Being an InfoSec Professional / Cybersecurity / Links

Misuse of the word “firewall”

Political reporters/analysts have taken to using the word “firewall”.  To which we as cybersec geeks can only respond “huh”?

To be bi-partisan about it, I provide two examples.

Writing about the South Carolina Democratic Party primary, CNN says “At the heart of Clinton’s strategy to sew up the Democratic nomination is the notion that minority voters are a firewall of sorts that will prevent Sanders from accumulating the delegates he’d need to stop her.” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/27/politics/south-carolina-democratic-primary-what-to-watch/index.html ).

Then on the GOP side, the National Review had this:  “’Rubio’s path to the first three states is small,’ says one Republican state official. ‘It’s obvious that his campaign sees Nevada as his firewall.’” (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/428823/marco-rubio-nevada-caucuses-ted-cruz ).

Somewhere, someone did not spend enough time with their thesaurus.   Firewalls are, of course, preventive controls.  They keep things from crossing between one side of them and the other (they allow things too, of course).  In fact, since firewalls both allow and deny traffic, their function is more  governing rather than just denying.

But the important point is that firewalls are controls on transactions.  This is why legal analysts will say that campaign finance law requires a “firewall” between a candidate’s campaign and their Super PAC.  Because transactions, i.e., communication/coordination, is not permitted between them.

Somewhere, someone mixed that up with the idea that a large number of delegates creating a barrier to a candidate losing a nominating contest can be described as a “firewall”.  Sounds slick, but it’s inaccurate.  Call it an “insurmountable obstacle,” or a “an overwhelming lead,” or “irresistible momentum,” but the idea that a group of committed delegates somehow prevents transactions between two entities makes no sense.

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