News
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10/14/2005
03:17 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Business Technology: Rainy-Day Dreams For A Better IT World

Endless rain and more bad news on the cybersecurity front leave Bob Evans with nothing to do but slink back to bed, bury his head under the covers, and take a nap. Such dreams...

As of last week, it had rained for 38 straight days and nights in New York, and by Friday the rats in the subway tracks were using canoes to get around. With water a foot deep in the streets, taxi drivers welded their cab doors shut and made passengers get in and out through the windows. Umbrella rage, triggered by too many umbrella-spoke blows to the scalp, forehead, and eyeballs, led to fisticuffs and thousands of arrests. Savvy dog-walker entrepreneurs quickly rebranded themselves as dog-whitewater-rafters, leading the ACLU to sue the city for depriving the canines of their right to be walked on dry concrete.

Sodden and sulking, I sought some solace in the world of business technology via InformationWeek.com--surely, I thought, my soggy spirits would be lifted by some tales of bold business innovation, dazzling new tools, and global-commerce breakthroughs. But no--the gray, soggy, dank, dark, and depressing run continued as the site was jammed with news of exploits created so quickly that they hit the market faster than the patches they were designed to attack; forecasts that instant-messaging attacks, already growing at 2,000% per year, will grow even faster next year; reports that spyware is building up its immune systems against both technological and legislative assaults; and reluctance from banks for a variety of reasons to make their ATMs safer by installing biometric technology.

OTHER VOICES
If Google is smart--and it does appear to be very smart indeed--Google will stick to the server-based software model that it's built its success on. If Google is smart, it will let Microsoft continue in the increasingly difficult business model of licensing software that users install and run on their own machines. Microsoft is having problems on its 30th birthday; the best thing you can do when your enemy is having problems is just stand back and watch.

--Mitch Wagner, InformationWeek blog, Oct. 10



Feeling lower than even the millions of Yankee fans all around me, cowed by the deluge and buffaloed by the cyber bad guys, I did the only reasonable thing: I slinked back to bed, buried my head under the covers, and took a nap. Such dreams...

I dreamed that banks had finally realized that (1) customers are very concerned about financial privacy and security and (2) banks have the technology at their disposal to safeguard against many types of fraud so (3) the banks introduced a set of IT-based security services that customers could purchase, including biometric authentication. (And, since this was not only a dream but specifically MY dream, the ACLU did *not* sue the banks for being capitalist, privacy-violating pigs.)

I dreamed that Microsoft and Yahoo, instead of revealing an IM partnership precipitated out of fear, created a joint venture focused on enhancing the privacy and cybersecurity of the tens of millions of consumers who use their networks. Starting at $2 a month for the starter kit, the services ranged to $20 a month for a deluxe package. In addition, the joint venture also recruited Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, and Intel to create an online Cool Computer Skills education/entertainment network for students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

I dreamed that some (oxymoronical?) innovative universities created "Crime Scene Investigation"-type curricula aimed at drawing bright young minds not to old-fashioned computer science but instead to CyberCriminal Science programs aimed at combating online child pornography, identity theft, fraud, and all the latest ph- stuff. And in this dream, while many traditional computer-science faculty fought the idea, young people loved the idea of pursuing an education they found interesting, challenging, and relevant.

I dreamed the Trusted Traveler program was launched with much fanfare and straight talk: First, without question, its top priority is now and always will be the safety of passengers and the security of air travel. But another high priority is eliminating as much hassle as possible for as many law-abiding fliers as possible by combining biometric technology (retina scans, facial recognition, fingerprint recognition) with powerful databases populated with information given freely by travelers eager to gain the benefits of the program. And, fantasy of fantasies, the ACLU did not sue.

And I dreamed the sun came up, the rats went back to hoofing on foot, and many in the technology business came to realize that they need to stop pretending that it's someone else's responsibility to attack cybercrime and the other perversions that their stuff has helped to spawn.

Bob Evans
Editorial Director
bevans@cmp.com


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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