This week I spoke at the Secure 360 conference on Building A Security Architecture Blueprint (slides). My thesis is that information is a strategic enterprise asset (in many cases it *is* the business), yet the typical enterprise approach to securing the information or even risk management, is rarely strategic. Last year, I wrote a Security Architecture Blueprint paper to describe one framework for putting a strategic context around information security program. The main idea is that instead of starting with security goals (cue the ritual CIA invocation), we start with considering security in the context of the stakeholders - business, development, operations, customers, and so on.
You can then use the framework to assign priorities and phasing for Information Security actions. So instead of letting the random auditor and their everpresent checklist that the final four assigns you drive your program, use a framework that incorporates the business and its goals. A number of people commented on my post on GRC -
Much of what we call GRC should really be features of your ERP and accounting software. ... It’s an additional, very highly priced, reporting layer. ...A GRC tool provides almost no value at the business unit level, since it doesn’t help them get their day to day jobs done.
Mike Rothman succinctly gets to the point with a one liner I am sure will become part of my repertoire:
It's about serving the business, NOT THE AUDITORS. If you protect information effectively (which is a key imperative for the business), then the auditors should be kept reasonably happy. And if not, screw them and fight them. Yes, the auditor can make your life a bit harder, but you don't work for them. Keep that in mind.
So my GRC post seemed to tap into a fair amount of GRC blogohostility , fair enough, but the main point is not slamming GRC, just the overfocus on GRC and substituting misdirected marketecture for real world architecture Hoff got to the heart of the point of what i was saying - its about assets
As I think about it, I'm not sure GRC would be something a typical InfoSec function would purchase or use unless forced which is part of the problem. I see internal audit driving the adoption which given today's pressures (especially in public companies) would first start in establishing gaps against regulatory compliance.
If the InfoSec function is considering an approach that drives protecting the things that matter most and managing risk to an acceptable level and one that is not compliance-driven but rather built upon a business and asset-driven approach
So I submit that you should not start with a compliance checklist, but instead build a security architecture blueprint that captures your stakeholders goals. Assess this against your policy and standards, and your security architecture capabilities. Out of this comes risk management decisions. And off we go into actually building and operating something - hopefully making some profits along the way.
So build blueprints, minimize time spent doing checkbox Olympics. The blueprint I worked on is just generic framework, you may have a different one. I know that the one that I designed is in use in many organizations and in each case I know of it has been tailored to local purposes. So its a beginning not an end, but those two things are more related than you think as someone from the financial services industry once said
In my beginning is my end ... in my end is my beginning
Where you start your security architecture and design matters, and directly effects where you end up.
Anyway, the conference was a lot of fun, I rarely get to do conferences in MN. I got meet Anton Chuvakin for the first time, and went to the presentation on the local OWASP Minnesota chapter - Robert Sullivan, Joe Teff and Kuai Hinojosa did a great job doing an overview of what OWASP is all about, demoing WebGoat and so on.