Sam Dekay

An Open Letter to Warren Axelrod: Yes, InfoSec, You’re a Heck of a Job

Most InfoSec practitioners have jobs within financial, educational, governmental, medical, or industrial institutions.  These institutions are bureaucracies, requiring constant attention to various administrative and other tasks that facilitate the day-to-day operations of the organization.  Information security professionals are not immune to the need to perform these operations.  There are always time sheets to complete, emails to read and write, employees to supervise, budgets to negotiate, service provider contracts to examine, projects to manage, reports to compile, and meetings (always meetings) to attend.  Many of these tasks-including managing projects and preparing budgets-will have a direct influence upon the quality of information security services provided within the institution.  Other tasks, however, may serve the needs of bureaucracy but diminish the time and energy that could otherwise be devoted to the effort of securing information assets-or of attempting to develop an au courant familiarity with recent research developments in the field.

Practitioners in virtually all professions complain about the drain of “paperwork” upon their productive time.  Police officers, teachers, physicians, attorneys-virtually everyone who works-bemoan the seemingly unproductive effort that is required to prepare reports and attend meetings required by their respective bureaucracies.  But this venting should not be met with a mere shrug of the shoulders:  These administrative duties do often serve as distractions from the real jobs to be accomplished.  Theorists in the fields of management and organizational behavior are continually attempting to investigate this phenomenon and develop new ways to allocate time and resources in such a manner that productive time is maximized.  We can only hope that, one day, these theorists will develop practical solutions that have real influence upon the workplace.  But the record to date is not promising. 

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