Infosec Europe 2011 – worrying trend

Every Infosec (the Information Security show in London) seems to have have a theme. It’s not planned, it just happens. Last year it was encrypted USB sticks; in 2009 it was firewalls. 2011 was the year of standards.

As usual there were plenty of security related companies touting for business. Most of them claimed to do everything from penetration testing to anti-virus. But the trend seemed to be related to security standards instead of the usual technological silver bullets. Some of the companies were touting their own standards, others offering courses so you could get a piece of paper to comply with a standard, and yet others provided people (with aforementioned paper) to tick boxes for you to prove that you met the standard.

This is bad news. Security has nothing to do with standards; proving security has nothing to do with ticking boxes. Security is moving towards an industry reminiscent of Total Quality Assurance in the1990’s.

One thing I heard a lot was “There is a shortage of 20,000 people in IT security” and the response appears to be to dumb-down enough such that you can put someone on a training course to qualify them as a box-ticker. The people hiring “professionals” such as this won’t care – they’ll have a set of ticked boxes and a certificate that proves that any security breach was “not their fault” as they met the relevant standard.

Let’s hope the industry returns to actual security in 2012 – I’ll might even find merit in the technological fixes.

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