December 22, 2014 By Fran Howarth 3 min read

Security Landscape Is Changing

The world is increasingly interconnected. While electronic communications expand our reach with business partners, suppliers and customers, they also expand the risk organizations face. Volumes of data are expanding and are increasingly out of the control of the organization, held in cloud applications, on an expanding array of user devices and in the hands of external parties. Organizations need a way to improve their security strategy to take into account the entire ecosystem within which they do business rather than just focusing on their own four walls.

IBM recently published a report based on a survey of 138 security leaders around the world. The report provides insight into how security leaders can prepare for the challenges they face over the coming three to five years in order to build trust and improve their overall security strategy by taking into account the security needs across the entire ecosystem in which they operate. According to 82 percent of respondents, the very definition of security has changed in the past three years, as they grapple to manage a greater array of complex threats and threat vectors, and as higher expectations are set for security across the business.

Expand Collaboration to Improve Security Strategy

As the perimeters that form an organization’s ecosystem constantly expand outward, it is no longer an option to protect the network by isolating it to attempt to prevent threats from entering. IBM’s report found that 62 percent of security leaders strongly feel that the risks that their organizations face are increasing as they connect to and interact with external constituents such as partners, suppliers and customers.

According to John Taylor, former global head of IT security for British American Tobacco, while it may seem paradoxical, the key to improving security is to be more open. Collaboration is important for achieving that openness. By collaborating with their peers, industry leaders can better understand the threat landscape and gain insight into practices deployed by others in the industry to better safeguard their own organizations.

Taylor said the strongest relationships should be with industry colleagues, followed by suppliers and partners and then governments. Those relationships should encompass both formal and informal networking and collaboration, from global advisory boards and expert presentations to casual discussions over dinner or coffee. Organizations should also look to collaborate with those outside of the security function, such as privacy officers and general counsel, in order to gain knowledge from a wider perspective.

For the best results, Taylor recommends looking beyond just the primary industrial sector in which the business operates. For example, as a manufacturer, British American Tobacco looks for guidance from the banking sector, which has long made great efforts to share information that can help protect the large volume of sensitive customer information under its control. The steps that others have taken can be very beneficial for helping to shore up its security strategy for protecting its own business ecosystem.

Boardroom Influence

As the influence of security leaders continues to grow and more security executives take their seat in the boardroom, their contribution to the entire risk management and governance needs of the organization will increase. They must make every effort to ensure they are apprised not only of the latest threats and the available countermeasures, but also of the best practices espoused by their peers.

In line with this, respondents to IBM’s survey believe that the 42 percent of organizations collaborating with formal industry-related security groups will increase to 86 percent over the next three to five years. Such formal external collaboration efforts, along with more informal networking, will do much to expand their ability to understand the evolving threat landscape and to put in place the best security strategy to safeguard their entire business ecosystem.

Insights from the 2014 CISO Assessment – See the infographic

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