IT leaders share tips on managing security risks

CIO Executive Council

IT security is a tricky issue: Too much security — or too little — could bankrupt your company. The key is to strike the right balance. These three IT executives share their advice.

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Martin Gomberg, global director of security, governance and business protection, A&E Networks: Security is a slide switch. Slide it all the way to the right, and nothing will get in, nothing will get out — and nothing will get done. Slide it all the way to the left, and we will all have a party, it will be a great day — but we'll only have one of them. My approach is to find the setting where risk is not too high, nor is risk mitigation an impediment to innovation.

In our industry, the threats are increasing and becoming more targeted, and our ability to protect ourselves is diminishing. Meanwhile, the technologies required for protection are getting more complicated and expensive, capable security staff are more difficult to find, and new laws and regulations are more likely to impose severe penalties for breaches.

Last year, I worked with IT, internal counsel, fellow security professionals and the State Department to introduce a 10-point security plan that will help us determine our best bets for effective security investments.

With limited budgets, it's more important than ever to have some kind of security framework that covers our guiding principles, including employee education; increasing the capabilities of our response teams; leveraging our system, infrastructure and endpoint protection strategies; and understanding our inventory of data and assets.

Balance Risk With Efficiency
Dru Rai, senior vice president and CIO, Axalta Coating Systems: When DuPont sold Axalta Coating Systems to the Carlyle Group, we had the opportunity to rethink the security strategy for the company. The legacy security polices and procedures were very conservative.

We reformed the security polices and procedures to balance efficiency and risk management. What we want to do is consider not just risk, but the likelihood of risk. The probability of our primary data center being blown up is very low. By comparison, the probability of a server going down in the primary data center is much higher. As a result, we invested heavily in failover processes and a high-availability architecture in our primary data center, and we reduced the disaster recovery data center's footprint to key applications and servers.

We know that not all applications and data are created equal. Some need to be more secure, such as formula and recipe management for our products. And others, like non-sensitive documentation management in Microsoft SharePoint, can be readily available within our network.

You can spend a lot of money, but you will never be totally secure. I think of security as another business risk to manage. We have to manage risk and invest in sound security policies, but we want to balance that with efficiency.

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