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Secure Reads: Outsourcing Information Security

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Outsourcing Information Security
By C. Warren Axelrod
248 pages, $85
Artech House

At first glance, Outsourcing Information Security appears to be like a well-heeled business consultant: confident, educated and promising.

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But dive in a little deeper, and you will quickly see that it's riddled with serious flaws.

The title itself is a misnomer: Outsourcing Information Security purports to address the information security issues associated with any IT outsourcing agreement--application development, help desk, etc. Yet, the author is actually attempting to bridge the two main concerns of outsourcing--the business decision and the security implication--with disappointing results. He fumbles security concepts, even those that aren't technical, which will undermine his credibility among security pros.

Outsourcing Information Security's sophomoric overview of security risks is average at best, and its discussions regarding the justification, risks, costs, benefits and evaluation of outsourcing are presented as largely autonomous from the infosecurity context. The intermediate chapters on the business decision process have some substance, but they're too little, too late. The advice ranges from useful (making sure the company you hire to assess an MSSP's security doesn't have hidden associations with it) to bizarre (providing executives, in certain situations, with bodyguards, armored cars and guarded housing).

That said, the book's combination of references and an annotated bibliography stand out as its only redeeming feature, though it certainly won't have universal appeal. Those looking for a quick overview will find them weighty and unnecessarily academic.

Outsourcing Information Security is simply too ramshackle. The reader is left hoping for an effective integration and synthesis of the security and outsourcing arenas that never materializes. If you're looking for solid advice on outsourcing, look elsewhere.

--Patrick Mueller

This was first published in March 2005

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