Contributor:
Andrew Avanessian
June 13th, 2017

The culture shock (Part 1)

In this blog post, I want to share some of my experiences on how company culture can kill a security project, especially when removing admin rights.

Understanding the nuances of company culture is crucial to the success of this type of project – or for that matter any project. I have seen company culture inhibit both innovation and change. People’s natural response is to resist change, and this is no less true in the area of computer security, as users almost universally perceive security as an inconvenience which gets in the way of their user experience. However, it does not have to be this way.  Security should be an enabler, the balance between security and freedom can be achieved if done correctly.

I have implemented Defence in Depth security strategies in a whole host of organizations, from those with just a few employees to global enterprises with half a million employees. As you can imagine, the gulf between these cultures is exponential. Obviously, this can affect what can be achieved, and how to go about doing it. Before embarking on a project of this sort you need to understand the organizational culture as this will drive how the project will be conducted.

The culture of a business determines how the employees and management of a company behave. For instance, to what extent do employees:

  • Help one another and contribute to teamwork?
  • Co-operate to achieve common goals?
  • Respect each other?
  • Understand the work of colleagues in other departments?

If the answers to the above are positive then it’s likely that your company has a healthy culture. This will make the project easier to implement, as employees will strive to understand why the project is being run.

If the answer is negative, employees may be defensive, unreasonable, have unrealistic expectations, or be aggressive. IT is likely to struggle to get users on side with any new project. However, all is not lost, for with the right solution, implementation plan, and communication approach, it is possible to make the project a success. However, it will take a little longer and need more care and attention.

The political and cultural challenges of implementing DiD can be hard to overcome, if not tackled in the correct way. I cannot stress enough how important this stage is to the success of your project. This and this alone could be the downfall of the project. Consequently, I place a significant emphasis on user education and communication.

It is expected that users will accept change if it is communicated well, allowing them to understand the benefits. This will help minimize helpdesk support incidents related to the removal of elevated rights. It’s also important to set up a feedback mechanism (e.g. Intranet, E-mail, nominated contact) for questions and answers.

For more information on how to achieve admin rights removal in your organization, you can check our my book,  The Endpoint Security Paradox, available on Amazon <click here>

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