We all have too much stuff already. Christmas adds to that. For most of our species’ history, the most pressing question has been how to get things. Today, it has become how to get rid of things. Our cities are crowded and so are our homes. Everyone knows this, yet everyone still wants to give their loved ones more stuff for Christmas - more stuff they will somehow have to manage owning.
Our personal computers and other electronic devices also have the tendency to fill up. So do our corporate networks. More devices, more applications, more data. More to manage.
Whether you are shopping for gifts for your family or security for your company’s data, the questions to consider are the same. How do you justify giving something to someone who already may possess too much? Does that someone have the capacity to manage your gift? Will it actually improve their life, or is your gift just another item they will worry about, or worse, quickly forget?
Three striking similarities between IT security and shopping for Christmas
Security theatre does come at a cost, and it does keep you and everyone you get involved from doing something else.
The second problem: There is just too much theatre. We all have that special Christmas face we wear when unwrapping gifts. We all know this but don’t mind. We play along because it makes for a nice holiday. Did you really wish for new socks for Christmas? That’s beside the point. All we really want is a nice evening, and a little theatre doesn’t hurt.
Or does it? There is hardly anything to say against a little Christmas theatre. A smile does not cost anything, nor does it keep you from doing something else. But with IT security, you need to consider how to best allocate your resources. Security theatre does come at a cost, and it does keep you and everyone else you get involved from doing something more productive.
The third problem: socks. Socks – men’s socks in particular – are the passwords of IT security. We have more socks than we can keep tabs on; they all look alike; we are not really experts at keeping track of them; they are small and essential. When we don’t know what to get someone for Christmas, we often settle upon socks. They seem like a safe bet. When we don’t know what else to do with our flawed IT security, we change our password. Seems like a safe bet.
Best Practices for Christmas Shopping Can Also Improve Your IT Security
Not only are our Christmas shopping issues similar to those we have with our IT security, but so are the solutions. There are three lessons Christmas shoppers can learn from IT security and vice versa.
Passwords are like socks. You should not let them lie around.
Lesson 1: Don’t look at your potential solution as an isolated item. Consider the apartment/ house/ network in which it will be used. Consider its users. Do they need what you are about to give them? Will they have space for it? Will they benefit from it – or are they more likely to forget about it right away? Shop accordingly.
As Peter Meyer, Head of Cyber Security Services in the eco Association, advises, “Don’t only look at now – look into the future, too. Choosing a security solution should be based on the service of support.” As a result, before committing to a particular solution, you should find answers to questions like:
- How long until you get security updates?
- How fast will you get them?
- How easily can you get them deployed?
Lesson 2: Don’t buy your potential solution just because it’s that time of year and everybody is doing it. Don’t let seasonal emotions overrun your rationale. If the gift/solution you are considering feels like something that simply lets you tick off a box on your to-do list, you probably should keep looking.
Meyer explains that “each company has its own demands on its security solutions – make sure that you gather all your individual requirements and identify possible dependencies before choosing a security solution. Otherwise you might get a nasty surprise down the line.”
Lesson 3: Don’t let your socks/passwords lie around. Just as it’s a good idea to toss your dirty socks in a hamper to shield them from others’ eyes (and noses), your passwords should remain hidden. However, someone stumbling upon your password arguably could do a great deal more damage to your data than a grubby sock might wreak upon your reputation.
In any case, whether you’re shopping for IT security or gifts to put under the tree, remember that it pays to be thoughtful. Don’t panic and buy socks.