Do an Internet search on the phrase “you’ve got to have a plan,” and you come up with 73.3 million hits. To do anything, it seems you have to have one.

So it is that CISOs create information security programs, because — understandably — they have to have a plan. But is the security program approach, often modeled after frameworks created by the ISO, NIST or SANS Institute the right way to go?
In a column Rafal Los, director of solutions and development for the CISO at Accuvant Inc./FishNet Security (which is about to be re-named Optiv Security), argues there’s a perception that the security program approach gets in the way of the agility and adaptability security needs.

The frameworks are either too prescriptive and don’t apply, some have found, or they’re too loose and don’t really say anything; or “sometimes they’re so long that by the time you’re done reading you forgot why you started in the first place.”

Other CISOs believe the program approach needs a lot manpower, he has found. At the same time too many rely on a magic appliance to be a shortcut to solving breach problems.

But Los argues there’s no alternative to a solid security program. “Planning, implementing then maturing and measuring are slower and more resource-intensive in the near term,” he admits, “but, ultimately, pay dividends in the long term. It just takes patience and a little experience – and if you have neither of those you can always learn directly from others before you. The alternative, sadly, is more of status quo.”

What’s your take? Has the security program approach fit your organization? If not, what have you done instead?