Samresh Ramjith sheds some light on the changing face of IT security.
Operating environments are spiralling outwards to accommodate business demands for mobility, multidevice access from remote locations and real-time, in-sync information. The ability to secure our core asset – our data – and manage how this is accessed and by whom, is a major issue facing IT management today.
Dimension Data’s GM for Technology and Operations, Samresh Ramjith, sheds some light on the changing face of IT security.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How has evolving technology affected the IT security environment?
Samresh Ramjith: Many key businesses enabling technologies such as mobility, convergence and cloud computing introduce a completely new set of security risks. As technology evolves to keep pace with demand, security threats are matching this evolution stride for stride. Threats are growing in sophistication and magnitude with even more devastating effects on enterprise.
Advancement is fantastic for productivity. A proliferation of mobile devices such as laptops, notebooks, tablets, PDAs, smartphones and flash drives facilitate an ever-accessible and agile workforce. However, they also provide additional entry points for security threats to creep in; while cloud computing blurs the boundaries between environments and who is responsible for securing them.
These shifting parameters mean that ‘securing the fortress’ is no longer the only concern, and there is a much higher risk of sensitive data and IP leaking from supposedly ‘secure’ environments than ever before.
HSS: How does one achieve equilibrium between security and business enablement?
Samresh Ramjith: It is impossible and impractical to secure an entire environment. Firstly, it is extremely cost prohibitive. Secondly, it is just not conducive to business enablement. The CIO must balance the organisation’s appetite for business optimisation with security’s need to protect.
Technology is just one element of the ideal security strategy. In order to truly unlock its business potential, the right processes need to be in place, as well as have the right people in place with the appropriate insight and skills to bring all the components together.
The key is to identify and secure the right information, and ensure that this is only accessible to relevant individuals. IT security needs to become more integrated into the business itself in terms of creating processes, information flows and access controls that ensure that not only is business-critical data kept safe, but that information required for collaboration and interaction is readily available.
HSS: The weakest link in IT security has always been the human element. Since a business cannot eliminate this altogether, how can it be contained?
Samresh Ramjith: Changes in infrastructure mean internal threats are becoming as much of a concern as perimeter security. Mobile staff, contractors, and unintentional or malicious security breaches are difficult to contain, and the most secure vault in the world is useless if it is left open.
Encryption may provide a good first line of defence. Tighter role-based access management that limits unauthorised and unnecessary access to data will help. Ensuring that security systems are continually monitored, enforced and updated on a regular basis to ensure their efficacy often proves to be an excellent deterrent.
What is most critical is that businesses need to change the way they think about data and create a culture where people understand that data has value. Information of all kinds can be a highly profitable commodity on the black market and as such needs to be protected in the same sense as any physical asset.
HSS: Technology is becoming more strategic in general. What business imperatives are driving IT security specifically?
Samresh Ramjith: Currently, one of the key trends defining the IT space is the transformation of security from ancillary IT function to core business priority. Businesses are beginning to attach real value to the safeguarding of their information and are moving to align security and business objectives.
As governance and compliance becomes more enforceable, they are likewise driving security initiatives. Good corporate governance often works hand in hand with creating the right framework in terms of controls, shifting security into the position of business imperative. Good governance also speaks to the structure and thinking required to ensure that any threats that may be introduced by new emerging technologies are identified and addressed effectively.
The need for compliance has also introduced the concept of attaching measurability as a means of proving that appropriate controls are in place, Technology-centric, tactical actions are giving way to more structured solutions that allow security to be deployed as a KPA, with more metric-based means of tracing and monitoring its success, and in turn, return on investment for the organisation.
For more information contact Dimension Data, +27 (0)11 575 0000, www.dimensiondata.com
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