Are your Attitudes on Privacy and Security Consistent?

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“Privacy snafus are to social networks as violence is to football. The whole point of social networks is to share stuff about people that’s interesting, just as the whole point of football is to upend the guy with the ball. Every so often, someone gets paralyzed, which prompts us to add padding to the helmets or set new rules about tackling. Then we move on.”
— Nicholas Thompson

I worry a lot about privacy.  Partly because people’s behaviour toward personal privacy is a great barometer for their attitudes about information security generally.  In a business context, this is incredibly important. Not just for the superficial reasons – like over-sharing –that the HR department cares about … “Did you see Tom from accounting on Facebook?  Those photos of him in the red light district are disturbing.”

It’s deeper than that. As people become more lackadaisical and open with their personal information on social networks – they are increasing the likelihood that those behaviours will spread to their business practices.  I come from the old school when security and privacy were top priority when rolling out a new application or service.  The Facebook generation seems to think this is dinosaur-thinking; that privacy is a thing of the past.  That scares me.

Sadly … It isn’t until something terrible happens that people start to question the systems into which they are investing their time. Think about the quote above … Everyone loves the football tailgate parties and the big-hit highlight reels on TSN, but people get queasy about football when the star quarterback gets taken off the field on a stretcher. Nobody likes confronting the dark side of violence.

Likewise with information sharing.  People love to see and share all the interesting and titillating things on social networks until something bad happens. Perhaps they compromise their reputation.  Perhaps their information gets stolen and they get defrauded.  In your personal life, that can really suck.  In a business context, it can be catastrophic.

Don’t wait until you’re queasy or something terrible happens to re-think how you and your team think about information privacy and security.  Talk to your team regularly about healthy security habits.

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