After months of avoiding me, the IT security team was suddenly begging to have a meeting, though they were quick to point out that this was unconnected with my IT security review. I was tempted to be unavailable for a few days, just to see them sweat, but that seemed unprofessional.
I explained to my security colleagues that the review was entirely beneficial, as they would have an opportunity to prove to the company just how valuable they really were. For some reason, this did nothing to encourage them.
Rufus Tanner, IT security manager, explained. It seems that practically everything they do appears to be to someone else's disadvantage. Tanner claimed it was all a false picture. That in fact his team is not a group of little Hitlers who relish imposing their whims on anyone who can actually do something practical. Instead they are a caring, sharing bunch, out to help their fellow man and make things easier for all.
Because of this image problem, Tanner was enthusiastic that I cancel the review. I was entirely sympathetic. As a consultant, I said, I understood only too well how the people that you had been brought in to help could misinterpret your contribution as unwanted interference. Sadly, though, the review was scheduled for the IT steering board on Thursday, and there wasn't a lot I could do about it. I suggested, instead, that we work together to make the outcome a positive one. It took Tanner a while to grasp the concept of a win-win review, but eventually he latched onto it and disappeared to make plans.
Thanks to Tanner's cooperation, the review went splendidly. As I opened with the problems caused by pillorying those who catch computer viruses, Tanner interrupted, describing the new "no fault" policy where no blame is ascribed to someone for reporting a virus. Already in the week since the review, virus reporting is up 50%. Similarly, as I began my opening comments on access to the data centres, praising the strength of the current scheme, but pointing out the delays caused by getting MI5 positive vetting every time someone enters the centre, Tanner was able to respond with his "bring the security to the people" campaign, where a simple radio tag is used to track individuals, and checking continues while they are on site, minimising inconvenience.
Last we came to my own personal bugbear, the BritBreak Web page. I was all ready to point out that password protecting our Web page was about as sensible as advertising on satellite TV, when Tanner bounced up to announce how the new logging database made it entirely feasible to allow free access to the site. I was able to conclude that each area thrown up by the review was already undergoing change, invalidating any conclusions I might have, and demonstrating the flexibility and helpfulness of the IT security team. Win-win indeed.
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