I'm not a fan of zombie films, or of horror films in general. It's the waiting I can't stand, the interminable suspense. Perhaps it's a professional aversion.
For anyone involved in the computer security industry, waiting for bad things to happen is what we do. We lock the doors, block the windows and keep a careful eye on the open fireplace, while all around, outside, the hordes of zombies mass.
The organisations we work for see us as killjoys, as nerdy Cassandras. While they carry on oblivious, we're tugging at their sleeves and pointing out the imminent doom. For years we kept telling them, and now they see that we were right.
Well, OK, it wasn't quite the apocalypse that we were expecting. While we were watching the network logs and applying software patches, some clowns in the banking industry destroyed our economy. Let's just say that we were right in principle.
So the financial world is in meltdown, companies are shrinking and folding, and security is on everyone's mind. Is it all going to be over by Christmas? Are we at the beginning of the second Great Depression? And what of the computer security industry? Will it be boom or bust for those charged with manning the barricades? It goes against my better professional judgement but, as far as the future is concerned, I'm reasonably optimistic.
There will undoubtedly be a significant amount of pain; there is some already and there will be more to come. You may think that you are indispensable, but however essential you are, when your company no longer exists then neither does your job. As more and more experienced security professionals swell the ranks of the newly unemployed, the availability of suitably qualified security staff increases, which leads to a downward pressure on salaries.
As you may have noticed, I'm doing a reasonably good job so far of hiding my general air of optimism. But there are a number of reasons to see opportunity in the midst of adversity.
Firstly, people keep making mistakes. Public bodies and private companies alike are haemorrhaging data at such a rate that they're in danger of running out of new sensitive data to lose. Large computer systems continue to be designed without much thought given to their security, and what little security exists is badly designed, poorly tested, compromised by added features or rendered ineffective by users. And every such failure and data loss is another potential news headline.
Understandably, those in charge have had enough and a rising tide of laws and regulations are now compelling organisations to secure their data and systems, and to do that they need the people with the skills to do it.
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