Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Definition of an integrated NOC and SOC

NOTE: 99.99999 % of the credit for this post is the work of Nelson Hernandez, I am just trying to add enough whitespace to generate discussion for his SANS.EDU research project.
NOC: Network Operations Center
SOC: Security Operations Center

Integrating a NOC/SOC is convergence/integration at the:

- Organizational level, (i.e. common first level response) - triage, collaborate, cross correlate and potentially identify common patterns from NOC/SOC respective tools.

- System level: integrated ticketing and workflow - service level agreements, standard operating procedures, integrating processes and structures in place to allow operators to communicate and coordinate seamlessly

- Asset level. (shared sensors and event criticality information) - utilizing a common information aggregator that collects all the data required and then distributes it using integrated tools/dashboards. 

The integration should allow collaboration on:
- Event Management
- Security Management (antivirus, intrusion detection/prevention systems)
- Endpoint Management  
- Network Management (firewalls, router, switches, servers)
- Fault Management 
- Configuration Management 
- Performance Management. 
- Accounting (Administration and Identity Access Management systems) 

Complex issues are investigated by Level 2-3 SOC/NOC specialists to diagnose and pinpoint the nature of the infrastructure incidents more accurately. The integrated staff cross trains to expand their range of skills, adjust their mindsets and tap each other’s skillsets and experiences to identify, manage and resolve incidents effectively. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Coaching to Improve Performance


According to Wikipedia, A coach is a person who enables clients to master specific skills, knowledges and develop abilities. Like counselors and mentor, coaches offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance. Coaching is one of the keys to business execution. If an otherwise skilled employee is struggling with a particular skill or ability, coaching can help them get over the hump. Y Coach says, There are seven primary benefits a coach passes on to the client.
  • Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!
  • Promote Self Esteem
  • Learn Goal Setting
  • Encourage and Model Teamwork
  • Develop Time Management Skills
  • Learn About Dealing with Adversity
  • Have Fun with the Task at Hand

Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!

Many people get comfortable with their abilities and cease to learn, or more commonly do all of their learning down one narrow subject area, i.e. willing to learn more about selling, but don't learn organizational skills. A coach can encourage and also help them get started to build new frames of references for learning in new areas. Success can lead to a greater willingness to continue life long learning. Consider this example from a life long learning blog about reading: Consider reading a book from your area of business. There are many great books related to your industry. Test drive one of them. Next, consider a web page on creative thinking or Kaizen.

Promote Self Esteem

A coach gives the client an opportunity to associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem.

Learn Goal Setting

The majority of people seem to drift through life. A coach encourages a client to set goals and determine the steps to achieve those goals. A great coach goes beyond helping establish business or sports goals and also encourages life goals or major objectives. The goal setting guide points out that major goals can be specific or broad in scope, but they must always lead directly towards the Objective they support. They must also always have a deadline. A date you plan to accomplish the major goal by, a realistic date that not only motivates you into action but also ensures progress towards your Objective.
Here are some of our favorite tips for setting goals from mindtools:
  • State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively - 'Execute this technique well' is a much better goal than 'Don't make this stupid mistake'
  • Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down: this crystallizes them and gives them more force.

Encourage and Model Teamwork

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." -Andrew Carnegie
A coach knows the importance of teamwork and models the behavior of teamwork and takes advantage of opportunities to get people to work together. A big part of this is getting people to work on plans together. One of the most important job satisfiers for people is that their opinion is considered important. If you can get the clients to plan together, you can get them to execute the plan together. A coach is a leader and knows that teamwork is only possible if the culture supports it; sometimes organizations have a competitive atmosphere and it is one employee against the other.

Teamwork starts at the top, or cannot be sustainable. Indicators of a teamwork culture include, clear expectations from management that teamwork is expected, leading by example and management being team members themselves. Teamwork has to be rewarded and mentioned multiple times per year, we have to keep the vision before the people.

Develop Time Management Skills

A good coach knows what the time wasters are and tries to focus the client on the shortcuts, the organizational skills to do the job. One industry that teaches this very well is food service. Great chefs teach their clients to do it right and know the speed will come later. This is one area where a coach may use negative coaching (Don't do that, that is the wrong way. No, listen and try to get it this time), because if the client gets comfortable with the time wasters they may never be able to increase their performance. A good coach helps the client rank activities using something like the MSC method to sort tasks into urgent and important:
  • Must Do - Urgent tasks
  • Should Do - Can be Urgent or Important
  • Could Do - Can be Important if they lead to your ability to leave a legacy

Learn About Dealing with Adversity

Stuff happens! The question is what we do when it happens. Adversity builds character. The challenges we face teach us resourcefulness, self-reliance, courage, patience, perseverance, and self-discipline; and, struggles makes us heroic, for heroes and heroines are made by scaling mountains, not molehills. A coach knows that the client can only improve if they face adversity and therefore coaches are thankful for adversity and considers them opportunities for growth. We found this on the web, it seems like a nice way to view adversity: The PPPP program. First, don't PANIC, for all it does is immobilize you. To escape the clutches of fear, PLAN. That is, ask yourself what steps can be taken to improve the situation. Next, break down those steps into smaller tasks that are easier to carry out. Set a completion date for each task. Finally, work your plan by carrying out the action steps. As you do so, you will start making PROGESS. Keep building on your progress until you reach the level of PROSPERITY you desire.

