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May
14

2016

What is the one thing engineers need to be reminded of?

I cannot even tell you how many times I have seen the Wizard of Oz. It was a family tradition in an era with only three television channels and the programming was still mostly black and white. So, forgive me if I see the parallels. Unlike the fairy tales of my youth, the current fantasy of connecting everything to everything may not have a happy ending. But, if it is to be a happy ending, it’s the engineers that will lead the way. Perhaps, like Dorothy, some have forgotten that they’ve always had the power.

Engineers are a unique breed. First, they invest years of their life to learn their skills and then look for interesting problems to solve. Their life (and ours) has been made so much more convenient with commodity hardware platforms that only require new software for repurposing. It is a fascinating world for engineers as we now witness the expansion of the Industrial Internet and other similar concepts touching every corner of our lives. It does indeed sound like a fairy tale. Unfortunately, a fairy tale ending seems increasingly unlikely unless all the hackers, criminals, and nation state cyber armies suddenly discover another shiny toy.

However, all is not lost. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, engineers know how to solve problems and cyber security can be viewed as just another problem. From my direct observation, it’s not the lack of ability on the part of the engineers. It’s not their inability to learn new concepts or apply new methodologies. Au contraire. In most cases it is simply a matter of budget. I have seen major corporations spend billions of dollars in building green field plants, yet balk at spending a hundred thousand to implement cyber security. I have seen major corporations spend fifty thousand dollars to do an assessment of a single site, yet balk at spending twenty thousand dollars to implement a solution that could better protect hundreds of sites world-wide. It is the proverbial preaching to the choir. The engineers know just how to approach the problem. They understand that at a basic level they must know what they have and they must know what it is doing. This may sound simple, and it is on the surface. The devil is in the details and the engineers simply need the right tools for the job.

While the other members of Dorothy’s team, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion made the trip to Oz in search of what was missing, she had what she needed all along. Dorothy just needed a little guidance from Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. This is precisely what engineers need today to implement a higher security posture, while also improving robustness. They need management support which then translates into budget, tools, and resources.

So, tell me what you need. You need to make the case to management? You need better tools? You need a reminder that you’ve always had the ability to do this thing called cyber security? I am no Wizard of Oz, but I have helped a few and I think I can help you.

Perry