On how critical the data that people work with is, I can't speak for most programmers. Speaking for myself, I have never had a programming job where I didn't wind up learning very sensitive things about people. My sense is that this is pretty typical. People stick information in a database, I have access to the database. People want to improve workflow, I get access to whatever data is in that workflow. People want financial reports run, I get to see the financial data.
I generally don't care about the data I have access to, but I get that access, and the fact that it is worth hiring me to work with the data means that someone thinks that it is worth a lot.
Well there's also the threat. If you are writing something that sells CDs on the internet, then anyone can access it and anyone can/will attack it. A web front end for some mid level managers though (passwd protected so only they can get to it) has a much lower chance of being attacked, so from that point of view while it might be sensitive screwing up and allowing XSS etc. isn't as bad as if it'd happened on amazon.com etc.
For instance I've worked at places (I managed to leave quickly though :) where people mostly used telnet and had numerous machines where people had root access ... and one place where everyone used one machine for shell access, and gave the root password to it out. Hell one place I contracted at had single letter root passwords everywhere and they dealt with medical information. And while that is completely insane, IMO. The employees while having easy access to the gasoline and lighter, didn't burn the place down on a daily basis. Admittedly if they were knowledgeable enough and wanted to they wouldn't be seen ... but generally the people either weren't knowledgeable or didn't want to.
But maybe I'm being somewhat too optimistic about the entire race :).
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