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Infosec: Not Just Technology, Thank You

November 25th, 2010

So, it’s Thanksgiving, and you’re supposed to talk about what you’re thankful for. Well, I had a bit of an epiphany today while mulling this topic over, and given that I’m avoiding some incredible (not) forced in-law activity for the day, seems as good a time as any to throw it out there.

People commonly ask me how I got into information security. I have a pretty good story there, but too long to get into here. The other question that always seems to accompany this one, at least when I tell people how passionate I am about my chosen field, is “What do you enjoy about it?” or “Why do you like it?”. Today, perhaps for the first time, I figured that out.

It’s not the technology. Although I’m a proud geek, who enjoys breaking things and failing to put them back together properly, that’s not enough to sustain passion, for me at least. It’s the people. To be more specific, it’s the nature of people that infuses everything infosec, and that, coupled with the technology element, is what gets me fired up in the morning to go to work.

I’ve blogged before about how infosec differs from many other common disciplines within the sphere of IT, especially in the sense that we have real attackers trying to cause us harm all the time. This is one side of things. We get to constantly strategize about how enemies will try to manipulate our systems, what they are after, how they operate, etc. The flip side of this is also fascinating – human nature. We have to contend with people’s innate desire to click things, open doors, answer phones, give away or lose information, etc. This is a shared burden between us and all of IT, really, but it’s never going to go away. We will always have people trying to scam us or steal from us, and we will always have people who can be exploited for that very purpose. My first degree is in Psychology. I over-analyze things, to say the least, and people are fascinating to analyze.

So today, on Thanksgiving, I realized that I have a perfect field for my personality, talents, and interests. Technology changes constantly, and is challenging for that reason. People are exactly the same as they’ve always been, and this is exactly why they’re challenging. Together? A perfect storm of things to work on, likely forever. And for this, and the fact that I fell into this field, I am thankful.

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