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Why InfoSec fits in the save time philosophy?

In 1886, Karl Benz invented the modern car. In 1876, Antonio Meucci invented the telephone. In 1797, Nathaniel Briggs invented the washing machine. What do all these events have in common? From my perspective, Simple! All of them one way or another, allows us to save time, something that seems to be super important for us, Homo Sapiens subspecies “I have nothing to hide”. Thanks to all these guys (and obviously a few others), we now can travel faster, get in touch with our beloved ones instantly and….uhhhh…get our neighbors very angry at 11pm???

Most of the times I evaluate new inventions/solutions on the amount of time that they save to humans, which takes me to the next example: the computer! One of the greatest inventions that revolutionized human history. But let’s not take the computer as an example, but everything related, I dare to say “Let’s take technology as an example!”. It’s amazing! Can you imagine the amount of things that we can actually automate? We can check if our favorite restaurant is open without having to physically go there (and notice I didn’t say “without leaving home”). We now have robot-assisted surgeries which provide more precision and minimal invasive procedures. WE CAN EVEN GO TO THE MOON!!! (and hopefully, soon enough, Mars). We really put the machine working for us…or did we?

It’s very easy to fall for this idea because the applications of technology in our lives are infinite and technology itself shaped us becoming part of who we are. And this is absolutely incredible, but when you realize that 67% of the human population walks around carrying a smartphone, a piece of hardware with a wide range of applications capable of delivering information about any subject in real time and we just fail to use it at full (or half) capacity, you might be enlightened. Also, we now travel in our self-driving vehicles which save us a huge amount of time, so we can do what? Uh, probably spend the entire trip on Instagram watching memes of cats! Now imagine that we left the washing machine on…COMBO!!! So much time saved for nothing. But hey, at least our body is smart enough to develop a new bone 😉

The main ideas behind this inventions always amuse me, taking the self-driving car as an example, there’s a lot more precision involved which allows us to prevent accidents and consequently saving lives. But what amuses me the most is the human’s ability to twist the main purpose of something, let’s say helpful and turn it into something that lacks intellectual acuity.

Think I prove my prove my point so far, so let’s move on to something more objective, IT professionals. I had the opportunity of working with people that had the same philosophy regarding IT as me, sometimes even more defined, people that allowed me to actually grow intellectually and professionally. People that when facing an obvious problems always said first “for sure, someone already thought about this” or when facing a repetitive task were the first to say “let’s sit down and find a way of automate this, even if takes us a week”.

Six months ago, I started to work 100% on my field of expertise, IT Security, something I love for a lot of reasons but also because I think it fits in my mindset of saving time. As I specialized professionally, I always believed people around me would have this mindset even more and more built-in and matured. Well, if you also think like this…think again! The reason why I thought this is because IT Security is a sub-area of IT that changes every day which makes me always learn more and most importantly… ADAPT! This is also one of the reasons that make me enjoy this area, I need to get out of my comfort zone all the time. So I always thought that in this field people would be super dynamic and always learning which from my perspective, makes them super interesting. Turns out that they’re just people (what a surprise) who likes to be in their comfort zone. This other subspecies can sit on their chair for a full day, doing the same exact thing every single day because they know what to expect and so, they’re comfortable. Will they save time? No. So this is not IT Security or IT at all.

Shifting the focus now to InfoSec, writing policies, procedures, disaster recovery plans or {Insert name of a boring document that you think is useless}, opposite to what I heard last week, allow a business to thrive. Why? YOU SAVE TIME, allowing you to use that time in any other task that will make the business grow (for you managers, this means saving money ;)).

Short example. Let’s imagine you have one server critical to your business. For the sake of this example, let’s ignore redundancies and all the obvious and smart measures. In the same line of thought, let’s also assume that the budget is limited and no procedures (and al.) are in place. Now, one day, this server crashes. The next stage will be pretty simple. People will complain. People will shout. People will get mad. People will…well, behave like people. This is my fourth year working but I witnessed this multiple times. I even witnessed the same issue hitting the same organization more than once.

So what to do? Easy, what my mom taught me since I was a kid: learn from your mistakes. In Information Security this means to develop all those boring documents. If you can’t foresee it, should be the first thing to do after an incident in your organization. There’s no “Yeah, we’ll do it at some point”. If this strategy is in place (and most importantly, the mindset) any known incident will be treated as “just another day in the office”. No shouting involved!

Closing up, I really think Security it’s still about saving time. Every time I’m forced to do repetitive tasks knowing that they can be automated I feel like I was given a Ferrari and I’m using it as a lawn mower (+1 if you know this movie) or in other words, the money that my parents spent on my bachelor and Master was a waste. I feel like I’m getting dumber, that my brain is shrinking and for sure I feel super bored! On the other side, to keep things interesting, I have different analogies for Technology or InfoSec, some funny and some more serious.

Having said this, imagine technology or IT as a highway. The different lanes are different fields, AI, Software, Security, etc. For now, I think I’m just the new driver that drives slow and can’t decide which lane to drive in. List of the different drivers that you see in the opposite direction, driving towards the fax age (or stone age, as you prefer):

  • Social media users watching reality shows while they wait for the washing machine to finish
  • People that think the earth is flat
  • Companies that say “We’re fine, we always did it like this and survived so far”
  • People walking on the street always on their phone that end up hitting a pole
  • Companies stating “Procedures just make our business complicated” (These ones drive fast, eager to reach the stone age)
  • Me, every time I do a job where I feel that a monkey could do.
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