Time for some privilege management

Working in infosec, we use the term “privilege access management” to refer to security tools that determine which users have what kinds of rights to access particular applications, devices and networks. But when I read this recent Protocol story (that is the name of the online pub, btw) about a tech writer who turned down a potential job with a software firm because they were using Teams (that is the name of the Microsoft software, btw), I had to stop and think about this.

This is what the Great Resignation has come to? Granted, I am not a big fan of Teams but heck, that would not be a dealbreaker when I would consider joining a company.  At least they aren’t using AOL IM, which was the messaging standard — even for corporations — back in 2006 when I wrote this story for the NY Times.

But still. I guess in these days where it is a job seeker’s market, you don’t have to check your privilege at the Teams web portal, to inelegantly coin a new phrase.

Back in the olden times — say the early 90s — people who wanted to use Macs had trouble getting them purchased for their corporate desktop or laptop of choice. Thankfully we have all moved on from that era. So I guess it was only a matter of time before someone, as misguided as the dude in the Protocol story, would vote with his feet or keyboard or whatever and seek employment elsewhere.”The vibes are off.” What, is he also a music critic?

Now, being a member of the tech writing community I am embarrassed about this. And unlike the Mac/Windows dichotomy of yore, we are talking about the software this potential privileged person will use to connect to his peers. And a collaborative piece of software: this is something that everyone has to use to derive value.

Remember how tech companies used to lure candidates by having free food prepared by on-site chefs, well tricked-out workout rooms, and snack closets that could compete with Trader Joes? Now I guess this means that companies will have to offer Slack safe spaces now (or whatever piece of software offends the next potential new hire). It is a sad day indeed for all of us.

2 thoughts on “Time for some privilege management

  1. Your comment about the ID debacle at IRS reminds me of something a bit unrelated that I wonder about. Hope this isn’t too off-topic. We’ve read that billions of dollars in unemployment benefits were sent to fraudulent applicants who masqueraded as US citizens – but were actually criminals from around the world. Wouldn’t the states’ unemployment computer systems notice where these applications came from? Did the criminals use something like a Proxy server (not sure if that’s the correct term) to conceal their true whereabouts in Russia or wherever? I find this level of successful fraud astonishing.

  2. This is an interesting one, and the example of people wanting Macs instead of PCs is something I remember well 20-25 years ago. While I understand that some people prefer Slack, or Zoom, or Teams, I can’t imagine that you would turn down a job or company over something like that. This could be an over-rotation (or over-reaction) in the age of the great resignation. And, are the tools really that different? Over time, these tools may all become more similar as certain features become a standard request among users. Time will tell.

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