Orwell’s rules in security

I came across the “six rules of English language” set forth by George Orwell in his essay “Politics and the English Language” in one of the posts on Jordan Bortz’s Software Architecture Blog. They are:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules are absolutely essential for good system or application security. All too often we have the situation where the real target is to provide an insecure system and it is obfuscated by the use of this “political language”. To turn the words of Orwell to our subject, the great enemy of software security is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one does not get proper security.

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