5 ways to explain IT security non-technically

5 ways to explain IT security non-technically

Looking to explain defense-in-depth and layered security to a non-technical audience? Here are five comparisons that drive the idea home.


1) Medieval castles

Castles are a well-used trope for explaining security. Castles have large grounds for seeing the enemy at a distance. They have moats, walls, and various battlements. Once inside, a court yard serves as a spot to aggregate the enemy and surround them from above. These layers can be explained with comparisons to their modern digital counterparts (for example, court yards compared to firewalled screened subnets).


2) Automobile safety

Cars and trucks are a good touch point. Modern vehicles have a number of security systems that we can compare with. The tires need the proper pressure and proper tread. Brakes need to be in good condition, too. Automated systems for tires and brakes, traction control and ABS, can be compared to automated IT security systems. Then there are crumple zones, airbags, seatbelts, and so on.


3) Stacked pyramid

A pyramid chart is ideal for showing the relationship between various security layers. Visually, it makes an easy to follow presentation. The typical layers, top to bottom, would include the firm’s data, data protection, end-point protection, network security, Internet/Intranet/Extranet security, compliance, policies and procedures, and finally the firm itself. The security at each layer can then be pulled out and investigated further.


4) Concentric circles

Circles within circles are another easy visual for showing the relationship between security layers. Like the stacked pyramid, this makes for an easy to follow presentation. For example, starting with the outside world (both physical and Internet) and working the way in thru perimeter security, network, host security, and all the to the firm’s data.


5) Onions and ogres

If you think about circle upon circle, layer upon layer, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Onions. An onion model is much like a concentric circle model. The added benefit is that some humor can be derived by tying the talk to Shrek.

Shrek: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
Donkey: Example?
Shrek: Example… uh… ogres are like onions!
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes… No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Shrek: No!
Donkey: Oh, you leave ’em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs…
Shrek: No! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

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