CSOs say business approach is essential

CSOs need to put business needs first when going about securing their enterprises, a panel of security executives said at the RSA Conference this week.

Microsoft CSO Karen Worstell said security managers need to remember that their job is not all about defense.

"Our number one obligation is to make sure our company does great in business," she said.

People often view security as a tax or a burden, but security executives have an opportunity to show how it can be a business enabler, Worstell added.

Identity management is an area of security where businesses can see a return on investment, noted Oracle CSO Mary Ann Davidson: "There are aspects of security that are actually helping people work more effectively and are not just putting up a barrier."

Lisa "L.J." Johnson, global information security manager at Nike, said it is important that security professionals add business skills to their core technical expertise.

"Working on my business skills was very critical," she said.

An MBA, she added, "gave me a lexicon of business language" to use in speaking with corporate executives. "I could speak their language and build trust with them."

Dennis Devlin, vice president and CSO at the Thomson Corporation, said business is all about risk and that it is important for security managers to "help business executives make intelligent risk decisions."

In security, technology is important but "people and processes are probably becoming even more important," he said.

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