Always Remember the Business, InfoSec Folks

I just got out of yet another meeting with a big company partner for whom we act as an information security and threat advisor. In that meeting, I listened to a keyed-up,  hypercaffinated group of good guy security geeks tell their senior executives about the latest set of DLP controls they were putting in place. They spent 45 minutes describing packet-level checking, data flows, architecture diagrams and the technology of their solution set in painful (even for me) detail. Many of the executives were dosing lightly, while the geeks spun their techno-web. That’s when things took a turn for the worse…

The COO asked them one single question, interrupting a slide about email data flows ~ “How will this impact the business of ‘Dan’s’ group and the ‘Singularity’ project we have been working on since 2011? Doesn’t it depend on some of that data?” (**Names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty…)

Then, NOTHING HAPPENED. You could have heard a pin drop. Dead silence for close to two minutes. Finally, the COO repeated the question. Still nothing. He asked the lead geek if he knew who Dan was, and the geek said yes. He asked if Dan had been interviewed by the geeks prior to this. They said, no. The COO erupted in a rage, railing about how Singularity was the largest new line of business launch in the history of the company and how the projected income from the business would change the landscape of the firm. There were a LOT of apologies and some amount of notes taken to immediately consult with Dan. Much geek cred was lost. It will be a while before they get to present to the executives again like that. 

I tell you this story simply to remind all infosec folks about something I see all too often. It’s about the business. We are about the business. We are there to secure the business, nurture it, protect it, empower it to succeed. If that’s not where you or your team are, then you are doing it wrong. Get it right. Talk to the business. Speak their language. Give up on the “beauty of the baud” approach. Your packets and technology stack may be gorgeous to you, but if they don’t align with the business, then they won’t do anyone, including you, any good at all. Keep that in mind at all times. Also, remember to always talk to Dan ~ he’s a nice guy and he appreciates it. He can give you the answers you need and usually, he desperately wants to understand what you can do to make his project a success. Get to know all the Dan’s in your organization. They drive the world, you support them, together you build business and all of you will succeed!