Project #3: Technology Evaluation
Select one of the security technologies you identified in either P1 or P2. Research and evaluate its capabilities, costs, maintenance requirements, flexibility, and feasibility for implementation. The analysis should include pros and cons, potential barriers to success, vulnerabilities eliminated or reduced, convergence issues, first adopters (if the technology is new), and any other issues you deem important to consider. Use the technical evaluation methodology information obtained and discussed in previous courses such as CSIA 310 and/or 459.
1. Consult the grading rubric for specific content and formatting requirements for this assignment.
2. Your 5 – 8 page paper should be professional in appearance with consistent use of fonts, font sizes, margins, etc. You should use headings and page breaks to organize your paper.
3. Your paper should use standard terms and definitions for cybersecurity. See Course Content > Cybersecurity Concepts Review for recommended resources.
4. The CSIA program recommends that you follow standard APA formatting since this will give you a document that meets the “professional appearance” requirements. APA formatting guidelines and examples are found under Course Resources > APA Resources. An APA template file (MS Word format) has also been provided for your use CSIA_Basic_Paper_Template(APA_6ed,Nov2014).docx.
5. You must include a cover page with the assignment title, your name, and the due date. Your reference list must be on a separate page at the end of your file. These pages do not count towards the assignment’s page count.
6. You are expected to write grammatically correct English in every assignment that you submit for grading. Do not turn in any work without (a) using spell check, (b) using grammar check, (c) verifying that your punctuation is correct and (d) reviewing your work for correct word usage and correctly structured sentences and paragraphs.
7. You are expected to credit your sources using in-text citations and reference list entries. Both your citations and your reference list entries must follow a consistent citation style (APA, MLA, etc.).
Bank Solutions Disaster Recovery and Business
Continuity: A Case Study for CSIA 485
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR/BC) planning is an issue that students will likely come in contact with as they enter industry. Many different fields require this knowledge, whether employees are advising a company implementing a new DR/BC program, auditing a company’s existing program, or implementing and/or serving as a key participant in a company program. Often times in the classroom it is difficult to find real world practice for students to apply the theories taught. The information in this case provides students with real world data to practice what they would do if they were on an engagement team evaluating a DR/BC plan. Providing students with this opportunity better prepares them for one of the jobs they could perform after graduation.
Keywords: Case study, Computer security, Critical thinking, Experiential learning & education, Information assurance and security, Role-play, Security, Team projects
Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol. 22(2)
2. CASE TEXT
2. 1 Company Background
Bank Solutions, Inc. (a pseudonym), founded in 1973 by the
First Presidential Bank, a major bank of its time, is a provider of item processing servicesi to community banks, savings and loan associations, Internet banks, and small- to mid-size credit unions. It offers a full range of services, including in-clearing and Proof of Deposit (POD) processing, item capture, return and exception item processing, image archive storage and retrieval, and customer statement rendering.
Bank Solutions was formed in 1973 when the Chief Operating Officer of First Presidential Bank, a major commercial bank, recognized an opportunity. Since item processing functions are standardized (they have to be in order for originating and receiving financial institutions to clear customer transactions) and scalable with increases in item processing volumes, they were able to offer these services to other financial institutions wishing to reduce operating expense and focus on growth strategies and other core business functions. First Presidential marketed these services under the Bank Solutions brand name.
Over the next 15 years, Bank Solutions enjoyed modest growth. By 1988, it served 41 small- to mid-size financial institutions. It had not, however, developed a market
presence outside of the Northwestern Region of the United States, as management had hoped. This was primarily because Bank Solutions was unable to compete with other item-processing service providers that had developed
proprietary software systems considered “top of the line.” To make matters worse, at the time almost one quarter of Bank Solutions‟ client base was saving and loan associations (saving and loans). As a result of the Savings and Loan crisis, 60% of Bank Solutions‟ savings and loan customer base failed over the six years spanning 1985–1991, thus stunting the outsourcer‟s growth. The related slow down of the financial services and real estate industries and the recession of 1990–1991 presented further headwinds to the growth objectives of First Presidential management. In
1994, First Presidential sold off Bank Solutions.
Under new management, Bank Solutions thrived. Keys
to the company‟s renewed success included the following:
The development of key strategic partnerships with other industry participants, including data clearing houses and financial institution core processing system outsourcers.ii
The introduction of a new company culture that focused on open door management, mentoring, and enhanced employee benefits.
The development of a proprietary, state of the art item processing system that uses state-of-the-art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to achieve character recognition accuracies that were previously unheard of.
The implementation of “remote capture” technologiesiii
to meet electronic banking initiatives and regulations such as “Check 21.”
The upgrade or replacement of other administrative information systems, including the company‟s financial reporting system. This helped to increase operational effectiveness and efficiencies.
From 1995–2008, Bank Solutions enjoyed unprecedented growth. During that timeframe, the company expanded operations to 18 item processing facilities, two
data centers in which the item processing system was hosted, and 345 financial institutions.
2.2 Current Scenario (2011)
Douglas Smith, the Chief Information Officer for Bank Solutions, was one of the original members of “new management” and responsible for many of Bank Solutions‟ past successes. A solid, middle-sized company with continued growth potential, Bank Solutions has become a
target for a leveraged corporate buyout. This is an attractive situation for Douglas and other members of executive management. Several of these individuals are close to retirement; and initial indications are that the price of the
buyout will be very favorable for members of executive management.
The CEO and other influential members of executive management want Bank Solutions to remain an attractive
purchase option and, as a result, have contracted the services of your team as an outside consultant to identify operating and regulatory risks and advise them on control measures to mitigate the risks.
