A Journey to the Center of the Earth


Jules Verne's book A Journey to the Center of the Earth might be able to give us some insights into what some people put up with some of the more complicated and less user-friendly information security products.

In Verne's book, Professor Lidenbrock hires an Icelandic man named Hans Bjelke as a guide. Bjelke turns out to be unflappable, and tolerates all of the dangers of the book's subterranean journey without complaining. The only thing that he insists on is getting paid three rix-dollars every Saturday. As long as he gets paid, he cheerfully puts up with hungry prehistoric creatures, lightning storms and travel by geyser through a volcano.

People who work in the 21stcentury seem to be inspired by Bjelke to some degree, particularly when it comes to putting up with using some information security products. Some of these products don't even come close to being user-friendly, but people put up with them because they need to use them to do their jobs. And much like Bjelke didn't complain when he had to put up with the dangers that he found below ground, many people tolerate using difficult products because they're getting paid to do it. Maybe it's just because they feel they have to. Not many people will walk away from a job just because they have to use really annoying security products.

Because of that, I hope one day to do an interview for a job that I have no interest at all in getting that will go something like this:

Me: So how do you protect sensitive information that you send to customers?

HR person: We use encrypted email for that. Everyone has a "digital certificate," you seeā€¦

Me: Stop! I've heard enough! There's no way that I'll do that! You'll have to find someone else to fill this position.

That ought to create an interesting discussion in the HR department.

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