Dynamic methodologies and the future of information assurance

Bunnell, Brian
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The critical problems facing the security community today are management problems, not software or engineering problems. Most worms and viruses can be overcome with a combination of network hardening, patch management and user education. In fact, patches were available for all of the headline-grabbing worms that appeared in 2003. The damage they caused is attributable to the inability of modern organizations to apply patches, harden networks and educate users and these threats will not be overcome by purchasing more software or the invention of some fortuitous new self-healing technology. The real challenge is to disseminate the knowledge required to overcome vulnerabilities to a distributed staff at a reasonable cost. Historically organizations have turned to two methods to disseminate knowledge, structured methodologies and discussion forums. Structured methodologies provide explicit instructions but are costly to develop and notoriously out of date. Discussion forums allow for instant communications but suffer from information overload and an extreme lack of context, where the same questions get asked over and over again. This paper presents a framework for developing dynamic methodologies that combines the explicit instructions and context of methodologies with the instant feedback and timeliness of discussion forums. It describes the principles upon which the framework is based and the technology required realize its goals. This paper then details the proof-of-concept application that implements the framework and provides a walk-through of the operations of the program. Finally, a developer guide is presented that explains the code and critical decisions that were made in its construction.

Logistics, operations and management information systems, Information assurance