The Feeling Of Security

In my last article, I discussed how security professionals should treat security as a science rather than an art. This is because our goals should be objectively verifiable and should therefore be based on reason, evidence and probability. This, however, is just one half of the story. The other half has to do with the client.

The reason things are so different when it comes to clients is because the vast majority of them judge their level of security on an emotional level, by how safe and secure they feel.

The term Security means different things to different people. For security professionals, it describes the objective level of protection that can keep potential harm from an asset. But to non-security personnel, security is a subjective feeling.

One of the advantages in the Hebrew language is that we have two different (albeit related) words to describe the above aspects. Avtacha (אבטחה) refers to objective physical security measures, while Bitachon (ביטחון) usually refers to the subjective feeling of security. Since English only has one umbrella term for both of these, people often conflate and confuse things as they argue past each other.

Even though I’m a fan of scientific thinking, there’s really no discounting the client’s emotional view of security. In the absence of a life-threatening situation you’ve just pulled them out of, there’s no other way for them to measure success. We can (and I often do) explain to clients what we objectively do in order to keep them secure. But even when I’ve successfully explained things, from their perspective, this still just affects the way they feel.

One should always base their subjective feelings, beliefs and ideas on objective fact rather than the other way around. But as a security professional, it’s my responsibility to explain and demonstrate my factual side in order to reach the client’s emotional end. My goal is for the client’s feelings to match the factual reality I create for them. But if their feelings don’t line up with what I’m giving them then it’s usually my fault for not adequately explaining things.

It’s like the old basketball idea where the responsibility for the pass falls on the player who throws the ball, not on the one who fails to catch it. Your clients are where they are. It’s your responsibility to pass the information to them at a level that will positively affect their feeling of security.

Security professionals must keep honing their protective skills, but never forget the emotional/psychological aspect of what we’re trying to do. You can be the world’s most skilled security operator, but if you can’t impart this in a way that will affect your client’s state of mind, you’ll probably get replaced by someone who can.

 

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