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Enterprise Security For the Executive 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
brothke writes "If Shakespeare were to write an information security tragedy, it would not be titled Hamlet, rather Bayuk. The story of Jennifer Bayuk is tragic in that she spent a decade as CISO at Bear, Stearns, building up its security group to be one of the best in the business; only to find it vaporized when the firm collapsed and was acquired by J.P. Morgan Clearing Corp. After all that toil and sweat, Bayuk was out of a job. (Full disclosure: Bayuk and I have given a presentation together in the past, and I did get a copy of this book for free.)" Read below for Ben's review.
Enterprise Security For the Executive
author Jennifer Bayuk
pages 176
publisher Praeger Publishers
rating 9/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 0313376603
summary helps business executives become familiar with security concepts and techniques
While the information security engineering group that was at Bear, Stearns is no more, Bayuk has taken her vast expertise and put it in a great new book: Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top. While many other books equate security with technology, and are written for technologists; Bayuk writes that information security is all about management control. And to the extent which a CxO controls assets, is the extent to which others can't use them in unexpected ways.

The book is written to help CxO's and business executives become familiar with information security concepts and techniques to make sure they are able to manage and support the efforts of their security team. This is an issue, as a big problem for the poor state of information security is that CxO's are far too often disconnected from their information security groups. No story is more manifest than that of when Heartland Payment Systems CEO Robert Carr blamed his PCI auditors for his firm's security problems. Carr is a perfect example of the type of person that needs to read this book. As an aside, for an excellent reply to Carr's kvetching, read what Rich Mogull wrote in An Open Letter to Robert Carr, CEO of Heartland Payment Systems.

While many CxO's think that security is about firewalls and other cool security products, it is truly a top-down management approach, and not a technology one. The book notes that the only way for information security to succeed in an organization is when management understands what their role is.

What is unique about the book is that Bayuk uses what she calls SHS (security horror stories). Rather than typical FUD stories, the horror stories detail systematic security problems and how they could have been obviated. By seeing how these companies have done it wrong, it makes it easier for pragmatic organizations to accomplish effective security by setting a strong tone from the top down.

Bayuk details the overall problem in the introduction and notes that many CxO's have wrongly spent significant amounts of money on security to avert security incidents; but have done that without any context of a greater information security methodology. The leads to executives thinking that security as nothing more than one long spending pattern.

Chapter 1 — Tone at The Top, notes that tone exists at the top, whether it is set or not. The tone is reflected in how an organization thinks about the things it really cares about. Employees can tell how a CxO cares about security by their level of personal involvement. Not that a CxO needs to be, or should be involved with minutia of firewall configuration or system administration; the key is rather that they are for example, championing the effective and consistent use of firewalls and how systems are securely administered.

In chapter 5 — Security through Matrix Management — Bayuk does a good job of detailing the various places that the security group can be placed in an organization. The chapter notes that there are as many ways to organize security as there are organization structures. Bayuk writes for example that if CxO's in a given organization are a tight-knit group, accustomed to close coordination, then it should not matter to which CxO the person managing information security reports to. If that is not the case, there may be multiple security programs that end up far too below the required C-levels that are needed for effective security. The chapter provides a number of different organizational scenarios, with requisite roles and responsibilities.

Chapter 5 closes with an important observation that a CxO should task the human resources department to put a line in all performance reviews whereby managers attest (or not) that the person being reviewed follows security policy. A CxO should fire people who willfully avoid compliance with security policy. Whatever tone at the top exists should be employed to make sure that everyone knows that the CxO is serious about the corporate security program. Such a tone clearly demonstrates an organization that is resolute about information security.

One thing that Bayuk does very well repeatedly throughout the book is to succinctly identify an issue and its cause. In chapter 6 — Navigating the Regulatory Landscape — she writes that if a CxO does not have management control over an organization, then the organization will fail the audit. It will fail because even if the organization is secure today, there is no assurance that it will be going forward. In addition, control means that the CxO will ensure that the organization is attempting to do the right thing. And in such cases, passing an audit is much easier.

Overall, Enterprise Security for the Executive is a fantastic book. It provides a no-nonsense approach to attaining effective information security. For those executives that are serious about security, the book will be their guiding light down the dark information security tunnel. In its 8 chapters (and a case study), the book focuses on a straightforward and plain-speaking approach to enable CxO's to get a handle on information security. As such, it is hoped that Enterprise Security for the Executive will soon find its way onto every executives required reading list.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know .

You can purchase Enterprise Security for the Executive: Setting the Tone from the Top from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Enterprise Security For the Executive

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  • main problem... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    is the CxOs who dont care about security in the first place. blaming lower echelons of management is useless if the people at the top dont get IT.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FlyingBishop (1293238)

      excellent summary of the summary.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        To summarize the summary of the summary: People are a problem.

