Infosecurity Europe 2007: Security no longer wedded to IT department

Security is increasingly likely to end its marriage with IT to go professional, according to research published this week.

Data security is now a profession in its own right, increasingly divorced from the IT department, according to research unveiled at the InfoSecurity event in Olympia.

(ISC), the non-profit body for the certification of information security professionals, used the conference to outline the findings of a survey it conducted with IDC into perceptions of changes in the industry's structure.

"Security professionals are now reporting more and more to the chief risk officer or to the admin department rather than IT," said (ISC) director John Colley at the show."Security and IT used to be completely united under one roof. But it makes sense when you think about it. Information security is not all about IT. It's to do with things like awareness and training and reminding people of their responsibilities. After all a bank can suffer a problem with phishing attacks and the IT department can say 'The systems all work fine, so it's not my problem'. But it's certainly the bank's problem."

"We want to be a profession but don't know what to call ourselves," added Patrice MacDonald, head of global risk and Barclays Bank at the same seminar."It's hard to define what a security professional will look like further down the line as the role evolves. It's clear that a breadth of knowledge is important."

The (ISC)'s Global Workforce Trends workforce study shows people-related costs are taking up the bulk of security budgets, added Colley."Some 43 per cent of those questioned spent more on personnel last year than the year before," he said.

He said that information security professionals have been instrumental in changing the mindset of executives and "gaining management buy-in that security is an enterprise-wide problem, not just an IT issue."

"Now we must shift focus and manage information security risk as an enterprise wide problem-both a people issue and a business issue- affecting HR, financial, legal and governance and the individual operations or business lines of any organisation," he said.

Colley said that an increase in the percentage of security professionals reporting to senior management and a decrease in reporting to IT demonstrates "the criticality of information security in today's environments."

Worryingly, according to Colley, the research also shows that the level of experience among IT professionals is dropping despite the maturity of the industry."Organisations are having therefore to invest more and more in training," he said.

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