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Lessons in security leadership: Jennifer Bayuk

By Mary Brandel
August 9, 2011 10:44 AM ET

CSO - The 2011 CSO Compass Award winners discuss prioritizing investments, learning lessons the hard way, and much more

Jennifer Bayuk likes to say that "any job in information security, I've had at least once." Currently an independent consultant and program director of the Systems Security Engineering program at Stevens Institute of Technology, Bayuk has previously been a CISO, a security architect, a manager of information systems for internal audits, a security consultant and auditor for one of the big four auditing companies, and a security software engineer at such industry giants as Bear Stearns and AT&T Bell Labs. Bayuk frequently publishes on information security and audit topics and has lectured at such organizations as ISACA, NIST and the Computer Security Institute.

CSO: What was the most difficult or rewarding accomplishment of your career?

Jennifer Bayuk: The most difficult and rewarding is the graduate curriculum I developed in systems security engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. I've always looked to security architecture as the ultimate solution to the majority of enterprise security problems, but when I had to sit down and teach others to do it, there was almost no material. I had to create a lot of it, and I had to make it comprehensible to others in a way that aligns well with what an engineer typically learns in engineering school. I couldn't just say, "This is how you do security," without making sure students were firmly grounded in the concepts that others are using in engineering.

Graduates have the ability to recognize and plan enterprise security architecture in a way that integrates with the rest of the technology in the enterprise. In computer science, the focus is often software and not how the whole system works. But system security engineers see problems in security as systemic issues, not just a vulnerability here or there.

What has been the biggest change to the CSO role in the past few years?

CISOs today are often charged primarily with compliance rather than security, but they are still expected to perform the security role. Yet metrics for compliance are different from those for security. Security has been perceived as a cost center, and there are a lot of challenges to showing what our value is. You might spend $5 million or $50 million on a security program and still get hacked. But in systems security engineering, we're starting to use metrics that show whether security spending is effective, and we make use of validation tests to see if you've built the system right and if it works. If you don't have these metrics, you can't show that you've achieved your goals.

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This story is reprinted from CSO, an online resource for information executives. Story Copyright CXO Media Inc., 2006. All rights reserved.
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