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Andre Yee's Security Insider

Andre Yee

Compliance & the Security Manager

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Over the past 5 years, the need for regulatory compliance has made a difference in the role of the security officer. Arguably security managers must now be equipped with more than simply being able to configure firewalls or set security policies - they must also be minimally comversant, if not completely knowledgeable about regulatory compliance.

Not all reg compliance is created equal and there are several to be aware of depending on the industry segment your company may play in. HIPAA, FISMA, SOX, GLBA... they all call for involvement from IT security. However, my observation is that they share one thing in common - the lack of definition on what is expected from an IT security perspective. Hence, many security managers are left on their own to figure out "where to go from here" when it comes to compliance.

Take SOX as an example - there are a couple of components of the SOX regs that speak to involvement from IT, namely SOX 404 and SOX 802. In particular, SOX 404 has specific implications to the security manager since it involves ensuring proper internal controls over financial reporting. Yet, the nature of that internal control and how it intersects with IT security isn't always well defined. The net result is that security managers are left to interpret that for themselves often without the benefit of experience.

Just a few tips garnered from several articles and experts -

1. Read the reg. If you're seeking to comply with SOX 404, then it might be a good idea to read the reg for yourself

2. The compliance auditor is your new best friend. What makes compliance challenging is that it's not just about auditing the controls or process which the compliance auditor is familiar with...nor is it simply about IT security which is the domain of the security officer...but in fact, it bridges both.

3. It's not about the technology. If anything, it's more about processes and policies...and making users aware of what those are.

4. Conform to industry security standards. The application of standards is a good thing since they are well published. The more you use proprietary standards, the greater level of time consuming audit is required.

5. Finally, security industry groups such as ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) are leading the way in defining the IT security requirements for compliance. There are a couple of good resources out there but one notable resource is CoBIT. CoBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology) is produced out of a joint effort by ISACA and IT Governance Institute. It is meant to provide guidelines for addressing the IT governance model for SOX. For more informantion, refer to:

Compliance of any kind is challenging because it bridges the worlds of auditing and IT security. The security officer of today must be comfortable and conversant in both worlds in order to be successful. Benign ignorance is simply not an option anymore.

An open dialogue about security and compliance for the enterprise.

Andre Yee

Andre Yee is an entrepreneur and technologist with nearly 20 years of experience in the business of technology.

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