Home page logo

basics logo Security Basics mailing list archives

Re: CISO/Security Team roles and functions
From: "Sergii Khomenko" <sergey.khomenko () gmail com>
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2008 18:51:35 +0200

Hi Soul,

I recently (few monthes) joined information security management unit
in telecommunication company and also had to go through the
roles/responsibilities study. Here is what I found in CISSP all-in-one

The Data Owner
The data owner (information owner) is usually a member of management who is in
charge of a specific business unit, and who is ultimately responsible
for the protection
and use of a specific subset of information. The data owner has due
care responsibilities
and thus will be held responsible for any negligent act that results
in the corruption or
disclosure of the data. The data owner decides upon the classification
of the data he is
responsible for and alters that classification if the business need
arises. This person is
also responsible for ensuring that the necessary security controls are
in place, defining
security requirements per classification and backup requirements,
approving any disclosure
activities, ensuring that proper access rights are being used, and defining user
access criteria. The data owner approves access requests or may choose
to delegate this
function to business unit managers. And it is the data owner who will
deal with security
violations pertaining to the data he is responsible for protecting.
The data owner,
who obviously has enough on his plate, delegates responsibility of the
maintenance of the data protection mechanisms to the data custodian.

The Data Custodian
The data custodian (information custodian) is responsible for
maintaining and protecting
the data. This role is usually filled by the IT or security department, and the
duties include performing regular backups of the data, periodically
validating the integrity
of the data, restoring data from backup media, retaining records of
activity, and
fulfilling the requirements specified in the company's security
policy, standards, and
guidelines that pertain to information security and data protection.

The System Owner
The system owner is responsible for one or more systems, each of which may hold
and process data owned by different data owners. A system owner is
responsible for
integrating security considerations into application and system
purchasing decisions
and development projects. The system owner is responsible for ensuring
that adequate
security is being provided by the necessary controls, password
management, remote
access controls, operating system configurations, and so on. This role
must ensure the
systems are properly assessed for vulnerabilities and must report any
to the incident
response team and data owner.

The Application Owner
Some applications are specific to individual business units—for
example, the accounting
department has accounting software, R&D has software for testing and
and quality assurance uses some type of automated system. The
application owners,
usually the business unit managers, are responsible for dictating who
can and cannot
access their applications (subject to staying in compliance with the
company's security
policies, of course).
Since each unit claims ownership of its specific applications, the
application owner
for each unit is responsible for the security of the unit's
applications. This includes testing,
patching, performing change control on the programs, and making sure the right
controls are in place to provide the necessary level of protection.

The Security Administrator
Anyone who has a root account on Unix or Linux systems or an
administrator account
on Windows or Macintosh systems actually has security administrator rights.
(Unfortunately, too many people have these accounts in most environments.) This
means they can give and take away permissions, set security
configurations, and mess
everything up if they are having a bad day.
However, just because a person has a root or administrator account does not mean
they are fulfilling the security administrator role. A security
administrator's tasks are
many, and include creating new system user accounts, implementing new
security software,
testing security patches and components, and issuing new passwords.
(The security
administrator should not actually approve new system user accounts. This is the
responsibility of the supervisor.) The security administrator must
make sure access
rights given to users support the policies and data owner directives.

The Change Control Analyst
As someone wise once said, the only thing that is constant is change. So, when
change does take place, someone must make sure it's safe. The change
control analyst
is responsible for approving or rejecting requests to make changes to
the network, systems,
or software. This role must make certain that the change will not introduce any
vulnerabilities, that it has been properly tested, and that it is
properly rolled out. The
change control analyst needs to understand how various changes can
affect security,
interoperability, performance, and productivity. Or, a company can
choose to just roll
out the change and see what happens…

The Data Analyst
Having proper data structures, definitions, and organization is very
important to a
company. The data analyst is responsible for ensuring that data is
stored in a way that
makes the most sense to the company and the individuals who need to
access and work
with it. For example, payroll information should not be mixed with
inventory information,
the purchasing department needs to have a lot of its values in monetary terms,
and the inventory system must follow a standardized naming scheme. The
data analyst
may be responsible for architecting a new system that will hold
company information
or advise in the purchase of a product that will do so.
The data analyst works with the data owners to help ensure that the
structures set
up coincide with and support the company's business objectives.

The Process Owner
Ever heard the popular mantra, "Security is not a product, it's a
process"? The statement
is very true. Security should be considered and treated like any
another business process—
not as its own island, nor like a redheaded step-child with cooties.
(The author is
a redheaded step-child, but currently has no cooties.)
All organizations have many processes: how to take orders from customers; how to
make widgets to fulfill these orders; how to ship the widgets to the
customers; and how
to collect from customers when they don't pay their bills; and so on.
An organization
could not function properly without well-defined processes.
The process owner is responsible for properly defining, improving
upon, and monitoring
these processes. A process owner is not necessarily tied to one business unit or
application. Complex processes involve many variables that can span
different departments,
technologies, and data types.

