The Psychology of Information Security – Resolving conflicts between security compliance and human behaviour

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In today’s corporations, information security professionals have a lot on their plate. In the face of constantly evolving cyber threats they must comply with numerous laws and regulations, protect their company’s assets and mitigate risks to the furthest extent possible.

Security professionals can often be ignorant of the impact that implementing security policies in a vacuum can have on the end users’ core business activities. These end users are, in turn, often unaware of the risk they are exposing the organisation to. They may even feel justified in finding workarounds because they believe that the organisation values productivity over security. The end result is a conflict between the security team and the rest of the business, and increased, rather than reduced, risk.

This can be addressed by factoring in an individual’s perspective, knowledge and awareness, and a modern, flexible and adaptable information security approach. The aim of the security practice should be to correct employee misconceptions by understanding their motivations and working with the users rather than against them – after all, people are a company’s best assets.

I just finished writing a book with IT Governance Publishing on this topic. This book draws on the experience of industry experts and related academic research to:

  • Gain insight into information security issues related to human behaviour, from both end users’ and security professionals’ perspectives.
  • Provide a set of recommendations to support the security professional’s decision-making process, and to improve the culture and find the balance between security and productivity.
  • Give advice on aligning a security programme with wider organisational objectives.
  • Manage and communicate these changes within an organisation.

Based on insights gained from academic research as well as interviews with UK-based security professionals from various sectors, The Psychology of Information Security – Resolving conflicts between security compliance and human behaviour explains the importance of careful risk management and how to align a security programme with wider business objectives, providing methods and techniques to engage stakeholders and encourage buy-in.

The Psychology of Information Security redresses the balance by considering information security from both viewpoints in order to gain insight into security issues relating to human behaviour , helping security professionals understand how a security culture that puts risk into context promotes compliance.

It’s now available for pre-order on the UK, EU or US websites.

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Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches Visualised

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To keep up to date with the recent data breaches, one can use DataLossDB. It is a research project aimed at documenting known and reported data loss incidents world-wide.

For something more visual, Information is Beautiful presented world’s biggest data breaches as bubbles of various size depending on the amount of records lost. Short stories and explanations are also available for some of the incidents.

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For real-time information, Google developed the Digital Attack Map. It is a live data visualization of DDoS attacks around the globe, built through a collaboration between Google Ideas and Arbor Networks. The tool surfaces anonymous attack traffic data to let users explore historic trends and find reports of outages happening on a given day.

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Information Security E-Learning Part 2

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In my previous post I discussed free online courses in information security. Here  I would like to share a few more resources.

Read the rest of this entry »


NextSec 2014 Cyber Security and Technology Careers Fair

The 2014 Cyber Careers Fair event registration is now open.

If you are thinking about a Career in Cyber Security or Technology then why not come along and meet prospective employers and training providers. This is a great opportunity for you to find out what employers are looking for in the graduate market, ask questions in a relaxed environment to HR and junior professionals recently hired by these employers, and to grow your network!

Exhibitors confirmed: KPMG, PWC, Citi Group, Morgan Stanley, Lloyds Banking Group, BP, Microsoft, HP, BAE Systems, Royal Signals – British Army, Cyber Security Challenge and (ISC)2.

Exhibitors invited and to be confirmed soon: EY, Goldman Sachs, AXA, Shell, Royal Bank of Scotland, BT, Lockheed Martin UK, HMGCC, and GCHQ.

Date: 30 October 2014 from 10:30 to 16:30 (GMT)

Location: University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6UW

Visit our website www.nextsec.org and watch a short video of last year’s event.

Please use the link below to register for a free ticket to attend and meet employers and HR teams from the participating organisations.

Eventbrite - NextSec 2014 Cyber Careers Fair


Security in the Energy Sector

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Another successful event organised by NextSec and hosted by KPMG.

Great speakers and fantastic networking opportunities for junior security professionals.

I feel very proud to be a NextSec committee member.


Won the UK Cyber Security Challenge

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I participated in UK Cyber Security Challenge.

Our university team won the competition.

It was an interesting experience and through teamwork we solved all the challenging puzzles other universities had submitted.

Try to crack Christmas Cipher 2012 to practice for upcoming UK Cyber Security challenges.


Governance, Risk and Compliance in the Cloud research project

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A major UK-based telecommunications company proposed to conduct a joint research  with MSc Information Security students at UCL.

The use of cloud computing as a way of providing and consuming on-demand, pay-as-you-consume ICT service has revolutionised the industry.  Services like Amazon EC2 have seen a huge increase in its revenue. However, currently it is the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are leading the way in the use of these public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings. 

The company envisages that as these services become more mature and secure, they will be adopted and used by more “traditional” enterprises like the finance, health and government sector.

Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) plays a very important role in the IT policies of these institutions and as such, for any solution to be adopted by them, these aspects of the IT policies will have to be considered.  Several initiatives have been started to address this issue. The Cloud Security Alliance’s  GRC Stack is one of the most mature and accepted initiative in this area. It consists of four main stacks – Cloud Controls Matrix, Consensus Assessments Initiative, Cloud Audit and Cloud Trust Protocol.

It was very interesting to participate in the series of workshops to investigate how  this framework would impact and be used by the company. This helped me to learn a lot about the telecoms industry and the way they are adopting cloud technologies in a secure way.