Security Bytes

May 24 2012   1:24PM GMT

Lookingglass’ ScoutVision adds visibility in managing partner security risks

Robert Westervelt Robert Westervelt Profile: Robert Westervelt


For years, the mantra of the security industry has been to get enterprises to look internally for weaknesses and activity that can raise a red flag to a malware-infected machine or an employee with malicious intentions. But how do you know how secure your partners and clients are?

It’s not difficult to see the security risks posed by a contractor taking care of payroll, a managed services provider, or the string of businesses that make up the supply chain. A breach at any of those businesses could have a serious impact your company’s security. An enterprise CISO or IT director has little control over the security of their partner networks. Managing business partner security risks has been left to putting in protections in service-level agreements. From a technology perspective, enterprises can review the logs to look for suspicious behavior if partners are given access to company resources.

Derek Gabbard and his team at Lookingglass Cyber Solutions aim to change all that. The company’s technology, which is being used by a variety of government and financial organizations, can map out the networks of partners and clients and apply a layer of threat intelligence data to determine if there are any potential compromises. The technology provides companies with third-party risk management capabilities.

Called ScoutVision, the technology can get information about a company’s business partner networks once the partner’s IP address range is fed into it. It bases its threat analysis on security vendor intelligence feeds licensed by Lookingglass, honeypots and other proprietary threat intelligence data.Lookingglass monitors communication in cybercriminal networks. It ties intelligence on botnets and malware attacks to trace a threat back to a network that has been penetrated.

The company boasts that nearly 40 separate distinct sources of threat intelligence data are used in the analysis. It looks at dark IP space and passive DNS data globally. The service can provide all the threat intelligence data it has about the entire network and describe, for example, if it has 20 to 30 bad hosts, Gabbard said. For example, if any Microsoft IP addresses have been communicating directly with a darknet, the company can characterize the nature of the communication to determine the nature of the threat.

Gabbard was CTO of network traffic analysis firm Soteria Network Technologies, a firm that appears to be synonymous with Lookingglass. Soteria has had a number of contracts with the Department of Homeland Security. He served as senior member of the technical staff at Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Coordination Center. Gabbard told me that up until now companies have been focusing internally with little regard to the security of their partner systems.

I can’t find a company that is taking Lookingglass’ approach. SIEM systems such as HP Arcsight, and network appliances like RSA Netwitness or Solera Networks, don’t provide external network visibility in the same context, Gabbard said. The technology could eventually be integrated with a network appliance, he said. As CEO of Lookingglass, Gabbard is looking to extend ScoutVision to a broader set of customers.

So what does a company do with the threat data provided by Lookingglass?

Gabbard said he believes the information gleaned by the service can be actionable. The first commercial customers consisted of pilot projects conducted in 2010. So far the service has resulted in mainly reporting and phone calls to third parties. Some early adopters create reports and inform their partners of the potential security issues. Depending on their relationship, they’ll say “hey, your network’s messed up,” he said. “Clean it up or we’ll have to restrict access.”

The firm is gaining interest. In January, the fledgling company received $5 million in funding from Alsop Louie Partners, a firm that includes Gilman Louie, the founder and former CEO of In-Q-Tel – the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. It will be interesting to watch if other security vendors attempt to take a similar approach with existing security appliances. The potential exists to apply the technology to companies with an extensive supply chain.

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