Razors & Computer Security

Remember back when razors came as a single blade? Then we advanced to twin blades and multiple blades. My current razor has three blades. It’s all in the pursuit of the closest shave possible.

And that was a good thing. It used to be so hazardous walking on the street as a man. You’d be going along, minding your own business, when, suddenly, a car screeches to a halt beside you, lights flashing. Uniformed people would leap out and surround you. “Let us feel your shave,” they would order, “to ensure it’s the closest that it can be.”

You had no choice but to comply, or risk getting sent to a barber for a shave. Our nation had no tolerance for any but the cleanest shaved man.

That’s how it seemed, at least from the commercials and advertisements.

I’ve always been amused by that approach, that more blades mean a closer shave, and more particularly, that a close shave is critical to civilization’s continued existence. We seem to be going down a similar path with computer security. If one layer of authentication is good, two is better. Hence, they’ve launched double-layered and two-step authentication. Naturally, it’s doomed to fall. Experts don’t seriously believe an absolutely secure computer is possible, if it’s accessing the web.

But I see a day in the future when companies and websites will tell you, “We’re more secure, because we have three layers of security.” Then someone else will announced, “Our security is better because we have four layers,” and the security race will be on.

Razors and computer security weren’t the first to think that if some was good, more was better. Remember American car ads, touting lower, longer, wider?

1949 Hudson Ad-02

Ford probably took the idea of more is better to an unusual but clever conclusion. They speculated that if some was good, then more is better with its front-end dive on braking. If some dive indicated your car’s brakes were doing their job and stopping you, then more dive would indicate better braking, right? They saved a lot of money and gained sales by gaming people into the perception their brakes were better because of that impressive front-end dive when you slammed on the brakes, when nothing had been changed.

Of course, we’ve always had the cubic inch and horsepower race. Still do, actually. Because, as they say, if some is good, more is better.

Probably why we have so many nukes in the United States. At least it feeds the perception that we’re safer.

Like with computers.


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