Security officer's advice has a ring to it

Security officer's advice has a ring to it

When she's not securing systems or chasing down bad code, Bette Pollard releases her creative anxiety through poems, jingles and limericks.

Bette Pollard
Until recently, her work mostly turned up at office farewell parties. 'Whenever somebody leaves the office, I write them a jingle,' she said.

'It's a hobby,' she said.

A few months ago Pollard, an information systems security officer at the National Institutes of Health, 'decided to turn it to something more practical.'


size="2">'I'm so discouraged in getting involved in the acquisition process because it's so stovepiped. We have to ask ourselves, 'Are we trusting people to do the right thing?' '

size="1">'Marine Commandant Gen. James L. Jones [Page 10]

size="2">'You'd be surprised at the number of agencies that don't have security plans
in place.'

size="1">'Barry West, information assurance expert at GSA's Office of Electronic Government [Page 12]

size="2">'Technology is like a steamroller. Either you get on board or you become part of the pavement.'

size="1">'Rep Tom Davis (R-Va.) [Page 1]

In the process, she may have invented a new genre: computer security poetry. Pollard uses her poems'or jingles, as she describes them'to offer helpful reminders to NIH users.

Some are spoken, and some are set to music. 'My Database Things,' for instance, goes to the tune of 'My Favorite Things.' 'The Easter Sonnet,' is a tale of e-mail run amok set to the tune of 'The Easter Bonnet,' and replacing the refrain about the Easter parade with 'As the spammers invade.'

All of them are in fun, and, in their own way, help raise users' awareness about security. Pollard now includes them in a computer security class she teaches at NIH. Early this month she recited some of them at a security conference.

An example of her rhymes with a reason follows. Pollard says she prefaces this one with a basic explanation of a distributed denial-of-service attack: a hacker places software on a client through a back door; when the hacker sends a command, the client carries out its orders unwittingly, like a zombie.

PC Zombie Jamboree

If your computer had a 'back door' or was 'trapped'

In each case your computer has been zapped.

A hacker might put software on your PC.

If he did, how could you see?

Hacker's write programs that are so sly,

They are hard to find, and that is why,

On some unsuspecting NIH workstations,

Software has been placed by hostile penetrations.

The computer can be used for the hacker's machinations.

What he can do is beyond imaginations.

He could turn your machine off and on to be mean,

Or put funny pictures on your computer screen.

What would you do to stop this foe?

First you should call your friendly ISSO.

If you want to find where they exist,

Use your Web site, and see the list.

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