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January 2018

Security industry needs to accentuate the positive

I was intrigued by a couple of tweets posed from the IRISSCON Security conference in Dublin by Irish journalist Gordon Smith that seemed to offer a slightly different perspective on the much discussed subject of IT security. I say “discussed”, but IT security is often “screamed” via headlines or communicated via very loud missives of doom delivered from on high by the experts. Smith was referring to a talk at the event by sociologist and cyber expert Jessica Barker, founder of RedactedFirm, who also runs cyber.uk. Quoting her presentation, he wrote: “If you want people to take an action, tell them most other people are doing it. Cyber security pros often do the opposite, shouting about how bad everybody behaves.” A blog summarising the content of the event highlighted Barker’s argument that it made sense to concentrate on people’s optimism bias and focus on the positives. “It’s hard to beat the optimism out of people using facts,” she said. “It’s more useful to harness that optimism. Optimism makes people try harder. Highlight ...

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