16 ways in which software users are and are not like kittens

How software users are like kittens

I’m going to exploit you all with an article about kittens and security.

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It's summer,1 it's hot, nobody wants to work. What we all want to do is look at pictures of cute kittens and go "ahhh." So I'm going to exploit you all with an article about kittens and (vaguely about) security. It's light-hearted, it's fluffy, and it has a picture of two of our cats at the top of it. What's not to like?

Now, don't get me wrong: I like users realise the importance of users, really I do. They are the reason we have jobs. Unluckily, they're often the reason we wish we didn't have the jobs we do. I'm surprised that nobody has previously bothered to compile a list comparing them with kittens, so I've done it for you. For ease of reading, I've grouped ways in which users are like kittens towards the top of the table and ways in which they're unlike kittens towards the bottom (though I think we can all think of exceptions to almost all of the dissimilarities if we try hard enough).

Please enjoy this post, share it inappropriately on social media, and feel free to suggest other ways in which kittens and users are similar or dissimilar.

Research findings Hastily compiled table

Property Users Kittens 
Capable of circumventing elaborate security measures Yes Yes
Take up all of your time Yes Yes
Do things they're not supposed to Yes Yes
Forget all training instantly Yes Yes
Damage sensitive equipment Yes Yes
Can often be found on Facebook Yes Yes
Need cleaning up after Yes Yes
Can appear to be clueless, but are capable of extreme cunning at inopportune moments Yes Yes
Can turn savage for no obvious reason Yes Yes
Can be difficult to tell apart Yes Yes
Fluffy No Yes
Fall asleep a lot No Yes
Wake you up at night No Yes
Like to have their tummy tickled No Yes
Generally fun to be around No Yes
Generally lovable No Yes

1. At the time of writing, in the Northern Hemisphere, where I'm currently located. Apologies to all those readers for whom it is not summer.

This article originally appeared on Alice, Eve, and Bob – a security blog with a lot more footnotes and is republished with permission.

About the author

Mike Bursell - I've been in and around Open Source since around 1997, and have been running (GNU) Linux as my main desktop at home and work since then: not always easy...  I'm a security bod and architect, and am currently employed as Chief Security Architect for Red Hat.  I have a blog - "Alice, Eve & Bob" - where I write (sometimes rather parenthetically) about security.  I live in the UK and...