This morning on a typical flight those awkward minutes below 10,000 feet were filled with small talk, pleasantries, and….wait for it…..the dreaded question…. “so what do you do for a living?” For a second I actually considered lying to avoid more questions. But instead I settled on a polite, but intentionally vague description of my chosen career path. My seat-mate seemed sufficiently confused into silence. We hit 10,000 feet and I breathed a sigh of relief to return to iTunes and my “important” work.
Some time during the flight my stream of consciousness turns to pondering what it will take to make some real progress in the area of cyber security. I have seen and heard thousands of brilliant ideas but most seem to whither away before they get finished or funded. It occurred to me that maybe one of our problems is that we have the cart before the horse. It is difficult to implement solutions to problems that people don’t recognize or understand.
Before we can successfully implement our grand ideas we need to raise the level of consciousness of the public at large to a point where they acknowledge there is a problem, agree that it needs to be fixed, and understand that they will have to help fund the solution. Companies respond to the requests of their consumers, the ideas of their employees, the guidance of their boards, and directives of their state regulators. If we want to change how a company operates we must reach these groups with our message as well.
In a world of electronic media overload I would venture to say one of the best ways to reach people may actually lie in our daily interactions with friends and strangers. I am reminded of my vague answer shortly before and wonder if it was a missed opportunity. Mind you, being an introvert by nature I am not enthusiastically embracing this concept as it unfolds. But the more I think about it the more I have to begrudgingly admit that there is probably no one better equipped to tell the story than those who live it every day.
So just to be clear, I am not going to suddenly be preaching loudly about cyber security in airports across North America. But I will say, that maybe the next time someone asks me what I do I will actually tell them. If they aren’t interested I will get to return to my work, and if they are interested then I might have an opportunity to do something more important.