Saturday, February 25, 2012

Internet security: trees and forest

Having lived through the development of the industry, we can safely categorize most security technologies as following a similar path:

1. Initial idea by a smart sumdood leads to new product: antivirus, firewall, that sort of thing.  This is the I bet we could do something interesting phase.

2. The technology matures, as initial customers on the "bleeding edge" suffer for the rest of us, but the biggest problems get addressed or the technology dies. This is the I bet we could actually make this thing work phase.

3. Senescence sets in, as excessive focus on features, rather than on the overall system cause the creation of quite frankly bizarre capabilities that eventually kill the product.  This is the Hey, hold mah beer phase.  Srlsy.

Ever wonder why your antivirus agent suddenly consumes 100% of your CPU?  Hold mah beer.  Ever wonder why so many people turn off their Intrusion Detection?  Hold mah beer.

The focus on the trees, rather than the forest - on new features to the exclusion of how the system works - seems endemic.  The dynamic of having to compete on feature/functionality in a mature and stable market  seems to drive good products off a cliff more often than we'd like to think. 

The damn things become unusable, and so people turn them off.

I just turned off CAPTCHA codes for comments.  We'll see how that goes - I don't like turning security off, but the "improved" CAPTCHAs seem to be well into phase 3.  Google doesn't seem to realize that now they're blocking legitimate commenters who get frustrated and quit.  I think I've heard this song before.


Dave H said...

You can thank Marketing (and I suppose the human nature it tries to exploit) for the "hold mah beer" phase. People looking to buy respond to "new" on the label. It doesn't have to be good, effective, or even desirable (if you can hide what it really does behind doublespeak), it just has to be new.

Next time you're at the supermarket, walk down the cereal aisle and count how many times you see the word "new" on a package. One package per product is fine; you don't have to count them all. You'll get disgusted and quit before you get to the end of the aisle.

Ruth said...

Phase 3 could also be called the "fancier = better!!!!" phase.

Blue said...

"I think I've heard this song before"


Me too. :(

Glenn B said...

Don't you mean the "I'm not able to hold mah beer" phase instead of the "hold my beer" phase?

Anonymous said...

This is a test if it had been a real comment it would have been truly awesome.

Anonymous said...

Curious I mention goggle and I got blocked.

Mark Alger said...

Google: THERE's your problem!