Analyzing Information Security Goals

Analyzing Information Security Goals

Ella Kolkowska (Örebro University School of Business, Sweden), Karin Hedström (Örebro University School of Business, Sweden) and Fredrik Karlsson (Örebro University School of Business, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0978-5.ch005
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One of the problems highlighted within the area of information security is that international standards are implemented in organisations without adopting them to special organisational settings. In this chapter the authors analyse information security goals found in hospital settings. They found that the CIA-triad fails to cover organisational specific information security goals in hospital settings. They found also that information security goals held by information security managers and business managers are not the same, implying that both these groups should be involved in designing of information security goals, in order to find information security goals relevant for the organisation. Finally, the authors found goal maps used in this study for analysis of empirical data, to be a useful tool for analysis and communication of information security goals in an organisation.
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A strong trend in information security management in organisations under the last decade has been standardization, certifications and development of best practices (B. von Solms, 2000). Consequently, information security management standards are seen as a basis for successful security management in organisations and have become widely used for security management (Siponen, 2006). The most known and widespread standard today is the ISO/IEC 17799 – Information Security Code of Practice (Freeman, 2007; ISO/IEC 17799, 2005).

Although there are obvious advantages of using international standard for security management, various researchers point out that applying such standards without enough consideration to the specifics of the organisation may be detrimental to effective management of information security (e.g. Hsu, 2009; Höne & Eloff, 2002; Siponen, 2006; B. von Solms & von Solms, 2004). Every situation requires different solutions while standards are more of a general baseline for information security. In each specific situation the special context of the IT environment have to be taken into account when the standards are applied, in order to establish unique information security requirements of an organisation (Gerber & von Solms, 2005; Hsu, 2009).

Furthermore, the literature emphasizes the importance of dialogue between information security professionals and business managers when deciding information security goals for an organization (McFadzean, Ezingeard, & Birchall, 2006; B von Solms, 2001). Information security professionals typically have technical backgrounds and focus on technical aspects of information security, while business managers are mainly concerned with managerial and organizational aspects of information security. These two different views are important to consider in establishing information security goals for a specific organisation (Rainer, Marshall, Knapp, & Montgomery, 2007). Unfortunately, many organisations apply the standards without addressing the actual security needs of the organisation (Hsu, 2009; Thomson, von Solms, & Louw, 2006).

A consequence of applying security standards without considering the organisational context is the focus on Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (the CIA-triad) as the only objectives for information security management. This means running the risk of missing specific information security goals that an organization needs. The CIA-triad has been criticized in the literature for its technical focus and ignorance of the socio-organizational context of information security management (e.g. Anderson, 2002; Dhillon & Backhouse, 2000; Trompeter & Eloff, 2001). Moreover it has been pointed out that the CIA-triad are general objectives for information security management, while information security objectives should be related to the organisational context (B. von Solms & von Solms, 2004). Therefore researchers agree that the CIA-triad should be complemented and/or re-defined; including ethical, social, and organisational aspects of information handling (Dhillon & Backhouse, 2000; Dhillon & Torkzadeh, 2006; Trompeter & Eloff, 2001).

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