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May 2005

Layer 8: Debating policy vs. technology

Enterprises can't afford to get caught up in the technology vs. policy enforcement debate. It's always difficult to exert control over your IT systems' use. Unfortunately, many decision makers have only a dim understanding of the effects their control mechanisms have on the enterprise and their users. In Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lawrence Lessig suggests a four-factor model to help security managers understand the issues that establish IT system activity. According to Lessig, user activity is shaped by policy, culture, economics and technology. To varying degrees, controls can be implemented within each factor, yet effective risk reduction is accomplished through the overlapping of these factors as synergistic layers. If you assume that control is determined solely by policy and technology without taking into account the cultural and economic factors, you'll have a classic recipe for frustration. Likewise, you can't presume that technology or policy alone will compel good behavior or policy compliance. In Lessig's model...

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