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Awash in bad data

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BOSTON — The security industry has done a poor job of finding ways for companies to measure their security, but that does not mean that collecting data is not valuable, the former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's cyber group told attendees at the SOURCE Boston conference on Thursday.

Amit Yoran, CEO of security firm NetWitness and the former director of the National Cyber Security Directorate at the DHS, criticized today's risk management practices. The security industry is awash in bad data, and companies that attempt to use the metrics could take the wrong actions, he said.

"When you are trying to boil a very complex topic into ... a discrete number to management, you end up driving organizational behavior toward bad metrics," Yoran said.

Yet, foregoing data collection is not the right path, either.

"Rather than say, 'Don't measure any data, because it will backfire,' we need to measure everything," he said. "Once you have the metrics, you can analyze the data in different ways," and find those that actually help the company minimize risk.

The process requires that executives work with their security group to find the right way to measure security for that specific company, he said.

"The security culture has to be set by the executives," Yoran said. "Set the expectations that a lack of due care is not going to be tolerated."

This article originally appeared in SecurityFocus.

Copyright © 2009, SecurityFocus

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