New security manifesto needed: IISP chair

Doctor Alastair MacWillson tells AISA conference that information security needs design, simplicity, agility, usability and advanced capability overhaul.

The old security model is not up to scratch for many organisations and a new manifesto including an improved cyber security skills framework is required to help industry battle the 'bad guys', according to Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) chair, Doctor Alastair MacWillson.

Speaking at the AISA National Conference in Sydney this week, he told delegates that today’s security environment is an ever-expanding and changing in combination of services, devices and software that are created, utilised, evolved and discarded daily.

“Threats are, in most cases, unpredictable and unknowable while IT security staff are pressured for time, experience and resources,” he said.

According to MacWillson, there are talent wars going on in Australia for the high level information security expert who can act and understand the minds of attackers.

“The problem is that organisations have spent years de-skilling their teams and are dependent on security technologies that can run automatically and issue reports,” he said.

“That technology is good but what it actually means is that organisations don’t think they need these network security specialists or application code reviews because of these tools.”

MacWillson added that many companies do not have the security foundations in place that are expected and that hacking was a "big wake-up call" for organisations.

"Someone can hack into your system using relatively simple scripts or tools so the notion that people need to spend huge amounts of money to buy massive amounts of protection is flawed thinking.”

Future response

To start working on the new security manifesto, he said that professionals need to start adopting new techniques and capabilities to deliver technology.

“Traditional approaches to security fail to protect as many are locked into old models, established doctrines, and technology solutions which lack agility and are too slow to respond,” he said.

“In my experience as a consultant, about 8 per cent of companies do security well and have addressed most of the issues I have been talking about.”

MacWillson was at pains to add that this was not a criticism of security teams because they are locked into rigid frameworks and compliance standards.

The Manifesto

In conclusion, MacWillson shared his ideas for a new security manifesto. This included more contextual standards and regulation which highlight the difference between large organisations and smaller companies as well as greater threat sharing with different sectors of the information security industry.

“There should also be government sponsored cyber security academies to better equip organisations and grow talent pool as well as national and international legal frameworks to address cyber threats,” he said.

CSO Magazine is an official media partner for AISA National Conference 2012

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