Financial Crisis & Transparency Good For Network Security

As much as I wish we'd never gotten into this US financial and credit mess, there actually may be a few bright sides to the whole debacle, and one of those could be network security. One likely outcome of the situation is increased regulation of the financial, and potentially other, industries. You can bet the pendulum is going to swing hard towards more regulation for the foreseeable future, whether we like it or not. At one point in my life a statement like that would have been something I'd never support: more regulation. But my political views about such things have changed over the past five years. I'm still very much a believer in the power of free and open markets, but we've seen the limits of their ability to self correct and contain corruption by people making a buck at others' expense. OK... back to how this all helps network security.

Love it or hate it, regulation has significantly helped improve security in our networks. SOX, GLBA and HIPAA have all created business justification for improving or expanding security and privacy in our business networks. Visa PCI (not a regulation) has also had a huge impact as well. I saw firsthand how these regulations help IT and security professionals get increased support within their companies to go out and spend money on security. Sometimes a security purchase was simply riding on long coattails and in other situations directly supporting meeting a regulation. At a minimum, regulations woke up finance organizations and the executive offices, giving them impetus to support spending more money on security. I wish I could say every security purchase made because of this was exactly what the business needed and got, but we all know that doesn't happen.

What new regulations are likely to come along? Hard to tell at this point but transparency is the new buzzword. Transparency into risks, transactions, investments, etc. And with all that transparency comes the risk this information will fall into the hands of those it wasn't intended. More encryption? More secure storage? Yes, and yes, and probably a lot more. See where am I going about regulation being good for security?

Now, will the security industry's revenues double because of all this? Very unlikely but it could keep IT security spending up while other areas are cut back. Hard to say. While there may be negative consequences to the economic downturn, security could come out of the dip doing better than when it came in.

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