National Cyber Security Centre to replace 'whitelist' and 'blacklist' terminology

  • The National Cyber Security Centre will now be using 'allow list' and 'deny list' in its cyber-security guidance and advice to help combat racism.

    The tech sector has always had a problem with inclusivity and diversity, and part of the problem revolves around the language being used across the industry. Every field in tech has its own terminology and shared language, and unintentionally problematic language use can make people feel unwelcome in tech roles.

    The Nation Cyber Security Centre's Head of Advice and Guidance has now announced that the centre will no longer be using the terms 'whitelist' and 'blacklist' in its advice and guidance in order to help stamp out racism in the cyber-security industry. It will instead be using the alternative terms 'allow list' and 'deny list' in their place. These terms have already become standard among many large cyber-security firms and applications and are also more descriptive of their uses.

    RELATED: NI Dev Conf: Kenigbolo Meya Stephen on the language of inclusivity in tech

    In an interview following last year's NI Dev Conf event, we heard from tech speaker Kenigbolo Meya Stephen on some of the problematic language forming a barrier to inclusivity in tech. He raised examples such as the use of terms like "blacklist" for access controls, master/slave for computer hardware, or using gendered language in group emails.

    "In the name of helping to stamp out racism in cyber security, we will avoid this casually pejorative wording on our website in the future," said NCSC Head of Advice and Guidance Emma W, adding: "You may not see why this matters. If you're not adversely affected by racial stereotyping yourself, then please count yourself lucky. For some of your colleagues (and potential future colleagues), this really is a change worth making."

    Source: NCSC

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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