Information Security Governance Framework
Faculty of Informatics
Executive Research Director
InfoCom Research, Inc.
Senior Project Manager
Information Security Research Group
Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.
Information Security Center, Security Solutions Unit,
Graduate School of Commerce and Management,
Many companies, especially Japanese companies, have
implemented information security with bottom up approach, starting
from implementing piece by piece security controls. As increase the
number of information security incidents and spread its impact,
companies have implemented many measures in the wide spectrum,
from technical counter measure systems (firewalls to protect internal
network) to security management.
Japanese government has introduced compliance schemes for
protecting privacy data and computers from illegal access. In
addition, Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI)
proposed private companies to enhance information security
governance capabilities with the tools such as “Information Security
Report Model” (here after IS for ‘Information Security’), “IS
Management Benchmarking” and “Business Continuity Planning
Guide (BCP)”. IS Management System (ISMS) certification, IS
Auditing and IS Rating scheme are also introduced to assure the
implementation of security.
Then, there are so many measures existing separately. Corporate
Executives (CEO and board of directors including CIO, CRO, and
CISO etc.) have come to know the amount of investment for
security measures is too large to pay.
This paper propose Information Security Governance (here in
after, ISG) Framework which combines and inter-relates many
existing information security schemes. With this ISG framework,
Corporate Executives can direct, monitor, and evaluate IS related
activities in a unified manner. 
Categories and Subject Descriptors
K.6.4 System Management: Information Systems Management
System and its Governance, K.6.1 Project and People Management :
Board of Directors and Executives responsibility and accountability,
K.6.5 Security and Protection:
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WISG’09, November 13, 2009, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Copyright 2009 ACM 978-1-60558-787-5/09/11...$10.00.
Management, Measurement, Security, Standardization
Governance standards, formal governance models, formal audit
models, governance architecture and implementation, risk
Rapid increase of computer and internet utilization in these two
decades brought the Information Society. Companies and
organizations have been eagerly utilizing computers and internet
for business. At same time, misuse of computers and illegal
conducts are increasing with the growth of computerization. IT
ability has become to store several gigabytes of data in a finger
size USB stick which can store more than million privacy data.
Once such data has been exposed, many people will be suffered
with spam mail, direct sales telephone and so on. Nowadays, we
have seen Corporate Executives of the company are apologizing
to the victims once the company exposed their information.
Information security incidents often influence to the corporate
processes and operations directly. For example, if company
develop and operate global value chain, they have to share
information assets broadly with their business partners. Definitely,
they need a secure system to share information assets to build and
maintain their competitiveness. We should understand that
information assets management should be a major element of
business strategy, and information security measures are directly
connected with the corporate value.
In addition, our business activities deeply depend on IT
infrastructure. Therefore, any IT accident (for example, business
process interruption by system trouble, or the leakage of
confidential data of the partners) may cause a great loss to the
company. There is a research that the news of IT accidents
significantly reduced the company's market value. 
On the other hand, disclosing IS related risk information is
expected to suppress negative reaction in the stock market. There
is a research to compare one company that disclosed its IT risk
through its financial statements with the other one that didn't
disclose it. The research indicated that both stock prices reduced
right after the IT accident, but the stock price of the company,
who disclosed the risks in advance, returned to the original level
after several days, while the other remained low for a long time.
It is important for Corporate Executives to take this situation
into consideration, and to review risk management processes from
the viewpoints of the information security. But most executive
regards the corporate information security measures as the
administrators' matter. Most of the companies have implemented
measures for Information Security with bottom-up approaches.
The systematic measures like ISMS are spreading, but the
executives sometimes don't have awareness of risks and measures
that should be shared with administrators and employees. In this
situation, it is difficult for the executives to carry out its
accountability on information security risk.
In Japan, a study group, sponsored by METI, had started efforts
to develop the concept of ISG. In 2005, the group made a model
of “Information Security Report”, a tool for a corporate to
explain its information security policy and related activities to
stakeholders, like a model of Corporate Social Responsibility
report (CSR report). METI has recommended this model to the
companies. Some companies published their Information Security
Reports. According to the brand assessment in an industry that
handles security products, the percentage of user companies who
positively evaluate firms that disclose a report on information
security has increased significantly since 2006.[?]
