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4/7/2008
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RSA: EMC Says It's Time To 'Think Differently About Security'

EMC executive Art Coviello calls on Congress to pass a national data breach notification law, so that companies don't have to deal with the various 40 state data breach laws.

At the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday morning, Art Coviello, executive VP of EMC and president of EMC's RSA division, argued that organizations need to turn information security from an inhibitor to an accelerator of innovation and growth.

Citing IDC research commission by RSA, Coviello said that "more than 80% of IT, security, and business executives surveyed admit that their organizations have shied away from business innovation opportunities because of information security concerns."

Interviews with security, risk, and privacy executives at the top 1,000 global companies, Coviello said, confirmed the view that security is viewed as a necessary evil that prevents the business from doing what it needs to do.

To dispel that perception, Coviello urged security professionals to not be naysayers and to align security goals with business goals.

In "The Time Is Now: Making Information Security Strategic to Business Innovation," the RSA study of global executives that Coviello cited, Andreas Wuchner, head of IT risk management in the security and compliance division of Novartis, articulates why security should drive business innovation.

"If security is not part of innovation, it's going to cost you," Wuchner is quoted as saying. "There are certain things you can neglect, but the majority you cannot ignore. Sooner or later it will hit you. And the later you put security and compliance into projects, the more it will cost, because it just adds complexity."

Coviello also urged policy makers to help enable innovation by passing regulations that focus on outcomes, like California's SB 1386 data breach notification law. He called on Congress to pass a national data breach notification law, so that companies don't have to deal with the 40 state data breach laws that have been proposed. He asked for more government investment in computer security-related education. And he said the U.S. should spend more on cyber-security research.

Security, said Coviello, needs to become more information-centric and more intelligent. "We must look beyond tools that blindly lock down data toward mechanisms that can understand information and safeguard it intelligently throughout its lifecycle," he said.

As an example, he proposed adaptive authentication, which determines whether a user is behaving "normally" on a network instead of relying on a static password.

Such systems, Coviello said, "will require a new era of innovation around information infrastructure."

Keep in mind, however, that concepts like "intelligent security" often sound more promising than they are, rather like "smart bombs," which don't really have the sort of PhD level intellect one would like to see in targeting and detonation decision making.

Coviello is no doubt correct in calling for "thinking security" solutions. But as he admitted, "We have a long way to go to bridge the gap between human policy statements and IT controls."

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