Perspectives on Application Security and Risk Management

In my last blog post I discussed information security risk management and why the financial services sector aggressively adopted the practice. My recommendation was that the healthcare industry segment needs to follow suit to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their information security programs. It is refreshing to see evidence that this is taking place. Last week at OWASP’s AppSec USA conference some leaders from the healthcare sector shared their perspectives on information security risk management.

The panel session, entitled “Characterizing Software Security as a Mainstream Business Risk,” represented application security and risk management experts and executives from both the commercial and public sectors, including: Tom Brennan, CEO for Proactive Risk and OWASP Board Member; Ed Pagett, CISO for Lender Processing Services; Richard Greenberg, ISO for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; and John Sapp, Director of Security, Risk and Compliance for McKesson.

Rather than focusing on technical issues associated with application security, which you might expect at an OWASP conference, the panel focused on the discussion of risk and the build out of risk management programs. Much of the discussion centered on how the key drivers for risk management needed to be expressed in business terms such as patient care outcomes, customer satisfaction as well as revenue and profit.

Greenburg, from the public healthcare sector, said that for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, “It’s all about getting straight to patient care. The department doesn’t really care about IT nor understand what application security is. They can, however, understand risk in the context of their business; how an application security program can help or hinder them from providing the best care possible.” Information Security Blog

Sapp from McKesson continued, “When working through the development of our risk management program, we looked at how our application security programs are helping us to achieve our business objectives. Of course, this doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to technology and security such that we put the business in harm’s way; we certainly don’t want to facilitate a breach. But, a deep dive into the technology isn’t the discussion we were having during our risk management program planning; we left that discussion for the security operations team to engage in outside of the risk management program discussions.”