The study group also designed a concept of “Information
Security Management Benchmark”  to provide reference data
for enterprises to make sound decisions on measures and
investment of information security. The ISM-Benchmark is a self-
assessment tool to visually check where the level of the
company's security measures resides, by responding questions
about company profile and 25 items of security measures. The
number of accumulated records exceeded 17,000.
In addition, METI made a guideline for Information Security
Audit, in 2003.   There are more than 10,000 companies and
organizations during a year that use Information Security Audit.
In this paper, we propose new ISG framework for Corporate
Executives to overcome difficulties around ISM, and make clear
the relationships among ISG and related tools and programs.
2. Requirement for ISG
As we discussed our background in previous section, in most
cases corporate information security programs had started from
bottom to up. Started from the workplace, from piece by piece
security control mainly focusing on technical solution necessary
to protect departmental information assets, based on workplace
risk assessment conducted by department staffs. Later, most
organizations became to understand that there should be effective
management mechanism in place to coordinate these controls to
get more sophisticated outcomes.
Gradually, most organizations became aware of the fact that
these sets of bottom-up security programs might not be able to
solve the difficulties and issues surrounding information security.
Even if they have management mechanism to coordinate these
controls, they will not be effective enough without clear
alignment and interconnection between the management
mechanisms and corporate governance mechanism.
In addition to these management mechanism, ISG, Information
Security Governance, has become recognized to be a key portion
of corporate security program, requested as a part of corporate
The word “ISG” has become familiar these days, but almost
nobody clearly knows the functions of ISG and differences
between ISG and ISM yet. Most difficulties and issues remain
From the Systems engineering perspective, ISG is, of course, a
system composed of several elements; each element has
interrelationships with other constituent elements, and pursues
common objectives as a whole. Difficulties and issues, we face to
govern Corporate Information Security, are suggesting that we
may be missing any key element of ISG, or missing key interfaces
between elements of ISG.
To recover these missing element and interfaces, and to make
governance system more effective, we would better have ISG
framework, an overall picture of ISG, in which all critical
elements explicitly defined with functions of each element, and
interfaces among elements. The framework is a kind of theoretical
model that clearly show the structures and mechanism how ISG
works, and Corporate Executives can understand how they can
map these functions and interfaces to their actual organizations.
It can be easily understood that IGS framework and its function
model must satisfy following three key requirements.
Requirement #1: ISG framework and function model should be
consistently constructed with other corporate risk governance
framework so that executives can make decisions easily and
effectively, since information security is one of the major
corporate risk areas, and management of information security risk
also should be a part of corporate risk management framework.
Requirement #2: At same time, ISG function model also need
to be capable to handle unique characteristics of information
security risk which are essentially different from other risk
categories. Mainly these essential characteristics come from the
differences between BIT and ATOM. BITs can be easily copied,
transmitted and shared around the globe instantly. Information
sharing with specific business partners may bring huge business
advantage, but at same time, single security incident may lead to
total business failure. IGS functional model needs to be capable to
govern risks in such fierce circumstance.
Requirement #3: ISG functional model should be able to
include existing information security management and control
mechanism, such as ISMS, and be able to have effective interface
with the elements of these existing mechanism.
3. Reference model for ISG
3.1 Relation between Corporate Governance,
IT Governance and ISG
Corporate governance includes all aspect of governance to deal
with every risk. Similar to the fact that corporate executives are
responsible for the corporate governance, they are also
responsible for both ITG and ISG. The relation between ISG and
ITG is not clearly defined, although information security is one of
big topics in ITG. ISG includes not only IT security but also
physical security and paper security. Thus the relation with ISG
and ITG is shown in Figure 3.1. , 
One example of the intersection of ITG and ISG in Figure 3.1
(IT security element) is that a computer access control system
which identifies the accessed personnel by ID and password and
permits him to access to protected data according to his assigned
privilege. Most of automated security controls belong to this
The other examples of non-IT of ISG in Figure 3.1 are paper
security and physical security. Paper may be printed out by use of
IT. However, paper is still used for hand written evidence for a
contract, an approval of purchase, and an entry form into a
secured server room. Those papers are stored safely and protected.
