September 12, 2008 Leave a comment
To many practitioners, information security is a form of risk management. Since it is impossible to protect a complex system against all conceivable security threats, an approach based on the assessment of risk is employed to distinguish between the threats that are worth worrying about and those that aren’t. But what exactly does the concept of risk represent? How does one measure (never mind control) risk? This is an age-old problem mankind has been struggling with for centuries.
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk is a historical overview of the advances made in the struggle to measure and control uncertainty. While the author’s viewpoint is primarily from the perspective of risk to investments made on the stock market, the lessons learned are of value to security professionals as well. Contrasted with the sophisticated methods employed by financial institutions controlling their exposure to the unpredictable ups and downs of the global economy, the risk management methods currently available to security managers seem crude and laughable in comparison. If we are to make any headway in the battle against identity theft, data breaches, malware, and all the other information security woes that currently plague us, we need better risk management tools, so that our limited security budgets can be spent more effectively.