Security and The House of the Rising Sun

Understanding trends in cybersecurity and IT in general is all about understanding the culture that exists today. We are a culture built on traditional practices and procedures. Now this isn’t all bad, but it certainly has slowed the adoption of new technologies into our environments. To help illustrate this, I’d like to pull from the past and explain the problems of this school of thought and how this could be changed.

Sewed My New Blue Jeans

Perhaps one of the most iconic songs to come out of the 1960s was a song called ‘House of the Rising Sun’ performed by The Animals. I use the term performed vs. written because the song wasn’t written by The Animals.

It was an adaptation by Tim Hardin but it’s based on a folk song. The song has been around for a long time and although it has been modified throughout the years, the message has remained relatively constant. It’s a tale talking about the mistakes not only made by the father but also of the son.

Now we could dive into the theological messages here, but let’s keep to the spirit of the article and discuss how this relates to cybersecurity and IT.

One thing that makes cybersecurity and IT in general such an interesting field is that most of the experience you will receive is on the job site, and not so much in a classroom. As such, we tend to emulate those who came before us; the supervisors, the CISO, the CTO, the tenured employees, the people who showed you the ropes. To use the song, we will call these people “Father.”

Father Was a Gamblin' Man

In the early days of IT, everything was a bit of a gamble. Information wasn’t as readily available as it is today. The Internet wasn’t widely adopted until the mid-90s. Now for most of us, life pre-Internet is a hard thing to recall but for those of us who so remember, our best source of information came from trade magazines, trade shows, trade organizations, and our network of peers.

So, it’s easy to understand why adoption of new technologies was so difficult then because there really weren’t many ways to research new emerging technologies. A lot of IT professionals were set in their ways, because they felt safe. “The only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk.” Basically, life was simpler then.

Oh Mother Tell Your Children Not to do What I Have Done

I’ll admit it, my behaviors and my mannerisms to this day have been altered by those who came before me as I’m sure they have for you too. We follow their lead. As such, the general acceptance of new technologies is still slowed (not nearly as much as it used to be) but it is still slowed.

We recognize the value of these new technologies but we still rely on the “fathers” to sign off on them. I know the pain of presenting these new technologies and being shot down because convincing someone that they need more than a suitcase and a trunk isn’t enough.

One Foot on the Platform, the Other Foot on the Train

We’re currently experiencing an interesting time in the cybersecurity and IT field. Many of the “fathers” are retiring and the “children” are starting to take their place. So, what does that mean for the future? It means the mistakes of the “fathers” have been recognized, the adoption rate of new technologies will increase and the general advancement of the cybersecurity field and IT field in general will start to grow even more rapidly.

But this can only occur if we don’t continue to make their mistakes. Listen to the “children,” the ones who are just coming on. The ones who keep their ear close to the ground and want to present these ideas. It’s our job to be open to them. My advice is “don’t spend your life in misery.”