Taking On the Security Vultures

Opinion: IT decisions need to be based on experience, not fear.

In the days and weeks following the London bombings, there will be warnings that IT managers need to heed and others need to ignore, especially when feelings are still raw. The problem is that there are people who will think they can profit from terror.

Now, its not terrorists themselves or the politicians that Im pointing to; rather its the security vultures who will look to benefit in a direct economic way. They are now virtually circling the bombed tube stations, waiting to sell a fearful population their nostrums and gizmos.

These vultures circled New York in the dark days of September 2001. They were over Madrid, as well, and they will no doubt hover over London in the days that come.

Heres their concerned and compassionate pitch: If only this particular gizmo had been used, they will say, why, none of this would have been able to occur. The attack would have been prevented.

And because of the shock and maybe because of guilt, we will want that to be so. We will want to buy that gizmo so that the chaos and pain can be made to disappear.

For example, there are myriad cameras all over London, put there for "security." The concentration of video cameras in central London is probably greater than in any other major city. But these cameras did not stop the bombings. They were just another obstacle for the attackers to work around and confound.


Read more


about how Internet chat technology helped keep communications open after the London bombing.

Theres a law of action and reaction that can be applied to security. If you put up a fence, the opponent digs a hole under it.

Any measure that is pursued out of fear or other emotion will never be the right one, because it deals with the symptoms of a problem, not its underlying cause.


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to read about the EUs split over anti-terror phone data logging.

Instead, we need to step back to find the right mix of what can be done technologically, and what should be done to increase the safety of the public in a direct and meaningful way. This isnt a simple solution or process.

Those of us with the most experience in implementing technology must be the ones to take the leadership on this issue. The siren call of the security vultures will be strong in the days to come, but clear thinking about security is possible and necessary.


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