Inclusion and Change in Information Security

By Angel Howard, Chief information Security Officer of Georgia Southern University

Angel Howard, Chief information Security Officer of Georgia Southern University

The technology landscape is ever-changing, and as a result, so is the role of IT Security. For many years, security was something that just happened behind the scenes like the Wizard of Oz. Information security has traditionally been an expected and assumed asset without much concern for the details of providing such security. As long as threats were kept outside the organization, security was a little considered a factor.

Today the expectations of “IT Security” have extended far and wide. Many users do not see, nor understand, the difference between Cyber Security and Information Security. In fact, in many cases, the roles are used interchangeably as both roles continue to develop at an advanced rate. Users tend to wrap it all up in a nice package, with the title being the latest buzzword, Cyber. Although everyone is well aware of the term Cyber, it often sits in the back seat when it comes to decision making in IT. Many argue that you cannot have security and convenience together. The misnomer is that bringing IT security to the table will slow down a process and hinder customer service. In actuality, this could not be more inaccurate.

"It is important to remember that as technology changes, so should the level of training for the people being held responsible for keeping IT secure"

With Data, IT, and Cyber Security all rolled into one, it is imperative that security is at the forefront of every IT decision. Without considering security first, the risk of your technology, the safety of your data, and the chance for breaches grow exponentially. Allowing Cyber Security to be at the table early on fosters viable and sustainable solutions that will not only meet the business need but ensure the safety of the organizations’ technology and data.

At the foundation of every Information Security program is the requirement to maintain confidentiality, availability, and integrity of electronic information while also reducing the risk of security incidents and data breaches. More mature security programs that include Cyber extended beyond that to include compliance, risk management, cyber defense, and data governance. Policies, including their related standards, procedures, and guidelines, are necessary to support the management of information risks in the daily operations of an organization.

Additionally, people and processes are of paramount importance in the development of a robust Information Security program. This is true for both your internal IT customers as well as your external audience. Having bought in from the top is the most important factor in any successful Cyber program. Without the backing and influence of upper management, Information Security will always be an afterthought. Much the same, the support from the upper management also helps influence business strategy and processes, allowing Cyber to be ever-present during strategy and decision-making opportunities. After all, if you do not know about it, you cannot protect it.

My belief is that the key to a successful Security Program, regardless of the name, is inclusion, support, and resources. It is important to remember that as technology changes, so should the level of training for the people being held responsible for keeping IT secure. Your people are only as good as the knowledge that they are provided. Expectations for your program should be continually evaluated and set from Leadership to the CISO and from the CISO to employees and outward. Without it, you are without a road map or strategy, which has lead to failure at other institutions and organizations.

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