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The Internet's Winter Of Discontent
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aws0513
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aws0513,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2014 | 11:12:19 AM
Security that is integral... not an additive.
Good points in the article Paul.

I particularly keyed on the last small sentence.
Awhile back, my supervisor rhetorically asked me why we had so much difficulty implementing basic security practice and controls.
He didn't expect an immediate answer from me, but I already had the answer locked and loaded: security culture.

I was in the military for 22 years.  From the first day of basic training to the last day of service, every member of the military forces learns what security means.  Security concepts become ingrained into life even beyond the installation gates.  Military service is a security oriented service with a security oriented culture.
If a practice is deemed unsecure for even the smallest detail, it is remedied faster than most civilians can imagine possible.  If a new security control is to be put in place there are questions (contrary to popular belief, the military troops are allowed to ask questions) but the answers to those questions are quickly (if not already) prepared and communicated so the troops can efficiently digest the information and begin to make any necessary adjustments to operations in order to accomodate the new control.  Exceptions to security policies are well documented, heavily monitored, and NEVER considered permanent.  There is flexibility, but with attention to detail and an expectation of remediation to the common standard so that a solution can be better managed long term.  Too many variations and exceptions make it difficult to manage any security program.
Even with all that...  bad things happen. 
The military fully understands that there is always a chaos quotient in any hostile environment or encounter.  The need to mitigate damages through thoughtful design and planning and preparation is key to the military security doctrine.  Some call it defense-in-depth or environment hardening or "improving the fighting position".  Whatever one calls it, the goal is to make it so that every malicious effort an attacker wants to make has a heavy cost with (hopefully) reduced gains and added risk to their own plans and resources.

It is apparent that SPE executive and corporate board members simply had not grasped the concepts regarding risk management and IT.  Their actions (or non-action) demonstrate to me they did not believe they needed to take strong and specific steps to implement practices in order to improve their security profile.  They had not engaged in a security culture that should exist throughout the organization.
BTW...  security culture concepts always pour from the top of the mountain and every effort should be made to have it run all the way down all slopes and into adjacent valleys (if possible, splash some on adjoined mountains as well).

Without the establishment of a security culture, the only security controls that will likely work well are those that are fully automated.  And those automated controls will likely be at risk due to people who feel that the control is not necessary or a burden to their operations.  The most common source for problems I had to remediate were people who simply did not take security controls seriously.

Some would say that too much security culture can hamper most private sector businesses.  I say that is just a perception from those who do not understand and appreciate security culture. 
Banks conduct business constantly, yet many (not all) have some very mature security programs. 
Apple Inc. is famous for keeping their new product projects under a relatively (not perfect) effective security umbrella. 
Businesses that know that their IP is valuable also know that their systems holding their IP must be protected and handled properly.  
Security culture in the private sector exists...  but only as small, quiet islands of light in a sea of darkness.  SPE was apparently not one of those islands.  It remains to be seen if things will change for SPE.  That will be the task of SPE leadership going forward. 

Enough of my rambling....  I have more security culture establishment to work to do here... as is always the case.

Happy holidays to you and yours.  :-)

 


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