During World War II, the United States posted flyers such as “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships” to discourage gossip and sharing data that could ultimately end up in enemy hands. More recently we’ve heard, “If You See Something, Say Something.”
Both bits of wisdom apply to security within organizations. Users have to consider the potential damage from an infected USB flash drive, an inappropriate service started on a server, or an unauthorized cloud-based file-sharing program. It seems obvious that we should make everyone aware of the security risks of mishandling data, sharing a password, or propping a door.
We in the IT and security communities usually think of these security risks in terms of end users – and we should. However, it’s just as important to consider the risks that arise when IT Operations and Security teams fail to collaborate. In fact, successful interdepartmental communication between these groups, or lack thereof, can have more bearing on overall security than what our end users are doing.
As a product manager for solutions serving IT and Security, I often hear of dysfunctional (and sometimes non-existent) relationships between the two groups. It’s surprising how frequently they differ in terms of understanding risk, creating goals for addressing risk, and then working to achieve those goals. They head in separate directions, create a layer of distrust, an ironically create security exposures in the process.
If you manage an IT team, a security team, or both, ask your staff the following questions:
- How often does Security mandate technology that is difficult for users to adopt?
- How often do users workaround problems without understanding potential security risks?
- Are security guidelines discussed and agreed upon consistently by all departments?
- Do all team members, regardless of responsibility, adhere to policies and procedures for safe computing?
Creating a culture of trust and communication isn’t easy, and collaboration is most effective when it’s driven from the top down. Sue Poremba recently wrote a blog on this topic: “When teams don’t talk, hackers win.”
Sue’s observations are spot-on, and they’re some of the primary reasons we created BeyondInsight. BeyondInsight is an IT Risk Management Platform designed specifically for allowing teams to collaborate leveraging vulnerability management (security) and privileged account management (IT operations) data. It’s clear that communication and collaboration are key to securing an environment, and the right tools can make that vision a reality.