Security Theater and Covid-19

A major Washington DC property management company is putting out guidance on reducing Covid-19 risks.

Some of their recommendations make sense. Taking employee temperatures when they report to work every morning seems reasonable.

Some are dubious. Requiring retesting temperature when employees return from lunch is almost certainly overkill.

IT Security Guru Bruce Schneier

Security theater is not new. Bruce Schneier, a leading IT security expert defined security theater and provided an example in his essay Beyond Security Theater:

“Security theater refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security. An example: the photo ID checks that have sprung up in office buildings. No-one has ever explained why verifying that someone has a photo ID provides any actual security, but it looks like security to have a uniformed guard-for-hire looking at ID cards.” [Emphasis added]

Is security theater always bad? To the extent it reduces anxiety, it can be beneficial.

Other benefits are possible. One D.C. law firm decided that even though they could cover everything needed in their Covid-19 safety briefings in 20 minutes, they should last at least an hour.

Wasted time or wise precaution? Not sure, but if the law firm’s seriousness ever came into question, in litigation or otherwise, hour-long sessions might have at least some symbolic value.

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