An online friend of mine from China once told me they loved the song “Amazing Negro”. It only took a moment to realize “Amazing Grace” http://www.sumo.tv/watch.php?video=3451832 was the song they were referring to.
The song is best known as a “negro spiritual” and so I can understand the mental mix up, especially for one whose native tongue is not English. As I was recalling the incident I decided I wanted to hear the song and one of my search results was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace.
To my surprise the lyrics were written by an Englishman who once was a sailor on slave trading ships. He later became a minister and a hymn writer. The lyrics have been put to over 20 different melodies through the years, including this rendition by the Blind Boys of Alabama who recorded the lyrics to the melody of the song The House of the Rising Sun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZJ-kLKut9E.
What’s this got to do with security? There are a lot of parallels. Security is an art and a language and the better we practice it, the more fluent we become in its creation and implementation. The more we practice the more eloquent our solutions.
There are a lot of beliefs about security that often are grounded in some fact, but get part of it wrong or incorrect conclusions are drawn. An example that comes to mind is the advice to not open attachments from suspicious sources. This is a good idea, but incomplete. People’s email accounts get hacked and it is also quite easy to spoof an email address. Just because you know the person who sent the email or instant message or wall comment on your social networking site, it doesn’t mean that person actually sent it.
Throughout the years the research team here at ESET has written a lot about security and we will continue to do so. If you can make security your song, instead of your chore, you’re going to enjoy computing a lot more. For me, creating great passwords is a fun challenge. I challenge myself to make something really strong that I can remember. It is an exercise in creativity that also leads to better security.
Interestingly I found another parallel in the lyrics to the song.
“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.”
I’m sure the more you learn about security the more you learn there is to fear, but then, while your fears may not totally be relieved, you will find yourself less fearful when you know how to avoid the common mistakes that most victims could have easily avoided.
So, as I was researching Amazing Grace and deciding which version or versions I wanted to link to for this article, I came across a few versions that I found interesting and/or impressive.
This 7 year old can really sing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-OYlnGpqKA&feature=pyv&ad=4465020880&kw=amazing%20grace
This two year old (now about 5) is pretty cute and pretty darned good for one so young
This Native American version is pretty unique http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvYIjFtPQEk
And Arlo Guthrie has done the song on multiple occasions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2vn5VIdnBw
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, We Live Security