[clug] [OT] What *is* Security?

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Thu Sep 11 00:40:23 GMT 2008

steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au> writes:
> Steve McInerney wrote on 11/9/08 1:09 AM:
>> Ok. I can see the key problem we're having in this discussion clearly
>> demonstrated in your quoted statements.
>> You don't actually understand what security is and what it is for.
> This is a question that resonates with me.
> Recently I've been looking for a *formal* definition of 'security'
> and that has led to puzzling over an informal definition.

Formally?  http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/security [1]

Formally, as part of the jargon of IT?  There isn't a single accepted
definition, so far as I can tell, that wouldn't be covered by meaning
two from the OED.

> If anyone has a *short* description/definition ("25 words or less") of
> security, or can point to one - please send in your entries!

    Stopping bad stuff happening.

A more sensible, but sadly uncommon, definition is probably:

    Stopping bad stuff happening, at a sensible price.

Like everything, the devil is in the details: you are not ever going to
be in a position to get clear answers on the "what", "how" and "why" of
those fairly broad statements.

This isn't helped by the fact that people, at heart, suck at risk
analysis, have trouble agreeing on the future value of things, and can
generally find three experts with four incompatible views on any topic.

I don't think that answers your question, though.  If you try asking
again I can have a shot at a more useful answer for you.  Perhaps
something more about /why/ you are looking for the formal and informal
definitions would help?


[1]  Only the concise Oxford, not the full version, but it should do.

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