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Whether age, generation, or skill level has anything to do with certain groups of users not accepting security or change, I'm not sure. What I can tell you is that I've seen just about everyone from every age group and every job title moan about it.
What I find the most useful is explanation, not just dictation. What I mean is that people have a sense that IT Security exists to babysit them, to be that Big Brother figure to spy and report to their boss at the first sign of them checking their hotmail at work. Most people don't understand the purpose of security. This attitude, from what I've seen, is what causes this whole problem. I look at this position as proactive protection, not Big Brother, and I explain that to my users. I have to do the all-too-popular new hire speeches for security, and everyone always looks disappointed when security walks into the room, but if you can grab their attention, and explain the reasons that things are locked down, it's amazing the reactions you get. This can be a positive thing, you just have to spin it that way. I actually get tons of questions at the end of the speech, and people tend to pull me aside afterward and ask me how to keep their bank records safe. It's all in the explanation.
I agree, the tech savvy users get ticked when they can't do whatever they want...so do I. I trust myself, why doesn't the company? What I do in those circumstances is show them something they don't know. People tend to respect those who they perceive to be bigger or smarter than they see themselves. I won't show them a step-by-step hack, but I will explain that their personal PDA will not be connected to my email system and will explain exactly why. I always get, "WOW! I never thought of it that way!" And the issue is resolved. Use a recent news story, and explain how it happened. When people can relate, they understand much more easily.
No user wants to be babysat; no employee wants to be micromanaged. As long as people trust you, and they're given as much information as they should be, people tend to bend in the right direction.
If you think facebook is secure, you are crazy. Read the latest issue of 2600.
I have the opposite problem...I'm 26 and would like to implement more
security at work. The older users are resistant to the change, though,
because older users don't like change and have trouble understanding all
the reasons behind it.
Also Facebook is not that insecure...I can see your point with Myspace, though. Even the military allows Facebook. My generation is better at multi-tasking, which is why we can remain in constant contact with our friends while we're doing our work. It's no different than every other middle-aged person I hear on the phone for a half an hour with one of their children. There are all sorts of articles on why the twenty-some things are like this. It's not bad, it's just different. I suggest everyone stop worrying about it so much and just try to find away to work with everyone else.
So, perhaps users need even more training and hand-holding as to why security is important. Maybe have some sort of presentation showing them what has happened to other companies that did not have their security policies in check. Show them how easy it is to crack weak passwords. Make them feel like their role is important and you would hate to have anything happen to their information. People are essentially selfish, so make it about them and you'll be more likely to get the point across.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Brian Altenhofel
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2008 3:02 PM To: email@example.com
Subject: Re: Security and the Under 30 User
I fall into the Under 30 category (I'm 21), but I don't belong in the group. I've been into IT security since I was 12. There's a reason that I haven't been a victim yet: security.
I have friends about my age that have had their bank information intercepted by someone multiple times. The reason they give: "the bank got hacked and my information was stolen." It's impossible to get them to understand that using the school's WiFi (or any other open access network) for sensitive transactions such as those dealing with financials, e-Bay, MySpace (for some people, they feel worse about their page being changed than they do losing a few grand), etc. is not a good idea. They say "who's gonna listen in?" Even if I show them that all I have to do is sit down with my laptop and pick up everything that is being transmitted across the network, they still think that out of the 12,000 students on campus that no one will listen in. It's hard to explain that certain people are bored and enjoy doing that (plus, you can make money at it.)
I've even put on my MySpace page (which has not been updated in forever) a CSS script where you normally put your templates that people use. It changes the "Home" link to NASCAR.com (I'm a big fan). I show them that 99% of the time when their MySpace page has a bunch of crap added to it, its their template.
They say that someone bought a bunch of stuff on eBay with their account. I first ask them if they pissed anyone off, and then if they used public internet somewhere. Usually, if they pissed someone off, they also have a password of abc123 or (this one made me laugh) 1234567890qwertyuiopasdfghjklzxcvbnm. If they used public internet access somewhere, I tell them "it's your own damn fault."
People are stupid. That explains every bit of it. Have you seen "Idiocracy"? Yeah, I know, it's a Mike Judge movie (Beavis & Butthead), but it's my generation. You know, what eventually happens in that movie might be an exageration, but it's what is happening. It'sa fact of life: idiots reproduce faster and more frequently than people who use the head which is on their shoulders. Look at the couple with 9 kids within 8 years. They generally fall into that category.
Where am I going with this? The answer to your question about under 30's is that people are stupid, naive, and just plain dumb. Any more with the education system we have, we are taught that it is never our fault and the government will always make it right. We're also taught that you do not have to do anything to succeed. That's why I skipped my junior year of high school (graduated in only 3 years rather than 4... and only had to take one class outside of 3 years worth to do it) and quit college after a semester. School was loaded with BS about not going to fast for the other students, and college had even more of it.
