Vol. 8/No. 4 July 2007
Feature Article

U.K. Official and SurfControl CEO Agree: Leaders Must be Serious About Security

A “horrifying” number of companies and government agencies have admitted to serious IT security lapses, says U.K. Information Commissioner Richard Thomas. His mid-July report urges top-level managers to increase their focus on Internet threats.

"Business and public sector leaders must take their data-protection obligations more seriously,” Thomas says in the report. “The majority of organizations process personal information appropriately—but privacy must be given more priority.”

Thomas is absolutely right and the concerns he raises apply to companies of all sizes, in every country, says Patricia Sueltz, SurfControl CEO. The need for high-level attention to these issues extends to government leaders, she adds.

“Every board member and every management team should be interested in security,” says Sueltz, who notes that governments around the world are discussing legislation to address information-protection requirements. “An executive-level focus on security fits into strategy and a forward vision.”

It’s not clear exactly what will emerge from discussions and proposals among members of the European Union, the U.S. Congress, and legislators in other countries and organizations, but the result will be more computer-security laws and regulations, Sueltz believes. “This is a bellwether for what’s happening,” she says. “Clearly, the direction is toward more security-related requirements.”

There will be additional pressure from individuals who hear about security problems and suffer because of them, says Sueltz. When popular TV shows address ID theft, and it’s in the mainstream press, the increased awareness and concern creates pressure for companies and governments to take action, she believes. All the while, stories abound about companies and agencies all over the world who are encountering business disruptions caused by viruses and other malware.

“When it comes to security, every entity is global and things are always changing” says Sueltz, who relates that a Tokyo policeman was recently fired for accidentally leaking confidential information via file-sharing software. “I believe that layered protection and managed services are things that people in leadership positions need to understand and focus on. We’ve seen before, and we’ll see again that failing to focus on security can cause real problems.”

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