Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Aruna Ravichandran, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Article

Information Security from a Business Perspective

It must be designed and implemented as a core ingredient of the business strategy

As enterprises struggle to remain profitable in an ever-changing risk environment, the current economic crisis has elevated the need for effective business risk management. Information security is a key parameter that affects business risk. The academic definition of information security is the "preservation of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information." [1] Confidentiality is the preservation of secrecy of information (e.g., business reports, technical designs or financial projections) by ensuring that viewing is conducted solely by authorized people. Integrity is ensuring that information is accurate and consistent and has not been manipulated. Availability ensures that information is accessible to authorized people when needed.

Historically, information security has been addressed primarily as a technical issue. Preventive controls, such as firewalls, user access control mechanisms, encryption of data and communications, digital signatures, data backup systems, and detective controls, such as intrusion detection systems or security monitoring platforms, have formed the basic components of security architecture. Often, the technical controls are complemented by a set of security policies, procedures and guidelines aimed at controlling the actions of personnel.

This approach, though, has proven to be insufficient. Security incidents continue to rise and security problems remain unsolved while information security experts have been challenged to effectively communicate the value of information security to enterprise management. The root cause of these problems may be the definition of information security itself. There is a lack of consistency as each sector, industry and even enterprise has had to define information security uniquely, based on very specific business needs. This lack of consistency has contributed to a lack of understanding and a lack of appreciation for the value of information security.

Information Security Defined
To define information security in an organisation, one must understand its business objectives, identify stakeholders and link them to information protection attributes. Organisations have to be trusted to achieve customer acquisition and retention, which directly affect their revenue. This trust is a key success factor that is directly related to:

  • Business integrity-Each business decision is conducted as described in its official literature. It is fair to the customer and inspires trust. Information integrity (avoiding data manipulation) is a key information security component related to customer trust.
  • Customer asset protection-Customers need to be confident that their money, credit card numbers and bank account numbers are safe, especially in online transactions, where their funds are essentially electronic. Customers need to trust an organisation to secure their financial assets; confidentiality, integrity and availability are crucial security parameters.
  • Customer privacy-Customers provide their personally identifiable information (PII) to a whole host of ‘trusted' sources. As in customer asset protection, trust in the business is important for making them feel comfortable with sharing such information. Trust is particularly important when dealing with large amounts of money because customers have to feel safe and also that their personal data have been protected.

Providing services to the public also has societal and political facets. Businesses must adhere to a governmental regulatory and legal framework. The provision of secure and fair outlets to citizens is a matter of social responsibility. Moreover, the government is a shareholder of business (directly or indirectly through taxing); thus, business success affects the corresponding governmental revenue.

The aforementioned facts are clarified in relation to information security when the drivers of shareholders' trust are studied in more detail. For example:

  • Each licensed business has to comply with rules and terms of the license, which in turn have general or more detailed information protection requirements. These vary from general statements for fairness, antifraud rules and service availability requirements to more detailed technical controls such as network security rules, operating security policies or certification requirements. Shareholders need to be confident that a business complies with the license obligations and, more generally, the legal and regulatory framework, since this is a main corporate viability factor.
  • In competitive business environments, information security acts as a competitive advantage that, in turn, ensures customer acquisition. Shareholders trust a business if it operates as a competitive corporation, and due to the importance of protecting its information from breaches, information security becomes a competitive parameter.

In relation to the business role of information security, drivers should be:

-Shareholders' trust:

. Corporate viability, which is driven by compliance of license terms

. Competitive advantage, which ensures customer acquisition

. Brand name value preservation, which ensures customer retention

. Legal and regulatory compliance (e.g., the integrity of financial records and PII protection)

- Customers' trust:

. Business integrity

. Service availability

. Protection of the confidentiality of customers' sensitive information

Using this definition of information security for the business sector, a holistic approach is required for addressing the information security requirements of each unique organisation. This requires a detailed business analysis for embedding information security into the specific business processes and also for addressing the human factor and minimizing the uncertainty it introduces.  International security standards provide a solid base for information security from a business perspective.

