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Where Does Employee Trust Fit in Information Security

Posted February 24, 2012    Peter McCalister

Next week I will be attending the RSA Conference in San Francisco. As a product management professional who enjoys investigating innovative emerging technologies, I decided to see what a few of the pre-show pundits had to say about the upcoming conference.

I just finished listening to a Search Security podcast that discussed what the speakers will believe the hot topics at the show. The title of the podcast was “The Erosion of Trust”. I was intrigued by the title because I believe any successful information security program must include technical controls that align the business value of corporate information with the trust level of individuals that have access to that data. Although their proposed hot topics (which included consumerism, hacktevism, and mobile security) are all great information security topics, I struggle to connect the dots with the advertised topic. The only exception is the observation that because of “consumerism”, where the lines are diminishing between work and play internet activity, that everyone should ensure they trust the people you do business with on the web. CAll be naive, but isn’t have knowledge of those you do business with, whether on the web or not, just a common sense thing? My cynical view is that this is just a way for a few of the legacy consumer security products to put some life back into their lackluster product portfolios. I believe the podcasters really missed an opportunity to discuss a topic that I also believe will be hot at RSA this year- protecting valuable data from perceived trusted insiders that take advantage of this established trust for their own personal financial gain. I am relatively new to BeyondTrust, and to their least privilege solutions, but I have had the privilege over the last few months to talk to a lot of enterprise customers. I’ve learned that concern over the threat of trusted insiders is top of mind for many large organizations.

For the last 8 or so years I have been active in the security information and event management (SIEM) market, where a popular catch phrase was “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Looking out at the least privilege landscape I am also learning that organizations “can’t secure what they can’t control”. In my opinion having technologies that act as a control gate between trusted employees and high value information they access will become increasingly important. I look forward to seeing whether my thoughts that products that protect against insider threat will also emerge as a hot topic at the conference. Check back in a few days and I’ll let you know what I learned.

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