IT Security, Human Behaviour and Normalization of Deviance

Bruce Schneier has a quite interesting blog posting (read here) on “Normalization of Deviance”, that is the human behaviour for which errors, warnings and the violation of rules or acceptable actions, becomes the norm.

We all know that in IT Security, people are usually the weakest link. We should also be careful that IT security professionals do not fall into the “Normalization of Deviance” syndrome. I try to summarize it in the extreme as follows: the approach that if something bad has happened, like an intrusion in an IT system, but it did not have real consequences and did not cause real damage, then such kind of events can be ignored from now on.

This is a pretty dangerous human behaviour, but unfortunately, as discussed by Schneier and the sociologists who study this field, quite common.