        On the upside, a book like this, if written in CxO language rather than techy language, could be a useful tool for a lower echelon of management to use to convince the upper echelons of management that they need to give a damn about security. What you'd need along with the horror stories is the financial impact to the company ("they screwed up these 5 things and lost $50 million in lawsuits" has more impact than just "they screwed up these 5 thin

  • by castironpigeon (1056188) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:04PM (#30673280)
    Err... so what's all this paper crap between the covers? Oh, I get it, that's so it doesn't fall over. Very clever.
  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:11PM (#30673372)

    I had a top secret security clearance with an armful of qualifiers by the time I was 18. The intensity of the security requirements for the things that I did in no way left me prepared for what was misnamed "security" in the corporate world, but it did lead me to abruptly learn one thing: It is not smart to tell anybody who has more power or connections than you do that their laziness or ineptness poses a a security or business continuity risk.

    All things - to include security - play second fiddle to office politics in corporate America.

    Except, of course, in those rare instances where everybody in the executive suites has a vested interest in keeping either their competitors or the government unaware of their activities.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:17PM (#30673464) Homepage

    Simply put Security is a standard Risk Management job, the risk of the problem occurring against the cost of preventing it. This then includes the cultural requirements for risk avoidance and the practices to ensure that.

    Now will someone tell me why I should trust someone to tell a business person how to do the IT Risk Management who worked at a bank whose major failing was in Risk Management.

    Isn't that like asking an Enron accountant to teach you ethics?

    • by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:33PM (#30673652)

      Now will someone tell me why I should trust someone to tell a business person how to do the IT Risk Management who worked at a bank whose major failing was in Risk Management.

      Well, intelligent people will probably realize that the Chief Information Security Officer and her subordinates probably didn't have much say in how the investment arm of the bank did business.

      Enron's accountants obviously failed at applying ethics, I don't see Bear Stearns failing because the IT group(s) failed to accurately or sufficiently measure and protect their assets. Would you not hire or work with someone from one of these failed banks IT groups because the bank failed, holding that up as some indicator that this person couldn't possibly know what they're doing?

      • As a former Enron employee in the Information Security department, I can tell you that it did not matter that I was not an accountant while looking for information security work after the company tanked in late 2001. The simple mention of Enron on my resume sandbagged any interview I went on. I might as well have been shredding documents myself. Thankfully, I eventually found someone willing to give me a shot and got my career on track again. It just took 3 years to do it.
        • The simple mention of Enron on my resume sandbagged any interview I went on.

          Are you sure it wasn't just because you were from Texas?

          • One could assume that since these were companies located in Texas, it was a non-issue. The energy business is a little superstitious, and unfortunately dominates the job market in Houston. I moved to Dallas and landed an Information Security job with a billion dollar company and then moved on to consulting for companies of similar size or larger. Life has been good so far. I've even done some work in the energy sector.
  • Oh my god (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dachshund (300733) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:34PM (#30673670)

    After hearing that description, I would rather eat glass than read this book. Nonetheless, as much as I hate to admit it, the attitude of the higher execs really will make the difference between an organization that follows security policy, and one that just buys a bunch of equipment and pretends that it's helping them.

    Sadly, I don't think that any of this fuzzy management advice is going to make much of a difference in the current environment. What will happen is that criminal groups will become more effective and /that/ will have an effect on the stock price. As a result, CEOs will emphasize security as a top priority. Then you'll see them hiring & giving real power to bright folks who know what they're doing, and making sure that the employees follow policy. The results will trickle down. But there has to be real pain before this is anything more than buzzwords.

  • Security is something you do, not just somethings you have. In addition to hardware, software, policy and procedures, security requires discipline, constant vigilance, and flexible adaptability to the changing world around us. If you don't have or aren't willing to acquire the latter three of those aspects of security, the preceding four aren't going to cover your risk.
  • by owlstead (636356) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:36PM (#30673684)

    Since the last 4 or 5 book reviews he puts up on Amazon (including this one) get 5/5 stars (and only one out of many scores only two stars). I'm not saying that that is wrong or anything, but it does make me just slightly wary. If anyone else has another opinion please post it because this review alone won't let me buy the book.

    • by brothke (1348253) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:57PM (#30673942)
      You are correct that the vast majority of the books I review do get high ratings, as I only review books I like and I think are of significant value. There are plenty of books that I read that I feel are a waste of paper, I personally though prefer not to review them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      Could be a matter of selection bias. Maybe he doesn't bother reading books not highly recommended to him by others.

      Or could be a matter of reporting bias. Maye he doesn't bother writing reviews for books that aren't very good.

      Maybe he really does suffer from the "video game rating" problem where the minimum score is 6 on a 10-point scale. But no matter what, you'd be silly to spend a lot of time on anything based on the review of single person.

      I know in my case, I don't have a lot of free time... I
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by brothke (1348253)
        >>>Or could be a matter of reporting bias. Maye he doesn't bother writing reviews for books that aren't very good. And I said, I don’t see it as my task to write negative reviews. I take the opposite approach that Robert Slade takes. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Slade [wikipedia.org] - He reviews other works but gave first priority to information security. His reviews are often critical—to the project FAQ question, “Don't you like any books?” Slade replied that he may be crue
    • Maybe the reviewer only bothers to write reviews for books he likes.

      I'm not saying you're wrong to be suspicious. I'm just pointing out that there's at least one valid reason why a reviewer would trend toward positive reviews.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        In most security stuff a common default is "default deny".

