Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Defense of FUD

That’s right, I’m defending FUD. Yes, I mean Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. That kind of FUD. And I’m here to defend it.

FUD is under unjust and unreasonable attack. Not from people who decry its use, but from some vendors, consultants, analysts, politicians, pundits, and regulators. Yes, they use FUD to sell their products, services, ideologies, whatever- but that is only the beginning of the problem. Things really turn ugly with the promises these folks make: if you will just buy what they are selling they will deliver you from FUD and bestow upon you BCC (Bravery, Certainty, and Confidence). And Confidence is the right word, because this is a con game. If you think buying anything, whether physical or metaphysical, can completely relieve you of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, you are naïve. People don’t work that way, and we shouldn’t. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt, at reasonable levels, keep us alive, and alert.

I am not a proponent of crippling fear any more than I am a fan of naïve confidence, but a little bit of discomfort and uncertainty can drive us to question our preparedness, and rethink the challenges we face. And that is healthy. If you find yourself confronted by someone whose promises are absolute, you need to be very careful (I generally either flee, or mess with their tiny little brains, buying is not an option). We want to feel safe and certain, that is why there is a “security” industry- but if we are honest, the real goal is to reduce the chances of something bad happening down to an acceptable level. We are never completely “safe”, and anyone who claims that what they are selling can change this fact is a charlatan.

Some of the most dangerous sources of inflated FUD and unreasonable BCC are organizations and agencies pushing their various certification and compliance agendas. Compliance with a standard, even a professed “security” standard, does not make you secure. A new set of letters after your name doesn’t change the world. These things *might* move you forward, but they won’t *solve* your troubles- keep that in mind when spending time and money on them.

That’s it. I’ll take a manageable dose of FUD over any blind BCC any day. And you should, too.