THE INFORMATION SECURITY STANDARDS LANDSCAPE
In 2006, the Security and Risk Management Committee of the World Lottery Association (WLA)2 published the most recent version of its Security Control Standard (SCS). This standard describes a number of information security controls (technical and procedural) tailored to the lottery sector. Indicatively, it includes rules regarding the management of lottery draws and protection of prize money and Internet gaming systems.

The Security Control Standard (SCS) is an extension of the globally recognized information security standard ISO 27001 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which is related to the establishment of information security management systems (ISMSs). Such systems provide the framework for managing information security from planning to implementation, monitoring and improvement.

ISACA has published a set of information technology (IT) auditing standards and the Risk IT:  Based on COBIT framework, which provides a set of guiding principles for effective management of IT risk. Risk IT complements COBIT, a comprehensive framework developed by ISACA for the governance and control of business-driven, IT-based solutions and services. In 2009, ISACA published An Introduction to the Business Model for Information Security, the first publication  released under the Business Model for Information Security (BMIS), which addresses information security from a business perspective, and in 2010, the full model was published as The Business Model for Information Security.

Other standards include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a set of requirements for enhancing payment account data security, and the Special Publications (800 series) of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which are documents of general interest to the computer security community. The aforementioned standards provide an indicative view of the information security standards landscape. Other standardization bodies and associations provide their own guidelines in the field. In addition, technical security best practices of system vendors provide additional guidelines.

The modern business sector has to select the information security standards to use as a basis for its security architecture, and it must customize this selection according to its specific business needs.

 

Case Example from the World Lottery Association
In this particular example the ‘customer', so defined by the business model, is identified as the ‘player'. In this situation the definition of information security, specific to the lottery model, also becomes altered. ‘Business integrity' becomes ‘game integrity', ‘customer asset protection' becomes ‘player asset protection', and ‘customer privacy' is therefore ‘player privacy'. In terms of security the needs of a customer and player are much the same; however, due to the proactive nature of a ‘player', whose object is to win prizes rather than conduct typical transactions, the model of risk management must be appropriately tailored. Trust is again the key factor. When a member of the public makes the transition from ordinary citizen to ‘player' on a gaming site, it is vital to ensure that they are aware of the official rules of the specific game. Payouts and prizes, and the procedure for claiming them, must fully conform to the official literature set out by the gaming site. There should be no cases of ambiguity as this is a sure-fire way of discrediting a brand and losing player trust and thus, their custom.

To become an online participant in lotteries and other gaming sites an individual must disclose their sensitive details; this is very often the only means by which one can become a ‘player'. Being able to trust a lottery or gaming site with sensitive details should, therefore, be the foremost concern of a player as there is little point in worrying about payout procedure when compromised details could mean a bigger loss than any potential gain.

The WLA's Security Control Standard takes the above factors into consideration- perfectly illustrating how the security of data can be adapted to a unique business situation.

BASIC PROCESSES
Studying the information security standards horizontally, a number of basic processes/steps that lead to the identification of information security requirements are:

  • Step 1: Business impact analysis-Each business process is recorded and analyzed in terms of business impact from the realization of a possible security threat.

The business must answer a number of questions to calculate the impact of security breaches, including:

- How much would this cost the business in monetary terms?

- What would be the indirect costs (e.g., from reputation loss) if information is sold?

- What would the legal implications be?

Business processes are then prioritized based on an impact scale that identifies the most critical issues.

  • Step 2: Risk analysis-During this process, the possibility for the occurrence of a security incident is calculated, based on a database of security weaknesses. The risk analysis takes into account technical and procedural parameters, such as:

- Are there technical controls in place to safeguard customer data?

- Do procedures exist to complement the technical security controls?

  • Step 3: Risk management-The result of the risk analysis is a prioritization of risk in relation to the impact level (the result of the business impact analysis) and the identification of possible security measures for addressing the risk. The risk management process-the selection of appropriate security measures for addressing the risk or for risk transferring or acceptance-is determined by the management of the organisation.
  • Step 4: ISMS implementation-After the controls have been selected, they should be correlated under a common information security management system (ISMS). This correlation requires deep understanding of the operation of the organisation; consideration of human, cultural, technical, business and external factors; and continuous improvements.

