Applying RealContext with tags
When tracking assets in your organization, you may want to identify, group, and report on them according to how they impact your business.
For example, you have a server with sensitive financial data and a number of workstations in your accounting office located in Cleveland, Ohio. The accounting department recently added three new staff members. Their workstations have just come online and will require a number of security patches right away. You want to assign the security-related maintenance of these accounting assets to different IT administrators: A SQL and Linux expert is responsible for the server, and a Windows administrator handles the workstations. You want to make these administrators aware that these assets have high priority.
These assets are of significant importance to your organization. If they were attacked, your business operations could be disrupted or even halted. The loss or corruption of their data could be catastrophic.
The scan data distinguishes these assets by their IP addresses, vulnerability counts, risk scores, and installed operating systems and services. It does not isolate them according to the unique business conditions described in the preceding scenario.
Using a feature called RealContext, you can apply tags to these assets to do just that. You can tag all of these accounting assets with a Cleveland location and a Very High criticality level. You can tag your accounting server with a label, Financials, and assign it an owner named Chris, who is a Linux administrator with SQL expertise. You can assign your Windows workstations to a Windows administrator owner named Brett. And you can tag the new workstations with the label First-quarter hires. Then, you can create dynamic asset groups based on these tags and send reports on the tagged assets to Chris and Brett, so that they know that the workstation assets should be prioritized for remediation. For information on using tag-related search filters to create dynamic asset groups, see Performing filtered asset searches.
You also can use tags as filters for report scope. See Creating a basic report.
Types of tags
You can use several built-in tags:
- You can tag and track assets according to their geographic or physical Locations, such as data centers.
- You can associate assets with Owners, such as members of your IT or security team, who are in charge of administering them.
- You can apply levels of Criticality to assets to indicate their importance to your business or the negative impact resulting from an attack on them. A criticality level can be Very Low, Low, Medium, High, or Very High. Additionally, you can apply numeric values to criticality levels and use the numbers as multipliers that impact risk score. For more information, see Adjusting risk with criticality . You can also create custom tags that allow you to isolate and track assets according to any context that might be meaningful to you. For example, you could tag certain assets PCI, Web site back-end, or consultant laptops.
Tagging assets, sites, and asset groups
You can tag an asset individually on the details page for that asset. You also can tag a site or an asset group, which would apply the tag to all member assets. The tagging workflow is identical, regardless of where you tag an asset:
- If you are creating or editing a site: Go to the General page of the Site Configuration panel, and select Add tags. If you are creating or editing a static asset group: Go to the General page of the Asset Group Configuration panel, and select Add tags. If you are creating or editing a dynamic asset group: In the Configuration panel for the asset group, select Add tags. If you have just run a filtered asset search: To tag all of the search results, select Add tags, which appears above the search results table on the Filtered Asset Search page.
The section for configuring tags expands.
- Select a tag type.
- If you select Custom Tag, Location, or Owner, type a new tag name to create a new tag. To add multiple names, type one name, press ENTER, type the next, press ENTER, and repeat as often as desired. OR To apply an previously created tag, start typing the name of the tag until the rest of the name fills in the text box. If you are creating a new custom tag, select a color in which the tag name will appear. All built-in tags have preset colors.
If you select Criticality, select a criticality level from the drop-down list.
- Click Add.
- If you are creating or editing a site or asset group, click Save to save the configuration changes.
Importing assets into a tag
To simplify the management of tags across a large number of assets, you can apply a tag to a set of assets using a text (
.txt) file that contains a list of hostnames and/or IP addresses. The Security Console evaluates these text files using new lines as delimiters, so make sure every hostname or IP address is printed on its own line in the file if you are specifying multiple targets.
To import assets into tags using a text file:
- Click the Home tab.
- In the Asset Tags area, select an asset tag. The asset tag page appears.
- In the Assets area, click Add Assets From File. The Add Assets From File window appears.
- Click Choose File, and then select the appropriate text file. Remember that each line in the file should contain only one hostname or IP address.
- Select an option:
- Click Override Tag if you want to replace all of the current assets. This function does not affect asset criteria.
- Click Append to Tag to add new assets to the current assets.
The selected tag is applied to all valid assets.
Applying business context with dynamic asset filters
Another way to apply tags is by specifying criteria for which tags can be dynamically applied. This allows you to apply business context based on filters without having to create new sites or groups. It also allows you to add new criteria for which assets should have the tags as you think of them, rather than at the time you first tag assets. For example, you may have searched for all your assets meeting certain Payment Card Industry (PCI) criteria and applied the High criticality level. Later, you decide you also want to filter for the Windows operating system. You can apply the additional filter on the page for the High criticality level itself.
To apply business context with dynamic asset filters:
- Click the name of any tag to go to the details page for that tag.
- Click Add Tag Criteria.
- Select the search filters. The available filters are the same as those available in the asset search filters. See Performing filtered asset searches. There are some restrictions on which filters you can use with criticality tags. See Filter restrictions for criticality tags.
- Select Search.
- Select Save.
To view existing business context for a tag:
- On the details page for that tag, select View Tag Criteria.
To edit, add new, or remove dynamic asset filters for a tag:
- Click the name of any tag to go to the details page for that tag.
- Click Edit Tag Criteria.
