It Takes a Group: Advancing the concept of cyber security

When a system is simple, it is comprised of direct and uncompromising directives. Often very few of these directives are in place. The simplicity of that outlook is both the strength and weakness of that form of system. It does not account for nuance or varied types of use. Simple rules seem to focus on a yes/no mentality. Such is particularly true for security; does this meet the requirements? Anything that is not a yes is rejected for the sake of securing the system. However, variances have become necessary to allow innumerable levels of ‘maybe’ to work within a system. Technology, and in particular information technology, has been advancing at an incredible rate. To keep pace with the needs of such an industry, security has seemingly advanced as well- but that is not quite right. Regardless of how complicated the set of rules becomes, system security has only a few tasks. How those tasks are carried out can vary wildly, but any security has the same basic ideas. Reduce or mitigate risks while making them more visible to administrators, and not interfere with operations.

To accomplish that, varied approaches are used to keep the systems dynamic and operate on a level that a business or organization is comfortable with. In order to maintain that level of effectiveness, professionals need to take in a wider perspective on the situation. Systems are no longer anywhere close to being simple or straightforward. With the varied rules and aspects, systems have become rife with exploitable loopholes and caveats. Often, the most successful breaches are done using the most simple of methods. Phishing, suspicious links, Trojans, attachments, malware, adware . . . the list is nearly as endless as the advancements in IT. Security requires a far more comprehensive approach.

A less specialized view

As with any other situation, the first step is to evaluate. What are the specific risks to the system in question? Mapping, categorizing, and prioritizing your security risks is the way to understand what steps are required to minimize them. The lines of code are like any written work; they go through drafts. Create a list of your steps, and do your best to make it efficient. Never assume that the first iteration of the plan will work flawlessly, and be ready to adjust and amend the list as needed. Additional unforeseen risks or situations can rise, and you must be able to adapt to them.

One essential step that should be kept in mind at all times is the third point of all security. Nothing should interfere with the operation of the system or the business that depends on it. Doing so requires several steps such as understanding what the system must do, and ensuring that security steps are blatantly clear as well as easy to follow. Many individuals not educated in the finer points of IT will need to interface with a security system, and if it is overly complicated you will alienate them. That interferes with the business, not on a systemic level, but a human one.

Working together for a more effective system

The complicated nature of IT and security professionals is daunting to those not familiar with the fields. As such, many companies and systems in place are functional for their purpose, but security for them is woefully incomplete. The inability to defend against basic threats only makes defending against far more advanced or persistent ones difficult. For each security advancement, those looking to breach systems are seeking out countermeasures and vice versa. Consider it an intellectual arms race, both sides constantly vying for the next successful way to defeat the other. In order to create not only an effective system, but also a comprehensive one specific to the business in question, professionals need to work in tandem with the business. Each participant in this situation is an expert at a portion of the situation.

The businessman knows what he needs the system to do both for the company, and for the user. An IT expert will know how to make a system work to fulfill those needs, once made aware of them. The security expert understands the risks and ways to circumvent data protection problems with keeping information from being breached. Working as a team, all parties can know what is required, and how to optimize the system for the tasks required. The result should be a functional system that performs what the business needs with a minimum of hassle, while being well-protected against unauthorized use of information.

Each group involved in the architecture of a system and the security it depends on should be able to describe the portions simply. Short, clear explanations demonstrate an understanding of the tools employed, and are easy to describe to others. Users of the system should not need to take long courses to understand how to operate the system, much less safely. The constructed system must follow the same basic concepts of security; mitigating or avoiding risk without compromising the functionality of the system. To function well, it must be unobtrusive, and work in a way that is not baffling to any user.

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