The Field Report with Tom Field

Hard Times Don't Build Character; They Reveal it

Hard Times Don't Build Character; They Reveal it

Don't know where you're located, but if you're in the U.S. it's been hard to avoid the early gusts of winter. I live in New England, where a week ago we got shut down by an ice storm that took our power for - well, some places near me are still without power. And then this past weekend we got nailed with about 18 inches of snow.

I've been learning a lot about business continuity/disaster recovery - namely, I'm a big fan of my wireless USB Internet device, which kept me connected when my ISP was offline. And talk about "Hard times don't build character; they reveal it...?" You don't want to be at the one open grocery store during a blackout, vying for that last bundle of firewood!

Remember what I said about tough times revealing character? Well, wait til we start seeing the handiwork of the characters that emerge from these tough times. 

Speaking of character, let's talk about Bernie Madoff who's accused of masterminding, like, the biggest fraud in history. Interesting how people are responding to this case - less with shock and awe, more with "Here we go again..."

As one reader commented yesterday in response to Linda McGlasson's blog entry, "If this would have happened last year, the $50 Billion "Ponzi Scheme" might have really shaken folks. Now it's just another story..."

Unfortunately, I think it's a storyline that's going to bore us with repetition in 2009. Remember what I said about tough times revealing character? Well, wait til we start seeing the handiwork of the characters that emerge from these tough times.

Think about it; here are two of the notorious names of 2008: Bernie Madoff and Jerome Kerviel (remember Societe Generale?). The two of them are linked to historic crimes - infamous benchmarks of insider threat and fraud. Yet, they were opportunistic crimes - money taken, frankly, because it was there. What happens in 2009, when we start seeing desperate crimes - money taken because people feel they need it?

I daresay the insider threat is going to be one of the major stories of the New Year, and I think we're all going to be surprised by some of the people we see being fitted for orange jumpsuits.

Speaking of names, my colleague Sanjay Kalra made an interesting point a couple of weeks ago when he reminded me: The core tenets of information security and corporate governance as we know them today are spelled out in the federal regulations Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLBA)and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), which emerged from the Enron era of scandal. Sanjay's question, and I think it's a good one: Who will emerge as today's Gramm or Sarbanes to put their name on legislation to clean up after the disaster we've seen in financial services in 2008? And what are the ramifications of such reforms on banking institutions and their security programs?

I think we all realize that regulatory reform is coming - that's a given. The question is: When and in what form? Given the grievous oversights that have come to light this year (Exhibit A: Madoff's alleged scheme), it's clear that the current system is broken, and there are a number of high-profile legislators (Barney Frank comes to mind) who'd love to lend their names to fixing it.

Strap in, folks. Given the year we've had, and given the marching orders of the Obama Administration, we're in for a bumpy ride.

And finally, speaking of the New Year, let me just take this opportunity to wish you and yours the Happiest of Holidays. It's been a pleasure serving you in 2008, and I do very much look forward to sharing with you the surprises that await us in 2009.

Merry Christmas.



About the Author

Tom Field

Tom Field

Senior Vice President, Editorial, ISMG

Field is responsible for all of ISMG's 28 global media properties and its team of journalists. He also helped to develop and lead ISMG's award-winning summit series that has brought together security practitioners and industry influencers from around the world, as well as ISMG's series of exclusive executive roundtables.




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