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Privacy, Cybercrime Headline the Infosecurity Europe Conference
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Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
5/5/2014 | 9:38:04 AM
InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
This is an outrageous quote. How prevalent is this attitude?

 "I think security innovation is a waste of time," said Michael Colao, head of security for the investment firm AXA UK and a participant in a "security as enabler" panel session. "My business thinks in money. I've done something really innovative in security that will save 20 grand a year? That's a rounding error, in my business."

 

 

Ed Moyle
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Ed Moyle,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2014 | 11:46:14 AM
Re: InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
So, taken at face value, I don't think this quote is "wrong" per se.  Meaning, assuming the premise is true, then the conclusion is a logical one.  My issue with this is that I think the premise is false.  

Specifically, there is quite a bit more possible (financial) return to an organization than just operational cost savings as a result of security innovation.  Certainly, operational savings hit the bottom line, but (as this quote highlights), the bottom line impact isn't always that significant (though that said, why not save 20k vs. wasting it).  

What is significant though - and also not represented at all in this quote - is the economic return associated with offseting risk.  Why is it not represented?  I'm speculating now, but I'm thinking because it's harder to calculate.  Essentially, it can be seen in the answer to a question like this one: "What's the bottom line impact of offsetting chance of a breach by .05%?"  If you believe the answer is "nothing" (realized numbers), you're in agreement with the person you quoted.  If you belive the answer is some number based on some function that includes cost of the impact, likelihood of the event, cost of the control, and so forth (which includes unrealized numbers) then you probably disagree with it.  I happen to fall into this latter camp.

 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
5/5/2014 | 12:59:26 PM
Re: InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
Ed, if I follow your logic, are you saying that it's hard to measure what you save by avoiding a breach?
Ed Moyle
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50%
Ed Moyle,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2014 | 1:26:49 PM
Re: InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
Marilyn,

Hah! You did in 50 words what it took me three paragraphs.  :-)  So yeah, you're right on the money.  
Marilyn Cohodas
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50%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
5/5/2014 | 2:03:13 PM
Re: InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
"Saying" is one thing. "Doing" is a different matter entirely. And if it was easy to measure the cost of the breach that didn't happen because of good security practices, then I suspect security budgets would be very ample!
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2014 | 4:57:23 PM
Re: InfoSec ROI, a "rounding error" -- Yikes
How much is it worth to this fellow to keep business plans away from a competitor or to keep his company's bank accounts from being drained?


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