Jun 11, 2009

Is Your IT Guy Reading Your Email? - Digits - WSJ


In a survey of more than 400 senior IT professionals in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, Cyber-Ark Software, a Newton, Mass.-based security-software company, found that 35% of IT administrators admitted to accessing corporate information like human-resources records, customer databases and M&A plans, up from 33% a year ago.

Moreover, if fired, 47% of the staffers surveyed said that they would take company financial reports and M&A plans with them, a sixfold increase from the previous year’s survey. About 46% said that they would snag CEO passwords and R&D plans, a fourfold increase.

Is Your IT Guy Reading Your Email? - Digits - WSJ
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Jun 10, 2009

Official Google Blog: The state of cloud computing

The whole thing with email is that IT is stuck balancing very touchy user needs with operations. Reducing operational overhead and costs are a key value proposition of Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), which Google is now simply calling "Premier." The hurdle to get users to use the Gmail interface after using Outlook for so many years has been a big problem for Google.

Of course, when big companies like Morgans move all their employees from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, there are often a few folks who aren't ready to give up Microsoft Outlook right away. To help them make the transition, today we also introduced Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook to our Premier and Education edition customers. It lets Outlook work easily with Apps and — like offline Gmail and the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry® Enterprise Server — is another example of how we're making it dead simple to switch to Google Apps.

This is not a new model, PostPath (now owned by Cisco) made it a business and sales model, others like Zimbra (Yahoo) have been doing this for a while, and even Oracle Beehive is coming out of the gate touting this capability. So while radical for Google, it is business model that other SaaS email competitors are also up to.

Of course this tool on syncs GAPE mail, contacts and calendar with Outlook and does not integrate other GAPE tools with the rest of the Office suite. According to Google's data sheet the following benefits come with GASMO (I'm sorry about that):

Email, calendar, and contact sync
Free/busy and Global Address look up
Simple, user-driven data migration

Note: The following features will continue to be available in Outlook, but will not be
synchronized by Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook in Google Apps: user
delegation, public folders, and syncing of notes, tasks, journals, and distribution lists.

The migration feature is a nice bonus.

This demonstrates how the front lines of the Google and Microsoft competition is email. Taking the front-end (i.e., client) argument out of the email decision picture will make it easier for customers to compare the back-end side of hosted messaging. I don't think it will make the decision any easier by itself - especially for enterprises - but it could eliminate one strong objection and put the focus onto operational concerns.

Official Google Blog: The state of cloud computing

AP Reporter Reprimanded For Facebook Post; Union Protests | Threat Level | Wired.com

Remember when email flaming was all the ..er..rage? It took a while for people to learn to turn off the caps lock. Surely there is a learning curve with social sites. In the meantime the stakes are pretty high, like losing your job.

The minidrama is an increasingly familiar one as companies and workers navigate the landscape defined by sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Firings and reprimands over postings to social networking sites have become commonplace over the last year.

Surely, as individuals, we'll eventually learn to balance who we "let in" to our social networks, how we reveal our thoughts, and consider who might see what we say or do. I wonder how tolerance levels for "past deeds" will play out in the future. I think we'll become more tolerant when just about everyone has had the experience of putting too much out there. It's like traffic in LA (I get to say this cause I'm from LA); the best excuse when you're late for a meeting is to blame it on traffic, everyone commiserates with you especially if there was an accident on the freeway. For an interesting read on putting stuff out there take a look at this New York Times article from 2007 (funny how this article keeps coming up).

But the answer does not solely lie with the end user. Companies need to frequently communicate with their employees on what they will tolerate and not just rely on draconian measures after the fact. What's the phrase, "an ounce of prevention..."? Most companies have some sort of policy on cyber-flaming; although it's probably obtusely named something like Electronic Communications Agreement that employees my need to sign (but not re-read) once a year. Usually the agreement includes broadly written rules that only do well to serve as blunt instruments when it's needed or is useful. Typically signing the agreement is made part of employment terms but the rules are dictated rather than communicated. When was the last time you read the entire licensing agreement when you installed a piece of software? And do you think of it every time you use the software? Same idea. If a company wants to avoid embarrassment and leaked information then it should take measures to help employees understand what is tolerated and help them to do the right thing.

AP Reporter Reprimanded For Facebook Post; Union Protests | Threat Level | Wired.com

Jun 8, 2009

Twitter Blog: Not Playing Ball

More on the Twitter identity front. According to the Twitter blog, Twitter is launching a beta program for verifying account holders. I'm not sure how they'll deal with all the John Smith's of the cyberworld. I guess as long as you don't pretend to be someone or entity that you are not then it's on a "first come" basis. Does that mean my favorite @MarsPhoenix will be shut down? ;-) Likely not.

Impersonation violates Twitter's Terms of Service and we take the issue seriously. We suspend, delete, or transfer control of accounts known to be impersonation. When alerted, we took action in this regard on behalf of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

Bottom line, if you think someone is impersonating you on Twitter, complain to tech support and they will shut down the impostor.

Twitter Blog: Not Playing Ball