Have Fun with the Task at Hand

Stuff happens, but there are rich moments too. A coach knows how to savor the moment, as the Wide World of Sports put it, the thrill of success and the agony of defeat. If the client has been cast into their role properly, they should be having a great time. A coach reinforces this (Isn't this great?, Life is good indeed, it doesn't get better than this).

Summary

A Better Perspective's survey of human resource and personnel specialists reported the top three main benefits of coaching to the organization as:
  • Allows fuller use of individual's talents/potential 79%
  • Demonstrates commitment to individuals and their development 69%
  • Higher organizational performance/productivity 69%
Coaching helps employees trying to master a particular skill or ability get over the hump. Coaching is an important leadership skill. In our leadership course, we ask students to think about a coach that they still remember and to reflect on at least one of their coaching techniques. This would be a good exercise for you to go through right now to remember a coach that made an impact in your life. As a coach, you help your clients master specific skills, knowledges and develop abilities. To do this, you balance positive and negative reinforcement, offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance.

Summary:
A coach is a person who enables clients to master specific skills and knowledge and to develop abilities. Like counselors and mentor, coaches offer prescriptive advice, error analysis, expert opinions and "how to" guidance. Coaching is one of the keys to business execution. If an otherwise skilled employee is struggling with a particular skill or ability, coaching can help them get over the hump. There are seven primary benefits a coach passes on to the client: Encourage Life Long Learning and that is Healthy!; Promote Self Esteem; Learn Goal Setting; Encourage and Model Teamwork; Develop Time Management Skills; Learn About Dealing with Adversity; and, Have Fun with the Task at Hand.

Updated: 11/29/17

Tips for Success: Writing a graduate level essay

Executive summary: Essays and other short writing pieces at the graduate level are expected to be concise, insightful and correctly written. Their purpose is to persuade, explain, or inform.

Tips for success:

1) Have a message to share. This seems obvious, but in a world of word processors, grammar checkers, and search engines it is possible to produce a document that looks good, but doesn't actually communicate useful information. The successful writer knows what he is going to say before starting to write. If you are struggling with step one, try this:
A) Walk around the block, talk to yourself in the shower, do whatever works for you to verbalize and focus on your message. State your thesis and the reasons why you think it is true. B) Use a voice recorder, (most cell phones have this ability). Record your thesis and primary supporting arguments. Let it sit for 24 hours. C) Listen to your recording. If your message still makes sense, build your outline.
2) Support your assertions. Invest the time to do research, (hint, if you type a short phrase into Google and build your paper from the first page of results, that doesn't count as research).
A) Look for "whitespace," (the term used to refer to blank areas on printed documents, can also be used to describe topic areas that have not been exhaustively covered by other authors and researchers). The goal of your research is to cover the topic from a new angle or perspective.
B) Note counterarguments. You may find information that contradicts your assertions. The best writers know there are counterarguments and acknowledge them.

3) Remember the reader. People rarely have to read what you write. Back in the era of printed books, every author knew that if they couldn't get the reader to turn from page 1 to page 2, the book was lost. With online publications, the abstract and introduction have to "sell" the paper, if not, page abandonment is just one click away.
A) Make sure you convey the value of the paper to the reader early in the process.
B) Make it easy for the reader, everything from the font, formatting to word choice should be chosen with the reader in mind. Correct grammar and spelling are a must in this respect.
C) Be ruthless with word count. If a word, sentence, or paragraph is not directly related to the central point, replace it with one that is.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Tips for Success: Powerpoint summary presentation of a research paper

Executive Summary: the most common medium to summarize research papers has changed, but the underlying concepts and goals remain the same.

Introduction: before the PC and PowerPoint, when you completed your research paper it was very common to create a poster summarizing your paper. Many young scientists and engineers remember what it is like to be one of twenty posters in a large hall at technical conferences. You would stand next to your poster and recite the elevator pitch summarizing your research and paper to other scientists that walked by with glasses of wine and plates of hors d'oeuvres.

PowerPoint: today instead of a poster, most researchers use PowerPoint and give a short presentation. The goals have not changed, they are:
- To inspire colleagues to read your paper
- To build name recognition for yourself and your work
- To share your passion for a problem, issue, and/or potential solution

Presentations regardless of medium: the same guidelines apply whether the medium is poster, PowerPoint, or increasingly, short video presentation:
- Match your presentation to your audience's knowledge level. If they are working in the field, do not waste their time with the basics.
- Focus your message, what are the three golden nuggets you want them to "take away?"
- Convey your message visually. Avoid tiny print, very busy slides, charts that do not actually inform, and be aware of red/green colorblindness with both the slides and laser pointer.
- Distance, be aware of the distance between your screen and the audience. This applies to live presentations and presentations viewed over the Internet. In a large room, people sitting in the back row may lose out, but people in the middle of the room should be able to understand.
- Remember some of your audience may be non-native English speakers or of a different culture, be careful with jargon, jokes and idioms.
- Be professional, avoid "cutesy slides", be consistent with fonts and font sizes.
- Be organized, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them that you told them.

