No security secrets

Friday, 18 April 2003, 12:07 PM EST

I was half-listening to a comment by my seatmate as I toyed with the foodlike breakfast substance the flight attendant had placed on my tray-table. I was trying to decide whether any naturally occurring food had ever been that shade of yellow. Then something in my seatmate’s words grabbed my attention.

"The real issue with security isn't whether you have the latest software, the latest updates, or even the coolest hardware," he explained. "It's how you manage your employees. It's what you expect of your employees."

Earlier, I'd been describing a comment by one of the panelists at InfoWorld's CTO Forum a couple of weeks ago in Boston, in which the CTO had said that it's important for user security rules to pass what he calls the "McDonald's Test." He explained that a cook at the burger chain was expected to be able to toss fries into a basket, lower the basket into hot oil, and press a button. The fryer would sound an alarm when the fries were done. The cook would then remove the fries, drain them, and toss them into a holding area where servers could package them. The idea was that this was the upper level of complexity that a manager could reasonably expect the average employee to handle.

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