Regulatory Reality

Mar 24 2009   9:54PM GMT

Best of times, worst of times?

David Schneier David Schneier Profile: David Schneier

With all due respect to the brilliant novelist Charles Dickens, as I was sitting down to write this, my first blog post for Tech Target I came to think of one of the most brilliant openings to a novel perhaps ever.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

For in the space that I ply my trade there is no more accurate line to describe where it is we are.

As a full-time practitioner, a sometimes commentator and a perpetual student of regulatory compliance these are the very best of times.  We have historic conditions in the banking industry, epic failures on Wall Street, record-setting breaches in information security, the emergence of new regulations and the growing likelihood of even more to follow.

As a provider for my family, a home owner, a business owner and a consumer these are the very worst of times.  The economy has collapsed from right underneath our feet, the value of my home has dropped, companies in all business verticals are either going out of business or freezing any manner of spending and my ability to obtain credit has been severely stunted.

But there’s a silver lining to all of this.  When our country struggled through the Great Depression eighty years ago no one really knew it was a “Great” anything.  Times just grew remarkably tough in record time and by the time the first cloud of dust settled there was a stunned nation hanging on my a thread.  It was only in hindsight and many years into the future that any meaningful perspective was formed, lessons learned and systems either modified or created to protect ourselves from it ever happening again.  This time though is different and thus the silver lining.

We know this is an unprecedented period in our history.  We know there were failures, we know there are ways to restrict the damage we suffer, we know there is valuable information to be gleaned from analyzing and understanding what got us here and we’re determined to act on all of this information and insight.  I’m fond of telling my children that no mistake is completely regrettable if a lesson is learned and a rule developed to avoid making that same mistake again.  And so here I am with my fingers crossed hoping that we’re collectively smart enough to do just that.

One thing is for certain as I begin sharing my stories and observations from the field, there will be no shortage of topics to discuss.  For when you mix the best of times and the worst of times together you end up with the most interesting of times.

Check back next week when I discuss the latest dance craze to hit the scene, the “Visa PCI Shuffle”.

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