Playing it Safe

— October 01, 2006

Two years ago, during a morning-long editorial meeting, this magazine’s New York offices were robbed. While most of the staff debated story ideas around a back-room conference table, a dapper thief (security cameras showed him in a pressed dark-blue suit, signing the guest ledger beside the security guard) quietly walked from office to office, filling a backpack with our wallets and cell phones and small delectables from our desk drawers.

All because we’d simply left the front door unlocked.

It’s an embarrassing story to begin an authoritative Special Security Issue with, but I tell it because, while high-tech aids such as firewalls, biometrics and data encryption are imperative to protecting business data, there are also simple, correctable ways that we leave ourselves vulnerable. A Gartner analyst told me that in some cities, one of the best security measures a company can take is to equip its mobile workers with devices that can be concealed in a jacket pocket, rather than more noticeable laptops.

Security can be a slippery topic—mean different things to different companies—which may be exactly why it’s so difficult to perfectly address. At the Interop show in New York last month, 40 percent of respondents to a Symantec survey revealed that their organizations had experienced at least one security breach in the past 12 months.

Kevin Mitnick, the world-famous hacker turned security advisor, has said that an astounding amount of information simply gets passed to hackers over the phone by trusting employees. I suspect it might also slip out of unlocked front doors.

So while you explore the cutting-edge options we’ve included in this issue, don’t forget the importance, too, of employee training—and frequent reminders—no matter how seemingly simple the solutions you choose.

You really can’t go wrong with some intelligent new technology and some old-fashioned good sense.

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