by Diana Nguyen

CIO Summit: How to write a security strategy (that CIOs will read)

Jul 22, 20113 mins
IT ManagementPrivacyProject Management

If you want to ensure your security strategy gets read by the right people then keep it short, Tabcorp’s chief information security officer, Troy Braban, told the 2011 CIO Summit.

Braban said that the demands placed on the time of CIOs mean they are unlikely to have a spare moment to go through pages and pages of security strategy. Information security strategies should be kept to a page if it wants to be read.

See all the action from the event in the CIO Summit 2011 slideshow.

“You need to explain security on one page,” he said. “If you can’t explain it on one page, it’s just not worth talking about.

“Everyone’s busy. Nobody’s got time to spend hours and hours trying to understand what it means so set it down on one page.”

How to simplify security

Braban said security heads and their teams should commit to some key principles:

  • We must be able to explain it on page or it is too complex.
  • If we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it.
  • Be strategic, not tactical whenever possible.
  • Compliance is the minimum reason to do security.
  • We will work with the business to make informed risk decisions.
  • He said that these five principles underlie three tools he recommends #8212; A one-page diagram, a strategy checklist and an executive dashboard #8212; to simplify security.

    The one-page diagram, he said, should cover six key points:

  • Strategy #8212; define the plans, approach, frameworks and models for information security.
  • Security policy #8212; describe behaviours and activities that must be followed throughout the organisation to protect information and assets.
  • Security operating model #8212; describe the teams, roles and responsibilities, services, and approach to governance for information security activities.
  • Security reporting #8212; framework for information security reporting to provide maturity and service metrics on IS activities.
  • Security compliance #8212; framework to track and monitor compliance to policy, regulatory and industry obligations.
  • Functional capabilities.
  • The information security strategy must explain to the board and business what security means to the organisation, address why security is important, and help the business understand what security is going to do and what it will get for their money.

    The checklist includes:

  • What is security.
  • What you will do.
  • What the business will get.
  • What success looks like.
  • Be strategic, not tactical; plan long term, not short term.
  • Build the strategy around protecting information.
  • Make it presentable, get out there and tell people about it.
  • Regularly update.
  • As for the executive dashboard, Braban said organisations can invest in tools to generate security reports from information they already have or they can create a dashboard based on their own framework.

    Braban said organisations should expect more from their security team, which should have a documented security strategy that is reviewed and updated regularly.

    “Security is really not that hard… Part of this is the fear of the unknown,” he said.

    “Go out there and talk it, don’t overcomplicate it.”

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