May 23 2009   10:25AM GMT

When a Control is NOT a Control or, “It’s Good Enough”

Arian Eigen Heald Arian Eigen Heald Profile: Arian Eigen Heald

I run into an awful lot of engineers who hate paperwork (I feel the same way.) They are busy fixing problems, building new application support and dealing with upper managers who have no idea what they’re asking for, clueless users and now I come along to top it off asking for a bunch of documentation.

Been there, done that.

I gently explain, after I have corrected their misapprehension that auditors know nothing about IT, that if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. I know some engineers who believe in job security that way, but the fact is it just makes it harder for the next person to step into that role. That role will always exist. So why make it easier for the next person? Sooner or later, that next person will be you.

Why write down how a server should be built? Why write down how the servers get patched? Why bother changing the administrator password on all the servers and a different one on all the workstations? Why check to make sure that the anti virus server is actually updating all those machines? Why test to confirm that the group policy for downloading patches is actually working, and how to do that?

It’s part of being a professional engineer. It’s part of all the certifications we have signed off on; that pesky ethical paragraph that asks us to be responsible, dedicated and at the top of our game whether the job asks for that, or more commonly, does not.

It’s also a really great way of showing just how much work you do.

“Good Enough” is short for “Good Enough to Get Hacked.”

Bottom line? When you are sitting in front of a judge testifying as to what steps were taken to secure your organization, you WILL be asked what policies, standards and procedures you were following. If you have none to give the judge, you will be roasted by the jury, and your company will lose its case.

We can blame the company for not “making” us do it, but that’s not the real deal, is it?

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