-1 Factor Authentication (negative trustworthiness elements)

a box full of used lanyards

Many places of work implement forms of security that are used as part of a human’s trust gestalt, their holistic group identity calculation, that are actually more trouble than they’re worth.

Take for example, the lanyard. Some are pretty fancy. Some might just be a colour, or have basic text on them like “STAFF” or “VISITOR”. Insisting that everyone wears one, as if it increases security, is counter-productive. It is being used as a visual shiboleth, when in fact it is trivial to (pronounce) get hold of. If I meet a stranger in the corridor, and they’ve got a lanyard on, I might be less inclined to challenge them, my internal Bayesian graph has just afforded them a bit more trust weight. I don’t ask to see their ID card. I don’t ask “can I help you?” or “who are you here to see?”.

Bad ID badges are possibly worse. These can be printed on any inkjet printer- indeed the hardest thing might be to simulate the crappy quality most specialised badge printers seem to be capable of. But they are trusted far more than a lanyard, and easier to replicate at home, from a photo taken covertly or downloaded from the company website.

Even in places where the badges are normally scrutinised closely on entry, a little fire drill, with the mass exodus and subsequent mass ingress, and you will sail right in.

The box in the picture? 10p per lanyard at a car boot sale. Didn’t rummage around, but you can see ones for Oracle. Granted, these were probably from where they were sponsoring a sporting event or conference, but you never know what little ledges you can use as a springboard.

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