Using Security to Enable Growth

There’s no question that the threats to corporate security are numerous, complex and growing. As a result, all types of organizations have to spend an increasing amount of time and resources confronting the security (and risks) landscape. For many companies, the issue is no longer simply a matter of protecting the network or guarding against more and more viruses, Trojan horses, or malicious software downloads. Instead, the issue of security has come full circle from simply an IT nuisance and expense to business critical one that can impact everything from a company’s brand image to meeting regulatory requirements. In short, the new security landscape is scary and extensive.

Based on discussions with industry leaders and executives, I see a new approach to enterprise security evolving—that changes the focus from security technologies and approaches that are seen as sunk cost for IT, to a proactive way of both managing business and corporate risk while enabling new classes of applications and business processes. Although it takes investment and time up front to identify and understand an organization’s risk profile, the money is well spent if it’s followed by a security strategy that addressed the most important areas and downplays areas of risk where there is less business risk.

I believe that most enterprise security approaches will evolve from separate IT-centric ones that deal with the digital world and traditional physical ones that deal with “real-life” security to combined solutions that intermarry a person’s digital identity with their physical presence to enable more efficient and manageable security operations—as well as opening up new capabilities. Along the way, we’ll see an ever expanding definition of identity management (see some of my previous columns which discuss the application of identity management to individual application services that can be used, managed, and billed across networks) to better security frameworks and ways for organizations to structure their security analysis.

Real security measures aren’t simply about pumping money and resources into preventing problems—though a solid defense against basic issues is certainly a good starting point. By evaluating the business risk associated with potential risks, organizations will realize they they’re not all the same, and that the real investment of security money and resources can be directed against specific areas that are the highest risk. Not only does this save an organization money by preventing over investment in unnecessary areas (well, in areas where the investment has a lower payback), it also enables an organization to focus on and invest in the specific areas of risk and security concerns that will provide the highest payback the company—either in terms of risk reduction or the enablement of new opportunities.

Instead, really good security policy is about understanding, quantifying and measuring your level of risk—both IT and business risk—in the appropriate areas and planning accordingly. It can also be about enabling new business growth and opportunities that an organization would not be able to take advantage of without appropriate levels of security. For example, consider a company with digital content that it wants to sell, but it needs to maintain control over the content as well as a transaction record of who has access the content. By using the right combination of identity management and security tools, the organization could enable broad use of its content while maintaining control and management over who used it.

Although the security threats are going to go away, the traditional reactive, limited payback approach to security solutions might. I believe what we’ll see over the next few years is the evolution of security from an disabler of threats and attacks to an enabler for new business opportunities. This type of evolution is particularly important because organizations need to move from a position where they’re not just spending money on security, but spending the right amount of money in the right areas of security using the right technologies to achieve specific benefits that will lower and manage specific potential threats and risks to a business.

About the Author

David Kelly - With twenty years at the cutting edge of enterprise infrastructure, David A. Kelly is ebizQ's Community Manager for Optimizing Business/IT Management. This category includes IT governance, SOA governance,and compliance, risk management, ITIL, business service management,registries and more.

As Community Manager, David will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on all the important news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise governance. David will also be responsible for publishing press releases, taking briefings, and overseeing vendor submitted feature articles to run on ebizQ. In addition, each week, David will compile the week's most important news and views in a newsletter emailed out to ebizQ's ever-growing Governance community. David Kelly is ideally suited to be ebizQ's Governing the Infrastructure Community Manager as he has been involved with application development, project management, and product development for over twenty years. As a technology and business analyst, David has been researching, writing and speaking on governance-related topics for over a decade.

David is an expert in Web services, application development, and enterprise infrastructures. As the former Senior VP of Analyst Services at Hurwitz Group, he has extensive experience in translating the implications of new application development, deployment, and management technologies into practical recommendations for enterprise customers. He's written articles for Computerworld, Software Magazine, the New York Times, and other publications, and spoken at conferences such as Comdex, Software Development, and Internet World. With expertise ranging from application development to enterprise management to integration/B2B services to IP networking and VPNs, Kelly can help companies profit from the diversity of a changing technology landscape.

More by David A. Kelly

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