Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Ooooh Matron! Happy Christmas from eReco

This will be the last blog this year. I am taking the holidays off, although eReco remains open for business in my absence, and thus wish everyone reading this the compliments of the season. I shall raise a glass of festive cheer to you all on the big day and look forward to getting back into the swing of things on 2nd January.

During the break our Christmas service to the locals of East Grinstead swings into operation. We are opening our doors on 29th-31st between 9am and 4pm for people to drop their data bearing devices off to us. We will make them data safe and dispose of them responsibly.

In all honesty we have no idea what to expect. For a start it is a new initiative – I am not aware of anyone doing anything like this before – and although we have received a lot of local publicity you are never quite sure if you have reached everyone. We have had a good few calls from people wanting more information, but it will be intriguing to see who actually shows up.

My own gut feeling is that the publicity is almost more important than how many people actually take advantage of the service. Getting data security on the agenda is the vital thing.

I am becoming fascinated by the way the media treat data disasters. For instance, Sony. There is a fair amount of sniggering going on about how they were hacked, and then even more delight at the confidential gossip maliciously released...Angelina Jolie has an ego? Who’d have thought! It has a semi-serious edge – American cinemas are refusing to show a film said to have provoked the hacker-attack because they fear a terrorist threat from North Korea – but the fact that several expensive films have been downloaded from the internet before their release and some celebrities and executives have been embarrassed is treated with sniggering disdain. Maybe because Sony can conspicuously afford it?

I am sure Sony HQ is in full disaster recovery mode, but will other businesses review their security procedures as a result? Are lessons being learned? Not from the tone of the coverage they are not and that worries me.

Data security is a complicated business, affecting many different areas. We live in a world where anyone can poke a tiny USB stick into any port on any PC in any office and download a considerable amount of confidential data. That stick can then be put in a pocket and walked out of the building in the blink of an eye.

Should we be searching every employee, every guest, before they leave? Should people be allowed to bring their own mobiles into the building and connect with company WIFI? Should work PC’s or laptops have their own hard drives? Who should access to what data and how should they access it?

Well, as a matter of fact we do search everyone when they leave. We have this wand-like scanner and I make the same Harry Potter reference every day (expeliarmus!) before doing a very bad Kenneth Williams impression when the scanner reaches my nether regions. There is no sneaking anything out of here. There are also no new jokes!

That is because we take data seriously. It is at the heart of our business, and in my experience this is the problem with data. It is intangible. No one values it because you cannot pick it up and hold it and see what it is. If you ask Sony Films what is valuable to them they would say their products, their movies, the things that people pay to see. They don’t think of those movies as data...not until they end up as downloadable files for free at any rate!

Every business, whatever it makes, sells or produces, creates data. Customers, delivery addresses, payment details, the secret recipe to Coca-Cola...it is all data, and if you lose it you are in BIG trouble. It should be at the centre of every business. It should be guarded and valued. Falling out with North Korea will not happen to everyone but why not make it your New Year’s resolution to manage the risk?

Happy holidays one and all. Ho ho ho...see you on the 2nd!