Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Olivier Huynh Van, Derek Weeks

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

Linux Containers: Article

Creating IT Security Policies

An uncompromised necessity in today's business

It's no secret to technical developers that security issues need to be taken into consideration when developing policies. However, the extent of those security issues can easily be overlooked by many organizations.

You may be familiar with blended threats, those that combine the most harmful characteristics of worms, viruses, Trojan horses, and malicious code to exploit existing computer and Internet vulnerabilities. The effects of blended threats are evident with a look back at the Slammer, SoBig, and Blaster worms. These fast-spreading worms disrupted network operations and services around the world and garnered much attention. In addition, they cost companies down time, productivity loss, and many dollars.

The speed and severity of blended threats are not the only things companies should be immediately concerned about - many new threats are lurking around the corner with even more malice and destruction. There are many theorized attacks such as Warhol, Flash, and zero-day threats. These types of threats can spread across the entire Internet community even quicker and can exploit vulnerabilities before they are even recognized. Because these threats will leave little, if any, time to respond, the reactive security measures of the past are no longer sufficient. While they exist only in theory, these threats are driving public and private institutions to feel a greater sense of urgency regarding information security. Add to the increased availability of progressively sophisticated hacker tools for exploiting security vulnerabilities, and the drawbacks of reactive security become clear. Companies now must be proactive in regard to security measures. In addition, IT security and creating IT security policies need to be on the forefront of company agendas.

While most organizations profess to have some type of information security policy, many do not have official policies, in writing, for workers to follow. Having specific written policies in place and making all workers aware of the policies is crucial. These policies must also be taken seriously and enforced by the organization. However, all policies must relate directly to the specific business needs of the organization, so a detailed assessment and approach to creating these policies is important.

One of the most significant issues companies face is the need to comply with industry standards and government regulations for secure business. Industry guides such as the International Standards Organization (ISO) 17799 and government regulations such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act help provide a framework for improved corporate governance and controls. Accurately written and enforced, information security policies enable organizations to not only demonstrate their adherence to these critical regulations and standards but also to articulate their own requirements for mitigating risk.

Creating a Security Policy Task Force

The first step to creating security policies is to identify a task force. A typical security policy task force for a larger enterprise might include a member of senior management, IT directors, an information security expert, auditors, a human resources representative, legal counsel, and a public relations manager. The creation of a task force is extremely important; without it, the information security policy is weakened and less likely to be taken seriously by employees.

Each member of the task force will provide a unique contribution to the team. Garnering the support of a security professional helps ensure that the policy reflects relevant threats and recommended steps to mitigate risk. Input from auditors helps pinpoint the current type of computer-related activities within the company, and human resources personnel can provide direction pertaining to implementation, education, training, and enforcement. Involvement of legal counsel is important to ensure that the information security policy protects company assets, does not violate employees' rights, and addresses applicable laws and regulations. The public relations manager can help set up a communications plan for dealing with the media and keeping stakeholders informed as the company responds to security incidents. Once it is written, the security policy should be signed at the highest corporate level possible to demonstrate the corporation's commitment to information security.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the next step in the process. Risk assessment is the challenging process of weighing security versus exposure. Similar to a business impact analysis, risk assessment pinpoints whether information is underprotected, overprotected, or adequately protected. When assessing which problems would create the most damage, businesses must keep in mind the following variables for each piece of data housed on their networks:
  • What resources are organizations interested in protecting?
  • What is the value of those resources, monetary or otherwise?
  • What possible threats do those resources face?
  • What is the likelihood of those threats being realized?
  • What would be the impact of those threats on the business, employees, or customers, if those threats were realized?
When determining the value of an asset, organizations must consider both its monetary value and its intrinsic value. Monetary value can be determined by considering what would happen if the asset were unavailable for any reason. While many businesses place value on monetary worth, the individual assessing the risk also must place value on intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is the loss of data, loss of privacy, legal liability, unwanted media exposure, loss of customer or investor confidence, and the costs associated with repairing security breaches. Once information assets are identified and valued, threats to those assets must be evaluated through risk assessment.

Although types of sensitive data can be quite broad and can vary from organization to organization, there are a few key types of information that every business should plan to protect. These include all data related to strategic plans, business operations, and financial data. Damage to or loss of any of this information can result in decreased sales, reduced competitive advantage, and decreased profits for the victimized company.

A Security Suite

What is traditionally referred to as a corporate information security policy is actually a suite of documents, including the actual security policy as well as a standards document and a procedures document. The security policy is the smallest of the three; in many cases, a good security policy might be a short two-page document.

While the actual security policy is brief, it is critically important. It touches on four key elements: to whom and what the policy applies, the need for adherence, a general description, and consequences of nonadherence. These key elements provide the framework for the remaining documents. Once the security policy document is complete, it must also be approved and signed by the most senior manager in the organization, then made available to all employees.

The next document in the security policy suite defines what needs to be done to implement security. An information security standards document also describes which security controls are required and which controls apply to each element in the environment.

A typical document set of this sort addresses a variety of security issues, from roles and responsibilities of security personnel to protection against malicious code, information and software exchange, user responsibilities, mobile computing, access control, and more. Standards documents also often detail such issues as systems security requirements, the security of applications and files, and security in development and support processes. In addition, compliance issues - whether legal requirements, security or technical reviews, or audits -are also outlined in a standards document as are government regulations and industry standards. The good news is that like the security policy the information security standards is usually created once; from then on, the document is changed only if new systems, applications, or regulations are introduced.

The information security procedures document is the final component of the corporate information security policy suite and is the largest and most frequently altered document in the suite. This is the last word in the corporation's information security plan and spells out how security controls must be implemented and managed. Procedures are mapped to standards, and complying with any given standard typically requires that many procedures or tasks be completed. With this document, accuracy can make the difference between a solid and enforceable policy and one that is easily dismissed and not followed.

Protection and Uptime

While the effort to create a security policy, standards, and procedures documents is substantial, the rewards can also be significant. Enforcing and measuring compliance is a serious and important step for a growing number of companies. Government legislation continues to call for increased security checks and balances across the entire corporate environment, so enforcement and protection of these efforts is crucial.

Making it easier for organizations to meet their compliance goals, automation tools are available that discover and report on vulnerabilities, then deliver concise and prioritized information to security administrators. With these tools, corporations can focus on resolving security issues, protecting critical assets, and ensuring business continuity within organizations.

Conclusion

It is understandable that the complexity of today's digital environment calls for security strategies to manage business risks while proactively protecting corporate assets and making sure employees comply. While Internet threats accelerate and become increasingly sophisticated and effective, organizations must strengthen their security posture through intelligent security management that is up-to-date and that incorporates new vulnerabilities. A strong security policy that is strictly enforced will provide the foundation for a secure business environment - an uncompromised business necessity.

More Stories By Ronald van Geijn

Ronald van Geijn is director of product marketing at Symantec, where he leverages nearly a decade of IT and security expertise to develop the company's marketing strategy for the vulnerability assessment, policy compliance product lines, as well as the Symantec Security Management System.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased effic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and ...