System & Network Administrator /= Security Administrator

A section of a book that I have been reading (Protect Your Windows Network From Perimeter to Data by Johansson & Riley) really made me sit and think, especially since it is so personally applicable to where I am, and the organization I am with is at.  Let me just quote it for you, and let you think on it:  (I have sourced it from a sample chapter available online, found here.)

System Administrator – Security Administrator

“Making system or network administrators manage security is counterproductive; those job categories then would have conflicting incentives. As a system or network administrator, your job should be to make systems work, make the technology function without users having to think about it, making the technology transparent. As a security administrator, your job is to put up barriers to prevent people from transparently accessing things they should not. Trying to please both masters at the same time is extremely difficult. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde may succeed at it (for a time at least), but for the rest of us, it is a huge challenge. The things that will get you a good performance review in one area are exactly what will cost points in the other area. This can be an issue today because many who manage infosec are network or system administrators who are also part-time security administrators. Ideally, a security administrator should be someone who understands system and network administration, but whose job it is to think about security first, and usability/usefulness second. This person would need to work closely with the network/system administrator, and obviously the two roles must be staffed by people who can work together. However, conflict is a necessity in the intersection between security and usability/usefulness. Chances are that only by having two people with different objectives will you be able to find the optimal location on the continuum between security and usability/usefulness for your environment.”

Josh

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