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Crafting the Right Answer to “How Secure Are We?”

How secure are we?

“It’s a trick question [to ask, ‘How secure are we?’] People want to say we’re secure enough or we’re not secure enough and both of those are bad answers. A lot of it comes down to, ‘What does it mean to be secure?’” said Andy Ellis (@CSOAndy), CSO for Akamai, in our conversation at the 2015 RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Everyone’s perception of what secure means and what you should do to be secure is completely different depending on your viewpoint.

“The answer that I’ve found that is useful when someone asks, ‘Are we secure enough?’ or ‘Are we safe enough?’ is you say, ‘We’re taking reasonable steps. We feel like we’re in a good position, but there’s obviously more we can do. But if I look at who shouldn’t be sleeping at night that’s me, that’s not the CEO,’” said Ellis. “You’re never going to eliminate risk. So talking about ‘are we secure?’ Well, are you ‘secure enough?’ And what does ‘secure enough’ really mean given the risk profile of your business?”

All businesses exist in a continuous state of risk.

Cloud security was once in IT’s control

Five years ago, cloud security was the most hyped topic at RSA. A lot has changed since then.

“If we look back five years ago, people still believed that the future would be an enterprise under the control of the CIO,” said Ellis.

That’s no longer the case as shadow IT and bring your own devices are now routine parts of the enterprise.

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