        Life is short. There is no point writing lots of lines for stuff you don't want - there's too much of it.

        You might as well write lines for stuff you want :).
  • hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @03:54PM (#30673906) Homepage
    The story of Jennifer Bayuk is tragic in that she spent a decade as CISO at Bear, Stearns, building up its security group to be one of the best in the business; only to find it vaporized when the firm collapsed and was acquired by J.P. Morgan Clearing Corp.

    And all she got out of it was a lot of money, material for a book, and a great resume. Where's the problem?
    • I'd echo this. I can think of far greater tragedies that occurred as a result of firms like Bear Stearns collapsing.
    • by tnk1 (899206)

      And all she got out of it was a lot of money, material for a book, and a great resume. Where's the problem?

      Those are certainly compensations, but even though executives are frequently overpaid, most of them on average probably work longer hours than most of their employees do between travel, meetings and high level planning and decision making. Some people are after money, but many more are after *power* and no matter what sort of parachute you get, golden or lead, once you have a certain amount of money in the bank, your interests may well shift away from simply acquiring even more comfort and material goods a

      • probably work longer hours than most of their employees do between travel, meetings and high level planning and decision making.

        Translates to:

        probably work longer hours than most of their employees do between free travel in a corporate jet, golf with other fat cats, hookers, blow and finally a coin toss as they don't understand a damn thing anyhow.

      • by Gorobei (127755)

        Yep, you don't get to be an effective senior exec without serious hard work.

        I logged on to our system this last New Years Day at 9am. The only people on and working were the senior guys.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Where's the problem?

      Probably the ulcer and chronic migraines.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @04:02PM (#30674016)

    Chapter 1:

    - Hire someone who knows what the hell they are doing, and let them do it.

    Chapter 2:

    - Let's work on that golf swing!

    [and so on]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Huuu nope.

      Try to do any security in a medium to large company when you have no support from high-level executives. Even if you know what you are doing, others will not want to hear about it.

      • by Sabriel (134364)
        I'd presume the "and let them do it" part would include providing the authority needed to get the job done. Sadly... yeah.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          Or is it related to part 2.

          Maybe people respect the authority of his golf swing ;).
    • Keep in mind that Enterprise security personnel wore the red shirts, and we all know what happens to them...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @04:04PM (#30674060)

    I work for a company that uses Bear Stearns services.

    These services REQUIRE that users have:
    Local Administrative privileges
    Run IE6
    Run MSJava 3 years after MS pulled the plug on it (Later revised to only allow Sun Java 1.4 r16, which is several years old).

    That's the insecurity trifecta that is foisted on the people managing your money.

    We still cannot upgrade past Windows XP to this very day because of these HIDEOUS requirements. JP Morgan is barely now getting the ball moving on updating these services.

    Shes obviously has no clue about security. I don't have to read the article or book. I would suggest ignoring her completely, and hopefully blackballing her from ever holding any position again.

    -nb

    • by nortcele (186941)
      Nearly every large corporation over 20 years old is in the same situation. XP, IE6, some old java. Local admin rights. Some CPU sapping virus scanner program firing off at 5:30pm rendering the user PC useless. Frustrated users leave for home instead of continuing work. Activated network ports are not tied to a specific MAC, so any netbook, laptop, etc can be plugged in (and thus snoop).

      Security requires a price in time and effort, and there are always compromises in order to get work accomplished.

  • In a sentence: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Wednesday January 06, 2010 @04:39PM (#30674572) Homepage Journal

    "And to the extent which a CxO controls assets, is the extent to which others can't use them in unexpected ways."

    She nailed it. Enterprise security is indeed a culture, not a function. You got it, or you don't.

    Not only Heartland, but Hannford, show the importance of the culture of ritual and 'things you just don't do'. Virtually every time you hear of a consultant/temp blowing up security and causing a breach, you see the same thing - the organization needs this to be a business-as-usual approach from the top down. It's not only about doing it right, it's about there being no other way.

    And then giving your CxOs the authority and assets to actually perform. All the way down.

    At my work, there are lots of things we just don't do. My work computer never sees the Internet except through the corporate proxy, either in office or via VPN. I do have the ability to install any software I want, bit I don't install anything that I would not want to justify to the security folks. We get Adobe Reader configured as plain-vanilla, and I turn off Javascript just because. I watch my virus-scanning and resolve any occasional alerts. We also use Cisco Security Agent, and I tolerate it when it jumps in and says no.

    I could be messing about with any number of questionable things, but it's not worth it.

    Now, my home machines, that's different. :)

    • by Znork (31774)

      She nailed it.

      It's a nice sounding quip, but it's too easy to drop the last three words and have what is possibly a control issue into a business issue: "And to the extent which a CxO controls assets, is the extent to which others can't use them". The problem is what is unexpected and to what extent the CxO's actually 'expect' internal requirements, and the extent to which, when they're told the requirements, come up with solutions rather than an inane 'that's not policy'.

      For most companies, being 'secure'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's no wonder she is out of a job, I haven't seen that level of HTML design since Frontpage 1.0. Come on, security is nice but image is everything!

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