Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // March 2012

Server snafu or hacker? You should know.

If an attacker were bogging down your apps, how would you know? You wouldn’t, unless you bridge the gap between ops and security.

Inspired by the teamwork that began with the Agile movement, IT organizations are tearing down walls in the service delivery process. Developers and testers are more effective working together than working apart. DevOps is shortening release cycles by uniting development and delivery. But another wall stands in the way of an agile enterprise: the one between operations and security.

Performance-impacting security events have always been the operations team’s problem. Unfortunately, most ops teams have no way of knowing when they’re dealing with an attack—what looks like a slow server may be a hacker. But with the security and ops teams working separately, issues can take longer to identify, and longer to fix, compromising both operational performance and the security of the enterprise.

A “Sec-Ops” mentality has three key use cases, says Jeff Scheaffer, director of product management for HP’s Business Service Management. “First, sharing sources of data, such as using log analytics reporting to both operations and security consoles. Second, security can leverage ops data, and third, ops can trace operational problems to security incidents that are their underlying root causes.”

That’s why it’s time to demolish the divide between the Network Operations Center (NOC) and the Security Operations Center (SOC). Here’s how—and why—to get started.

Your organization probably has hundreds or thousands of active apps and services, and you can’t revolutionize monitoring of the security of all of them overnight. Start with what matters most:

  • Which apps or services are the most critical to your organization?
  • Which ones can’t afford to have a security problem remain undiagnosed for even a few minutes?

Collaborate with the security team
Because you’ll be shifting some responsibility from one team to another, it’s important to ensure that everyone understands why.

  • Facilitate communication between the NOC and SOC teams about what they will gain by bringing security events into the NOC.
  • Ensure the NOC team understands the importance of giving the SOC team visibility into certain aspects of NOC monitoring tools.
  • Discuss the various tools you’ll need to accomplish this coordination and the processes you will need to create or modify.

Identify the right monitoring tools
It’s important to look for a tool that won’t add new complexity to the NOC or its processes. The ideal tool would consolidate and correlate all events—security and operational—under a single pane of glass. It also should:

  • Provide real-time monitoring information.
  • Allow for customization, so that both the SOC and NOC teams can see the information they need to see.
  • Integrate security system events with the NOC's overall event management system.
  • Connect security-related events with the business services they affect so you can prioritize problems when they arise.
  • Identify a problem’s cause with little or no manual work, regardless of whether the problem is security-related. If you do have to scour through log files to determine whether an event is security-related, your tools should make this process as painless as possible.

Finding flexibility
Companies will continue to support a continuum of organizational structures, from separate teams that emphasize compartmentalization and governance to converged teams that emphasize cost efficiency, Scheaffer notes. “But the key,” he says, “is a flexible architecture allowing companies to ‘bridge’ information between the two disciplines.”

For more information about coordinating operations and security, read about HP’s BSM 9.1, integrated with ArcSight Logger for greater security visibility.


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