Wednesday, July 13

Security Policy vs. Operational Needs

I've written a number of times about human behavior and end users. My point has been that security needs to be: (1) easier or cheaper (2) built-in and transparent and (3) continuous / not periodic. Yesterday, I heard the problem described in an interesting way.

I had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar provided by LogicTrends and CA. The topic was privileged accounts and compliance. I believe it was LogicTrends' CTO Phil Lentz who described part of the problem as this (paraphrased):
Security Policy doesn't always match operational needs or expectations.

What I believe he meant is that system administrators ignore security policies for tactical reasons. They are almost forced to breach policy in an effort to get their jobs done more efficiently. I don't think that's anything new, but I've traditionally chalked it up to human behavior. Lentz's description lead me to think the problem was more systemic.

It wouldn't matter how disciplined the person sitting behind the keyboard is. There is an inherent disconnect between the person's operational duties and the organization's security policies. It's an interesting perspective and may indicate that there's hope. By creating more synergy between policy and operational procedure, the human-nature problem can be at least muted if not eliminated. Again, not a new concept, but a new angle by which to see it.

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