Earlier today, we published a report that dissects global risk perceptions of business and technology management leaders. One of the most eye-popping observations from our analysis is how customer obsession dramatically alters the risk mindset of business decision-makers.
Out of seven strategic initiatives -- including “grow revenues,” “reduce costs,” and “better comply with regulations,” -- “improve the experience of our customers” is the most frequently cited priority for business and IT decision-makers over the next 12 months. When you compare those “customer-obsessed” decision-makers (i.e. those who believe customer experience is a critical priority) versus others who view customer experience as a lower priority, drastic differences appear in how they view, prioritize, and manage risk.
Customer obsession has the following effects on business decision-makers’ risk perceptions:
Risk concerns heighten dramatically across several risk types – especially reputational risk. Reputational risk concern more than doubles for customer-obsessed decision-makers, and other risks also see significant increases, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability risk, regulatory and compliance risk, and talent and human capital risk.
Critical infrastructure is frequently on my mind, especially the ICS/SCADA within the energy sector. I live in Texas; oil and natural gas are big here ya'll. I'm just a short distance away from multiple natural gas drilling sites. I cannot help but think about the risks during the extraction and transport of this natural gas. North Texas has seen an attempt to bomb the natural gas infrastructure. In 2012, Anson Chi attempted to destroy an Atmos Energy pipeline in Plano, Texas. As a security and risk professional, I wonder about the potential cyber impacts an adversary with Chi's motivations could have.
Information workers in organizations across Asia Pacific (AP) are increasingly using personal mobile devices, applications, and public cloud services for work. Forrester defines this as the bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) trend. This behavior is more prevalent among employees above the director-level (C-level executives, presidents, and vice presidents) than those below that level (individual worker, contractor or consultant and manager/supervisor). Data from Forrester’s Forrsight Workforce survey, Q4 2012 corroborates this trend in AP.
We believe that the BYOT trend will strengthen over the next two years in AP, primarily fueled by employees below the director level. Increasing options, quality and affordability of devices, apps, and wireless connectivity, coverage, and capacity will contribute to this expansion. In order to secure corporate data, organizations will need to:
Develop Corporate Mobile Policies: Organizations must build cross-functional teams to plan their mobile strategies. This should include representatives from different LOBs like finance, HR, legal and sourcing. Moreover, the policy must clearly define guardrails to provide flexibility to employees but within boundaries and in compliance with local regulations.
Identify Technologies To Secure Corporate Data: 29% of business-decision makers in AP report that the rising expectations of younger workers require businesses to push enterprise IT to keep technology current. This is why it is critical to identify both back-end and front-end technologies and suppliers that can optimize mobile device and application management in a secure manner. Focus should be on networking layer security and mobile device management solutions.
You remember the tribbles don't you? The cute, harmless looking alien species from the second season of the original Star Trek that turn out to be anything but benign. They are born pregnant and reproduce at an alarming rate. The tribbles threaten the ship, but fortunately Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is able to transport all of the furry creatures to a departing Klingon ship. The tribbles remind me of technology investments:
You start out small, but before you realize it the technology is everywhere and you are overwhelmed. It ends up in places you never intended.
Like the relaxing purr of the tribbles, the flashing lights of racks and stacks of gear gives us warm comfort at night
Tribbles consume everything, just like the operational requirements of much of our technology investment: resources, budget, and productivity are all devoured.
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.
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.
Through this process, we uncovered a market that we believe is currently ripe for a major disruption: market demand for managed security services (MSS) remains extremely strong, customer satisfaction is higher than we’ve seen in the past, and current MSSPs tend to compete on delivery, customer service, and cost.
This isn’t to say MSSPs all currently offer the same services with the same level of quality – not by a long shot. Selecting the right provider still means that you must understand your needs and the areas you feel they can enhance your security program the most. Each MSSP we evaluated has solid overall security capabilities, but has unique strengths in certain security areas and use different deployment methods to bring their offerings to bear.
At the same time, however, we hear more decisions today come down to cost and execution, and as this becomes more commonplace, we begin to prepare ourselves for a shift in the market. In fact, we believe we’ll see significant changes over the next couple of years for three primary reasons:
There are many types of criminals. These include thrill-seeking hackers, politically motivated hackers, organized criminals after financial gain, and state-sponsored groups after financial gain and intellectual property or both. Any of these have the potential to break these capabilities through information loss, or denial of service. Business processes and their associated transactions need to look at information security as a key component of any architectural design we might create as Enterprise Architects.
Security architecture is dependent on the idea of “security.” Security by some definitions is the trade-off of convenience for protection. When I am unloading the car and have an armful of groceries, it's challenging to unlock the front door at the same time. Alternatively I could just leave the front door unlocked but that might invite guests I had not planned for. So I trade convenience for protection.
Security is often seen as in conflict with business users; however, security is a process that protects the business and allows it to effectively operate.
Security is in response to perceived business risks.
Security can be seen as a benefit and a business enabler and can aid organizations to achieve their business objectives.