Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Securing the organization, despite management’s best efforts to stop you

Looks like the abstract below is going to get the green light for the May 2009 Grand Rapids ISSA meeting. Ok, so the title is a bit of "red meat" for a largely technical audience, but the straw man here isn't management ... or security: it's the "ivory tower" textbook description of how security is supposed to work.

In reality, the most effective leaders that I have seen have been the ones who are pragmatic, patient, and unconcerned about "style points" when it comes to building an effective program. They just make sure that the number and severity of incidents keep trending in the right direction, even if the drivers of that success come from other parts of the organization.

Hopefully, I'll capture some of that in the slides that go with this presentation:

"Every text on information security says “be sure to get executive management support” before you start. But what should you do when that support is less than what you need, as is often the case in today’s cost-conscious environment? Management isn’t really out to stop you, although at times it may seem that way because of the contradictory pressures that affect the entire business.

Meanwhile, threats to information security are recession-proof, they don’t have layers of approval to contend with, and they’re not going to go away any time soon. Information security professionals need to respond to these threats regardless of the organizational challenges, and in the process build that support by demonstrating the value of the work they do. And they need to be strategic in their approach as it comes to requesting additional resources and support. The purpose of this presentation is to build on the concepts introduced in the Harvard Business Review “Managing Up” article collection, and presenting the impact of security with management-centric measures and analysis that will build the case for improving security by highlighting the facts, rather than fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Suggestions, success stories and one-line management rebuttals are welcome.

Something to the effect of: "Enabling the business / Serving customers / earning a profit ... despite security's best effort to stop you ..."

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