Sharing your IT skills is a real gift

This is the season of giving and receiving, but for many of us this can be more to do with eau de toilette and socks than...

This is the season of giving and receiving, but for many of us this can be more to do with eau de toilette and socks than anything that makes a lasting difference to people's lives. So it is refreshing to find, as our article on p44 points out, that increasing numbers of the IT professionals who make up Computer Weekly's readership are looking to use their money, skills and time to improve the lives of others.

Fundraising events range from the grand to the gruelling. For example, the Intellect ICT charity ball raised £40,000 for autistic children this year, while the teams in the Three Peaks Challenge raised £130,000 for Care International.

Of course, it would be presumptuous to claim that IT professionals are more generous or committed in their fundraising activities than those belonging to other walks of life.

But they certainly have something special to offer in the information age where charities depend heavily on their websites for maintaining their profiles, IT forms the backbone of their administration and financial systems, and computer-based devices play a crucial part in helping disabled people to lead fuller lives.

That extra ingredient is the specialist skills and knowledge that IT professionals can bring to the work of a huge range of charities. The key player in this field is the IT4 Communities scheme which co-ordinates activities on behalf of 770 charities and has 2,250 registered volunteers.

For many IT professionals long and unpredictable hours make it a real challenge to commit to spending regular time on charitable activities. But, as many can already testify, rising to this challenge offers the deep satisfaction of a gift which has real meaning for both giver and receiver.


Don't let security slip

In the run-up to Christmas it is easy for staff to take their eyes off the ball when it comes to corporate security. Fortunately more and more organisations are waking up to the fact that data security means a lot more than simply sticking a firewall around the network.

Creating a security culture involving all employees is essential to protecting vital information and systems.

But any period of disruption - even one as enjoyable as Christmas - makes it easy for staff to lower their guard and for security standards to slip. The IT department should take the lead in making sure that this Christmas is a safe one.

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