October 13

Are you making it easier for people to do their jobs?

If you have heard me speak publicly, you know I advocate that the role of a security professional is to make it easier for others to do their jobs – while protecting information.

To be clear, this does not diminish network security, network operations or anything of the sort. That directly supports my point: done properly, the network operates in a way that does not impose a burden on users.

While at the “Apple Festival” last weekend, we took time to visit one of my favorite exhibits – a museum of working, but retired, farm equipment. Much of it is from turn of the century through the 1960s. Some of the equipment was routinely used in the act of farming and other support roles until the 1980s and 1990s.

I can’t explain why, but I have always been drawn to pickup trucks, tractors and flashlights. So to see a working series of tractors far older than I is simply amazing. As a kinesthetic learner, I am immediate transported back in time – and allow myself to be fully absorbed in the moment. I love learning. Period. But I really love learning about history – and specifically how improvements shifted the way things were done.

That brings us back to security. I have a sense that many organizations have lost sight of what they do, what they provide. The recent break-in and burglary of our RV put us in contact with a lot of different organizations. The responses have been interesting- and illuminating. And when the emotion has had a chance to subside a bit, I’ll post a transparent account of what we learned. What I can share today is that many organizations have lost a sense of who they are, what they do and who they serve.

But it is not too late!

Last Sunday, I watched simple -yet powerful and impressive — machines in action. What struck me most was the fact these machines were designed and used to make it easier for people (farmers, in this case) to do their jobs. It allowed them to do more with less, expand their farms, provide for more people or make more money with the resources they had. These simple machines (especially by today’s standards) were powered independently, easy to understand, use and repair. Did I mention they still work?

In fact, these machines were so simple that my five year old could quickly and easily understand what they were, what they did and how they worked. Can you say the same about the way information is protected in your organization?

The more we travel, the more I meet with people who explain their elegant laptop encryption solutions, extravagant VPNs and others measures to protect information. But when I have the opportunity to work with the people upon whom these ‘solutions’ are inflicted, I find that the solutions were not designed and implemented with people in mind; as a result, it actually makes it harder for people to do their jobs. This brings the unintended consequence of further disconnecting people from their responsibility to protect information – and ultimately creates more risk that is more difficult to assess, measure and manage.

I wrote Into the Breach to present a straightforward solution that any organization can use to make an immediate difference in the way people protect information. We are launching the Protecting Information Program to provide the additional guidance, insight and accountability people need to make the shift. I look forward to the opportunity to meet and support your efforts to make the change and join me in the challenge to change the way people protect information.

Until then, when you can, go check out some old farm equipment – and notice how it made it easier for people to do their jobs. Then ask yourself a simple question: is the solution I am working on going to make it easier for people to do their jobs?


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