Shooting the messenger

Even though the clueless Governor of Missouri tried to shoot the messenger, he missed. Last year, a reporter published his findings that private data on more than 100,000 teachers was available to anyone who knew how to click “View Source” on a web page. The Governor held a widely-ridiculed press conference where he vowed to prosecute the “hackers” who had told the world about the incompetence of the state IT department.

A thorough report by law enforcement now roundly exonerates the journalist. It also exposes that personal information on more than half a million people had been available for a decade to anyone who care to look.

Even professional IT organizations occasionally fail like the state of Missouri did here. You have a little simple system, you are under schedule pressure, and you forgot to book time with the security team. So you roll it out without a security review. The antidote to this is to maintain a complete systems inventory with a field for the name and email of the person who did the security review. That will show you if this step got skipped, and allow you to quickly ask questions about any alleged security issues before you start shooting at the messenger.

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