A rule for paper handling is within the responsibility of
executives. Physical security is another example of non-IT where
only restricted personnel can enter into the secured area.
Executives may ask to implement IT to restrict access to the room
with IC card and automated door.
Figure 3.1 Relation between ISG and ITG
3.2 Configuration of the ISG framework
ITG framework has been discussed in ISO/IEC 38500:2008. As
we have stated that ISG has common integral part with ITG, ISG
should be aligned with ISO/IEC 38500:2008. We propose a
new extended model for the ISG framework in Figure 3.2 based
on three requirements stated in chapter 2.
The new model consists of five components, three common
parts with ISO/IEC38500; “Direct” for guiding managements
from the viewpoints of business strategies and risk management,
“Monitor” for ensuring the governance activities visible with
measurable indicators, “Evaluate” for assessing and verifying the
results/outcomes. We extended with two new components for
Information security aspect; “Oversee” for observing and auditing
governance processes, and “Report” for disclosing the report to
the stakeholders (see Figure 3.2).
As shown in Figure 3.2, the framework includes the governing
cycle starting from “Direct,” “Monitor,” and “Evaluate” Information
Security Management (here in after ISM) process. Because ISO/IEC
27001:2005 requires “commitment to the establishment,
implementation, operation, monitoring, review, maintenance and
improvement of the ISMS”, the ISG framework should incorporate
with this requirement.
Infor mation S ecurity M anagement
Execu tiv es
Fra mewor k of in form ation
Management commitment Progress and achievement stat e of PDCA
Figure 3.2: PROPOSED FRAMEWORK OF
INFORMATION SECURITY GOVERNANCE
Note that the stakeholders may select the company as a business
partner or an investment target while taking its ISG activities into
consideration, but stakeholders is not included in the framework
model because they are not controllable.
3.3 “Direct” in the ISG framework
Information security incident response requires quick decision and
action to reduce dames or losses on information asset. “Direct” in
the ISG framework ensures good interaction between executives
and the management to implement good ISM, communication and
preparedness against potential risks. Implementation of “Direct” for
ISG is different from that of ITG, because executives should have
certain role and responsibility on ISM project. If executives think
their role is just order the management, real-time response to
information security incidents may not possible. For ISG, executives
should understand and take combination of actions to ease the
situation. It looks similar to corporate portfolio management.
“Direct” in the ISG also includes defining the scope of the ISM,
formulating a risk analysis, and allocating necessary resources.
Enacting “Security policy” for ISM is the responsibility of
3.4 “Monitor” in the ISG framework
“Monitor” of ISG includes two functions. First function is to
oversee the status of the ISMS PDCA cycle which is comparable to
that of ITG. Management should check the potential risk and assess
preparedness and counter measures put in place. If once the
allowance exceeds the limit set by executives, they should report to
the executives. Sometimes this function is automated and display to
“Dash Board” designed for executives.
Second function is to surveillance of potential Information
Security incident and accident. Real time “Monitor” is crucial to the
security and is not necessary to ITG.
3.5 “Evaluate” in the ISG framework
For “Evaluate” process, executives analyze and measure the
degree of achieving the goals from management data collected in
the “Monitor” process, and take corrective action if necessary.
Major difference from ITG, ISG requires real time decision to
minimize loss, error, or damage caused by security incidents. For
example, in case of SQL injection attack and followed modification
on corporate e-commerce web site, immediate action should be
taken by the management and its impact should be reported
immediately to the executives. Depending on the damage or impact
to corporate business, executives should evaluate it quickly and take
necessary actions on real time. Because of the nature of attacks
against the internet site, it is not possible to forecast when and how.
The early and appropriate response of executives is the key to ease
“Evaluate” will activate “Report” to stakeholder to understand
corporate security in Figure 3.2. Nowadays, many stakeholders have
strong interest in corporate security, because his stock price may be
devaluated by security incident. He would ask the company to
disclose the status of information security preparedness.
