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Are Security Professionals Like Steven Slater? Are Users Like Airline Passengers? But, Isn’t the Customer Always Right?

by John Pescatore  |  August 12, 2010  |  2 Comments

The latest summer viral news item is Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who claimed a rude passenger drove him over the edge. He seems to be gaining cult hero status, as many applaud him standing up to an ignoramus.

I dunno – as someone who flies a lot, I see a lot of flight attendants who take great pride in meaninglessly berating passengers because they can when that seat belt light is on. Sure, there are many safety rules that make sense, but there are a whole lot of airline rules that make no sense at all – and many that flight attendants seem to make up on an arbitrary basis. Is there some real reason why arm rests have to be down during take off and landing on some airlines?

Sounds a lot like the different viewpoints on security policy. Users think the security group just randomly makes up rules and arbitrarily many actions they think will make their life easier. Is there really a need to change passwords every three months?? The security group thinks users are a bunch of rude ignoramuses who actively try to screw things up. Is there really some business justification for loading Skype, other than to chat with your kids online??

As Einstein said “Its all relative to your frame of reference” but I’m actually on the passenger’s side in this one.

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John Pescatore
VP Distinguished Analyst
11 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

John Pescatore is a vice president and research fellow in Gartner Research. Mr. Pescatore has 32 years of experience in computer, network and information security. Prior to joining Gartner, Mr. Pescatore was senior consultant for Entrust Technologies and Trusted Information Systems… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Are Security Professionals Like Steven Slater? Are Users Like Airline Passengers? But, Isn’t the Customer Always Right?


  1. […] read a couple interesting blog entries on Friday.  John Pescatore asks “Are Security Professionals Like Stephen Slater.”  In another blog, Foilball asks us to look in the mirror and see if we’re more Sullenberger […]

  2. Your enemy has been annihilated and you are extinct.



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