Jan 05 2014
I’m back after a two week self-inforced haitus from all things security and work related. For the last 14 days, I haven’t checked emails, I haven’t been on twitter, I haven’t checked the news, I haven’t read the news sites. I’ve simply spent time with my family, played Minecraft, watched anime and eaten my way through the Christmas holidays. And there was gifts in there somewhere as well. Vacation started as a weekend in Munich, but the vast majority of it was spent at home near London with no deadlines, except a couple of shopping trips with the wife and kids. All in all, it was one of the most relaxing times I’ve had in years. And it was sorely needed.
All jobs are stressful to one degree or another, it’s just a fact of life. But security is a more stressful job then most. I’ve done a few panels with other security professionals talking about the stress we face, and we’ve done (okay, mainly folks like Jack Daniel and K.C. Yerrid have done) some research into it and found that our high stress is an actual fact, not just something we say to make ourselves feel more important. Our chosen career is difficult to be good at, we’re constantly under multiple conflicting demands and it almost never slows down. Is it any wonder that we feel stressed?
It’s almost a joke when you talk to security professionals about substance abuse in our industry. It’s nearly expected of people to get stupid at conferences. But it’s not a joke at all, something that was graphically illustrated by the loss of Barnaby Jack last year. Substance abuse may not be an industry wide problem, but it’s definitely something that we need to be aware of. I can think of at least half a dozen people who I’ve jokingly made comments about in the last couple of years who might be in real danger. Most of them know they can come to me if they need support, but I know that’s the best I can do if they don’t want to change. How many people do you know in a similar position? Have you expressed concern or at least let them know you will help if they ask?
It’s not my place to get preachy or say I’m any better than anyone else, but I do think we need to be aware and check our own stress levels from time to time. Let your friends in the industry know you’ll support them if they need help, but more importantly, know when you need to take a break and get away from the whole scene once in a while. We do important work, but we can’t do it if we’re too wrapped up in our own problems to function properly.
Now to get caught up on two weeks of work emails. Luckily, most of my co-workers took the Christmas holidays off, at least in part, so it won’t be quite as bad as it could be.