I dont want to give terrorists any credit, but from the strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to the anthrax letters scare, whoever is behind these events has been remarkably efficient. Efficient in crude means and effects: Attack innocent lives, and, as a bonus, shake the foundations of our economic infrastructure and expose how fragile it is.
Not only are people being exposed to danger, but so are the systems that we depend on (and sometimes dont know how much we depend on). First the airlines, then the U.S. mail, an underrated pillar of our infrastructure. The power grid, IT and communications systems are the next obvious targets.
Thats why its good to see several movements afoot in reaction to the ongoing terror threats. And happily, not all of them are about revictimizing the public by clamping down on civil liberties. As reported in last weeks issue by Caron Carlson and Renee Boucher Ferguson, government and private industry groups are forming alliances for and between companies that can facilitate IT integration and the sharing of information and processes in the name of keeping enterprises and data safe. (For more information on cyber-security, go to eweek.com/links.)
The key is cooperation. We dont necessarily like to see the government intervene in intercompany relationships, but it can offer incentives to comply with minimum standards such as those set for Y2K preparedness. It can also offer a way to keep shared corporate data secure or exempted from public information requests, as is stipulated in a bill by Sens. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
The lessons we are learning in this new world keep coming back to one thing: Working together, we can accomplish more than if each company (or government agency, for that matter) has to defend against terrorist threats, foreign and domestic, on its own.
Call it "thinking like a terrorist" if you want, but the truth is, preparedness and efficiency these days is an open-ended problem. We cant rest on the status quo, and its everybodys responsibility to make sure that we dont.