3.6 “Report” in the ISG framework
“Report” is also proposed to incorporate into the ITG framework
because stakeholders require the transparency and accountability of
Information Security. Similar to the CSR report which is used to
ensure the corporate contributing society, ISG "Report" ensures the
implemented security measures in corporate.
In the past, the occurrence of an accident or incident relating to
information security is rather small and its impact to the society is
not serious, and even such companies were not accused from the
society. However, in recent years, a privacy information exposure or
a service interruption due to system failure happened more
frequently. Stakeholders recognize that those companies have
higher risk and regard them not to trust on their business relations
unless they disclose their security problems and improvement. Thus
it is necessary to disclose activities for information security from an
"accountability" point of view so as to avoid negative hearsay and to
trust from the external stakeholders.
There are two purposes for company to disclose activities for
information security to external stakeholders. The first one is to
announce that the company fulfills its social responsibility by
reporting practical information security activities, with security
incidents if any.
The second purpose is to report activities for information security
from the viewpoint of rising corporate value. These activities can
increase the confidence of the partners and customers, resulting in
constructing a long and stable relationship with the partners as well
as in royalties from the customers. Moreover, if they implement the
strategic management on information assets, then the company's
cash flow may be increasing or stable in the future. As confidential
information including technology and know-how, customer privacy
data, and information networks configurations are strategically most
important, protecting and controlling them is being regarded as an
important business objective. As far as the corporations make no
disclosure, they rarely receive a high rating from the investors and
never obtain a resulting economic effect.
Both purposes are not always exclusive to each other. Disclosing
the security related activities is very important because it has a side
effect on raising information security awareness to employee.
Reporting to the outside “Disclosure” can be regarded as a
“promise” the company gives to the society. This is because
disclosing the activities makes it possible for every employee to be
aware that the "promise" to external stakeholders is important.
Information security disclosure does not mean to disclose
information security vulnerability. This is because if the company
disclose their vulnerability on their firewalls, company web site may
be attacked and increase risk. Companies are not required to open
their weakness to customers, partners, and outsourcers.
In the case of the disclosure from an "accountability" point of
view, it is important to provide content that allow the receivers to
check whether the information security activities are carried out as
explained. The important thing is that what information security
policy is developed, in what sort of information security process are
put in place, and what system ensures the effectiveness is all
observable. Then, disclosing item should include (1) information
security policy, (2) risk evaluation, (3) risk measures and response,
and (4) management system.
In the case of the disclosure from a "value creation" point of view,
the important thing is what kind of economic effect it produces. The
economic effect includes how much cost the information security
activities reduce through making an inventory of information assets,
the extent to which they increase the brand value as well as the trust
of the customers and partners, what economic value protected
information assets have, and how much the implementation of the
activities reduces the risk of damaging the information assets. If
those efforts are visible and accountable, investors can estimate the
corporate value highly and the stock market may give a high price
to the corporate.
According to the corporate brand assessment in an industry that
handles products relating to information security, the percentage of
user companies who positively evaluate other firms that disclose a
report on information security has increased significantly since
2006. Moreover, the former tended to give importance to the
evaluation of information security activities when selecting a partner.
Similarly, higher the company's attitude to information security
activities is, higher the user company's satisfaction is.
Table 3.1 is the example form of Information Security Report
from the trial conducted by METI in 2005. 
Table 1: Example of Information Security Report
Includes the purpose of issue of the report, cautions relating
to usage, target periods and responsible departments.
(2)Concept of Management regarding Information Security
Includes policy regarding information-security
undertakings, target scope, ranking of stakeholders in the
report and messages to stakeholders.
(3)Information Security Governance
Information security management system (e.g. placement of
responsibility, organizational structure and compliance),
risks relating to information security and information
(4)Information Security Measures Planning and Goals
Includes action plan and target values
(5)Results and Evaluation of Information Security Measures
Includes results, evaluation, information security quality
improvement activities, management of overseas bases,
outsourcing, social contribution activities relating to
information security and accident reports.
