Sten Vesterli's Blog

Are you Trusted?

Trust is a fragile thing. The University of Minnesota (UMN) broke it and are now struggling to contain the fallout. How do you ensure your IT organization remains trustworthy?

UMN researchers submitted a Linux patch containing a known bug in order to see whether the Linux community would spot the problem. This kind of uninvited security testing is ethically a gray area and is frowned upon by most IT professionals. The researchers wrote a paper with their findings and then submitted more buggy patches.

The Linux community was not amused by being experimented on, and decided to block all further contributions from the University of Minnesota. Furthermore, they decided to rip out several hundred past contributions to the Linux kernel by the UMN because they no longer trusted them. University leaders are belatedly scrambling to apologize, but the community has rejected their apology.

As a CIO or CTO, do you know if your users trust the systems you roll out? One unhelpful supporter unable to explain a data discrepancy can make the entire Finance department lose trust in your expensive Business Intelligence dashboard. IT only creates business value if it is used and trusted. Make sure you measure trust.

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