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Taylor Swift – infosec superstar

I don’t even know any of her songs (true!) but the noise generated by a Taylor Swift-styled Twitter account in her other career passion – IT Security – portrays her as a standout thinker in a critically important environment.

Communicating the need for security to the masses is just one part of the battle. The story below, originally posted on her swiftonsecurity.tumblr.com blog is remarkable. It’s hard not to swap yourself in the story as you read – which you should do. Now.

A Story About Jessica

I want you to imagine someone for me. Her name is Jessica and she is 17 years old. She lives in a two bedroom apartment with her mother and uses an old laptop she got from one of her mom’s ex boyfriends. With it, she browses the portals that serve as her connection to the community constructed around attending the same high school. She is concerned with boys and love and the next rent payment keeping her and her mother in the apartment.

She doesn’t have the money for a new laptop. She doesn’t have the money to upgrade it, either. She doesn’t even know how you do that. She has other interests, like biology. She just worries about how she would pay for college, if she can keep her grades up enough to get a scholarship somehow.

The only person she knows in her whole life that’s good with computers is Josh, in English class. She knows she needs an antivirus, so she asks him. He gives her an option that costs $50 a year, but he notices her sudden discomfort and kindly mentions about an antivirus that’s free. When she goes home she downloads and installs it. It took some effort and it seemed complicated and took awhile, but there was now a reassuring new icon in the bottom right of her screen that says “Protected” when she hovers the mouse icon thing over it.

Jessica hears on the news all the time about companies being hacked and photos being stolen. She heard on CNN you’re supposed to have a complex password with something special in it, like a dollar sign, so she does. At least on her Facebook account – she isn’t interested enough to find out how to change her other account passwords. That sounds like such an investment of time, and she is busy enough focusing on remembering abstract strings of equations in Math class. She doesn’t want to remember another abstract string of numbers and letters for passwords. Besides, she’s a teenager, whose brains aren’t very good at planning or compensating for risk.
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