Friday, June 20, 2008

CISSP is here to stay! Sorry, Dre.

Dre wrote an article in which he put the argument down that the CISSP is on its way out. What he really argues is that a "generalist" Information Security position is no longer very important, specialisation is the only way to go.

I disagree. I am a CISSP and an InfoSec "generalist' but that is not why I disagree.

I love it when I read a blog and then read another about a totally different topic but that in some way relates to the first blog. And the second blog I read today is Mr Andy, IT guy's blog. In his blog entry he complains rather tongue in cheek about how many meetings he attends.

While Andy and I are many miles apart it amazes me just how similar our lives are and, yes, I also spend ages in meetings. On average I spend about 2 hours of my day not in meetings. And I love it. Every meeting that I attend makes me more educated by how the business I work for - works. I also give my input and hopefully touch on all the people just how important protecting information is.

Just like Andy, I was a techno geek until recently. I was a Firewall specialist. A Check Point Firewall specialist. I could read the pseudocode it would chuck out. I could edit the configuration with a text editor. I could read log files. I knew the system backwards. I am now employed in a company that doesn't even have a Check Point Firewall. I have moved onto something totally different.

There is a need for people who can configure security devices, perform active directory magic etc, etc. Even guys who are experts in logs. But you certainly don't want these guys tied up in meetings the whole day. You want them working on the systems that they know well.

You also want someone who can go to meetings and interface with business. Someone who can make a risk decision or at least know who to speak to. This person must be technical but also able to chat formally and informally to business and must always be thinking security. He must understand that meetings are not a waste of time but time spent educating business about security.

It is my belief that this person is not just important for a large organisation like the one I work for but even a one person shop should have one. Obviously, in that case a consultant should be used rather than a permanent employee but it is important.

The person does not have to be a CISSP but it is a good way to show that they are interested in an InfoSec career.

On a related note - I, like Andy, miss the technical side of InfoSec. But I also enjoy the ability to see my larger ideas implemented. I also enjoy selling InfoSec, something I am passionate about. In short, I enjoy my job and am happy I moved from being a techie to being an analyst. They are very, very different jobs. There are some people who may not be as happy as me. I know some, they are techies and are really good at what they do and they have no want to move to anything else. They want to specialise. In South Africa, these people are not rewarded for their knowledge and that is a problem because there is a need for the specialists. Hopefully, as demand increases and there are some techies that shine, they will be rewarded.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Future of Information Security in Two Sentences

I just realised how verbose I really am. I have written a few posts about what I think the future of Information Security will be in the future and it seems that I am in total agreement with Gartner. The problem is that it has taken me many posts and much typing to put onto the Internet what Gartner sums up in two sentences:

“The next generation data center is adaptive – it will do workloads on the fly,” [Neil MacDonald, vice president and fellow at Gartner] says. “It will be service-oriented, virtualized, model-driven and contextual. So security has to be, too.”

I particularly like the term "model-driven". I have been using "process-centric security" to describe my vision which I believe is an extension of "info-centric security".

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Henry Ford and Agility (Once you are secured - whats next?)

Since I read this post by Andy Willingham I have had an idea for a Blog post in my head. But, in my new job, I am very busy and have very little time for Blogging so I left the thought in my head. Today, I had some time and started going through my blog list and saw this article by Jeff Lowder and then I knew I just had to write this article.

Its amazing how two people can take in the same story and both get similar but different conclusions out of the story.

Andy basically relates the story of how Henry Ford lost out on market share because he was not prepared to make cars of different colours. He was basically so in the “make it quick and cheap” mindset that he would rather lose out to everyone else than change his beliefs.

You can read Andy’s article for his take on the story but I’m going to relate my take on the story.

Basically Henry Ford had an idea and it literally changed the world. For better or worse – cars are now cheap because of what he did. He missed out on the next step (making cars of different colours) and lost a lot of market share.

But bringing the conversation back to Information Security and IT – computers are now cheap because of efforts by companies such as Microsoft and IBM and Intel to make computers accessible to the man in the street. Of course, in doing so they have made Information Processing (creating information, storing it, working with it, moving it) very messy. Information flows all over and some of it gets lost and falls into the hands of people who shouldn’t have it. This is very similar to the mess of Car Manufacturing that Henry Ford was faced with. He then realised that getting rid of the mess and flurry that making a car entails and formalising the process would mean that cars could be made quicker. And with better quality.

I think that the next step for Information Security is proactively improving business processes so that Information Processing and hence Business Decision Making can be done with the minimum amount of “mess” (think maximum amount of CIA).

The problem with doing this is that Information Security will start to make the business slower and more restricted as processes are followed.

HOWEVER, and this is where Henry Ford went wrong, once the Information Security Nirvana state is achieved (and this is possible) that process can start to expand in ways that were not possible before. This is where the holy grail of ROI starts to show itself.

It takes some serious introspection to get to this point – if a business does not know what all its processes are (or should be) then the general feeling is to allow everything. Once it is known what the process should be then it is possible to manage the availability of information, the confidentiality and the integrity. More importantly you should be able to know who does what and what Information they need to do it.

We can also then know what the process should be doing and add in the nice-to-haves over time making the organisation more agile.

I guess the whole point of this post is that the fight is not “Information Security vs Ability” but “Knowledge vs. Ignorance”.

Henry Ford got to the point where his organisation (at least the manufacturing part of it) was self-aware and everyone knew what their part in the process was. He reached Nirvana but he never took the next step – expanding the process to be more agile.

I believe that the race is on now to get our Organisations to the “Nivana” point by introspection and using Information Security to tie processes down. And then to take it one step further by expanding the process and beating competitors.