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I spent the last week in a semi-rural college town, celebrating a dear friends’ wedding. Since I was actually away from work, naturally I mused on it, and my relationship to it, particularly in contrast to what I was seeing in my current environment. I went down the well-trodden path of comparing the semi-rural college town lifestyle to the urban / suburban one many of us have. After a few short day dreams, I started pondering how this specific trite pattern feels like an echo of the security conversations I’ve heard and participated in.

Most of us can automatically identify the generic city vs. country trade offs I was thinking about, they are so systematized. This is a topic that has been written about, sung about and used as the basis of TV shows. We all know that it’s a very superficial assessment, which routinely plays off two themes against each other.  Typically the contrast is presented as a higher community-based / non-material quality of life versus a higher personal opportunity / material quality of life. Routinely the story is cast to be about finding and deciding which values are more important to you. Do you want “opportunity” to do more, make it big, etc.; or do you want the community-based values of non-urban environments? This particular systematized contrast can create some significant partnership barriers between the population bases, due to the freight of values baked into it; and the sense of either / or instead of the ability to generate an “and”.

So, how does this relate to security? It’s the same either way. Regardless of how many articles or podcasts I hear with security people saying that we need to enable the business, or our job is to say “Yes, but…”; the general perception of security (as not-so-scientifically proven by hallway and airplane conversations) is still that it is a trade off. The specific values that come up are between speed, often cast as flexibility (which may be a code word for opportunity); and safety (cast remarkably like stereotypes of small communities, where everyone knows your business and has an impact on it.)

This is an emotionally laden perception; a lot like the trope of country vs. city; and we would all benefit from being able to have more nuanced conversations. This is something I think is starting to get some traction as an idea in the community – how we help move the conversation from stereotypes to more in depth and get broad conversations started on the wide ranging spectrum of what it means to be more secure. Many security folk reference how seat belts and cigarettes were moved across the values spectrum; and how that is a model for security to follow. I started wondering what other opportunities there are for changing that perception.

Since I was on holiday, these will lean toward whimsical, and I hope they both amuse you, and spark your interest in adding to the list, or figuring out how to make them real.

  • A TV show, about a cast of security people solving problems in a current or future environment. (Shamelessly modeled after CSI or StarTrek and its impact on interest in space exploration and technology).
  • Product placement for security companies with a reality TV star – showing how they keep on selling other products and are protected. Just seeing regular products shown off might provide a cachet for having them yourself…
  • Writing competitions with contracts at the end for fiction, non-fiction and other styles of writing, where the only requirements is that cyber security must be a primary theme.
  • A Sesame Street or 3-2-1 Contact style skit series, which feels like the next logical step to the EWF Challenge.
  • Smart mobs to do things like campaign for better cyber security protection, ask for multi-factor authentication from banks, etc.
  • A security expert series on local news / big magazines to write regular articles demystifying security; like has been done for medical and financial spheres. (This thought is something along the lines of Mehmet Oz or Suze Orman – but representing security).
  • A reality TV show where they televise a security competition – either something like the SANS NetWars, or US Cyber Challenge
  • A Game Show that has different science, technology and attendant security questions – something between Jeopardy and Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader
  • A “Security Jobs” show – based off of Dirty Jobs; but with the different types of aspects that make up security, de-mystified and tied to interesting market segments (like software security at the White house, etc.).

What do you think? How else can we share the interesting elements of security in an interactive, fun way? I’d love to hear your thoughts.