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.
Make Security a National Priority
Coviello said that the recommendations of his research group are clear. They align the practitioner with the business and align the implementation of security with the risk.
“At most companies today, security projects are being driven by compliance and audit, so what a surprise that they don’t have alignment with the business! Security practitioners are not working on business problems; they are working on regulatory issues,” Coviello said.
He called for more aggressive action on a number of fronts to help enable innovation, and offered some recommendations:
“First, Congress should pass a breach notification law that creates one federal standard for notifying consumers should a breach of personally identifiable information occur, and establish national baseline standards for safeguarding sensitive information,” he said. “Right now there are 40 separate state bills. Makes no sense.”
Coviello went on: “Second, we need more government investment in education to produce better trained programmers and security professionals, the human resources we are in dire need of. And third, if we want to enable innovation with more innovative security we need to spend more on research. When you consider the stakes, cyber-security research should be a high priority.”
The RSA president then called for a “thinking security” approach.
“This requires a different breed of technology. We must look beyond tools that blindly lock down data toward mechanisms that can understand information and safeguard it intelligently throughout its life cycle,” Coviello said.
“From targeted advertising, to Internet search, to online book recommendations, our daily activities are empowered by a growing computer understanding of human discourse and behavior. Thinking security is about co-opting this intelligence to bring new flexibility and strength to information protection.”
Coviello said. the idea of “thinking security” cannot be independently accomplished. It is interdependent on and with the IT infrastructure and should be just one element of that infrastructure.
“The rise of thinking security will mean that information-centric security is a reality that will catapult security to a new plane where it is widely seen as an accelerator of innovation,” Coviello said.