A New Book for a New Year

Today is a special day for me as it marks the official publication of my book “Managing the Human Factor in Information Security“. I received a box full of copies a few days ago. Ever since then, my friends have been admiring the shiny blue and grey cover and the fine white paper. It’s a beautiful book, even if I say so myself. Interestingly, Amazon are already selling used copies at premium prices, even though none have yet been shipped. I guess that’s a good way of making money out of books that have larger advance orders than the initial stock.

Putting the book together has taught me a lot about life, people and publishing. I’ve researched many subjects that I hadn’t previously delved into. I collected numerous ideas, tips and suggestion from friends, and I fused it all with my own experiences into a new set of principles and conclusions. I also found myself reading newspaper and magazine articles with new eyes, picking up nuances that I might otherwise have missed. In fact, writing a book is a powerful learning process that I’d recommend to everybody. 

I also learned a lot about the difficulties of getting the bugs out of a large body of text. I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself, so I tend to check everything I write. Yet even after carefully checking the manuscript, subjecting it to three independent reviews and having it professionally proof-checked, I still uncovered hundreds of flaws in the final proofs, and a few in the corrected proofs. Given the ever-accelerating nature of the business world and the consequential growing expense from delays in carrying out multiple checks, this means that we are heading for a world increasingly characterised by inaccurate information.   

Encouragingly, the book was printed a week ahead of schedule. This seems to be a rare achievement. When I told Fred Piper last year that we were aiming for an end-of-January publication date, his reaction was “Wanna bet?” That’s because he’d been involved in lots of books and none were published on time. Bruce Schneier also admits to being very late in completing the manuscript to his book “Secrets and Lies”. Given the busy nature of modern executives and academics, perhaps this points to world also characterised by late and incomplete information.

In fact, data quality will be one of the largest business problems of the next decade. And that means not only ensuring that the data is accurate, but also that we deliver the right information, at the right place, at the right time. Addressing this problem will be one of my priorities for this year.