Cities, Disneyland, and Software Security

Disneyland - Sleeping Beauty Castle

I like to think of our modern software infrastructure as being like a large city and posing the same trade-offs between risk and reward. We don’t wander carelessly around cities because of pickpockets, muggers, and crazy drivers. A city’s risks arise from its freedom, as does the city’s lure as a destination.

To be a lure, a safe space offers something special, usually entertainment: think of Disneyland, Disney World, and similar places. They provide safety by controlling the entry and exit, restricting behavior, and so on.

We apply a similar trade-off to our software. Many people have never worried about software flaws in general; older computer workers stopped worrying a long time ago. We’ve found that software can be both flawed and incredibly useful or compelling.