Please make us accountable for security..

This post is a direct plea to any C level managers or other managers that control what IT people do.  We at LinuxInstall.net are tired of reading about companies like yours getting hacked.  We feel comfortable saying this because while not every industrial market has seen a break in, it's only a matter of time before they all confess.  So what can you do?

First you should hold everyone accountable for their part of your IT Security, even if they don't work for that department.  By this we mean that your developers should be held accountable to write secure code.  Your administrators should be expected to follow strict hardening standards.  Everyone else in the company should use strong passwords and be smart about what they click on while visiting a web page.  

So how do you verify that this is all being done?  Start with an audit of every one's processes which you have performed by outside security experts.  They will be able to accurately evaluate that your standards are both secure enough and being enforced.  With internally developed websites, the cost of outside code reviews should save you from having to spend the money on fraud protection for all of your customers or users.  Read the audits and ask both the auditors and internal staff enough questions to let them know you really did look at it and want more detail or clarifications.  It doesn't make you look stupid and you will earn more respect this way.  This process will also very likely end with a request for more staff, so be prepared.

For everyone, including IT, forced training about good web surfing habits and passwords are a must for every company.  Regular checks by your security team for weak passwords inside your company will help to scare people straight about the policy.

Finally, listen to your staff.  You pay them to be the experts on this.  Let them be experts.  They are the ones that should be focused on reading about the latest trends and maintaining their skills. To keep up their skills they need to go to both local and remote conferences on coding, security and things of this nature.  That means that you need to spend money on it.  The volume of knowledge around the entire security world is now beyond one person.  Your teams should be both generalists and specialists.  This will let them learn the basics and then focus on their area of interest.  When you get the request to spend money, just review and approve it on the condition of cross training their teammates.

Remember security is every ones concern.  If the company is breached bad enough, going out of business is a real possibility.  With everyone working together and working securely you can take a large step towards securing the net.

Brian Wagner

Brian started working with *nix in while a student at Kent State University in the early 90's. In 1995, as an E-Mail Administrator for Caliber Technology (now part of Fedex) he was tasked with administering Sendmail on both Slackware Linux and Solaris Systems. His first home install of Linux was MkLinux DR1 in 1996 on his 60 Mhz PowerMac. Since then Brian has been working and consulting on Linux and it's uses in the Enterprise to support everything from E-Mail, Firewalls, Web and File serving to custom cluster solutions and grid solutions. Brian has had the opportunity to work in both Fortune 500 companies and small 2 person organizations. This has given him the unique insight into the differences every size business faces.