By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Network security is an important focus for any organization as the network manages so much of what you do every day. You no longer only use the network for simple processes. Today, it manages your information, communications, processes and even your scheduling and phone calls. This is all meant to promote more efficiency and productivity within your environment, yet it can also be a nightmare for those who have to protect the network.
Your network truly manages your most valuable assets: your corporate data and your reputation. Network security not only has to adhere to your cultural demands of protecting your brand, it must also protect all of the information and processes you rely on for everyday business. The right network security can enable key business initiatives such as virtualization and cloud computing, while also significantly lowering operating costs.
To drive effective network security, however, you need to have total corporate buy-in or your processes are at risk of failing. One way to measure whether or not you have achieved this buy-in is to determine if your colleagues in other departments understand what security does for your organization.
According to Forrester Research (News - Alert), roughly half of all CISO or equivalent roles reporting directly to C-level executives, yet many of these executives are still struggling to understand and articulate how network security supports the organization as a whole. While it is true that operational metrics and compliance repots can reflect overall performance to an extent, the scope of such measures is truly limited.
As a result, network security professionals should rely on a framework to evaluate the process maturity of all functions for which his or her department is responsible. By measuring process maturity, it takes the conversation away from the technology world and presents an assessment of how well you can approach your different responsibilities.
To make this happen, be sure your network security explanations are put into perspective. In other words, they should be clear and objective and should not include jargon that does little more than confuse the audience. Keep in mind that the overall assessment should produce the same results, regardless of who conducts it as that measures the true value of your network security processes.
At the same time, keep it process-oriented and uncomplicated. As your network security relies on technology, focus on the process for evaluating, selecting, deploying and monitoring the technology, not the specifics of the tool itself. This allows you to keep the process simply so the true value can be measured by all individuals, whether they are experts in network security or not.