Bridging The Information Security Gap

Reading time ~3 minutes

You may have noticed a marked increase in the amount of posts I’ve done to this blog lately. Or maybe you haven’t because I’m just one of many people in your Twitter, RSS, LinkedIn, Medium, or however you read and/or ignore my stuff.

Whether you read these ports or not, all these new posts aren’t necessarily an accident. There is a underlying motivation driving me to put thoughts around Information Security to digital bits once again.

What is it? A sense of purpose that, quite honestly, I haven’t felt in a while. About the Information Security industry. About where I see things happening and some things we need to do to affect positive change, creating a more “secure by default” environment for everyone and everything.

Do I think it will happen overnight? No. Do I have all the answers about how to get there? No. That said, 20 years in this industry has given me some ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

What I do know is that the bottom-up approach that many are taking to affect change isn’t working that well. By that, I mean that initiatives for Information Security are usually not coming from the people in charge, but rather the IT (Security) personnel who, innately, understand something needs to be done, but they can’t explain it to the people who write the checks in a way that will get the necessary funding required to affect change.

Sometimes, security initiatives are actually driven from above as well. Frequently, it comes after a major incident that makes the news. I bet Information Security suddenly became a lot more important at the various retailers that had millions of PCI and/or PII data records stolen. However, there’s no evidence those efforts have resulted in improved security or that other, similar organizations have started taking the necessary actions to improve their information security practices before they are the next target.

There’s a lot of platitudes and sound bytes out there about how organizations can be more secure. There’s a lot of noise from vendors in the space about their solutions and how, if you buy and deploy their stuff, they will keep you secure (and those other vendors who have competing products won’t).

This problem, and the solutions, are far more nuanced than any sound byte can capture or any single product suite can solve. It’s about bridging the gap between the technical information security people who know what’s going on and the people making the strategic decisions and writing the checks.

This is the kernel of the idea I have. The details of how to do this need a bit more refinement. When I put these ideas out there, I expect the Internet to tell me how wrong I am:

I’m not afraid of that. In fact, I welcome it. One lesson I learned from maintaining the old FireWall-1 FAQ was that when I put wrong information out there (not intentionally, of course), someone will tell me and give me the right information. Then I can share that information with others, as I’ve done for 20 years.

When the time comes, I would like to share these ideas with a much wider audience than my old FireWall-1 FAQ was able to reach. If you have any suggestions or feedback, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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