Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Medical Vaccines as an Analogy to Information Security

In the information security field, we often encounter an ethical dilemma. Should information become public, so that people can protect themselves, or better decide how to do so. Or should it remain secret so that larger harm is prevented? The world of Vaccines shows us an image of how medical professionals deal with the issue.

I recently wrote a blog post on an unrelated subject, vaccines and their risks. I have been gathering information on whether they are safe for some time now.

While they are in fact, in the vast majority of cases, safe, there is no easily available information online as to the risks associated with vaccination. Most of this data, therefore, can be found in scare-monger websites, spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Whatever reason vaccine professionals have to take the party-line, we can assume one reason they do not wish public debate to avoid risk of more people not vaccinating, potentially increasing the death-toll and causing epidemics.

The similarities don't end there, and it truly is fascinating. For example the World Health Organization (WHO) monitors disease globally, detects new epidemics and responds accordingly, and thus monitoring the success of vaccines as well.

An interesting anecdote is on global risk analysis. How regulation trumps personal liberties world-wide in vaccination programs for new-born babies, as the risk of epidemics outweighs the infringement. Some people claim that this is no longer the case, and that these programs need to be reexamined. They seem to be wrong, but information is not easily available online. It is interesting to note, as once successful, even if it was no longer helpful I very much doubt society would easily change in this regard, much like I am sure it was difficult to initiate this program to begin with.

I doubt such regulation will happen in information security, but a common stance such as vaccine developers and medical doctors have on emerging threats could be highly beneficial to our field, when approaching the public.

Many interesting strategic and psychological lessons can be learned by examining this field, when compared to information security.

Gadi Evron,
ge@linuxbox.org.

Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/gadievron

1 comment:

Chris Anton said...

Whatever reason vaccine professionals have to take the party-line, we can assume one reason they do not wish public debate to avoid risk of more people not vaccinating, potentially increasing the death-toll and causing epidemics.

Thanks Nice Post
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