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Tech-savvy females boost business

I’d certainly have to agree with Lorraine Cousins (Letters, 15 October). At the same time, I’m finding it more and more disheartening to hear how difficult it is for women in the IT sector as a whole.

Fortunately, our company is far from the norm. Working in the computer recycling and asset disposal sector, we have seen extremely rapid growth over the past year, due in no little part to the company being led by my wife. She has got a head for running an IT business that would leave me feeling pretty much bemused half the time – and that is coming from a postgrad with years of experience in project management.

I think it is time the industry realised that being able to multitask can be a serious benefit in this industry. Besides, many clients like to speak to a woman about technical issues. It may be sexist, but having an IT-savvy female in charge certainly sells our services and even products.

Richard Tanfield-Johnson

October 29, 2007 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gender bias not to blame

In my many years of studying computing, I do not recall seeing any female students in my classes (Why IT’s gender bias has to end, 24 September). Now as an employer I have not received any applications from the said sex. Moreover, I regularly receive CVs from recruitment agencies and not one has been from a female applicant.

This must surely prove that women just do not want to do IT and there is no gender bias at all.

Martin Davies

October 29, 2007 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academia gets A for ID efforts

The public sector, particularly higher and further education, has been leading the way in access and identity management for many years (The case for federated ID management, 8 October). Indeed, 98 per cent of UK colleges and universities currently provide staff and students with secure access to thousands of academic information resources via the Athens service.

The sector has built on this expertise and in early 2007 launched the UK Access Management Federation. The purpose of the federation is to formalise access for thousands of students, teachers and researchers to multiple online information resources, with a single username and password.

CA’s Simon Perry suggests that federated access and identity management will become a mainstream technology in the next couple of years, with some banks and EU bodies experimenting in the field already. For UK colleges and universities, federated access is not a thing of the future, but a reality. To date, more than 100 institutions have joined the federation, many using OpenAthens, which offers cost-effective participation.

Ed Zedlewski, Eduserv

October 29, 2007 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stop e-fraud in all its guises

I could not agree more that the online industry needs to increase its focus on anti-fraud tools (Fraud deterrent is lacking, 8 October).

However, this issue extends beyond the typical credit card fraud that plagues the internet today. Online fraud as it relates to e-commerce as a whole, and the channels used to drive both traffic and sales to retail sites, also needs to be addressed.

As an example, within affiliate marketing, the fraud resulting from publisher sites engaging in questionable practices that taint the industry at large must be stopped. These include problems that have popped up around adware and spyware as well as other dubious practices that allow links to be highjacked and sites to claim illegitimate traffic.

Increased industry diligence and co-operation in these areas is very much required and something that should not be overlooked when discussing online fraud if e-commerce is going to continue to grow and flourish in the UK. Industry-wide standards could be one way forward.

Regardless of their context, all online transactions are premised on trust, and once this is broken, it will be twice as difficult to rebuild.

Kevin Kozinchik, LinkShare Europe

October 29, 2007 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

The iPhone is a smart choice for business

Apple has never promised to support Microsoft’s proprietary Outlook email protocol as claimed in your article (More style-phone than smartphone, 1 October), but there are third-party solutions for this, for example Visto.

Email is a low-bandwidth activity and so Edge or even GPRS is perfectly adequate for this task. In any case, Edge rollout in the UK will be quite rapid because all O2 needs to do is a trivial software upgrade to its base stations, according to Ericsson.

Finally, any business person will appreciate the vast superiority of the iPhone’s web browser over that on the Nokia N95, BlackBerry or any other mobile device on the market.

The reason the iPhone beats all other mobile devices is nothing to do with the pretty hardware, rather the desktop-class software and operating system.

Neil

October 22, 2007 in Communications | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-fraud side effects

Those who tout cure-all security solutions should really think more about the side effects (Fraud deterrent is lacking, 8 October).

Real-time checking of direct debit mandates would be disastrous for anyone moving house. When you have just signed the contract to buy or rent a new home, you want to get the utilities connected up and possibly furniture bought before you actually move in. It would not be very pleasant if all your direct debit mandates were rejected because the bank still has your old address. People with a second home would have similar problems.

Richard Parkins

October 22, 2007 in Security | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why VDi needs VPN security

While it is certainly very exciting to see what VMware’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDi) can do over a LAN, what about remote users (Pros and cons of desktop virtualisation, 8 October)? You are still faced with finding a way to serve up those virtual desktops securely over the internet, otherwise you run the risk of exposing those VDi sessions to the web.

I work for an SSL VPN manufacturer, and we see a natural connection between the benefits of VDi and the need to enforce remote access policy over the web, which is what SSL VPNs are designed to do.

We think that if a company decides to move towards VDi – and we are seeing more organisations doing so as standard practice – then securing those sessions for remote users becomes critical.

Eric Heller, AEP Networks

October 22, 2007 in Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Windows Vista is not so bad

Guy Kewney talks about how the release of Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows XP represented an improvement from their predecessors (Why Vista gets in my way, 1 October). He does not, however, feel the same way about Windows Vista.

“Like many, I have failed to be smitten with the latest Windows version, Vista, and I’m really not amazed or astonished by recent stories of angry users asking for their new PC to have Windows XP on instead,” Kewney said in the article.

I use Vista on a home theatre PC I built about nine months ago. I bought it because the version I purchased, Vista Home Premium, came with a copy of Media Center. The installation process was simple and I have yet to have a driver issue or problem installing any new hardware.

I have, however, yet to use it as a business productivity platform. I have heard some of the horror stories, but I have also heard some very good things.

When I built my home theatre PC, I made sure that every component was compatible with Vista and that drivers came with the product or were available on the internet. I also spent time on Vista forums reading about how others were faring with their installations, and the best way to add hardware and software.

I think it is like most things – the better we plan, the better our results are.

John

October 22, 2007 in Software | Permalink | Comments (1)

Women can and should do it themselves

Can it really be true that only 16 per cent of the IT workforce is female (Why IT’s gender bias has to end, 24 September)? This figure is both maddening and saddening, and shows the true picture of gender unbalance in the IT world. 

I have been working in this fascinating sector since the early 1980s. During my career I have encountered every gender cliché possible: salary discrepancies; multiple interviews for a position when male counterparts were interviewed only once; and receiving mail addressed to “Mr Cousins” – the default assumption being that a software firm’s MD must be male.

I’m living proof that women can excel on their own merits in this sector. I am, however, very concerned that simply asking male directors to open their doors to female engineers and IT professionals is merely lip-service. It also implies that men will continue to control this sector.

Lorraine Cousins, Halcyon Software

October 15, 2007 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (1)

BlackBerry users not at risk

Why does George Gardiner think that BlackBerry messages pass through Canada? While this is true for some North American users, it is not universal.

There are two distinct BlackBerry services with different security properties. If you use BlackBerry Enterprise Server, your messages are encrypted end-to-end between the BlackBerry device and the server that is under your organisation’s control. You can choose between Triple-DES and AES, both of which are strong algorithms. No third party can read your messages because all they will see is the ciphertext.

If you buy an individual BlackBerry – for personal use or small businesses – then the service provider owns one end of the encrypted link. In this case the potential for government interception does arise, but in the country of the service provider. Even if you were to roam to Canada no Canadian company (either RIM or the phone network) could see the plaintext of your messages.

Mark

October 15, 2007 in Communications | Permalink | Comments (0)


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