The Solution Provider
Every vendor you talk to will tell you they are the right solution
provider for whatever
ails you. In truth, several different types of solution providers
exist, because the world
is full of different problems. This role is called upon when a
business has a problem or
requires a process be improved upon. For example, if Company A needs a
solution that
supports digitally signed e-mails and an authentication framework for
employees, it
would turn to a public key infrastructure (PKI) solution provider. A
solution provider
works with the business unit managers, data owners, and senior
management to develop
and deploy a solution to reduce the company's pain points.

The Supervisor
The supervisor role, also called user manager, is ultimately
responsible for all user activity
and any assets created and owned by these users. For example, suppose
Kathy is the
supervisor of ten employees. Her responsibilities would include
ensuring that these
employees understand their responsibilities with respect to security,
distributing initial
passwords, making sure the employees' account information is
up-to-date, and informing
the security administrator when an employee is fired, suspended, or transferred.
Any change that pertains to an employee's role within the company
usually affects what
access rights they should and should not have, so the user manager
must inform the
security administrator of these changes immediately.

The Auditor
The function of the auditor is to provide a method for ensuring
independently that management
and shareholders of an organization can rely upon the appropriateness
of security
objectives as well as the information they are being provided with
regarding the status
of the organization as a whole. The auditor is brought in to an
organization to determine
if the controls that have been implemented by the administration for
either technical or
physical attributes have reached, and comply with, the security
objectives that are either
required for the organization by legislation or have been deemed
necessary by the governance
of the organization. Auditors can conduct either internal or external
auditing of an
organization and a combination of both will usually provide the most
and objective evaluation of the organization being evaluated. The
biggest concern for
auditors is the question of bias and objectivity. The use of a third
party for reviews will
typically alleviate that issue, and in some instances there are
actually legal mandates and
regulations that prevent even third-party auditors from working for
too many years in a
row with a single organization in order to prevent them from becoming
too close and
thereby compromising their objectivity in evaluations and audits.

The Security Analyst
The security analyst role works at a higher, more strategic level than
the previously
described roles and helps develop policies, standards, and guidelines,
as well as set various
baselines. Whereas the previous roles are "in the weeds" and focus on pieces and
parts of the security program, a security analyst helps define the
security program elements
and follows through to ensure the elements are being carried out and practiced
properly. This person works more at a design level than an implementation level.

The User
The user is any individual who routinely uses the data for
work-related tasks. The user
must have the necessary level of access to the data to perform the
duties within their
position and is responsible for following operational security
procedures to ensure the
data's confidentiality, integrity, and availability to others.

Why So Many Roles?
A decision maker is not the proper role for the data custodian or
system administrator
in protecting system resources. They may have the technical knowledge
of how security
mechanisms should be implemented and configured, but they should not be put into
a position of deciding how the company approaches security and what
security measures
should be implemented. Too many times companies handle security at the
level. In these situations, security is not viewed in broad enough terms.
Proper risk analysis is usually not performed. Senior management is
not fully aware of
the risks the company faces. Not enough funds are available for
security, and when a
security breach takes place, there is no efficient way of dealing with
it. As stated previously,
security should work in a top-down fashion to be ultimately successful.
A company's security is not tied only to the type of firewall
installed and the timeliness
of security patches being applied. A company is an environment filled
with various
resources, activities, people, and practices. The security of the
environment must be approached
in a holistic way, with each part of security addressed in a serious
and responsible
manner. Although most environments will not contain all of the roles outlined
previously, all of these responsibilities still must be carried out.

I hope this will help you.


On Feb 4, 2008 2:21 PM, soul <soul1273 () yahoo fr> wrote:
Hi All,
In my organization, the IT security Team is in charge of risk management, security policies, and 
administration/management of access, rights and authorization for in some applications (SAP, SWIFT,...)and Firewals 
administration for traffic authorization on the network. But the new network division chief said that the security 
team should only provide security policies but not firewalls administration. He want the network team be in charge of 
the Firewalls administration. He said firewalls administration is operational security and should be perform by 
network team. But, I respond to him that there is need of segregation of duties and responsibilities. the Firewalls 
are installed by Network team but the administration of firewalls is perform by IT Security team like for the 

What can or should be the roles and functions of a security team in an organization?
There is a confusion concerning some terminologies: OPERATIONAL SECURTY, SECURTY ADMINISTRATION,....

thank you.

Ne gardez plus qu'une seule adresse mail ! Copiez vos mails vers Yahoo! Mail http://mail.yahoo.fr

  By Date           By Thread  

Current thread:
[ Nmap | Sec Tools | Mailing Lists | Site News | About/Contact | Advertising | Privacy ]