OK, Tell Me I'm Wrong!

Everyone knows that in business you need to do two things: Increase top-line revenue growth and reduce bottom line cost. Doing both of these is how companies grow profitably. It really is that simple. Now why is it that Information Security Officers have trouble thinking this way? Read my new paper titled Determine The Business Value Of An Effective Security Program — Information Security Economics 101 - developed for the The S&R Practice Playbook.

In the paper, I argue that we need to associate the value of information security with the value of the information assets we protect. How is this value determined, you may ask? Well, ask away, because in the paper I outline a method to determine that value. It’s simple. We live in an information economy and even though we may be a bank, manufacturer, or a retailer, at the end of the day we wouldn’t be in business without information. In many ways information is what we sell.

Think about it; if we associate information security with asset value defined by the revenue these assets produce, we would understand how to prioritize security effort and we would have a lot more productive conversations at budget time.

Join in the debate, and tell me why this approach couldn’t work in your firm. I want to hear from you.

Information Value and Risk Assessment

 

I just wrote a paper on the value of information security. Please see the paper here. It is something I have thought about for a long time. Information security as a technical discipline but someone has to pay for all this fun we are having. My assumption is that as Willie Sutton is quoted as saying "Go where the money is...and go there often.” Today where organized crime and nation states are going is to information. It is amazingly easy to monetize certain kinds of information. There is a buyer for everything that hackers can steal. The impact to business has been debated for some time and we go to great lengths to perform risk assessments. What we don't do such a good job of is monetizing that risk. 

Consider this. If we can monetize the information asset, we should be able to monetize the risk to that asset. The key to monetizing risk is knowing the value of the asset at risk. Different systems for risk assessment have been in place for some time. They all seem to revolve around professional judgment. My argument is that using a combination of threat modeling (war planning) plus simple asset monetization will allow us to monetize risk. The results will not be perfect, but they should be directionally correct.  As Doug Hubbard says it is better to be directionally correct than specifically wrong[1].



Read more

Information Security Metrics Insanity, The 3Rs And Dashboards!

 

I just finished a research document titled Measure The Effectiveness Of Your Data Security And Privacy Program for the The Security Architecture And Operations Playbook. This was a lot of fun to write, because I was able to look back at the 50-plus interviews conducted over the last year, all of them focused on the security metrics issue. This seems like such a hard question to answer. My conclusion is that many security organizations are measuring the wrong things.

There are several reasons for this.  Here are a few of my observations:

  1. We always measure this.
  2. It’s too hard to get any other data.
  3. Our budgets are fixed so we just do the best we can.
  4. Etc…
Read more