Controlling the Security Story

This is a hard article to read. For those that don’t want to read hate speech, I will briefly summarize.

On Tuesday, November 6th, the United States of America held a vote, the results of which upset a few people. Many of these people chose to express their feelings online, and were documented doing so. Because many of the individuals involved took no efforts to hide their identities, some of them were traced. Then, in a move that surprises me, Jezebel’s reporters started contacting schools to find out if the schools were aware of the situation and how they were dealing with it.

In most cases, the schools cited policies of not releasing information about minors… which I can’t fault. However, the hidden gem was Dr. Rick Brooks of Jackson Christian School, who said:

Addison’s words clearly do not reflect the values that we espouse and teach at Jackson Christian School, and are not representative of our broader school community. As such, we have visited with him about his actions and his attitude, and have disciplined him accordingly. As is our school policy, we will not share information about specific discipline cases.

Though we find Addison’s action and words deplorable, we hope that our continued encouragement and teaching will help him further avoid the mistakes of youth, and will help him to mature as a young man. I hope that you will be able to look beyond what he has done, and toward the man that he can and will become from this unfortunate learning experience.

And that, I think, is worth discussion.

People make mistakes. People grow and change. As adults, one of our social tasks is to help the young turn into people we can later respect. As employers and employees, we like to think we’re here to make money, but if that were the case, the world would be nothing but multi-level marketing. No, we need more. For many of us, we need to help others and tell stories. We love stories. In fact, the more business owners I work with, the more I find who are in business to help others … be it their customers or the employees.

Hate speech is one form of story-telling. Reporting is another.

But wait, isn’t this a security blog?

If we want to make money, we have to tell a story that’s good enough to get people to let us help them. If what we care about is helping others, we have to know when they need to be helped. If what we care about is stories, we have to know which stories are being told. Fundamentally, we have to know what’s going on.

It seems reasonable that most of these schools learned about what their students were saying after the first article was published. Basically, they learned the story that others were telling about them. They did not get to influence the narrative and were stuck in a reactive mode. Some did better than others, but if they had been listening to what others were saying, odds are the speech would have been addressed before the election.

And that is where DLP comes in. It’s marketed as Data Loss Prevention, but that’s not what it is. DLP is a story tool. It helps you identify what sorts of information exists on your network and lets you know when it leaves. It’s traditionally used for boring stuff like keeping social security and credit card numbers off the internet (sarcasm). However, like most security technologies, it can be used creatively. In this case, monitoring for a few keywords would have let the schools know quickly what students were saying (at least from the school networks). When running in non-blocking mode, it can collect data, so you can easily identify people that need improvement.

Similar internet-facing technologies can scan specific websites on a periodic basis to report the stories being told about you. This can help you identify the narratives and take corrective action for People, Processes and Technology before the story spins out of control and you’re stuck with no option but reaction.

Security technology is all too often viewed as “blocking” or prescriptive. When used properly, security technology enables the business. It helps you learn more and learn faster. This gives you control of your business, so you don’t have to keep finding your way in a world of constant attacks and errors.

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Date: Nov 14, 2012

Filed under: Security News

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Posted November 16, 2012

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