Business Model for Information Security
One of the most recent information security frameworks that addresses information security from a business point of view is ISACA's BMIS.

The following definitions of the BMIS elements (derived from An Introduction to the Business Model for Information Security) are necessary for understanding how BMIS works:

  • Organization design and strategy-An organization is a network of people, assets and processes interacting with each other in defined roles and working toward a common goal.
  • People-The people element represents the human resources and the security issues that surround them. It defines who implements (through design) each part of the strategy. It represents a human collective and must take into account values, behaviors and biases.
  • Process-Process includes formal and informal mechanisms (large and small, simple and complex) to get things done.
  • Technology-The technology element is composed of all of the tools, applications and infrastructure that make processes more efficient.

To understand the operation of BMIS in practice, it is important to study the links connecting organization design and strategy, people, process, and technology.

CONCLUSION
Information security will be understood, provide added value and effectively contribute to the operation of an organization only if it is designed and implemented as a core ingredient of the business strategy. Stakeholder, shareholder and customer trust are the key ingredients of information security; organizations from all sectors should identify such key ingredients in order to provide a business definition to information security.

More Stories By Christos K. Dimitriadis

Christos K. Dimitriadis, Ph.D., CISA, CISM, is international vice president of ISACA and head of information security at INTRALOT S.A, a Greece-based multinational supplier of integrated gaming and transaction processing systems.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
As the race for the presidency heats up, IT leaders would do well to recall the famous catchphrase from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign against George H. W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.” That catchphrase is important, because IT economics are important. Especially when it comes to cloud. Application performance management (APM) for the cloud may turn out to be as much about those economics as it is about customer experience.
Updating DevOps to the latest production data slows down your development cycle. Probably it is due to slow, inefficient conventional storage and associated copy data management practices. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in Product and Solution at Tintri, will talk about DevOps and cloud-focused storage to update hundreds of child VMs (different flavors) with updates from a master VM in minutes, saving hours or even days in each development cycle. He will also...
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
“RackN is a software company and we take how a hybrid infrastructure scenario, which consists of clouds, virtualization, traditional data center technologies - how to make them all work together seamlessly from an operational perspective,” stated Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Synthetic monitoring is hardly a new technology. It’s been around almost as long as the commercial World Wide Web has. But the importance of monitoring the performance and availability of a web application by simulating users’ interactions with that application, from around the globe, has never been more important. We’ve seen prominent vendors in the broad APM space add this technology with new development or partnerships just in the last 18 months.
The unique combination of Amazon Web Services and Cloud Raxak, a Gartner Cool Vendor in IT Automation, provides a seamless and cost-effective way of securely moving on-premise IT workloads to Amazon Web Services. Any enterprise can now leverage the cloud, manage risk, and maintain continuous security compliance. Forrester's analysis shows that enterprises need automated security to lower security risk and decrease IT operational costs. Through the seamless integration into Amazon Web Services, ...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
A lot of time, resources and energy has been invested over the past few years on de-siloing development and operations. And with good reason. DevOps is enabling organizations to more aggressively increase their digital agility, while at the same time reducing digital costs and risks. But as 2017 approaches, the hottest trends in DevOps aren’t specifically about dev or ops. They’re about testing, security, and metrics.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
True Story. Over the past few years, Fannie Mae transformed the way in which they delivered software. Deploys increased from 1,200/month to 15,000/month. At the same time, productivity increased by 28% while reducing costs by 30%. But, how did they do it? During the All Day DevOps conference, over 13,500 practitioners from around the world to learn from their peers in the industry. Barry Snyder, Senior Manager of DevOps at Fannie Mae, was one of 57 practitioners who shared his real world journe...
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Docker containers have brought great opportunities to shorten the deployment process through continuous integration and the delivery of applications and microservices. This applies equally to enterprise data centers as well as the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jari Kolehmainen, founder and CTO of Kontena, will discuss solutions and benefits of a deeply integrated deployment pipeline using technologies such as container management platforms, Docker containers, and the drone.io Cl tool...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...