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Oh No! Security Got What They Want from the Business

“Running security five years ago was much more difficult than it is today,” said Alex Hutton (@alexhutton), faculty at IANS, in our conversation at the 2015 Security B-Sides conference in San Francisco.

For years, Hutton said, security people would complain, “The board isn’t taking us seriously. I’m not getting the visibility that I need.”

But now there is so much news about security, regarding breaches or government regulations, that the board is taking notice and they’re far more interested. Security people finally got what they wanted and their reaction has been, “Holy cow, now I actually have to talk to the board,” said Hutton. “What do I say?”

It’s an understandable maturation of the industry, continued Hutton. Security must begin talking about risk management, performance, risk indicators, and metrics that speak to business metrics, and not about complicated security metrics.

The one truth about the executive board is that they’re time crunched, admitted Hutton. In a board meeting that may happen only 2-3 times a year, the security professionals may only have 2-3 minutes in that meeting. How are you going to use that time wisely?

You’ve got all this information you want to present, said Hutton, “How do you bubble it up to them, them being the executives, in a manner you can get oomph, and you can get backing, and you can continue to get what you need to get your job done in just a handful of time?”

Hutton recommends you stay threat focused (Threats sell. They’re still sexy). And you should make it evidence based. While you probably won’t be challenged, be ready to back up your claims.

“You have to say, here’s what we’re facing, here’s what we’re going to do about it, here’s how much it’s going to cost, and if we don’t spend that money, here’s what our risk is,” said Hutton. “Once you have that message down, implementing your strategy gets a lot easier.”