Security tops the bill this week with a number of converging issues that could see major changes in the way IT security is handled.
Before that however, a short word on Microsoft's new president. By all accounts, the appointment of Steve Ballmer is a sure sign that when Gates ascends to heaven in a shimmering ball of white light, Ballmer will take over as the main target for the world's pie-throwing community. If anyone thinks that Ballmer will be a refreshing change from Gates' mantra of "Windows good; everything else bad," forget it. Ballmer is a Microsoft zealot. He's loud, enthusiastic, and subject to emotional fits of rage and swearing at his team. However - and this level of fanaticism is always scary - he believes all that he preaches. It's unclear whether or not his appointment will help the company evolve into a mature, enterprise player. What is clear though, is that there'll now be two Microsoft prophets doing the global preaching circuit, which means twice as much crap for the rest of us wade through.
Back to security. Two things have happened in the past couple of weeks which could alter the security picture for us all in the coming year.
A group of cryptographic experts in the US have cracked the universal security standard DES (Data Encryption Standard). Yes, it's been done before but only with tens of thousands of computers over 39 days. This time it took only 56 hours, with a handful of people, less cash and home-made circuit boards. This rubbishes the US government's idea that DES encryption cannot be exported outside the US because it is too powerful.
At last the debate may open up and the US government will alter the export laws. This is great news. What is not great news is Cisco and 12 other networking vendors supporting a plan to let police and law enforcement agencies access company data. This way madness lies. Despite all the assurances in the world, would you trust a politician's promise? It's a backward step and with any luck, the easy breaking of the DES code will force the government to back down before the IT business community completely loses its bottle and gives in to state eavesdropping.
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