1.1 Added fonts and font sizes thank you S. Ramsey

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tips for success: The Research Proposal

There is a “chicken and egg” problem associated with almost all research proposals. Before submitting the proposal, the student is expected to:

1) Come up with an idea of something they would like to research.

2) Conduct first level research, (also known as Google, and perhaps other, searches), looking for information related to the topic. When you fill out the research proposal this is the information that is referred to as:

Review Existing Literature.
- As you learn more, by reviewing literature, it should be possible to refine your topic idea.
-You may also discover that your initial topic has been heavily covered by material that has already been published.
-If the topic has been researched and the results published, then there may be a more focused approach to the general topic area that is not already researched and published.

Please go through this process before filling out and submitting the research proposal. With that in mind here are some tips for the remainder of the research proposal:

Discuss the literature. The template states between 2 - 5 pages. There is a danger in being wordy, your thoughts and intents may be lost. Make your first effort to explain your research topic idea in the context of existing literature in 2 pages. If you need more that is fine, but, in general, do not feel like you need 5 pages.

Identify the research question. This is where the faculty research committee that evaluates your proposal will turn first. What is the problem you are trying to solve? If you are having a hard time putting that into a paragraph, that could be a bad sign. The research question should be obvious to you and to others.

Research methods. If you have a topic and question and there is no way to conduct original research to prove or disprove a thesis, this is not a workable proposal. We understand that some of this has to be figured out as we go along, that is what research is all  about. However, it is imperative that you have a way to start. Hope is not a strategy, have a plan on how to prove or disprove your thesis.

Significance of the study. We are talking about a lot of work, let’s all agree this is worth doing before we dive in.

Proposed title. This comes last for a reason. At this point you have given this a lot of thought. They tell writers that your title is your contract with your audience. Try to avoid cute titles, you would be amazed at some of the title proposals that are submitted to the committee. Instead try to summarize the point, the thesis, in a single title. If you absolutely need a subtitle the world will not come to an end, but precise and concise is best.

Tips for success: Writing an Executive Summary

An executive summary should be included on most cybersecurity reports, proposals, analysis papers, and research papers. Points to consider when creating one include:

- Brevity and conciseness. It should rarely exceed one page.

- Supportable and defensible. While the executive summary is designed for easy reading and digestion of information, supporting data should be easily available. This could be in the form of the accompanying paper, or appendices as appropriate.

- WIIFM. Whenever we communicate from someone else, we need to answer the question What's In It For Me. The C-suite will want to be briefed on why this information is important to the business.

- Well written. If it scores below 90 on Grammarly, you have work to do. Consider the "Napoleon's Private" test, ( have someone else read it and tell you what they feel it means).

- On topic. State the topic, problem, recommendation as needed. Do not put extraneous information in the executive summary.

- No humor. This is not a place for jokes or humor, they can be misinterpreted.

- Avoid acronyms and "techo babble". As techies we speak a different dialect of English than management. Avoid writing anything that is hard for them to understand.

- Designed to be scanned or read rapidly. In general, when you produce an executive summary, it is for someone above your pay grade. Don't make them work to get the message, Make it plain.

- Readable fonts and font sizes. It is very likely your organization has a style guide. Use it. Executives are accustomed to various formats. Under no circumstances shrink the font to make the executive summary fit on one page; your audience very likely has older eyes than you do.

Change history:
Version 1.1 don't use acronyms
Version 1.2 why do I care :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tips for Success: Creating/maintaining a Lab Notebook

Executive Summary: a lab notebook in this context is a record of the research component of your group project.

Context: when you are assigned a 6100 group project you will be expected to:
- Receive the assignment, meet as a group to determine a plan of attack, produce and submit a project plan to satisfy the components of the assignment.
NOTE: faculty welcomes questions about the assignment. Contact data is embedded in your assignment.

- Begin development of a report. These vary based on the contemporary real world assignment your group is given, but in general have two major components:

+ A non-technical summary of your findings and recommendations
+ A technical report on the work that you did, the lab notebook

A lab notebook historically was a composition book, or similar paper record, where researchers logged their expectations, observations, experiments and results. Today in the automated world, while paper records are still useful they tend to be electronic, often including screen shots.
Example lab notebook from the PCAP contest.

When your lab notebook is graded, the faculty will be looking for the following components:
- A logical flow of experimentation based on the problem you were assigned and the solution approach outlined in the project plan.
- Expectations, hypotheses, theses, before you begin an experiment, there should be a clear understanding of what you are testing, what you hope to achieve.
- Details of the experiment sufficient to reproduce your results. This commonly includes essential record keeping: dates, times, locations, and software versions are common artifacts.
- Results,  these can be fairly terse and informal, they will be summarized in the non-technical report
- Analysis, were the results what you expected? Do they affect the planned logical flow of experimentation.

NOTE: Unexpected results, miscalculations, surprises, happen, they are as much a part of research as expected results. Simply record what happened and your analysis. In some cases these may cause the group to update the project plan. That is not a problem, project plans are designed to be updated.