Museum Security: The New Model For Corporate Security?

Museum Security: The New Model For Corporate Security?

As the CISO of the most important research university in Virginia, I wrote in an earlier blog that EDUs aren’t that different from the company world. We’ve 3 main business processes: Administrative, Academic/Instructional, Research. Our network security strategy may be a blend of economic and ISP requirements. The executive process handles all of the IT functions that support the business of running the university – HR, Payroll, Purchasing, Legal, Controllers, Bursars, etc. Here, the normal “corporate” style security model is employed. The Academic/Instructional process supports the business of teaching classes and is heavily BYOD. The Research process may be a hybrid of the previous two processes. A university campus may be a village with its own enforcement, housing, dining, and a cultural, athletic, power station with each of those services using the web to try to business.

The New Internet – Internet 3.0

Here’s the evolution of the client-server model:

• Internet 1.0 – static servers (mainframes); static endpoints like hardwire terminal (IBM 3270) style connections to mainframe.

• Internet 2.0 - static servers (mainframe, minicomputers); mobile endpoints (desktops, laptops)

• Internet 3.0 – mobile servers (mainframe, desktop, containers, serverless applications); mobile clients (smartphones, tablets, IoT, laptops)

Current security architectures are stuck between Internet 1.0 and Internet 2.0. We must adapt and use newer security architectures to deal with Internet 3.0.

What do hackers do once they get inside your network? There are many variants but they collapse to 3 basic goals:

1. Data theft or disclosure aka data breaches

2. Data destruction aka deletion or ransomware

3. Attack other sites using your network assets. Maintain control of those assets.

A successful defense strategy must address these attack goals.

The Museum Security Architecture

Christian Schreiber gave me the simplest analogy for internet security architectures that I’ve heard thus far. He said EDUs is sort of a museum with the subsequent properties:

1. Museums have high-value assets.

2. Key assets are highlighted to form them more accessible to the general public.

3. Museums protect their interiors with a good sort of tools, techniques, and expertise.

4. Museums specialize in detecting malicious operators who are already inside the building.

Christian went further and provides some samples of museum defense in depth:

1. Museums have few access points but they permit free-flowing access to anyone.

2. Museums erect additional barriers around high-value assets.

3. Museums have pervasive monitoring tools: video cameras, motion detectors, laser detection systems, visitor logs.

4. Museums have numerous active response capabilities like uniformed guards, on-demand barriers, fire suppression systems, moving doors.

5. Museums have recovery systems like insurance and tracking devices embedded in high-value assets.

6. Museums assume there are hostiles inside their buildings.

These characteristics describe how we should always defend the web 3.0 world. There are Continuous Monitoring, Zero Trust Network, network forensics components embedded within the museum security model as shown in Table 1. IoT and BYOD are forcing organizations to exchange the normal border security model of “keep the bad guys out with firewalls”. This model fails on the web 3.0 environment because the “border” has disappeared. The new borders are:

1. User identity - users access their work/ home assets from anywhere over the web using their identity credentials from their home institutions. For instance, EDUROAM allows visitors to attach to the web at another institution using their home institution credentials. We see an identical trend with applications accepting Google or Facebook credentials for login and authorization purposes.

2. Data - Data becomes the new border and should not be inside the organization.

Zero Network Characteristics

Network and user traffic patterns have changed dramatically within the past 20 years. Internet 3.0 dissolves the normal network border and forces defenders to use a replacement set of assumptions. Gilman & Barth’s book, “Zero Trust Networks” describes these new assumptions. I’ve added a couple of extra ones to their original list. The new assumptions are:

1. The network is usually assumed to be hostile.

2. Treat all hosts as internet-facing devices.

3. Assume the hostiles are already inside your network.

4. Network segmentation isn't sufficient for deciding trust during a network.

5. Every device, user and network flow is authenticated and authorized.

6. Policies must be dynamic and calculated from as many sources of knowledge as possible.

7. Data and a user’s identity are the new borders. High-risk data must be secured no matter location. User identities must be confirmed.

8. New technologies like containers; serverless apps, cloud computing, and storage are the new disruptors of traditional security architectures.

9. Mobile users, mobile devices, mobile data, mobile storage force this alteration.


Internet 3.0’s mobility and security requirements are often addressed by using the Museum model. New server and endpoint mobility uses this model with its core concepts to supply access to high-risk assets with continuous monitoring and native protection mechanisms... This approach creates an architecture that will handle data, application, server and storage mobility.

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