If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


How Security Policies Fail (1)

Policy: Users must choose a new secret complex password every thirty days.

Failure: Users create passwords in sequence, or write them down, or wangle exemptions to the requirement...

This one is robust -- the compliance situation doesn't get any worse as time goes on, and correcting it is relatively simple, but it's not lazy -- it's easier to ignore than to obey.

To make this one work, we would have to

  • Crack passwords 24x7 and disable any that didn't reach some bar.
  • Patrol the floors destroying dodgy-looking Post-It (tm) notes.
  • Report the list of exempt users, and require them to re-certify their exemption every week.

That would give an incentive to pick gooduns and keep them secret. Of course, we would piss off the 50% of users -- some bright, some not -- for whom picking and remembering a good password is totally alien. So while it's enforceable, it's still a bad policy.

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