By Laton McCartney
RSA, the Security Division of EMC just released several research reports that examine the far-reaching security implications of promising technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, social networking and mobile communications, and explore the pivotal business risks and rewards they represent to organizations worldwide.
The first research study - conducted by IDG Research Services—reveals a significant gap between the speed at which organizations are adopting new connectivity, collaboration and communication technologies and their readiness to deploy them securely. The second study, from RSA's Security for Business Innovation Council, outlines how companies can capitalize on the significant business advantages these new technologies represent without putting their organizations at risk.
"Businesses are becoming 'hyper-extended enterprises,' exchanging information with more constituencies in more ways and in more places than ever before," said Art Coviello, Executive Vice President, EMC Corporation and President, RSA, The Security Division of EMC. "The rapid adoption of nascent web, social and mobile technologies combined with the rising use of outsourcing is quickly dissolving what remains of the traditional boundaries around our organizations and information assets. Security strategies must shift dramatically to ensure companies can achieve their goals to cut costs and meet revenue targets without creating dangerous new business vulnerabilities."
The first study of 100 top security executives at companies with revenues of $1 billion or more showed that some companies are so enthusiastic about the potential of new web and mobile technologies, they are deploying them without adequately securing critical processes and data.
Key findings include:
1. More than 70 percent of survey respondents believe escalating levels of connectivity and information exchange powered by new web and communication technologies are transforming their organizations into hyper-extended enterprises.
2. The majority of organizations have increased their use of virtualization, mobility and social networking over the past 12-24 months, with more than one-third reporting an increase in cloud computing.
3. However, many of the responding companies do not have adequate strategies to assess the risks involved in adopting these new technologies. In some organizations, the corporate security department is only brought in when problems occur and in others, security is not even informed before these new technologies are used.
4.Less than half of respondents have developed policies for employees to guide the use of social networking tools and sites.
5.More than 30 percent of the responding companies already have at least some enterprise applications or business processes running in the cloud, with another 16 percent planning to begin migration within the next 12 months. Among these, two -thirds do not yet have a security strategy in place for cloud computing.
6. More than 8 of 10 respondents are concerned that pressure to cut costs and generate revenue has increased their exposure to security risks. More than 7 in 10 have experienced a security incident in the last 18 months.
7. The majority of respondents agree they need to change and improve their approach to enterprise security strategy to accommodate the realities of the hyper-extended enterprise.
The second study, enables businesses to match their security readiness against other so-called hyper-extended enterprises. It can be downloaded here.
RSA also released the results of its fourth Security for Business Innovation Council report, "Charting the Path: Enabling the "Hyper-Extended" Enterprise in the Face of Unprecedented Risk." In this report, top security leaders explore how security strategies must transform in a world in which well-intentioned actions to drive new business value could open up disastrous risk exposures.
"At this particular point in time, when we have such a rapidly-changing environment, we need to absolutely cry, 'Time out!' We need to step away from it, and we need to examine if our program has all the right gears," commented Council member Dr. Claudia Natanson, Chief Information Security Officer, Diageo. "Is your program road-ready for the rough ride that you may be about to embark on? Because only the most agile, only the fittest, only the most flexible will make it to the end."
This new report demonstrates how top security leaders simultaneously grapple with the need to promote innovation while protecting information in an increasingly risky environment. It provides seven recommendation steps to structure a new enterprise security model, based on some of the world's top security officers..
. Specific guidance includes:
1.Rein in the Protection Environment: Identify ways to use resources more efficiently by taking a risk management approach to the existing security environment. For example, the Council outlines strategies for how to curtail the use of security resources that protect extraneous information assets, stored data, and devices. By reining in the protection environment, enterprises can simultaneously cut costs, reduce risk and free up resources for high-priority projects.
2 .Get Competitive: In challenging economic times, if business leaders perceive they are not getting what they need from the internal security organization, they may increase overall risk to the enterprise by turning to external service providers without involving corporate security. The Council explains how security teams must focus on the quality and efficiency of their services and be able to effectively articulate the value they provide for the price.
3. Proactively Embrace Technology on Your Terms: Information security departments must accept that it is not feasible to block the use of new web and communications technologies; instead they must enable their secure use. Council members share guidance on moving from reactive to preventive security, and establishing a roadmap for the business to adopt new technologies.
4. Shift from Protecting the Container to Protecting the Data: In the era of the hyper-extended enterprise, more and more enterprise data is processed and stored in containers not controlled by the business. For instance, the data may be processed by service providers or held in a personal PDA used by an employee or in a laptop owned by a contractor who may have multiple enterprise clients. Within this environment, the Council provides guidance on shifting from protecting the container to protecting the data.
5. Adopt Advanced Security Monitoring Techniques: In today's threat environment, security teams must update their approach to monitoring for abnormal and malicious events. Council members share advice on moving away from techniques such as signature-based anti-virus and blacklisting to more accurate techniques such as behavior-based monitoring and whitelisting.
6. Collaborate to Create Industry Standards: Council members explore why the need for uniform standards for security professionals, third-party providers and emerging technologies has reached a critical juncture.
7. Share Risk Intelligence: To help enterprises defend against international attackers and an increasingly sophisticated fraudster network, the Council recommends more robust and collaborative intelligence-sharing-spanning enterprises, law enforcement and government.
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