Wednesday 17 November 2010

Security in Scotland

A topic very dear to the 7 Elements team is the development of the Information Security profession, but specifically in Scotland, and we thought it would be worthwhile posting some information on initiatives in Scotland that help with this aim, as well as discuss areas where stronger involvement from the wider industry would be welcomed. We have selected a few of the key organisations and events, but if you feel we another is key, please let us know and we'll update this post.

The Institute of Information Security Professionals, of which Rory Alsop is the Scottish chair, is providing support and guidance to universities and companies across the UK through the Graduate Development Scheme, Academic Partnerships, the Accredited Training Scheme and the IISP Skills Framework. The IISP's mission is to be the authoritative body for information security professionals, with the principal objective to advance the professionalism of the industry as a whole. Whilst the existing IISP membership in Scotland is strong I would encourage individuals and companies to visit the website or speak to representatives to understand what they can get out of membership (at all levels from student through to full membership) and more importantly for the industry what they can offer in return from their own experience or skills. The IISP always welcomes speakers who have a story to tell in the information security space, so please get in touch if you would like to present at one of our quarterly events.

Similarly, ISACA aims to define the roles of information systems governance, security, audit and assurance professionals. Through close links with local industry, ISACA Scotland provides guidance, benchmarks and effective tools for organisations in Scotland. The majority of members in Scotland have the CISA certification so here there is a very strong focus on audit and control, but we are seeing increasing numbers in security management, governance of enterprise IT and risk and information systems control. Like the IISP, ISACA Scotland would welcome guest presenters or new members - the global knowledge base and information flow are extensive and the opportunities for networking are invaluable.

The Scottish Universities, under the leadership of Professor Buchanan have created the framework for a Centre of Excellence in Security and Cybercrime in Scotland - with strong links already forming between academia, law enforcement, industry and professional bodies such as the IISP. One goal is to provide academia with a greater awareness of real world security issues and activities through a number of avenues including volunteer work, summer placements, guest lecturers etc. From the perspective of your organisation, if you find that when hiring software developers, for example, you need to give them additional training in secure development or spend resource remediating vulnerable code, the argument for providing a small amount of resource to help develop coursework in these subjects, or to provide the odd guest lecture is a very strong one. 7 Elements are strongly bought into the concept that as an industry we can make great improvements by simply providing the new entrants with the benefits of at least some of our years learning the hard way.

The e-Crime Scotland website was officially launched at the Scottish Financial Crime Group Conference on the 28th of October. Currently this has been set up with support from, and using the framework developed by the Welsh Assembly, demonstrating an excellent level of sharing of expertise and resource. This website provides a portal of information on e-crime, a reporting mechanism and is planned to develop as Scotland takes greater ownership of content.

The Scottish Financial Crime Group, under the ownership of the Scottish Business Crime Centre, has been working with law enforcement and clearing banks for the last 35 years, but more recently through the annual conferences and an active presence in many forums has been in a good position to draw on expertise from a wide range of specialist individuals and organisations to develop opportunities to disrupt the criminal element in our society. Membership of the SFCG or at the very least, attendance at the annual conference is invaluable both from a learning perspective and an opportunity to influence discussion relating to financial crime.

The National Information Security Conference is held in St. Andrews each summer and provides speakers renowned within their field, education and an excellent networking opportunity to meet like minded individuals from industry and security experts. This three day residential event attracts many security professionals who are trying to drive the industry forwards and should not be missed!

On the more technical front, the Scottish OWASP chapter, headed up by Rory McCune is a growing group of individuals from across various industries focused on improving web application security. Join the mailing list to find out about meetings, initiatives etc. The scope of interest includes everything from SCADA to online banking and from smart meters to social networking.

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