Security Leadership and Management

Society’s Dependence on Trust and Security

April 1, 2012
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Liars and Outliers Book

Just today, a stranger came to my door claiming he was here to unclog a bathroom drain. I let him into my house without verifying his identity, and not only did he repair the drain, he also took off his shoes so he wouldn’t track mud on my floors. When he was done, I gave him a piece of paper that asked my bank to give him some money. He accepted it without a second glance. At no point did he attempt to take my possessions, and at no point did I attempt the same of him. In fact, neither of us worried that the other would. My wife was also home, but it never occurred to me that he was a sexual rival and I should kill him.


Thus begins Bruce Schneier’s amazing new book, Liars and Outliers.If you are not familiar with his work, Schneier is a renowned security technologist who studies the human side of security. His monthly newsletter has more than 250,000 subscribers, and he has authored two prior best-selling books.

Similarly, Bruce Springsteen, in the release of his new song “We Take Care of Our Own,” notes the disappearance of a small-town America where we looked out for each other and cared for those in need locally. We knew our neighbors, plumbers and our town officials. Springsteen suggests that this fabric of trust and community is part of an era gone by.

Schneier, the less famous Bruce, clearly points out that the changes that challenge our civilization are global and require security thought-leaders to rely on trust while dealing with the untrustworthy. These are noted as positive changes overall with these negative implications:

•  The Internet enables impersonation fraud and spam while privacy is lost.

•  Globalization has led to terrorism and government overreaction.

•  The electronic financial system enables hacking and theft of both money and information.

•  Worldwide supply chains have caused tainted foods and unsafe products.

•  Global production has led to global pollution.


And while we have globalized, we have lost our local fabric that holds communities and civilizations together. For example, the officials of Bell, California, looting the city treasury while families in need suffer. This notion is unsettling to both Bruces and most civil-minded Americans.

While Springsteen mourns the loss of trust and hopes it is regained, Schneier’s entire book is about trust in a world forever changed by the bulleted paradigms noted here and security. Security, he notes, is the only type of societal pressure that can act as a physical constraint on behavior regardless of how trustworthy people are or are not.  

While the world has become virtual for many business processes and transactions with anonymous counterparties, humans still rely on their learned behaviors in the physical world when transacting. The friendly plumber we see at our door and allow into our homes is far more unknown and possibly nefarious on the Internet.

This is a valuable and informative read. The author does not only give the foundation for his ideas beginning with the chapter on the Natural History of Security, but he thoughtfully addresses what needs to be done in the future to leverage technology and be able to “trust in trust.”   

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

Recent Articles by Mark McCourt

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

September 2014

2014 September

In the September issue of Security Magazine, find out who this year's most influential people are in the security industry are. Also, take a peek at the technology products that ASIS 2014 will be showcasing at the upcoming event. Read about the lessons learned from security at the World Cup, find out why tactical medical training is a must for your enterprise and how Atlanta increased security by sharing surveillance.
Table Of Contents Subscribe

Adopting New Technology

How long do you wait before adopting a new technology?
View Results Poll Archive


CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide
CompTIA's Security+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 60,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The current Security+ exam (SY0-201) focuses more on being able to deal with security issues rather than just identifying them.
More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+