This week I took some time to speak with Farhad Tajali about his work on data and analytics in security operations. Farhad, like many security professionals, has had an interesting path to the security field. Fahad has worked in physical security for over 15 years. He currently serves as a Manager in Corporate Security Operations for Netflix. He originally pursued information systems in college and shortly after he spent several years in the information technology field. Currently, he is pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational change and leadership at the University of Southern California. As part of this program, he is conducting research on the utilization of data analytics by security professionals.
Mike: What got you interested in data and analytics within the scope of security practice?
Farhad: “My experience in information systems and implementation of applications to collect, analyze and report data sets helped me explore what data collection and data analysis means in the physical security field. In my previous position as a director of global security information systems, I helped implement a security metrics program for multiple security teams globally, with over a thousand security staff. This experience put me in the driver seat of data collection and analysis. I also discovered the lack of security metrics standards in our field and the lack of knowledge in utilizing data to inform decision making by fellow security professionals.”
Mike: What are you hoping to accomplish through your research?
Farhad: “My goal for this research is to answer several research questions on how security professionals utilize data analytics and what are the assets and barriers in utilizing data analytics, if any. I am using Clark and Estes’ gap analysis framework of knowledge, motivation and organizational influences (KMO) to conduct this research.”
Mike: Why is data so important? What value does it add to a security program?
Farhad: “As research indicates, measurement is a key driver in performance. Therefore, collection, analysis and reporting of data is part of measurement and is directly related to gaining business intelligence. In a security program, utilization of data analytics enables such measurement to show the effectiveness of a program, identify risks and performance trends, including gaps and demonstrate return on investment. It allows security organizations to tell their story better, something I believe we lack in our field.”
Mike: How can data become actionable intelligence?
Farhad: “Collection of data alone does not mean anything and cannot be used to inform decisions. Once data is collected, the next step is to organize and combine data with understanding of the situation through analysis to yield information. This is done by synthesizing the information, applying judgement, and weighing metrics of possible solutions, at which point this information can become actionable knowledge. Finally, actionable knowledge can inform security professionals’ decisions.”
Mike: How do you hope your research will help inform security practice and improve security program development?
Farhad: “I am hoping to answer the key questions of this research by exploring both assets and barriers to utilizing data analytics by security professionals, being knowledge, motivation or organizational influences. With the answers in hand, perhaps the field and prominent security organizations such as ASIS, ISMA, SEC and others can carry out additional broader research on this topic and put programs in place to address the gaps.”
Mike: Where can people connect with you, and follow your research?
I want to thank Farhad for the interview. Data is a passion of mine in security practice. What are your thoughts? How do you use data in your operations? How does data impact the maintenance of your secure environment? Join the conversation in the comments below. Also, please like, follow, and share to support The Proactive Security Blog.