says. “Our data movement strategy is complex – overly complex to a degree. As an example, our computational fluid dynamic specialists are based in the US office, but they use a high-performance computing cluster based in the UK, and we provided the results from that platform to aerodynamicists who are based in Italy.”

It’s Foote responsibility as the team’s CIO to ensure that there is adequate protection for the Haas F1 brand and its assets on a global scale. His approach has been to create a business strategy for data security that aims to neutralise the complex geographical structure of the business.

“We’re looking for strong layers of protection placed strategically, with good vendor and product selection. We want to create a sensibly layered strategy, where products complement each other,” says Foote.

gary-haas.jpg

Foote: “We want to create a sensibly layered strategy, where products complement each other.”


Image: Haas F1

Technology partnerships can play a key role in F1. The sport is heavily dependent on its corporate sponsors, yet Foote describes his team as “completely vendor agnostic” when it comes to technology suppliers. 

“We have the freedom and finances to deploy the products that we want to. Rather than having a confined tool box, we’re able to collect the products to use for the problem we’re trying to solve. But it’s really important that they complement each other,” says Foote, who says the products his team chooses must fit his security strategy.

“Layers are great but we also need to keep a check on compatibility and complexity. I talk to my guys quite a lot about the problems you introduce into IT when you create complexity. It’s not good having a hugely redundant disaster recovery network if it’s so over-complex that when it breaks it’s impossible to fix. By making things simpler, you can make things better.”

One of the key products Foote has chosen to implement recently is Nominet’s NTX cybersecurity platform to help keep the team’s data networks secure. The technology analyses domain name system (DNS) traffic to predict, detect and block threats to the network before they cause harm.

“We want to add layers to protect our data from threats coming in and threats going out, such as best-intended user actions that might accidentally lead to malware,” he says. “We’ve got to continually stay at the leading edge of security technology.”

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Foote says the selection process was driven by going to market and seeing who was able to offer products and services that can bolster the team’s security strategy. The organisation’s policy for system implementation is to leave race-day systems until last, preferring the technology to be proven in a business environment first.

The Nominet DNS platform, which has now been in place for about six months, analyses and categorises potentially billions of queries in its attempts to eliminate malware, phishing and data theft from the network. Foote is already seeing business benefits. “Nominet are putting a sets of eyes on a huge amount of traffic that I physically don’t have the manpower internally to do,” he says. 

Foote refers to cybersecurity as “an ever-changing landscape” and says Haas F1 must keep up with the latest trends. When new security technologies emerge, Foote wants his team to analyse these tools and to investigate how these layers might help block actors who might want to do harm.

“The key thing for me is security – and it’s almost number one in terms of our technical remit here. F1 is incredibly fast-paced and the worry is less about data going to competitors and more about exposure to individuals who want to use it as a platform for their own gain. Being a global company in a global sport on a global stage means we’re quite a target. Any security technology that’s learning as we go is a big benefit to us,” he says.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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