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  • Writer's pictureMatt Ferguson

A Word on Tech Hype

The Internet changed marketing and advertising forever. Nearly unlimited reach combined with advanced audience metrics have made online marketing the advertiser’s sine qua non. Not so coincidentally, the Internet has also enabled some of the greatest scams and swindles of our time. More germane to the tech service domain, though, are breathless promises of breakthrough cybersecurity products, IoT devices that’ll change your life, and a litany of other products and services that tend to overpromise and under-deliver (usually with “AI-powered” somewhere in the product’s ad copy).

We cover a concept known as ‘zero trust’ on our website, which isn’t really one thing; it’s not a device, a service, or software. Zero trust describes a holistic approach to securing networks, no matter where users use their devices, by limiting user and app permissions to just the permissions they need to do the job at hand. Many MSPs (managed IT service providers) and TSPs (technical service providers) now claim to “offer” zero trust, as if it were a product. This kind of marketing belies an acute misunderstanding of how the technologies that these TSPs claim to implement actually work.

Be wary of this kind of marketing. Even mildly technically inclined marketers and unscrupulous IT professionals will talk over the average customer’s head, knowing that the customer probably won’t call them out if they’re wrong. The amount of grift, hype, and overpromising within the IT sphere is vast. IT pros lie to other IT pros, sometimes without even knowing it; the amount of knowledge a modern systems administrator has to have in order to do his job well is enormous; grift exists because bad information exists and the signal-to-noise ratio in technical marketing is so out of proportion that skilled IT people just don’t have the time or bandwidth to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

You rely on IT pros to know how the sausage is made and to give you the bullet-points of a new technology, a systems migration, or even a new device. It’s troubling to think even a lot of the people who work in the industry are confused and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of conflicting and low quality information there is now. The Internet serves to democratize access to knowledge, but at the same time amplifies junk.

Tech people tend to gather with other tech people and they’re usually not especially aware of the average person’s tech experience. Knowledge siloing is a problem among experts in any trade, wherein small communities form within a discipline and a relative few people end up knowing about one crucial element of a certain technology, while a few others know about another element. This is something that tech professionals and tech enthusiasts deal with on a daily basis.

Tech marketers straddle a gulf that exists between engineers and garden variety marketers, tending to lean more toward the marketing side than the engineering. This isn’t a bug, it’s a feature: for all their skill, engineers tend not to be very good at translating spec sheets into easily digestible language for the general public. As a result, an ad for a new cybersecurity product that proclaims it’s the only security product your company will ever need is not telling you the truth.

Security concepts like zero trust are important, but they are not ends unto themselves; as with all aspects of IT, cybersecurity is ever-evolving and demands multiple working pieces. An integrated, set-and-forget security system for your computers will never exist. If a company promises you a box that can sit in your server rack and protect your network from every threat, all without paying a security professional to manage it, they’re more interested in selling you something than they are in securing your corporate network.

It is true, though, that cybersecurity is much different than it was 20 years ago. We have smartphone-enabled multifactor authentication, automation and orchestration tools, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other things that make life for security professionals and customers easier. What we don’t have, however, is a single device or “killer app” that can mitigate your company’s risk from things like ransomware or denial-of-service attacks. Cybersecurity still requires that your employees be engaged and aware of their own security practices. It requires training and people won’t like it because good digital hygiene takes effort and is sometimes frustrating.

But the payoff is that, by doing the right things, we at Geek Housecalls, you, and your employees can minimize your company’s downtime and reduce your risk of a costly security breach. Get in touch with us today to see how we can give you the best security solution, rather than the easiest one.

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