Thought for the day: Don't you know there's a war on?

Amid the fears of terrorism and weapons of mass distruction, companies still need to address the risk to cybersecurity. But is it...

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Amid the fears of terrorism and weapons of mass distruction, companies still need to address the risk to cybersecurity. But is it too little too late? asks Simon Moores.



I see Mayor Livingstone hasn’t ruled out his congestion cameras remaining as a security measure, even if the charge itself was ever discontinued, which appears rather unlikely.

He’s quoted as saying, "There's now an added benefit that we didn't anticipate." And, naturally, being Ken, he said much more, but I suppose most of us would have guessed that traffic congestion was only part of the argument behind the introduction of more cameras.

More than 20 years ago we had the introduction of the M25. Few people realise that this also concealed a dual purpose as a boundary, as my wife, who used to work at No. 10, frequently reminds me. In the event of a biological attack or even insurrection, which was a concern to government in the 1970s, London can be "quarantined" very quickly by the military - if there were enough them left in the country at the time.

It seems then that wherever you go this month, you can’t escape the subject of security, whether it is in cyberspace or simply an eye in the sky.

Earlier this week I received a "red alert" from e-Secure. It warned of a potential possible denial of service attack against mail relays, and had already counted "well over 70,000 messages spread over four relays from 100 hosts".

This rather makes me think of what comes after SQL-Slammer. I’m told that this was only "seven lines short" of the potential for a much nastier and more damaging payload.

However, we can now sleep safe in our beds because those brave boys from the DTI have launched a security section on the UK Online for Business website. A sort of "How to" guide to keeping ahead of the threat presented by the internet, together with useful tips about wrapping a server in brown paper to protect it from the effects of a nuclear explosion or the liberal application of duct-tape to keep viruses out of the network.

Since then, of course, we’ve had Slammer and explosion in broadband and an 85% increase in the number of vulnerabilities, according to Symantec.

Until now, Britain has never been keen to start a war on time and the threat to business from cyberspace is no different than the search for weapons of mass destruction. Absence of evidence, is after all, evidence of absence and "security", says Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for Trade and Industry, but not weapons of mass destruction "has risen up the agenda over recent years, but is still often seen as a technical issue".

So for now, there is a useful campaign to raise levels of awareness on information security risks in addition to the more important message concerning weapons of mass destruction and the threat that both represent to businesses.

Unfortunately it’s more likely that the SMEs that this message is aimed at are more likely to go looking for the information on the website after they have been compromised, rather than before, and then, of course, they have to remember where it is in the first place. It’s easy,

So, a pat on the back to the DTI for pulling out the proverbial finger before the remaining 40% of businesses in the UK who haven’t been damaged in some way by the internet are. It’s a start, but it may be too little too late.

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Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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