Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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.


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
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...