Policies Are (some) Man’s Best Friend

I recently got into a discussion (not an argument… a discussion) with a fellow electrical engineer. We were discussing the impact of Steve Jobs and his recent passing. To be completely honest, I am a true Apple believer through and through. To the 6 iPods, 3 Mac laptops, iPad, iPhone, AirPort, and my personal favorite, Apple TV that I own… wait lets not forget the Apple stock… I believe in Apple but most importantly, I trust them. If you look at a couple of blog posts back, you will see my triangle of trust. Part of that triangle is TRUST… another part is POLICY. Apple has policies. In order to get an application into their App Store, you need to meet their policies. I love the fact that because I purchase items from the App Store my risk level is reduced. Not just any app can go in to the store. Clearly I do not jail break my iPhone, I find no reason to. Why? I use my phone for personal use (and a blackberry for work), I don’t need an unstable, unsecure environment, I don’t need to put myself into any more risk.

You see, my fellow EE wanted to submit some apps and he was upset because his apps didn’t meet Apple’s policies. He didn’t like this fact at all but he seemed to forget who he was writing the app for. As I tried to explain to him, not everyone that accesses the app store is an EE. This is a smart phone but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone that uses it is smart. Policies are in place to protect those that don’t quite understand the ramifications of their actions. The policy for password configuration is there so that people don’t use “password” for their password. When people use this word, they clearly are not thinking about security. So what do we have to do? Put a policy in place that says you must special characters, capitals, etc. At least make it harder to get hacked and make it “P@$$w0rd”… let’s make them work for it. If you don’t have policies like this, people will do anything. This isn’t just needed for security, we have policies for everything both for personal and authoritative reasons. Policies such as locking the door at night, turning the alarm on, turning the lights off when you leave the room, wearing a helmet when I snowboard, speed limits, wearing seat belts, or wearing a helmet when I ride a motorcycle. Policies are everywhere and they create stability, why would you not use them in your data center and your corporate environments. The kids need to be home by 11:00 pm, why wouldn’t you ensure virtual machines are deleted?

It would be great if we lived in a world where policies did not need to be implemented, I would love that and I am not saying that we need to have rules for everything. I understand his frustration and I understand this is why he does not have an iPhone but if you forget who your audience is, if you forget the level of security knowledge that is out there, then maybe your app should not be available in the store. I am not saying that the App Store is perfect and that all Apps are 100% safe but when I am still explaining to my nephews and nieces about the information they are posting on facebook and youtube, then I will take the policies. It gives us all one less thing to worry about… I will take that any day.

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  1. #1 by Scott Lowe on November 22, 2011 - 09:08

    Great post, Erin! It’s easy to overlook the value of policies when you don’t consider the daily “policies” (i.e., laws) that make our society stable and productive. And while we sometimes chafe at the “restrictions” that these policies place on us, in general we are all safer as a result. Note to self: I need to remind myself of that when I’m dealing with corporate security policies. :-)

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