I've been slow in responding to Pete Lindstrom's (Spire Security) prompt for recommendations and solutions for trustmark (security badge) providers, beyond my typical griping about same.
I appreciate Pete's candor and perspective, and shall endeavor to make amends.
Having repetitively taken issue with trustmarks, with McAfee Secure\Hackersafe facing the brunt of it, I propose the following to ALL trustmark providers, as I did during the creation of the McAfee Secure Standard.
1) Check the arrogance and sales hype at the door.
We have no doubt that you're in business to drive conversions first and security second, so just be honest about it.
We also have no doubt that there will be vulnerabilities in your customer's sites, so cut out the "we guarantee their security" angle and opt for the "we do the best we can to contribute to the security and well being of our customers, and their customers" approach.
2) Practice transparency.
How do you scan (very specifically)? If you simply run Nessus, say so. If you make use of custom algorithms and signatures, say so.
3) Publish your standard, most importantly inclusive of your intentions on how to enforce it.
If a customer's site is not compliant, how and when, if at all, will you pull down the trustmark badge?
I can't believe I'm about to say this but McAfee Secure really has set the standard for establishing a standard. While I believe it to be lacking in areas, at least they have one.
4) Actually enforce.
So often I've found websites in flagrant violation of any feasible security standards, and yet they display a trustmark. This simply should not be. It is misleading, dishonest, and deceptive.
5) Offer resources.
As an alleged security provider, offer your customers resources. Not just the "use SSL and all is well" bunk. Real resources: OWASP, SANS Top 25, SDL, how-to, the list goes on.
6) Provide an immediately evident point of contact for your trustmark program; an abuse@, security@, and/or info@ alias to which we can report sites we determine to be vulnerable.
I have found it difficult in the past to disclose vulnerabilities; it shouldn't be.
7) Offer incentives.
People often do well with incentive. A reward system for strong security practices demonstrated by your customers will reap benefits, and adversely, so too will a punishment system for non-performers.
Note: Keep a close eye on Skeptikal.org. Mike's of the same mindset, and has applied this spirit of thinking to PCI ASVs who themselves have missed the mark on security, while holding others to the embattled PCI DSS. Look for some interesting content next week.
Finally, dear trustmark provider, think integrity. Operating from that position should lead you down the right path.
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