- Edit or add the search filters. The available filters are the same as those available in the asset search filters. See Performing filtered asset searches. There are some restrictions on which filters you can use with criticality tags. See Filter restrictions for criticality tags.
- Select Search.
- Select Save.
To remove all criteria for a tag:
- On the details page for that tag, select Clear Tag Criteria.
Filter restrictions for criticality tags
Certain filters are restricted for criticality tags, in order to prevent circular references . These restrictions apply to criticality tags applied through tag criteria, and to those added through dynamic asset groups. See Performing filtered asset searches.
The following filters cannot be used with criticality tags:
- Asset risk score
- User-added criticality level
- User-added custom tag
- User-added tag (location)
- User-added tag (owner)
Removing and deleting tags
If a tag no longer accurately reflects the business context of an asset, you can remove it from that asset. To do so, click the x button next to the tag name. If the tag name is longer than one line, mouse over the ampersand below the name to expand it and then click the x button. Removing a tag is not the same as deleting it.
If you tag a site or an asset group, all of the member assets will "inherit" that tag. You cannot remove an inherited tag at the individual asset level. Instead, you will need to edit the site or asset group in which the tag was applied and remove it there.
If a tag no longer has any business relevance at all, you can delete it completely.
You cannot delete a criticality tag.
To delete a tag, go to the Tags page:
Click the name of any tag to go to the details page for that tag. Then click the View All Tags breadcrumb.
Click the Assets icon, then click the number of tags listed for Tagged Assets, even if that number is zero.
Go to the Asset Tag Listing table of the Tags page. Select the check box for any tag you want to delete. To select all displayed tags, select the check box in the top row. Then, click Delete.
Tip: If you want to see which assets are associated with the tag before deleting it, click the tag name to view its details page. This could be helpful in case you want to apply a different tag to those assets.
Changing the criticality of an asset
Over time, the criticality of an asset may change. For example, a laptop may initially be used by a temporary worker and not contain sensitive data, which would indicate low criticality. That laptop may later be used by a senior executive and contain sensitive data, which would merit a higher criticality level.
Your options for changing an asset's criticality level depend on where the original criticality level was initially applied and where you are changing it:
- If you apply a criticality level to a site and then change the criticality of a member asset, you can only increase the criticality level. For example, if you apply a criticality level of Medium to a site and then change the criticality level of an individual member asset, you can only change the level to High or Very High.
- If you apply a criticality level to an asset group, and if any asset has had a criticality level applied elsewhere (in sites, other asset groups, or individually), the asset will retain the highest-applied criticality level. For example, an asset named Server_1 belongs to a site named Boston with a criticality level of Medium. A criticality level of Very High is later applied to Server_1 individually. If you apply a High criticality level to a new asset group that includes Server_1, it will retain the Very High criticality level.
- If you apply a criticality level to an individual asset, you can later change the criticality to any desired level.
Creating tags without applying them
You can create tags without immediately applying them to assets. This could be helpful if, for example, you want to establish a convention for how tag names are written.
- Click the Assets icon, then click the number of tags listed for Tagged Assets, even if that number is zero. OR Click the Create tab at the top of the page and then select Tags from the drop-down list.
- Click Add tags and add any tags as described in Tagging assets, sites, and asset groups.
Avoiding "circular references" when tagging asset groups
You may apply the same tag to an asset as well as an asset group that contains it. For example, you might want to create a group based on assets tagged with a certain location or owner. This may occasionally lead to a circular reference loop in which tags refer to themselves instead of the assets or groups to which they were originally applied. This could prevent you from getting useful context from the tags.
The following example shows how a circular reference can occur with with location and custom tags:
- A first user tags a number of assets with the location Cleveland.
- The user creates a dynamic asset group called Midwest office with search results based on assets tagged Cleveland.
- The user applies a custom tag named Accounting to the Midwest office asset group because all the assets in the group are used by the accounting team.
- A second user, who is not aware of the Midwest office dynamic asset group or the Cleveland tag, creates a new dynamic asset group named Financial with search results based on the Accounting tag.
- That user tags the Financial group with Cleveland, expecting that all assets in the group will inherit the tag. But because the assets were tagged Cleveland by the first user, the Cleveland tag now refers to itself in a potentially infinite loop.
The following example shows how a circular reference can occur with criticality:
- You create a dynamic asset group Priorities for all assets that have an original risk score of less than 1,000. One of these assets is named Server_1.
- You tag this group with a Very High criticality level, so that every asset in the group inherits the tag.
- Your Security Console has been configured to double the risk score of assets with a Very High criticality level. See Adjusting risk with criticality.
- Server_1 has its risk score doubled, which causes it to no longer meet the filter criteria of Priorities. Therefore, it is removed from Priorities.
- Since Server_1 no longer inherits the Very High criticality level applied to Priorities, it reverts to its original risk score, which is lower than 1,000.
- Server_1 now once again meets the criteria for membership in Priorities, so it once again inherits the Very High criticality level applied to the asset group. This, again, causes its risk score to double, so that it no longer meets the criteria for membership in Priorities. This is a circular reference loop.
The best way to prevent circular references is to look at the Tags page to see what tags have been created. Then go to the details page for a tag that you are considering using and to see which assets, sites, and asset groups it is applied to. This is especially helpful if you have multiple Security Console users and high numbers of tags and asset groups. To access to the details page for a tag, simply click the tag name.