Grim Gratification for IT Whiners

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-05-13 Print this article Print

It may be small satisfaction for IT professionals to know that security issues are no longer a matter of "What if?"

It may be small satisfaction for IT professionals to know that security issues are no longer a matter of "What if?" That was the message from SANS Institute Director of Research Alan Paller, speaking at a conference convened in Anaheim, Calif., last month by Check Point Software.

"A lot of you have trouble persuading senior management that this is a real problem," said Paller. "They think security people all go to Whining 101—but the attacks are real."

Paller was unsparing in his remarks about products that come out of the box with known vulnerabilities. "It takes 5 minutes before a new system on the network is attacked. ... Thats not enough time to download patches," he said.

Accountability, said Paller, is the major new force shaping change. "It used to be, you could tell people what they were doing wrong—and that was security." Now, he said, "the responsibility is leaking into operations and audit." The people who decide when machines are turned on or off, and those who vouch for the numbers that a company uses to run its business, are charged with making systems robust and keeping data safe from accident and malice.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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