Getting Serious About Protection: Simplicity and User Acceptance

Security is a complex subject, but complex security solutions have a poor track record of user acceptance and popular use. Public Key cryptography is a case in point; a very complex architecture and set of protocols and its own vocabulary created a strong barrier to acceptance. Antivirus is the opposite example; easy to use and cheap, its acceptance was lightning fast and universal. Embedding the technology and hiding all the rough edges is one strategy for popular acceptance. The idea of plug and play has always been popular. Incentives for simplicity can be significant.Technologists should be warned. Bizarre vernacular, multiple components that demand special training to install, configure and maintain, and complex documentation requirements are nails in the coffin lid. Ease of use and no or minimal instructions that are easy to understand are strong positives. Think of all the technology in the iPad and the enormous user population it has found, certainly a huge argument for making a very complex “something” a super easy to use mega-hit.The technology doesn’t have to be simple, actually quite the opposite. Complexity in the technology presents no issues until it gets to the user. Then, what the user sees and experiences does have to be easy to use and understand.Several years ago there was a serious movement to kill the term security in favor of a term without all the negative baggage. The result is use of assurance, protection, or another softer synonym, instead of the hard edged security.There hasn’t been a security mega-hit for a long time. Vulnerability scanning almost got there, but it never got cheap enough to load into every PC. Firewalls are probably the closest thing to a mega-hit, finding close to universal use within their niche. Adding SSL and VPN helped a lot. In all likelihood, some bright kids in a garage somewhere either have or will come up with the next great idea. Hopefully it will be a simple and complete solution.

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