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

Something a little different for you this month. We decided to take a look at what might be called the dark side of information security - and we are not talking about the hacking community.

As readers of SC you take the task of protecting business information and intellectual property from the bad guys very seriously - and for good reasons. But what about the flipside of all this? What if another kind of bad guy was in charge - one that deliberately seeks to control the flow of digital information and dictate citizens' use of the internet by restrictive and draconian means? In others words: governments and rogue states.

Writing for the first time in SC, award-winning journalist Emma De Vita has taken a look at the growing phenomenon of internet censorship by the state and the increasingly barbaric methods used to control those who dare criticise their rulers via blogs. (page 24).

From Tehran to Beijing (and, surprisingly, via the courts of California), we see that governments are seeking to shut down online dissent by any means, often resorting to lengthy prison sentences and torture. At the same time, groups such as Amnesty International and Article 19 are doing their bit to fight back.

We also look at the implications for your business as employees start to use blogs, both company-authorised and personal. While in the UK we are still able to say pretty much what we like about our leaders, we have to be careful what we say about each other and our competitors.

Another innovation this month is the first of our infographic features: How to be secure (page 30). In planning, this was entitled "the perfectly secure company" - until we realised that there is probably no such thing and probably never will be.

But that doesn't mean you should stop trying. With that in mind, we give you an overview of the technologies and strategies that can make your business as secure as possible - as well as their shortcomings.

Do you like consultants? Anyone who saw the eminently watchable recent series of The Apprentice will know that Sir Alan Sugar most definitely doesn't. I have worked for businesses in the past where their presence has been distinctly unwelcome, especially among the permanent staff who saw them as an intrusion.

However, this was less to do with the quality of the consultants themselves and more to do with the inadequate and ill-thought-out commissioning by senior management. Often, consultants find themselves tackling different problems than the ones they originally came in to sort out - and clients, staff and consultants all become resentful.

Mark Mayne looks at how to get the best from information security consultants, a special breed that's growing in numbers, and at the same time taps their brains for some valuable crystal-ball gazing (page 32).

The recent SC Forum was a resounding success, the best yet according to some of those present. This is a tribute to all those who attended, including the speakers, delegates and vendors, so big thanks to you all. If you didn't make it this year - keep your eye out for announcements on the line up and venue for 2008.