I just want it to work

by Mark Hodges ([email protected]) 349 views 

You know the euphoria — when you bought that new gadget, brought it home, followed the instructions, and for some unknown reason, it worked! We all get excited in those moments because we have all lived the other side of that coin — when we show the Wi-Fi connection only to realize we are not connected to the internet. Or when we printed something just this morning, but now the printer is not working.

Let us all, with one voice, agree in chorus that there is no frustration like digital frustration.

When the text shows undelivered. When the call doesn’t go through. When the email bounces as “undeliverable” (or its more annoying cousin, “your email has been delayed”). When the formatting in that document has now gone completely unreadable. When you know you are connected to the projector, but you still don’t see an image.

No matter how good you are at technology, there are those days — and those days make us dangerous.

Those days cause us to trade doing things securely for the myopia of “making it work.” Tedium and frustration are the sleeper agents of cybercriminals. They get us to let our guard down and put us at risk personally and professionally. Bypassing security measures to make something work might help you complete that document, though there might be a hidden cost to that decision.

The more advanced technology becomes, the more we will begin to understand the notion of “Digital Darwinism.” That is the concept that we live in an era where the mix of technology and society evolves faster than businesses can naturally adapt.

Mark Hodges

Nowhere is this more obvious than in how businesses deal with security risks. When technology does not do our bidding, frustration can cause us to get sloppy because we “just want it to work.” That sloppiness is a holdover from what we do at home. It is not uncommon for someone to unbox and install a new wireless router at home to get better coverage. After all the connections are complete, that consumer might be ecstatic when it works. That same consumer likely never took the 30 seconds required to change the default administrator password, so the network is as insecure (or possibly more insecure) as it was before the change.

Some common best practices must start long before the frustration occurs, and they need to become a mental model that can operate when those situations arrive. Here are a few:

  • “Make it work … securely. Bypassing your antivirus on your computer could fix some frustration, though you are doing the equivalent of riding without a seatbelt. When things are not correct, contact your IT area. Most likely, they can make things work (and make sure it does not compromise security).
  • Slow. It. Down. The potential error/security risk rate decreases when everyone takes a breath. Slow it down. Think. We all live it and know that tech is great when it works. Continuing to click could make the issue worse. Keeping calm is your ally.
  • In cases where the only fix is a replacement, bite the bullet. In the last month, I have dealt with SIX clients who have saved their way to crisis. You do not want to be that entity. In all six cases, the money saved was eclipsed in the first week of their response to an attack. Sometimes, replacing aging tech that cannot be secured is one of the best investments you can make.

Things will go sideways in tech. It goes with the territory — but the tech does not control your security. Only you control that. Remember — action beats reaction every time.

Mark Hodges is chief growth officer of Arkansas IT services firm Edafio Technology Partners.  The opinions expressed are those of the author.