Information Security in the Real World. Confidentiality, Availability, Integrity, Practicality.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

David Lacey lays into Compliance. Again!

He co-authored BS7799, the forerunner of the now trendy ISO27000 family of documents that describe best practices in Information Security Management. And now he has disowned his own creation as not fit for purpose in the modern age. In his latest blog post The Three Faces of Information Security, David Lacey goes further and decries all compliance thus:-

"Unfortunately, it's all based on collections of ancient practices, with a heavy emphasis on documentation and audits. And if you don't want to pay for security, you simply accept the risk. Your security might be completely ineffective but your paperwork will gain you full marks."
Lacey then goes on to describe "Real Security" as distinct from both compliance and the "business enablement" view of security we sell to management. With a doom and gloom conclusion that "most organizations are sleepwalking into a future crisis" Lacey paints a grim picture of the current state of Information Security.

Is he right? Certainly the continuous stream of breach notifications and ever growing landscape of threats seems to bear this out. We once knew what we were dealing with, or at least thought we did. We don't, not if we are relying on standards written in the 80s and revised six years ago when the term "cloud computing" was still met with giggles and shrugs and "virtualisation" was a software tool fit only for development environments. The future of Infosec demands imagination, foresight, a step change fit for the 201Xs just as BS7799 was a step change in the 1980s. Because the if current trends show anything, it's that we're even worse prepared against the enormous imagination and technical skill of todays malicious agents than we thought we were. But in truth, no more than we deserve to be.

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