Securing Information - An Ideology not a Tool

Keeping stuff secure - it's a funny old business.  I've been fortunate to work at several different ends of that process.  Firstly within industry working alongside business as usual processes and policies, through to vendors making tools to help automate security processes through to implementation at various sized companies requiring business and technical consulting.

At all stages, the main focus was technology.  Configuring a piece of technology so it was more secure: password management, ACL management, encryption standards, service disabling, policy lock downs and so on.

Whilst working at numerous vendors, the main focus was on selling an idea that a tool could automate many of the manual tasks associated with keeping data secure - access certification processes, creating roles to manage ACL, creating audit reports and so on.

One of the big areas missing, was that of focusing on the human involvement in the security process. Whilst undoubtedly tooling has a huge part to place in the full circles driven life cycle of information security, it is individuals who implement the processes and configure the tools.

A recent project I was working on was focused on roles based access control.  Using business level functions to map access instead of using a more error prone and inconsistent system level approach.  Whilst tooling can help with the creation of roles for example, it was often non-IT focused business users who would be using the new system.  That would often require education, a strategy and internal marketing to drive the initiative.

I think many security projects contain a more human focused element, be that education, policy change, control creation or reporting but this area is often neglected or implemented poorly.

As many larger organisations now start to develop separate infosec teams often driven by a Chief Information Security/Systems Officer, security will start to become a more pro-active component of business planning and not just a reactionary technology driven cost centre.

A pro-active business and people lead security ideology will lead to longer term business efficiency and in turn cost savings but also competitive advantage.