Data Toxicity and Automatic Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) – Take Five for CyberSecurity

Archive for April, 2020

Empathy is the Heartbeat – Design Monday

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On a recent webinar, an attendee asked how we should talk to our end-users about passwordless authentication. My answer: don’t.

Look to Doug Dietz to understand why. Dietz is the principal design thinker at GE Healthcare. The book Creative Confidence featured his work on MRIs for children. Originally, the MRI was a technologist’s technology. This meant it scared the kids, often to the point of them needing sedation. Dietz realized this and redesigned the MRI as an experience attractive to kids. The key insight was empathy. To paraphrase Dietz’s TED talk, “Empathy at the beginning sets the heartbeat of the project. When you move forward into the iteration and prototyping and some of the design phases you go through, you need to refocus and see what the empathy was that got you started.”

We don’t talk to kids about the MRI. We talk to them about the jungle experience. We don’t talk to end-users about passwordless. We talk to them about a more enjoyable work experience.

When designing security, we start with the vision, the business capabilities, and the business outcomes. We begin with empathy and then, as Dietz put it, let empathy be the heartbeat through the design process. Don’t do this, and we end up with the equivalent of the MRI machine. That is, security which people avoid and workaround. Possibly security that will have people wanting to be sedated. Good design creates security experiences that people adopt and, in rare but exciting cases, actually enjoy.

Empathy is incredibly hard. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes always is. It is doing the hard things that elevates design.

GE Healthcare children’s MRI, photography School Nutrition Association.

This article is part of a series on designing cyber security capabilities. To see other articles in the series, including a full list of design principles, click here.

DevOps: Securing without Slowing

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(TEK Keynote) We turn to DevOps for speed. We turn to Cloud for flexibility. We adopt faster, leaner, more collaborative processes to drive change. And then? We turn to information security for protection. But can we secure the technology without slowing the pace? This session presents an entirely fictional development organization adopting DevOps. We will discuss which traditional software security processes work, and which ones fail entirely. Awareness training, muscle memory, culture shifts, all will be brought together. The presentation will conclude with take-aways for applying security to your DevOps team without slowing down.

Watch more videos on my YouTube channel.

Reinforce Values – Design Monday

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Bas van Abel found his personal values in conflict with his technology use. Namely, his phone. He set out to bring these two into alignment and, in doing so, designed a phone and launched a company in 2013. The Fairphone aims to be as socially conscientious as possible throughout the supply chain and throughout the lifecycle. Fair mining of raw materials. Fair manufacturing conditions. Fair trade. Also, dear to the hacker ethic? Repairable and modifiable. Build a fairer phone, build a fairer world, that was the design inspiration. You can listen to Bas van Abel on the TED stage: Changing the Way Products Are Made.

People have strong personal values. Companies have corporate values. Hopefully, these values are in alignment. Ideally, people and companies follow their values. If they don’t, well, then values aren’t much of a design consideration. But when we have stakeholders with strong values or a value-driven corporate culture, adoption of our security controls goes much faster and much farther when the security design reflects those same values. Before you think IT security can’t reflect values, remember people thought the same about phones before Fairphone.

It will take work to frame the initiative in terms of values. For example, imagine our initiative is a Zero Trust Architecture and our corporate values include an open culture and a culture of trust. At first glance, the security and the value are at odds. But hold on. What if we position ZTA to increase the openness where possible, while reducing access only where risky? Good. What if we use ZTA as a technology to codify a culture of trust? Better. This example is one initiative but the idea scales. We can design a full security program, say with NIST controls, tied to strongly held corporate values.

If it can be done with a smartphone, it can be done with a security capability. Reinforce values to gain support, speed implementation, and further adoption.

Design reflects values. Photograph: Fairphone

This article is part of a series on designing cyber security capabilities. To see other articles in the series, including a full list of design principles, click here.

Prioritizing Use Cases – Design Monday

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Roberto Giolito has the distinction of winning Car of the Year and Ugliest Car. Both from Top Gear. Both in the same year. Both for the same car. That would be the Fiat Multipla.

To call the Fiat Multipla ugly is to miss the point. It certainly is no looker. The length is shorter than a typical car. The height? Taller. The resulting car looks squat and boxy. But as they say, beauty is on the inside. In fact, the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) showcased the interior. The dash is as highly usable as it is highly unconventional. It seats six comfortably. The large windows create a feeling of space. Small but spacious and maneuverable. The point of this car is to completely satisfy one use case: living the European life while driving the crowded European streets.

When we are designing security capabilities, we start with the use cases. No, that’s too many use cases. Put one back. Still too many, put another one back. There. Good. We start with a few specific use cases and then get to work. Our goal is to fully satisfy these use cases given our limited resources. We will have to make trade-offs. That’s the nature of prioritizing. And when we do? Think of Roberto Giolito who let his design be ugly where it didn’t matter, in order for the design to be Car of the Year where it did matter. Ruthlessly prioritize. Dare to be ugly.


This article is part of a series on designing cyber security capabilities. To see other articles in the series, including a full list of design principles, click here.