Editorial: HMRC's loss could be your gain

Editorial: Support from an unexpected ally
Editorial: Support from an unexpected ally

The British public are becoming used to major data losses occurring within public agencies, with the incidents at HMRC and DVLA forming part of a dismal period for the Government at the end of 2007.

No doubt Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and his hapless ministers, forced to explain the losses, will be hoping for some respite from this sort of calamity in 2008. General political observations are best left to other titles, but the consequences of these events will directly impact the working lives of SC readers.

The serious data losses and the banal way in which they occurred have raised public awareness of information and data security to an unprecedented level. Many ordinary people, for example now understand the concept of encryption (if not the execution) and the need for secure storage.

They will, with total justification, have cause for concern as to whether the government and its agencies are actually fit to be put in charge of the sensitive information it so readily demands its citizens to volunteer.

But this new awareness isn't confined to a government that most people no longer need much excuse to bash anyway. It includes the private agencies with which they engage on a daily basis. They will ask their banks, insurance companies, utility companies, supermarkets, online retailers etc "how well do you protect my personal data?". And that is now a very good and hard question.

The public don't differentiate between information security and a business that is secure. They just want to be able to trust the organisations they interact with and get on with their lives without fear of their personal details being traded online by criminal gangs.

Against this background, it's no surprise that a company like Verizon, which has entered the SC Top 30 in third place (see page 24) was, at the time of writing, running a high-profile campaign in the national and business press.

The statement was clear: buy from Verizon and it will deliver a full-service business solution - with security built-in. And, to repeat a message that this magazine has been instrumental in delivering to the corporate world, this is little to do with IT and everything to do with assurance.

Verizon, like fellow new entrant Google, is not even a traditional IT player or networking business. But, like Cisco, IBM and others, it has realised that security is a lucrative integrator for their product portfolio. It is becoming part of the glue that binds the company's offerings.

There is another message to be gleaned from this. If, as predicted, the world economy takes a slide in 2008, the security sector may be insulated. If market conditions are tough the last thing a company needs is a security incident its competitors will seize upon. This is an opportunity for those in the SC Top 30 and the industry as a whole. If they get it right, they will be doing themselves a great deal of good, delivering intelligent, sustainable data security to the wider public and the organisations they trust.

The business that can't guarantee security is the business that won't survive in today's world.

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