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Computers at Risk: Safe Computing in the Information Age
The framework within which an organization strives to meet its needs for information security is codified as security policy. A security policy is a concise statement, by those responsible for a system (e.g., senior management), of information values, protection responsibilities, and organizational commitment. One can implement that policy by taking specific actions guided by management control principles and utilizing specific security standards, procedures, and mechanisms. Conversely, the selection of standards, procedures, and mechanisms should be guided by policy to be most effective.
To be useful, a security policy must not only state the security need (e.g., for confidentiality—that data shall be disclosed only to authorized individuals), but also address the range of circumstances under which that need must be met and the associated operating standards. Without this second part, a security policy is so general as to be useless (although the second part may be realized through procedures and standards set to implement the policy). In any particular circumstance, some threats are more probable than others, and a prudent policy setter must assess the threats, assign a level of concern to each, and state a policy in terms of which threats are to be resisted. For example, until recently most policies for security did not require that security needs be met in the face of a virus attack, because that form of attack was uncommon and not widely understood. As viruses have escalated from a hypothetical to a commonplace threat, it has become necessary to rethink such policies in regard to methods of distribution and acquisition of software. Implicit in this process is management's choice of a level of residual risk that it will live with, a level that varies among organizations.
Management controls are the mechanisms and techniques—administrative, procedural, and technical—that are instituted to implement a security policy. Some management controls are explicitly concerned with protecting information and information systems, but the concept of management controls includes much more than a computer's specific role in enforcing security. Note that management controls not only are used by managers, but also may be exercised by users. An effective program of management controls is needed to cover all aspects of information security, including physical security, classification of information, the means of recovering from breaches of security, and above all training to instill awareness and acceptance by people. There are trade-offs among controls. For example, if technical controls are not available, then procedural controls might be used until a technical solution is found.
Technical measures alone cannot prevent violations of the trust people place in individuals, violations that have been the source of