Part 3 – To serve and protect

The internet has obviously grown since the year 2000, that’s not up for debate. But what effect has this had on the people who use it every day at work, and their increasingly lofty expectations. The availability of the internet, and the staggering amount of information it holds, has meant that everyone is now an expert! This means we all expect far more from both the World Wide Web and our IT support team.

As the price of technology has continuously dropped, we now have high-speed internet, huge HD flat screen TVs and tablets in virtually every home. And if it’s in our homes, then us tech-savvy and computer-literate workers of the 21st century naturally expect it at work – and also when we aren’t at work. However, this presents a number of new challenges.

Workers want to access company resources from their bed, bus or whilst holidaying on the beach. Company bosses may well be excited by this commitment to productivity but they must also understand what it means from a security standpoint. It’s akin to the Glastonbury Festival of days gone by when a security team would stand on the gates whilst thousands poured over a flimsy perimeter fence.

Security has changed, both at Glastonbury and in the IT arena. Remember the good old days when hackers would use their skills to expose a global corporation’s security failings and inadequacies just for fun. Nowadays, we have malware viruses like ‘Stuxnet’ which attacked industrial control systems, or on a more personal level, hackers revealing the identities of users of a somewhat contemptible dating site.

So what’s changed? Well, hacking is big business now and a malware expert could use the dark art to become very rich, very quickly. As a result, IT professionals must keep their wits about them to not fall victim to this ever-growing form of online espionage.

One area of IT that makes hacking easier than ever is the rise of cloud computing. If you’ve got a username, password and a payment card then you’ve got all the tools to set up a server in the cloud. And where do you put all your company’s confidential information? In the impenetrable cloud of course. But it’s not Fort Knox and data can be compromised, so there will always be a need for ‘IT guy’ to come and fix the mess.

The role of ‘IT guy’, or the IT professional, has evolved with the industry. For example, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have seen their roles grow hugely with the rise of cloud computing and virtualisation – from a restricted position of command and control to a free and expansive role that requires vision and inspiration.

IT professionals are now in a much greater position of power. We don’t just call them when the printer jams or we’ve forgot our log-in and password, they mean so much more to us now. Now the gatekeepers and the keymasters in one, they must welcome this new responsibility and ensure the rest of us come along for the ride.

‘Turn it off and on again’ is no longer an adequate response. IT professionals must embrace the over-enthusiastic kids TV presenter personality of the H&R Manager and teach other departments to stay secure. If they can do this, the future’s a bright one for the IT industry. In IT’s come a long, long way since 2000 Part 4 – we will look at what’s to come and how the IT professional of the future can survive and thrive.

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