People read what is on the box and assume it is right. "This is supposed to remove spyware..." Why does Spybot find 14437 infections that the box you paid $39.95 for doesn't????
People assume that if it is available, there must be nothing wrong with it because the government as already taken care of it, right? Its along the same lines as having children to increase your disposable income.
If it came in an email, it must be true. Most of my peers are basing their votes on email rumors. I told a friend of mine that I voted Obama in the primaries. He forwarded me an email about how Obama is a member of al-Qaeda and said that was why I should not vote, the proof is in the email.
We are taught to believe that if it is in print of some kind (whether it be newspaper, email, junk mail) it is true - just don't believe everything you see on the 10 o'clock news.
(We are also taught that if we do our own research, it can't be right. I need to cite a reputable source that shows that I did my own research. That's a whole 'nother deal there.)
I've never understood why people can be so dumb. I can tell someone the password to their email account, and they ask how I knew, and I tell them "it's your girlfriend's name" or "it's your car" or even show them that I can sniff it on the network, and they say that I must of hacked it somehow. To me, that's not hacking... that's just playing around.
I wouldn't mind if we took warning labels off of everything. It might rid us of many of our problems. Then again, we might end up in a world of radioactive idiots reproducing asexually. (Think crystal-meth trailer trash crossed with John Cusack's character near the end of "Fat Man and Little Boy" dividing randomly in public.) Not a good visual.
On Thu, 2008-02-07 at 09:25 -0800, net sec consule wrote:
> First, the disclaimer: I am over 40, have never been
> 'cool' and I have always been considered 'the tall,
> lanky, four-eyed geek.' But I don't get the under-30
> crowd's attitude towards IT security. Can someone
> please give me a clue? I am at a loss how to respond
> to the attitude I hear, and it impacts my client's
> security and my credibility.
> I have been doing network security consulting for over
> 15 years. I also do several public service IT security
> presentations to community and professional groups
> each month. In either environment, I consistently get
> a hostile reception from those under 30. The attitude
> I get is "IT security is a bunch of moronic bull
> (expletive deleted) dreamed up by paranoid moronic
> geezers to justify their existence."
> I my consulting practice, I often find where under 30
> users either don't have anti-virus or anti-spyware
> installed. Or, if their company has installed it, they
> have disabled it. They label the AV concept 'stupid'
> and believe that malware is just a fact of life and
> you should 'get over it', and that it really isn't as
> bad as 'people like me' claim it is. I also find that
> the majority of the younger crowd has either disabled
> the anti-virus that came with their personal computer
> or did not renew the subscription when it expired.
> You mention key stoke loggers and other spyware, the
> attitude I get is "If you don't have anything to hide,
> then you have nothing to worry about." Or, "Why
> should I worry about privacy? Every aspect of my life
> is already out there for anyone to read in my blog on
> If you bring up all the malware slowing down their
> computer, you get arguments that AV software slows it
> down worse. I also get the attitude that "Everything I
> need to keep is on my flash drive, so what whenever my
> performance starts to (expletive deleted), I just blow
> away the hard drive and reinstall."
> Mention Joe Lopez and his loss of bank funds, and the
> attitude is that his case is an anomaly; "Why haven't
> other cases made the news? He must have done something
> to p-o BoA." And it never fails that someone claims to
> have a friend that had money stolen from their bank
> account or credit card, and the bank put the money
> back. I bring up that we are all paying for such
> losses by lower interest rates on savings and higher
> credit card and bank free rates, they could care less.
> (A couple of side note to banks:
> 1) I have had many people claim that they would be
> willing to pay $5 to $25 per transaction just to be
> able to continue to use online banking if that was
> what was required to offset the fraud costs. When
> probing deeper, the per transaction cost appears to be
> about one-half hour's pay. Just for the convenience of
> not having to write a check or use snail mail.
> 2) I have heard several of the younger crowd claim
> that it is common practice that when you get mad at
> your bank, just post your credit card information
> on-line so that the bank gets a bunch of fraudulent
> charges against the card and cancels it. They see it
> as a way to punish the bank for upping their interest
> rate or imposing late fees.)
> In the corporate world, the attitude is even worse. I
> have a client that recently implemented web content
> filtering that blocks the social networking sites,
> blogs, chat rooms, and other non-business content.
> That resulted in the mass resignation of under 30
> staff, because "I can't work here if I can't keep in
> contact with my friends while I work." Some are even
> screaming "age discrimination" because sites like
> FoxNews or CNN 'that the old geezers use' were not
> Can someone please explain this attitude? Why the
> fierce resistance to anything relating to security?
> Why the "I don't care about privacy" attitude? Why do
> they have to be in constant communication with their
> friends, to the point they would rather be unemployed
> than out of contact?
> I do not understand and cannot comprehend these
> Please enlighten me!