Don't Be a Security Villain

Security pros need to stop scaring off new projects and innovation, said RSA's Art Coviello. 

SAN FRANCISCO-Security scares off new projects and innovation.

EMC Executive Vice President and RSA Security Division President Art Coviello told a standing-room only crowd of about 8,000 during the opening keynote of the RSA Security 2008 Conference here at the Moscone Center that "we need to turn a longstanding stereotype of information security on its head and show how information-centric security can be an accelerator-and not an inhibitor-of business innovation and growth."

The need to link security to information management and to build it into the information infrastructure is better understood [in 2008], Coviello said.

"Just look at the continued pace of security acquisitions by infrastructure companies and the integration of acquired technologies across all parts of the infrastructure."

But when it comes to security's impact on business performance, it's clear the transformation is incomplete, he said.

In soon-to-be-released research, IDC will reveal a startling statistic, Coviello said. More than 80 percent of IT, security and business executives surveyed admit that their organizations have shied away from business innovation opportunities because of information security concerns, he said.

"We talked to your peers, a group of senior security, risk and privacy executives at Global 1,000 companies who confirmed our view of the existing security stereotype," Coviello said.

"This is what they said: 'Typically in most global organizations security is viewed at best as a necessary evil and more commonly as a necessary friction. This derives from security's primary focus on attempting to constrain behavior to prevent negative events. Although well-intentioned, the inevitable result is that security practitioners are not viewed as enablers but people preventing the business from doing what it needs to do."

Consider projects based on the risk, not the security

Coviello told eWEEK a few weeks ago in an interview that one of the keys to turning good data security into a business advantage is by continually building more business intelligence, developed and collected by security technology companies, into large databases and the latest security products that keep watch over them.

This business intelligence is aimed at making the security products and the databases they protect moving targets that are harder for data pirates to hit-plus it gives the business a better picture of who their customers are and what their buying patterns may be, he said.

Coviello said that the next time a new idea comes up don't start by saying that it isn't secure.

"Start by evaluating exposures, the probability of the exposures being exploited and the materiality of the consequences. Then put forth a plan to reduce risk in all three areas. Nothing should be done unless it is in the context of risk," he said.

To do this effectively, enterprises can build repeatable processes which will in turn free you up to implement yet another recommendation-making the time to be strategic, Coviello said.

'Use automation and optimization. Get your foundation right ... then you can spend less time blocking and tackling and more time on higher level thinking,'" Coviello said, quoting his researchers.

"So, yes, we can inspire confidence to enable innovation, but it requires a whole new mindset, a new way of thinking about security," he said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...