Of all the issues facing the high-tech careerist in the
coming year, security, in all its forms, should be the top priority on everyone’s
list. I am not just talking about Internet firewalls,
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and encryption, though. While all these are
important, security involves the entire company, not just a few pieces of
computer equipment. As a high-tech careerist, it will be your responsibility
to convey the importance of technology security to everyone. This is simple
self-preservation. Regardless of who might be at fault, if security is breached
at your company, you will quickly find that everyone will hold you responsible.
Keeping unauthorized users out of your systems can be a tremendous amount
of work. Free-roaming "script kiddies" will be using their downloaded
hacker toolkits to try every technology doorknob in your site, looking for
an easy entry. Viruses and worms will try to trick unwary users into opening
backdoors in their systems and spewing infected emails both inside and outside
of the company. The good news is that there are a variety of tools to help
you protect and monitor your systems including firewall software and hardware
and anti-virus programs. The bad news is, there are more insidious holes in
your security, often of your own making.
If you fail to develop security procedures to accompany all the hardware and
software mentioned above you might as well turn it all off and let people
freely wander through your systems. All the technology in the world cannot
combat lax internal policies.
Do you have a procedure for assigning and removing user Ids for network servers
and other resources? Do you have old IDs floating around for users that left
months, or even years, ago? If so, you are in good company. Many other businesses
have similar holes lurking in their systems. While a past employee might not
actively engage in the sabotage or unauthorized use of your systems, others,
with less noble intentions could easily make use of IDs and passwords they
come across. Don’t take any chances. Lock down your systems and treat
passwords they way you treat the keys to your own house. If you lost your
keys, you wouldn’t hesitate to replace your locks. Do the same for your
More than ever, the security of your systems depends on your ability to recover
from crises both large and small. Along with the usual issues of flood, fire
and earthquakes you must also think about new situations that could damage
or remove access to your building. There may never be another terrorist attack
or HazMat situation, but the mere threat of these attacks is enough to evacuate
buildings and cordon off entire blocks. You need to be able to cope with the
worst, even if you can’t access your equipment directly.
Backups, in all their forms, are your best protection against any and all
crises. They come in many forms and levels. First, even in smaller companies,
all data and specialized programs should be duplicated and stored at a remote
site on a regular (no less than weekly) basis. This information would allow
you to set up shop at a new site, on new equipment, if necessary. Backups
such as this are your first line of defense. Nothing can protect your company,
and your career, better than the ability to rebuild your entire operation.
Secondly, you should have some way to access systems from off-site locations,
in a secure fashion. This type of setup would allow you to move personnel
off-site while still maintaining access to your systems. Even though you would
lose access to hard copy information, the data in your systems would allow
the company to continue working.
Along with physical backups, you will need procedures in place that allow
you to maintain and make use of these backups, should the need arrive. Tapes
and other storage media need to be checked regularly to insure that they actually
hold data and are not blank due to some technology or human failure. Backups
must be kept current and rotated out to off-site locations. Finally, you will
need to develop and test procedures that will allow you to deal with some
of the issues mentioned above. Even if you have all your data, you will need
to know how you will rebuild your operations from the ground up, if needed.
Protect your systems and your high-tech career this year by focusing on security
in your company. You may never need these backups or procedures, but if you
do , you will need them desperately.
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about this column.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/
He can reached via email at email@example.com