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One of the largest impediments to implementing an effective security solution has to do with an organization's attitude and awareness about security risks. First, enterprises often cannot see the rationale to justify adequate investments because they cannot measure the costs of failing to do so. Second, as security is treated as a technical issue alone, too many organizations believe that security concerns only the IT department.

Third, the absence of a security view of changing technology paradigms results in dangerous technology adoptions that create larger security holes. For instance, wireless technologies today are lacking in their ability to conform to end-to end security standards. Fourth, organizations may underestimate the human contribution to security breaches. Elements such as operator error and ignorance are sometimes overlooked, increasing potential risks.

However, the biggest technical challenge of all involves managing the varied security levels of new technologies. We propose ten steps to be considered--technical, organizational and operational--when formulating a comprehensive security strategy from an organizational perspective.

Step 1: Budget Adequately

The size of the budget should be defined by taking into account the security track record of the technologies being adopted; the criticality of restoring important business processes in the unlikely event of a breach; the size of the deployment characterized by the spread of operations, considering the geographic and sociopolitical aspects of the risks; and the costs of maintaining enterprise-wide vigilance.

We believe that enterprises should consider investing a percentage of their total IT budget for security risk mitigation, to keep a check on the indiscriminate adoption of technologies as well as to provide for risks arising from it. Organizations should also run a parallel security assessment program whenever an increase in IT investments is recommended. This could be executed by either an internal or an outsourced specialist team tasked with assessing the impact of the new technologies on the organization's security levels.

Step 2: Define Adequacy Levels for Security

Security threats include unauthorized access to databases and applications, theft of intellectual property, software/hardware holes or viruses, or even operator error. Security software and hardware can only be as effective as the way they are used in a security framework. An information security strategy therefore needs to address three challenges:

  • Defining the adequacy of a security system for a given enterprise
  • Implementing control parameters to determine the potency or likelihood of a threat
  • Applying measures to maintain the defined level of adequacy on a 24x7 basis


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