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19/08/2009

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John Suffolk

Nigel/ Peter/ William, as ever thank you for your comments.

William, you are right plain fact is that there is enormous power and capability in the hands of users and it is something we should celebrate. My point was less about design and usability as I think industry is getting so much better at this. The point I was trying to make was as we add more capability to make the design and usability good we tend to hide the complexity... quite right too. The reality is that not all the technology in the hands of users (individuals or business) is as secure as we would wish it to be - both an industry issue and a user issue. We must not close our eyes to this, but work hard to do what we can to fix it.

Peter what you suggest is right, but the harsh reality is that even though the security parameters might be set to the most optimum automatically, a very good step forward, it still does not mean that it is secure. The reality is we still write poor code, and we don't always write code from the position of "how do I make this safe". I lead on IA for Government and I am implementing the Hannigan recommendations (known as Data Handling Review - DHR). We are looking to standardise and simplify a whole lot of processes and technology, but even after that, it still will not solve all of the issues given just how big the IT and user base is. This has to be a continuous programme of awareness, education and improvement.

NigelP

Isn't that the point that John is making concerning being human proof? The reality is the average person cannot keep up with all the tech changes and nor should we expect them to. So we in the tech industry have to make this as safe and easy as possible. Just go to any security site such as this one http://www.securecomputing.net.au/ to get a sense of the issues. They are substantial to get to the utopia William was talking about.

The post from William seems to be answering another question. Surely William you must be concerned about any powerful piece of technology in the hands or inexperienced users?

I do agree with your question though Peter to John

Peter Kibby

Why is it up to the user to answer the question 'is it safe'? The answer is provided by a set of parameters in policy and technology that takes a lot of thought and time to resolve. Most people don't have the time, or useful prior experience. The efficient (and more secure) approach is to automate the answer, even if it means accepting some simplifications.

For business this is already happening. I work at Getronics, which provides this as part of its infrastructure services to its customers - and its staff. When I got a PDA and plugged it into my laptop, a network control gave me a choice: allow it to check and set security values on the PDA or the network would not accept the connection.

For people at home and in small businesses, the same experience might be around the corner, as 'going online' turns into not just connectivity but access to applications and storage, too.

For government, the security parameters of technology and policy are being renovated (post-Hannigan), and gradually implemented. A question for John Suffolk - maybe in another post - is there a way to simplify and standardize the technology needed for security by public authorities? In particular, can the policy and technology requirements be codified so their implementation can be automated?

William

Plain fact is people have powerful PCs and Macs and phones and access to the Internet and do loads of stuff with it. So I'd question your language about making it "human-proof" It could always be better designed, for sure, and easier to use.

But the question is how can we get organisations, including service-providing government departments, to trust the individual's technology and to trust and act on the will of the individual as expressed through their tech.

That's where the greatest opportunity for utility, savings and avoiding waste reside, I think, as well as restoration of trust in the "relationship" between individual and state.

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