Law fails to deter information theft
The government’s plan to amend the Computer Misuse Act and introduce stiffer penalties for Internet crimes has been a long time coming (DoS hacker faces jail, 8 February).
As a former computer crime detective at Scotland Yard, I fully support the tougher stance the government is adopting. Both private and public sector organisations have long been lobbying for laws to address crimes such as denial of service attacks.
However, I’m concerned that the new Police and Justice Bill does not address the theft of information. Intellectual property theft is a huge issue for businesses across all sectors and impacts on small firms as much as stock-listed giants. It costs UK businesses billions of pounds every year.
Simon Janes, Ibas
Why spreadsheets are here to stay
Kevin Prone’s letter about ditching the “dreaded” spreadsheet made business intelligence (BI) systems sound like a valid alternative (Letters, 13 February 2006). However, it is neither easy nor viable for businesses to get rid of spreadsheets.
Despite the potential for serious and frequent errors, spreadsheets are here to stay. Their use is entrenched and mission-critical, especially in finance and accounting departments.
I am not suggesting that BI has no value in the enterprise. But BI tools are dependent on data from multiple sources, including spreadsheets. Tools are available to help organisations manage and control spreadsheet data, helping to avoid the risk of significant errors and also helping to feed BI tools accurate information.
Forcing people to change the way they work can be difficult. Managing the current environment is a more practical approach.
Karry Kleeman, Mobius
No job too big for UTM security kit
According to Dave Bailey’s recent column, Kevin Thiele of Array Networks believes that today's leading unified threat management (UTM) products lack the horsepower for central office deployment, and should be considered only for branch office use (Unified defences stop zombies and spies, 13 February).
This situation may come as a surprise to many of the service providers, mobile operators and large enterprises that currently use UTM products at multi-gigabit data rates in the largest networked environments on the planet.
Christofer Hoff, Crossbeam Systems
Resistance to hosting is futile
James Murray likened hosted or non-hosted enterprise software delivery to the choice between digital music downloads and CD purchases, suggesting that hosting brings a sense of insecurity due to lack of ownership or control over the software (Host versus the possessive tendency, 13 February).
In fact a true multi-version, multi-tenant hosting architecture places the customer in complete control of their software - allowing them to determine when upgrades occur while giving the advantages of not having to pay for hardware and staff to run the system 24 hours a day.
Secondly, hosting need not mean you don’t own the software. Murray has confused delivery method with payment method when the two are separate and distinct issues.
The advantages of hosting are such that most enterprise software will be hosted within five to seven years. It is inevitable.
Greg Gianforte, RightNow Technologies
Flaws in ISPs' bulk email scheme
Attempts to reduce spam should be applauded, but plans by AOL and Yahoo to charge senders of bulk email badly miss the mark (ISPs’ bulk mail tariffs fight spam, 13 February).
Firstly, it guarantees delivery based on the sender paying, not on each user’s preferences. Secondly, only legitimate companies will be asked to pay, when the vast majority of spam comes from the margins of the business world people with neither the money nor the inclination to pay for the delivery of their messages.
Instead, spammers will continue to make their messages more deliverable, modifying content to defeat older filters and sending ever more spam to vulnerable email addresses.
In short, AOL and Yahoo are asking legitimate senders to pay for the sins of the real spammers. This won't actually prevent spam.
Andrew Lochart, Postini
Forget fees, make better spam filters
AOL and Yahoo have recently announced that they will be allowing companies to bypass their spam filters for a small fee (How to take spam off the menu, 13 February). Both say they will screen companies to ensure they are authentic and not abusing the system. But how can they be impartial judges when they make money from the service?
On the surface it may seem a good idea if, for example, email from your bank reaches your Yahoo inbox instead of your bulk mail folder. But the bank’s message only ends up classified as spam because of the inadequacies of Yahoo and AOL spam filters.
The solution should be better filters, not charging people to bypass them.
Dan Field, ClearMyMail
IT chiefs must talk CEO's language
It’s not surprising that IT gets better results when IT chiefs have seniority in the organisation (Firms reap benefits of board-level IT chiefs, 6 February). IT is more fundamental to business than its leaders are often willing to admit.
Although the quoted research shows IT leaders need the ear of the CEO, it doesn’t prove that those who gain such access will say the right things. To be effective, IT leaders must speak the CEO’s language. This will only happen if they are able to provide a transparent and objective view of IT’s value.
It is certainly encouraging to see the age-old argument about IT on the board being supported with some practical evidence. Now we as an industry have to provide the tools that will make it common practice.
Sean Larner, Managed Objects
Leave consumer attitudes at home
Martin Veitch suggests that consumer technologies “sneaking into the enterprise and performing useful tasks, often without the explicit acknowledgement of the IT leader” could have advantages for all (Work, rest and play - all at once, 23 January).
Crossover between consumer and enterprise technologies is beneficial for employers and employees alike, as it prompts organisations to consider how they can work differently. However, risks arise if these technologies are not treated as business applications when used in the office.
If consumer technologies - and consumer attitudes - are taken into work, the whole IT infrastructure is put at risk.
For firms to benefit, appropriate consumer technologies must be made part of the overall IT policy. This is by no means a call for lock-down, it is simply being responsible.
Neil Lock, BT Global Services
Orange has edge over 3G rivals
As Orange launched its GPRS Edge data service to provide data rates of 100-200kbit/s, other mobile network operators - specifically T-Mobile and O2 – were disparaging the move as a waste of time (Orange rolls out nationwide stopgap for 3G, 6 February). They say pure 3G is the way to go. I say, rubbish.
The official speed of 3G is 384bit/s. However, the real speed is nearer 180kbit/s - when you can get a connection. This speed is within reach of Edge, which offers better coverage and lower cost.
Edge should have been introduced years ago by all the networks. Even the US, hardly a front runner in mobile networks, has deployed Edge.
In my opinion, 3G sucks. Normally, products tend to be good and expensive, or bad and cheap. But 3G is hugely expensive and really, really bad. No wonder business take-up is low.
I shall be evaluating 3.5G HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) when it launches later this year. Given that it will come from the same people who “run” the 3G networks I don't hold out much hope.
Spreadsheets are so last century
Rather than adopting new tools to overcome flaws in an outdated, spreadsheet-based reporting system, businesses would do better to get rid of Excel for good (Tools help Excel accounting, print edition, 6 February).
People have become emotionally attached to spreadsheets - they are typically installed by default, appear to do the job, and users often feel proud of the macros they can build into them. But they tend to be meaningless to external auditors, and one small error can often be enough to make all the figures wrong, potentially presenting a very inaccurate view of a firm’s performance.
Instead, businesses should adopt modern business intelligence (BI) tools, which make it easy to import data from multiple sources and are far more user-friendly than the dreaded spreadsheet.
Kevin Prone, Zeda