2.3 Risk Assessment Task
As members of the engagement team performing the risk
assessment, your team has been given the task of assessing
Bank Solutions‟ incident handling, business continuity, and disaster recovery strategy.
In order to perform the assessment, preliminary interviews with Douglas Smith, the Data Center Managers,
Systems Engineers and Network Architect in each of Banking Solutions‟ data centers, and the IT Managers and Day and Night Operations Managers from seven of the largest item processing facilities were conducted.
Additionally, the following documentation related to Bank Solutions‟ security incident management, DR/BC planning activities was reviewed:
Flow charts that diagram the item processing operations and data flow between Bank Solutions item processing facilities and data centers and outside entities (see
A diagram of Bank Solutions‟ network architecture
Bank Solutions‟ Data Center Disaster Recovery and
Business Continuity Plan (DRBCP)
Policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards related to security incident response
Item Processing Facility DRBCPs
Results from the most recently completed DRBCP
Distribution list for the DRBCP
Bank Solutions‟ Backup and Recovery Policy.
Screen prints of the configurations from Bank
Solutions‟ backup utility (these configurations show
what server shares are subject to automated backup and the frequency of those backups)
Contracts with the off-site storage provider
A system-generated listing of access to event logging servers
A list of individuals who have been provided access to recall backup tapes from the off-site storage vendor.
Screenshots of the Intrusion Detection System (IDS), firewall, and other event logging capability configurations
Excerpts from the IDS and firewall event logs and management‟s manually maintained incident tracking log.
2.4 Facts: Risk Assessment Findings
Based on the discussions held with the management and a
review of the documentation provided, you note the following facts:
1. With the assistance of an external consultant, Bank Solutions wrote its current data center DRBCP in 2007. It was last updated in January 2009.
2. According to Douglas, the data center DRBCP was last
tested in 2007. Testing activities consisted of a conceptual, table-top walkthrough of the DRBCP conducted by Douglas with the Data Center Managers and Network and Systems Engineers. Item processing facility DRBCPs have not yet been tested.
3. Site-specific DRBCPs have been written for the five largest item processing facilities. The remaining item processing facilities have a generic “small center”
DRBCP template that was distributed to and customized by facility management in June 2010. Four item processing facilities have not yet completed the customization exercise.
4. DRBCPs contain several sections, including the following:
Emergency/crisis response procedures
Business recovery procedures
“Return to normal” procedures
Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectivesiv for each critical business process and system were not identified in the DRBCP. The
following details, most of which are included in the DRBCP appendices, are also documented in the text of the DRBCP:
Critical systems, including detailed hardware and software inventories
Critical business processes and process owners
Alternative processing facility addresses and
“Calling Trees” (notification listings)
Critical plan participant roles, responsibilities,
Critical vendor contact listings
Key business forms
Specific recovery procedures for key systems
Procedures for managing public relations and
5. Based on a review of DRBCP distribution lists, it appears that not all key plan participants have a copy of
the plan. When this was discussed with Douglas, he
responded that copies of all DRBCPs are stored on the network (which is replicated across both data centers
and via backup tape).
6. Critical plan participants have not been trained to use
7. Bank Solutions has implemented a robust host-based
IDS, including detailed event logging and reporting capabilities. However, neither the DRBCP nor any other policy, standard, guideline, or procedure addresses security incident handling steps, including escalation points of contact and procedures for preserving the forensic qualities of logical evidence.
8. Event logging is also performed when power users perform specific privileged activities on production
servers and selected administrative back office systems. Interestingly, it was noted that several of the same power users whose actions are recorded onto event logs also have write access to the logs themselves.
9. A review of the network diagram and conversations with the Network Architect reveal that redundancies have been implemented at the network perimeter (e.g., routers, firewalls, IDS, load balancers, etc.).
10. Banking Solutions has organized their DR/BC program
according to a “sister center” format; that is, each data center serves as the other‟s “hot site” processing location and each item processing facility has been assigned a corresponding item processing facility to serve as a backup processing location. Neither the DRBCPs nor any other documentation outline specific processing responsibilities for backup facilities.
11. On a daily basis, transaction detail and item image files
from the current day‟s processing operations are uploaded from each item processing facility to their regional data center (see Appendix A).
12. At the data centers, electronic vaulting has been
established whereby all e-mail, file, and application servers and databases at the data center are continuously backed up to the other data center via dual dedicated fiber optic lines.
13. A data backup and recovery utility has been implemented in each data center and the item processing facilities. Full backups of critical data files, software programs, and configurations are performed
once a week and incremental backups are performed on a daily basis Monday through Friday.
14. At one item processing facility, backup jobs have
routinely failed due to unknown causes. When the topic was discussed with the IT Manager on duty, he shrugged the failures off noting that the core financial institution transaction data and images are transmitted to and archived at the Bank Solutions Data Center East on a daily basis.
15. At the item processing facilities, the management has been tasked with contracting the off-site storage of backup tapes. At one of the item processing facilities, management has contracted the bank across the street to store its backup tapes in a safety deposit box. At another item processing facility, the night Operations Manager stores the backup tapes in a safe at his home. At a third item processing center, tapes are stored in a shed at the back of the building.
This is individual project. As a member of an engagement team in charge of performing the incident handling, DR/BC risk assessment for Bank Solutions. you should read the case background and the facts identified in the interviews.
Individual Work: For all of the facts/ findings, prepare a written report that lists the condition(s) that present risks to Bank Solutions as well as proposed recommendations for addressing those conditions.
Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol. 22(2)