Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fear Hackers? First invest in an IT security culture change

Kevin L.Jackson

 With all the news these days about cyberterrorism and hacking the cloud may seem like the last place you would want to put your precious information. Pew Research has even suggested that cyber-attacks are likely to increase. Some 61% of over 1600 security expert respondents to a recent survey said “yes” that a major attack causing widespread harm would occur by 2025, according to the Pew Research study. The cold hard fact, however, is that fear of the cyberterrorist and hackers, while definitely valid, is mostly misplaced.  I hold this contrarian view, because when you pull back the curtain on many of the recent breaches, you’ll likely see a mirror!

In a recent case, sensitive data including passwords seem to have been stored in the clear which is against all recommended best practices. There also may have been significant involvement from a company insider.  Focusing on application hacks, some of the most devastating have been due to a failure of the application developers to follow some basic best practices for application development.  Another important fact is that most of these breaches were not on cloud service providers.  These successful attacks were on enterprise built and managed IT infrastructures.

Our failure to protect our information and data is mostly due to our less than focused attitude towards cybersecurity.  Policies, procedures and processes play an important part in preventing security incidents but more is needed.  Every organizational employee must realize that they could be an entry point for hackers and be aware of their individual actions.  IT professionals must follow industry standard best practices for application development, network configuration, system configuration, etc. Many of which have gone through multiple iterations over the years. Everyone must also be proactive in their identification and response to cyber threats.  What I am describing is the need for a cultural change.

Creating a risk-conscious and security-aware culture is key to protecting an organization’s information infrastructure and data assets, risk management expert John P. Pironti wrote in 2012 ISACA Journal article. Business leaders must begin viewing information security as a benefit, rather than as an obstacle, and employ threat and vulnerability analysis – rather than fear and doubt – to drive adoption of points of view and controls
So let us first focus on changing our IT security culture. That will give us the edge we need in order to prevail over the cyber underworld.  We also must adopt a “trust-but-verify approach to monitoring and oversight of organizational and employee activities”. This would involve the adoption and expansion of automated security control point monitoring and reporting.  This, in fact, is a strength of any well designed and implemented cloud computing platform.

(This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit Tech Page One. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are our own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.)

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