IT Table Stakes

IT Table Stakes

In the run up to BSides Detroit, one of the speakers pitched his talk as learning the table stakes of Linux security. This was new term for one of our younger organizers, and the organizer’s question had me thinking of blogging on it.

Table stakes in poker is the minimum amount needed to be in the game. In business, table stakes is often used as a metaphor for the minimum amount needed to enter a market. Jeff Reich (@jnreich) referred to table stakes as the minimum security required in a system on the Down the Security Rabbithole podcast. Since then, more folks have been referring to infosec table stakes.

Now it is helpful to understand technology table stakes. What is the bare minimum that a business expects from the information systems department? Maybe things like back office applications, email, Internet connectivity, and so forth. What expectations are value-add? Line-of-business apps, hopefully, along with services that differentiate one business from another in a given market.

For most any company, there will be many more systems than there are people to secure and operate them. That is the nature of technology today. The trick is to know what systems are table stakes and what systems are differentiators. Once we know that, we can automate, outsource, and minimize the time spent on table stakes. We can then align the team with the differentiators and spend the majority of the time driving business value.

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