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I spy with my beady eye ...

15 Jan 2019

NBlog Jan 14 - mistaken awareness

Our next security awareness and training module for February concerns human error. "Mistakes" is its catchy title but what will it actually cover? What is its purpose? Where is it heading? 

[Scratches head, gazes vacantly into the distance]

Scoping any module draws on:
  • The preliminary planning, thinking, research and pre-announcements that led us to give it a title and a few vague words of description on the website;
  • Other modules, especially recent ones that are relevant to or touched on this topic with an eye to it being covered in February;
  • Preliminary planning for future topics that we might introduce or mention briefly in this one but need not cover in any depth - not so much a grand master plan covering all the awareness topics as a reasonably coherent overview, the picture-on-the-box showing the whole jigsaw;
  • Customer suggestions and feedback, plus conjecture about aspects or concerns that seem likely to be relevant to our customers given their business situations and industries e.g. compliance drivers;
  • General knowledge and experience in this area, including our understanding of good practices ... which reminds me to check the ISO27k and other standards for guidance and of course Google, an excellent way to dig out potentially helpful advice, current thinking in this area plus news of recent, public incidents involving human error;
  • Shallow and deep thought, day and night-dreaming, doodling, occasional caffeine-fueled bouts of mind-mapping, magic crystals and witchcraft a.k.a. creative thinking.

Scoping the module is not a discrete one-off event, rather we spiral-in on the final scope during the course of researching, designing, developing and finalizing the materials. Astute readers might have noticed this happen before, past modules sometimes changing direction and titles in the course of production. Maybe the planned scope turned out to be too ambitious or for that matter too limiting, too dull and boring for our demanding audiences, or indeed for us. Some topics are more inspiring than others.

So, back to "Mistakes": what will the NoticeBored module cover? What we have roughly in mind at this point is: human error, computer error, bugs and flaws, data-entry errors and GIGO, forced and unforced accidents, errors of commission and omission. Little, medium and massive errors, plus those that change. Errors that are are immediately and painfully obvious to all concerned, plus those that lurk quietly in the shadows, perhaps forever unrecognized as such. Error prevention, detection and correction. Failures of all sizes and kinds, including failures of controls to prevent, mitigate, detect and recover from incidents. Conceptual and practical errors. Strategic, tactical and operational errors, particularly mistaken assumptions, poor judgement and inept decision making (the perils of management foresight given incomplete knowledge and imperfect information). Mistakes by various third parties (customers, suppliers, partners, authorities, regulators, advisers, investors, other stakeholders, journalists, social media wags, the Great Unwashed ...) as well as by management and staff. Cascading effects due to clusters and dependencies, some of which are unappreciated until little mistakes lead to serious incidents.

Hmmm, that's more than enough already, if an unsightly jumble!

Talking of incidents, we've started work on a brand new awareness module due for April about incident detection, hence we won't delve far into incident management in February, merely titillating our audiences (including you, dear blog reader) with brief tasters of what's to come, sweet little aperitifs to whet the appetite.  

Q: is an undetected incident an incident?  

A: yes. The fact that it hasn't (yet) been detected may itself constitute a further incident, especially if it turns out to be serious and late/non-detection makes matters even worse.

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