Facing Tradeoffs to Secure IT Systems

Top Northrop Grumman Technologist Mulls Turning Off the Light Switch
One of the more intriguing tradeoffs with information security is green IT, says Robert Brammer, Northrop Grumman Information Systems vice president of advance technology.IT security doesn't exist in a vacuum. The more security built into information systems, other components of that system might need to be sacrificed.

The vice president of advanced technology at one of the largest government IT integrators, Robert Brammer of Northrop Grumman Information Systems, thinks about that a lot, and says a growing challenge facing government and the private sector is providing security as pressure mounts to improve the efficiencies while limiting the costs of IT systems.

"You constantly have to evaluate risk and tradeoffs because you have competing requirements and, of course, it's not only about security.," Brammer says in an interview with GovInfoSecurity.com. "You're a CIO, you have a budget live with, you have user requirements you have to meet, you have regulatory requirement, and, of course, you have to secure the infrastructure."

One of the more interesting tradeoffs Brammer sees is between security and environmental performance known as green IT. "All security systems consumer energy," Brammer says in an interview with GovInfoSecurity.com. "If you introduce additional security systems to improve your security posture, then you have increased your energy consumption. You have to be sure that the additional energy required by security systems is, in fact, worth the trade off there. The physical analogue of this is that if you want an environmentally friendly environment, turn out the lights. If you want a safe workplace, turn on the lights."

In the interview, conducted by GovInfoSecurity.com's Eric Chabrow, Brammer also addresses:

  • IT security technologies emerging from vendors.
  • Collaboration between government and business to identify evolving cybersecurity threats and how to confront them.
  • Broadening of cybersecurity beyond what most people think as IT security into the everyday infrastructures that most people use, such as the automobile.

Brammer, at Northrop Grumman, is responsible for the overall technology strategy and independent research and development programs, technology and research partnerships, technical talent development and intellectual property management. He previously served as the chef technology officer at the information systems unit. Before joining Northrop Grumman, Brammer worked at NASA, where he focused on the development of real-time software for tracking command, telemetry and communications for Apollo and Skylab manned spaceflight missions.

He holds a bachelor degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan and master and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Maryland.

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