How do you Describe Security?

by on May.29, 2012, under Uncategorized

Every now and then, working in an IT position, you get asked questions that are… interesting. Sometimes, these are questions that, while obviously simple to the experienced techie, really are things that take learning. Tonight, however, I encountered the other kind: the kind you just don’t know how to answer.

“Are these computers secure? I’m going to be putting in my credit card information, so I want to make sure these computers are secure.”

How do I even beginto answer this question? After the customer left, my coworker and I had a small laugh at this question, because the answer I eventually gave this person was a simple “yes”.

My coworker pointed out that I could have given this person any answer — as long as it had a few buzzwords, it would be believable. ”Oh yeah, the memory addresses of the internet piplines sync well with Adobe Connect, so its definitely secure.”

My original answer was one about the security of a wired connection versus that of a wireless, pointing out that these computers have wired connection, so yes, they are secure. This only gained aquizzicallook from the uninitiated.

My next answer was going to be a note about SSL. Perhaps a small explanation about how security is up to the place you are entering your credit card information, with a note that you should always check for “HTTPS” when entering credit card information. However, if the wired vs. wireless explanation was confusing, this would have done nothing to clear up the situation.

So, instead of attempting to explain security, or gain further insight into what this customer was actually asking, I simply gave the answer “yes”. It might seem like a cop-out, but it was the only answer I could give within her frame of knowledge.

I leave you with this video of Richard Feynman attempting to explain how magnets work, and instead explaining why he can’t answer “Why” questions:

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