[ISN] The War on Tasteless, Baseless Product Pitches

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 20 2003 - 23:05:20 PST

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    By Jim Rapoza
    March 19, 2003 
    It seems that nothing - not even war - is sacred to IT vendors looking
    for a new hook on which to hang their products.
    During the past few days, I've received several product pitches that 
    use the conflict with Iraq for leverage. These pitches, not 
    surprisingly, include several from security firms warning about 
    potential cyber attacks. 
    I guess I should be used to these types of sales pitches by now --
    after all, I heard much worse (and, by far, more sickening) pitches
    from companies in the wake of 9/11. Still, a few recent pitches really
    rubbed me the wrong way.
    One that really got to me was from a vendor of Internet filtering
    software -- you know, the applications you use to keep employees from
    viewing porn, playing games or doing other unproductive things.
    The gist of the pitch was that the war will lead employees to 
    constantly seek out news on the Internet, and that companies should be 
    ready to control this to keep productivity up.
    Now, this may have been especially troublesome to me because I'm an 
    avowed news junkie. But I think that any company that follows this 
    line of thinking is not only setting itself up for even more lost 
    productivity but is also being just plain stupid. 
    Yes, employees will be regularly looking to news sites to keep up to 
    date with events. However, they'll be doing it from their desks, and 
    not running out to a local bar or café to catch the news.
    And, yes, sometimes events will be so big that employees will want to 
    do more than just check the headlines. They'll want to watch streaming 
    video or some other high-bandwidth media. 
    If everyone is watching the same stream, this could become a network 
    problem (a solution for which yet another vendor pitched). However, I 
    still don't think blocking these streams is the answer. 
    Having worked in many news organizations, I recommend a strategy that 
    may seem counterintuitive at first. I recommend setting aside a space 
    where employees can gather to watch important events unfold. A TV in a 
    break room is the best option, but even a central computer for 
    watching a stream can be a good solution.
    Some would say that I'm recommending letting people leave their desks, 
    which can't be good for productivity. But as everyone knows, when 
    something important happens, people will find a way to hear about it. 
    Better they do it in the office than come up with an excuse to go 
    If employees know they can keep up with events - instead of wondering 
    what's going on out there -- they'll be more comfortable and thus more 
    Are these vendors right? Should businesses limit employee access to 
    war news? Let me know at jim_rapozaat_private
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