How to get Management On Board with Security Enhancements — or how to avoid cocktail party security decisions.

One of the most aggrevating issues that security people have to deal with is someone who has no security background and knows little about the current technology, who decides what should be funded based on:

1. My wife thinks cameras are an invasion of privacy.
2. My secretary like X instead of Y
3. My friend, Sam, said his company was adding
some new widget.

This applies whether you are doing corporate security or information security and it is basically having your management make an emotional decision, or what I call a “cocktail party decision” about where the security budget should be spent.

Don’t confuse them with the facts. In fact, most of this is from people who do not understand the complexities of security or the interactions of various security solutions with each other.

Last evening, I spent quite a bit of time with a client from Asia, who had a big client who couldn’t decide which solutions they wanted to implement. Should it be A or B; and how to set it up? Regionally? by Business Unit? By Subsidiary? By Sub-subsidiary?

As we discussed it, I realized that the Director in question was really avoiding having to spend any money! It wasn’t about the decision – it was sort of smoke and mirrors to avoid having to admit a lack of funding for security.

In these cases, when your organization may have had the budget trimmed, cut or slashed — it is imperative to be able to use some quantative measurement of the risk to justify the cost of the controls. Whether you have enough budget for one control, or for everything, it must always be prioritized by NEED and by RISK. By Return On Investment. What losses can we prevent or avoid if we add this specific control? How much loss are we preventing? What is our potential exposure if we do nothing?

These are the elements that need to be understood by management in order to get the right controls in place, in the right amounts, at the right time.