Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Security Stuck at the Kids Table?

Where does the Security Department reside at your organization?

I am sure many readers with first answer this question with, “What Security Department?” That is a fair answer for many organizations out there in the real world and for those of you that answered the question that way, I feel sorry for you and your organization... It is only a matter of time before you end up on the front page on the newspaper with a headline reading something like, “Hacker Breaches Company ABC, takes 100,000 Social Security Numbers” or “Insider Steals 20,000 Credit Card Numbers from Company XYZ.” Trust me, I have seen it before. It is only a matter of time.
For the rest of you, where does Security sit? Under the Director of IT? Under the Chief Information Officer? How about under the Audit Department? While there are advantages to each, the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits.

Let’s examine.

Under the Director of IT: Last time I checked, the IT department’s main concern is the availability of resources and data. As a security guy, I really don’t care about availability. If our network is unavailable, we are secure. As such, every decision I make in the best interest of security is going to be analyzed based on the effects of availability, and if these decisions conflict with their goals, they are not going to go far.

Under the CIO: Same problems as above and also include problems with lack of funding, lack of power (i.e. the ability to make decisions and have them implemented), and lack of representation in senior management.

Under the Audit Department: Who is an auditor’s on friend? Another auditor! Okay, so that wasn’t a good joke, but there is truth to it. Most people don’t like auditors and being stuck under that department makes others think Security is one of them. Therefore, everyone from the bottom to the top will be generally “on guard” when you come around and resistant to your goals because of it.

So where is the best place for Security to sit? At the same level as the CIO, but independent from them. Security should be its own Department and have its own voice in the Senior Management circle. They should have their own budget and the ability to defend all decisions made in the best interest of security without being kyboshed before it makes it to the C-level.

In a world with increasingly more stringent regulations and compliances (i.e. PCI, HIPAA, SOX, GLBA), and more sophisticated hackers and hacking techniques, it’s time to move Security where it rightfully belongs, at the adult table.

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