(6)Principle Focal Themes relating to Information Security
Includes internal controls and protection of personal
information, undertakings to be particularly emphasized
such as Business Continuity Plans, introduction to themes
and newly devised points
(7)Third-party Approval, Accreditation, etc. (if acquired)
Includes ISMS compliance evaluation system, information
security audits, privacy mark systems, number of persons
with information security qualifications, classification and
3.7 “Oversee” in the ISG framework
“Oversee” is a kind of auditing function to check and validate
Corporate Executives’ IS related activities. It is very important for
every organization to check its sound operation from third party
viewpoint. ISG framework will make Corporate Auditors,
independent from corporate executives, feel easier to conduct IS
related auditing with clearly defined functions which executives
expected to perform.
New ISG model, consists of DIRECT, MONITOR, EVALUATE,
OVERSEE and REPORT, occupies key position in the total ISG
system, and cover the missing functions of corporate IS initiative.
Now we can clearly see the whole picture of ISG, Information
Security Governance system, including existing approaches,
efforts and tasks. Five key functions are clearly defined, and
relationships with existing approaches are specified.
Since every function has been clearly specified, it is easy for
most corporations to check their existing functions and tasks
against new ISG model, and find missing element or interface if
any. It is also useful for most corporations to define their
functions and interfaces of their own ISG, depending on the
physical organizational structure and role and responsibility
sharing, referring this New ISG Model.
It is obvious that new ISG framework and function model
satisfies three key requirements discussed in section 2. ISG
framework has similar functional architecture with ITG, and
relevant to be consistent with other risk management framework.
Each element has designed functionalities to deal with unique
characteristics of information security related risks, and identical
interfaces with the elements of existing ISM mechanisms.
We strongly recommend that this New ISG Model is almost
indispensable for every corporation and organization to coop with
quickly changing world in Information Society. Information
Related Risk is one of the corporations’ key risk areas to be
governed and managed under the sophisticated mechanism.
Remaining studies should be focused on the relationships with
other information security models such as risk metrics, control
activity monitoring and evaluation methodologies.
It is also required to have clearly defined relationships among
existing security related programs, such as ISM benchmarking,
Assurance type IS Audit, ISMS certification scheme, and ISG
framework. We have already started to sort out relationships
among related programs in Japan.
Authors acknowledge to METI and following committee
members and who contributed to a publication in Japan (“ISG
guidance” , 2009).
- Satoru YAMASAKI, PMO, CISO Office, IBM Japan
- Mitsuhiko MARUYAMA, Partner, Deloitte Tohmatsu
Risk Services Co., Ltd.
Authors also acknowledge to Dr. Ikuo MISUMI, Director, Office
of IT security policy, METI, and anonymous contributors who
support for developing the guidance.
 Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (METI),
Guidance to Introducing Information Security Governance,
1st July, 2009 (in Japanese)
 ISACA/ITGI, Information Security Governance Guidance
for Boards of Directors and Executive Management 2nd
Edition, Mar. 2006
 E. Ohki, Framework of Information Security Governance,
Japan Society of Security Management 23rd Annual
conference, 2009 (in Japanese)
 K. Ito, T. Kagaya, Kim.K, "Information security governance
to enhance corporate value", Hitotsubashi University Center
for Japanese Business Studies / Working Paper No.91, Jan
 Kim,H., "The Effects of Prior Risk Information Disclosure
on Investors' Decision-Making: Using Cases of Revealed
Information Leak Risks.", Hitotsubashi Review of
Commerce and Management vol.2, No.2, Nov 2007
 METI, Report of Research Group on Corporate Information
Security Governance (Overview), 2005
 METI, Information Security Auditing Guideline Version 2,
2008 (In Japanese)
 Information-technology Promotion Agency, Information
Security Management Benchmark (ISM-Benchmark),
 Japan information Security Audit association
(JASA)(http://www.jasa.jp/) (In Japanese)
 ISO/IEC, ISO/IEC38500:2008, Corporate governance of
information technology, 2008
 ISO/IEC, ISO/IEC27001:2005, Information technology -
Security techniques - Information security management
systems - Requirements, 2005