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Continuum says there’s money in cyber crime, but SignIn pulls us back from the brink

Cyber crime looks like child’s play in TV dramas – and could the visitor’s book at datacentres be a weak link in security?

Cyber security is the one area of IT that should spark joy in end-users, because we are all so fascinated by it. But sadly, the pomposity and pedantry of some security experts is a passion killer that dampens the enthusiasm of even the keenest buyer.

It shouldn’t be that way because the public has an insatiable appetite for crime. Practically every second drama on TV is about a maverick cop who investigates crime in his or her own unique way. Or a criminal who has come out of retirement for one last job – but finds that things don’t quite go to plan.

As anyone who knows any detectives will know, these BBC bad boys are way off the mark and embarrassingly inauthentic.

Their depiction of cyber crime is the most risible. In one cop show, a “nerd” is seen typing the words “divert gold bullion lorry to the docks” and the very next second, it makes a sharp turn towards the criminals’ lair. Even more laughable is the fact that the police get there almost as quickly and make arrests.

Having spoken to a a succession of cyber crime experts, from Bucharest to Boston via Basingstoke, the consensus of opinion seems to be this: cyber crime pays.

According to risk avoidance expert Michael George, CEO of Continuum, cyber criminals are agile, innovative and have a tiny forensic footprint. Most normal plods wouldn’t spot an anomaly if they saw an elephant wandering down Oxford Street, but the cyber cops really have their work cut out anyway.

To make matters worse, security awareness is so bad in the UK that many people are being conned by robot robbers. As a result, says George, the cyber crime industry is booming, the pay is brilliant and nobody gets caught.

I’m tempted to join, until George points out that there are 250,000 students employed as hackers, attempting to rob British businesses as we speak on behalf of the Chinese government. There’s no way I could hold my own in such a brutally competitive environment. I might have to stay on this side of the law.

Exciting opportunity

Luckily, an exciting opportunity to become a security reseller has arisen, thanks to the genius of Dan Harding, CEO of

I say genius because he’s created a complex system that is easy to understand, and is one of the hallmarks of brilliance.

Most companies have one massively obvious vulnerability that you don’t have to be a Russian hacker to exploit. All a criminal has to do is visit their reception and then, when presented with the visitor’s book, quickly photograph as many pages as possible.

I can speak from personal experience of scanning the visitor’s book of a datacentre, a digital agency and a daily newspaper, and you get an instant comprehensive impression of their trading status.

Big software companies pay top dollar to competitive intelligence spies to find out what their rivals are up to. That’s arguably a borderline illegal activity but they’re all at it. Think what hackers, digital hostage-takers and blackmailers could do with that information.

SignIn offers a secure digital alternative – which is too complex to describe here. Suffice it to say that it keeps every entry private, so you don’t get to see the name, job title, company and car registration of every other visitor. Nor do you find out who they are seeing.

Who’s in the building?

This system also offers clients a good personnel management system, so in the event of a fire, the company can see exactly who is in the building.

There is a massive opportunity for a security reseller here as the system is easy to explain, simple to install and there’s a mass market for it. “You’d be amazed at the types of organisation that use pen and paper,” says CEO and founder Dan Harding.

High-tech companies are especially vulnerable. Think how many datacentres you’ve visited where the security guard is on a minimum wage and the signing-in book is open to allcomers.

By nicking information from the visitor’s book, anyone pitching for business can gain an advantage on their competitors. This can range from tailoring their own pitch in accordance with their rivals or playing some dirty trick on them. When you’ve seen how PR companies stitch each other up – and they’re supposed to be nice! – then you’ll know anything is possible.

Having worked for a reseller, Harding is likely to be channel-friendly and you could expect some sympathetic support. Anyway, I must go now – Mark Zuckerberg is in reception. At least, that’s who he said he was. He’s been down there 10 minutes, so he’s probably read the entire visitor’s book.

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