Truth About Computer Security Hysteria
I wish the SEC could protect us from this kind of logicRob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Tuesday, 11 January 2000
LEHMAN BROTHERS, J.P. Morgan, and SG Cowen let the Y2K virus media fiasco cloud their judgment. A Bloomberg newswire at the end of December noted "the businesses prefer to temporarily disable their communications systems rather than risk exposure to a virus that could ruin all of their computer systems."
Bloomberg (citing USA Today as its source) went on to say "although many of the threatened Y2K viruses reported to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies may turn out to be false alarms, just a few could create havoc for companies without adequate blocking procedures."
This "just a few [viruses] could create havoc" fear surfaced two months earlier when GartnerGroup mouthpiece Lou Marcoccio spoke to a Reuters reporter. At a financial industry convention, I might add. "If just five or 10 viruses are released at the same time, that would overwhelm the ability of ... companies that produce the fixes. It could cause substantial productivity losses," Marcoccio warned.
Translation: GartnerGroup didn't believe antivirus vendors could protect customers on New Year's Day.
The actions of Lehman Brothers and J.P. Morgan and SG Cowen force us to ask a simple question. "Why would prestigious brokerage firms only temporarily protect their networks from malicious activity?" A few viruses can "ruin all of their computer systems" at any time, not just over the millennium. Why don't they permanently disable everything instead?
By their own logic, these brokerage houses endanger clients' portfolios. They only "adequately" protect their networks when the press tells them to do so!
The phenomenon of online trading convinced many brokerage CIOs to expand Internet connectivity last year ... yet these same CIOs feel compelled to turn the Internet off & on like a light bulb. How will they justify a precautionary disconnect to clients when stock markets trade on a 24/7 schedule?
"Temporary" doesn't cut it in the world of computer viruses. I pray the SEC will expand Rule 17a-4 to demand proper email infrastructure security. The brokerage industry's fear of unknown viruses — and their haste for online trading — clearly demonstrates a need for regulation.
I won't let Chicken Little touch my investment portfolio, folks.