Common sense necessary in tech deployments

Summary:This week's guest blogger is someone from my own team and one who's been tracking the IT security and services segments for a while now.In her blogpost, Vivian looks at the takeaway lesson from recent incidents that resulted in damaged property and personal data being leaked simply because the organizations involved committed a couple of basic oversights.

This week's guest blogger is someone from my own team and one who's been tracking the IT security and services segments for a while now.

In her blogpost, Vivian looks at the takeaway lesson from recent incidents that resulted in damaged property and personal data being leaked simply because the organizations involved committed a couple of basic oversights.

The discussion is timely reminder that we can deploy the most high-tech equipment and tools, but if we forget to employ some basic common sense as well, even the best and most expensive implementations will serve little purpose.

A common refrain these days is "common sense is not so common". While this, of course, is dependent on the individual--I don't want to over-generalize--the fact is that technology has made our lives easier, so much so that we sometimes don't use the wonderful organ--up there--that we have been blessed with.

Why do mental sums when you can tap the calculator function in your mobile phone? Have trouble spelling "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"? Fire up that app or browser, type a few letters and...voila! Information literally at our fingertips has indeed made my peers and the generation after us somewhat lazy.

Will this mentality lead to our downfall? I honestly hope not but I suspect we might already be heading there.

Sony, which has been making headlines for the wrong reasons, is a frightening reminder of how a company cannot afford not to put more thought into its processes and operations. The Japanese consumer electronics giant has, to date, leaked personal data including names, snail- and e-mail addresses and passwords of over 100 million customers. At least one Sony subsidiary, Sony Pictures, did not bother to encrypt sensitive information--which is common sense, really--stored on its networks, the attackers claimed.

Here in Singapore, national water agency, Public Utilities Board (PUB), had a, in Internet speak, facepalm moment last week when it revealed that an SMS flood-alert system had been poorly calibrated.

Using sensors located in drains and canals, the system would trigger an alert to buildings susceptible to floods when water levels reached 75 percent and 90 percent. But, in an unusually intense flash flood last weekend, water levels at a particular location hit 100 percent--which had not been factored into the system. As a result, two buildings--a shopping mall and a six-star hotel--along Singapore's shopping belt were not notified, were caught unaware and suffered significant damage.

To employ a system which job is to set off warning signals when a certain tolerance level has been reached, wouldn't it be logical to use a minimum level approach such that any reading beyond that will definitely trigger off alerts? Yes, except that common sense isn't so common after all.

Sure, these incidents are not life-threatening but put on that paranoid hat and you can easily conjure up scenarios of loss of body parts, or worse, unnecessary deaths--all because someone failed to consider something so basic.

With technology becoming such a pervasive part of our lives, there is increasingly little room for carelessness in how IT should be applied. Technology is superb but if processes are not well thought through, we end up shortchanging our investment, and ultimately, ourselves. Do we have a common understanding here?

Topics: Singapore

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