Security Bytes

Mar 13 2012   1:37PM GMT

Information security roles and the cloud



Posted by: Marcia Savage
Tags:
cloud
information security roles
IT
Jerry Archer
Jim Reavis
Randall Gamby
RSA 2012

A recurring theme I hear at conferences is that security teams can’t fight the inevitable shift to cloud computing, and instead need to figure out ways to adapt. This message was echoed at RSA Conference 2012, where a panel of CISOs urged the industry to get ahead of the cloud trend and ensure cloud services are adopted securely.

With its potential to slash IT costs, cloud computing is driving fundamental change in organizations, said Jerry Archer, senior vice president and CISO at Sallie Mae. “Everyone in this room will be impacted by it,” he told attendees.

That got me thinking: How will information security roles change as cloud computing becomes more prevalent in the enterprise? Do security pros need to worry about looking for other lines of work as security responsibilities shift to public clouds?

Industry experts I talked to see security pros continuing to play an important role as cloud adoption accelerates. After the RSA panel, Archer told me that security pros may need to acquire additional knowledge, for example in the area of contracts and law. But security is necessary and those with security expertise become “the gatekeepers” in this new IT environment, he said.

Cloud Security Alliance Executive Director Jim Reavis said security roles will change depending on the organization – whether it’s a cloud provider or cloud consumer. Providers will need to be able to provide the whole stack of security expertise and technologies while consumers will be looking to leverage higher layers of the cloud stack – SaaS and PaaS. For security pros working at organizations that are cloud consumers, this will mean a shift away from operational skills to application skills and closer work with business units, he said.

“I don’t think IT teams or security teams will disappear because of cloud,” Reavis said. “If you’ve got security expertise, you’ll be well employed for many years to come.”

Randall Gamby, information security officer for the Medicaid Information Service Center of New York (MISCNY), told me he sees security’s role falling in the vendor management space when it comes to cloud. Security professionals need to help organizations ask the right legal and technical questions of a cloud provider to ensure their data is protected.

“Being able to set up criteria to judge a cloud vendor and understand not only the services it offers, but the risks it may pose is important,” he said.

How do you think information security roles will change as cloud services become more prevalent? Leave me a comment below.

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