This guide is designed to help business leaders implement an effective program to govern information technology (IT) and information security. Our objective is to help you make well-informed decisions about many important components of governing for enterprise security (GES), such as adjusting organizational structure, designating roles and responsibilities, allocating resources (including security investments), managing risks, measuring results, and gauging the adequacy of security audits and reviews. The intent in elevating security to a governance-level concern is to foster attentive, security-conscious leaders who are better positioned to protect an organization's digital assets, its operations, its market position, and its reputation.
Be forewarned—security is a relatively new area of governance for most organizations. It can be complicated for newcomers to IT and information security. Although the U.S. government has encouraged executives to take a more active role, many still do not understand that security requires action at the governance level. Based on organizations' growing dependence on IT and IT-based controls, information and IT security risks increasingly contribute to operational and reputational risk. Leaders must understand the legal, technical, managerial, and operational considerations that converge in an enterprise security program (ESP). Reading short executive summaries will not suffice. As with audit and compliance responsibilities, boards and senior officers need to thoroughly understand effective enterprise security governance and how to bring it about. For instance, beyond comprehending organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities, leaders need to understand the more detailed responsibilities and tasks required to develop and operate a sustainable security program. Tackling GES is complex, and requires learning information and knowledge that is missing in many organizations today.
The GES Implementation Guide provides such guidance. The articles move from a general introduction and overview to a detailed explanation of how to implement a governance-based ESP.
Article 1: Characteristics of Effective Security Governance presents eleven characteristics that answer the question "How would I know effective security governance if I saw it?" It compares and contrasts both effective and ineffective security governance actions and describes ten key challenges that leaders need to anticipate and address.
Article 2: Defining an Effective Enterprise Security Program defines the components and sequence of activities in an effective ESP. It is important that senior leaders understand the order and results of needed activities. They also should understand the roles and responsibilities of personnel involved in executing these activities. Sample activities include developing top-level policies, creating and maintaining asset inventories, and determining security inputs to the enterprise risk management plan.
Article 3: Enterprise Security Governance Activities elaborates on the governance-based activities necessary to achieve and sustain an ESP. It describes the roles of the board risk committee and senior management (C-level or equivalent).
The series of articles builds on earlier work [Allen 05, Westby 05, Westby 04b] (see the references) and assumes that leaders are on the path to implementing a governance- and enterprise-based approach to security for their organizations.