Your shout: IT career not only for nerds, outsourcing failures, good security

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Computer Weekly readers give their views on the week's news

Provide an IT opportunity and the young will seize it

In response to Carloyn Kimber's article "We must turn 'nerd' into a badge of honour", I am 16 years old, I enjoy riding BMX bikes and socialising with friends.I am your average teenager, but I am also studying for a national diploma in IT. I have two Dell servers, hosting websites. I have set up a VPN and I am experimenting with directories and learning C++. I have built computers for friends and myself, and I also help the IT technician at my place of work.

I love working with computers, yet I do not wear a "nerd" badge, nor do the 21 people who are also on my college course. As a group, we are all fascinated by the ins and outs of a computer, and I am certain that there are other young people eager to learn how a computer works.

Kimber is right in saying, "Schools allow pupils to choose soft subjects that have no relevance to our industry." There were no facilities at school for me to take apart or to learn about computers. Unplugging a keyboard would get you in detention!

Despite this, I still wanted to learn. There are not enough opportunities to allow young people to explore the world of IT, but, given the opportunity, many would jump at the chance.

Matthew Gooch

Business and education must bridge the skills gap >>

Good news on UK IT skills shortage >>


Users are not to blame for outsourcing failures

Regarding John-Paul Kamath's article, "Outsourcing derailed by focus on ROI", I don't think that Computer Weekly readers should believe Compass's editorialising on its own results.

It is fair enough for them to say that IT outsourcing is failing due to corporate consideration of return on investment. That conclusion does make sense. But Compass goes on to say that IT outsourcing is failing because firms are "focusing too closely" on ROI!

If outsource service providers cannot deliver the required service and promised cost savings on time and on budget, then it is right for corporates to cut the contract. In that case, the corporates have proven the cost savings over-optimistically promised by the supplier to be a falsehood.

Secondly, failure of outsourcing contracts should never be blamed on the users. If the service provider cannot deliver and it blames users, it is like saying that food poisoning caught in restaurants is the fault of the diners because they ate the dinners provided. What nonsense!

The story is correct, though, in saying that the cost savings of using cheap offshore call centre labour are more than offset by the droves of grossly dissatisfied customers boycotting businesses that use call centres whose staff know nothing about the product, nothing about the vertical industry, and little about the business culture.

Allan Shriver, Director, Ecomm Reputation Management 

Half of FTSE firms forced to renogiatiate outsourcing terms >>


Good information security is about people

We read with interest Ian Mann's article "The human factor is key to good security", and we congratulate the author on highlighting what (ISC)2, as a professional organisation in the field, has been telling businesses for 17 years: good information security is about people, those that manage it and those that use the systems, including customers. It is about ensuring that all these people have the knowledge they need to live up to their responsibilities.

Security experts have told us, in our most recent Global Workforce Study, that they prioritise the human factor, overwhelmingly identifying management support for security policy, users following policy, and the need for qualified security staff ahead of the need for hardware and software solutions as critical factors in securing the enterprise.

This includes working with human resources staff, many of whom welcome input to better understand the challenge and to support employees - after all, HR is about more than recruiting.

Ian Mann points out that the CISSP guide states, "It is easier to prepare employees to withstand social engineering attacks than it is to set up a firewall." The point is that tackling social engineering will have a greater effect than a single firewall. So yes, Mr Mann, the security experts - at least those that are certified to have the knowledge to perform the task at hand - will save the day.

John Colley, Member of the board of directors, (ISC)2

(ISC)2 homepage >>

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