Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Is ISO2700x Hot in UK, but Not in US?

First, something hilarious: I was teaching this brief course on logs overseas and touched upon  a  subject of ISO17799. So, having recently read how many companies in the US were ISO17799 certified, I asked my audience whether they could guess what the number was. One guy volunteered an answer, after some hesitation: "Less then 50%?"

That's "percent", folks :-)

I said to him: "You are right!" and laughed - "It is indeed less then 50!" 50 as in "count" (I read somewhere at the time that 49 companies were certified US-wide)

So, ISO17799 is hot in some countries: UK, Japan, Russia (where it is a basis for a set national standards), many others. But not in the US.

I have long been puzzled about this. What's the story?

The most likely explanation is that every security manager worth his salt read ISO17799 documents and then used the ideas and material in his own policies, procedures, etc. On the other hand, he sees no motivation whatsoever to invest in certification - since nobody is making him do it (no equivalent of a PCI auditor is standing nearby with a big axe...)

Another explanation that due to longer history of security management in the US (compared to other countries), home-grown approaches took root and no external standard will dislodge them?

Yet another hypothesis goes like this: in the US, it is more important to do a good job [managing security] than to be "standards-compliant." Is the opposite true in Europe and Asia? I dunno...

Or maybe ISO stuff is seen as "that Euro thing?" Exotic like a Hungarian chick, but just as relevant :-)

Any ideas? UK scene, any ideas? Do you care for ISO17799 at all? As a useful document to read or a something to be certified in?

Dr Anton Chuvakin