No, it’s not realistic to address all potential security risks, just as it isn’t realistic to be 100% compliant. If a risk management program is going to be successful, then you need to be realistic and protect what matters. How much preparation is good enough - is all up to how much is the business willing to lose if something were to go wrong. Would they be able to sleep at night with the investment that they’ve made on protecting, monitoring and mitigating the important things? Only they can answer that.
What's your take on security awareness and employee training?
It is a necessary evil. The reason why I say that is evil is that many folks believe that posters, online training and things of that nature are good enough. Let’s face it, people are the reason why we need security. Many times I have performed investigations of internal incidents only to find that it was a user error.
People need to be provided the security awareness and training that pertains to their job function. People get overloaded with information as it is, so providing security messages based on role or function is key. A consideration is to be sure to provide examples of “why” it is important. People want to do the right thing, so if they know why they must use a certain safeguard – they will. Another tip is to provide messages that people can personally relate to and then remind them that it is the same “at work”. For example, the week after Thanksgiving many people start their holiday shopping online. I use this opportunity to remind folks how to protect their information, and by the way – they should use the same practice at work.
What lessons have your learned in your current position? What advice would you give to other CSOs tackling the issues surrounding risk management?
One of the business lessons I have learned is to keep building relationships with people. Get to know what their goals are and what their business processes are. Once that is understood, a realistic risk assessment can be done.
Another important lesson has been that security messaging may not always accepted in the corporate culture. So, divide and concur. Identify the key stake holders and how the security message will improve their area. Try to think of what they’re objections may be and be prepared to address them. It is all practical business sense, but many of us in information security have been technically trained, not business trained. I would say that we as a profession need to get on the fast track to get into the business rather than a bolt on… Something that we’ve been trying to do for years and now’s the time to get to it.
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