I've been trying to get myself a visa for a visit to the US later this month. Naturally, being part of what the woman on the end of the phone referred to as "the meedya", I have to get myself a special visa.
After informing me of the multiple forms I would have to fill in, the exact size of photo I would need, the charges I would need to pay, and the letters from various people verifying who I was which would have to be supplied, she informed me that I would also have to turn up for an interview at the US embassy.
Security is now a priority for both governments and businesses. With the intolerable number of viruses and worms causing havoc these days, not to mention the emails telling you not to open certain emails, and other emails telling you about the increase in viral spam (are these not spam in themselves, I wonder), it is no surprise that people are worried about exactly who they let into their networks and systems, and who they don't.
However, adopting a security policy that does not allow genuine people to get an email through can also be harmful: it could mean a loss of business, which equals a loss of revenue. Most firms would be concerned if a partner organisation or a customer could not get information through a firewall.
The trick is to get appropriate security for your needs. It might seem overzealous, but the US has the right idea: layered security.
After obtaining my passport and visa and having the interview I undoubtedly will be questioned again face to face when I arrive in America, probably by an oversized lady with ill-fitting trousers, a shiny handgun and a nightstick.
Although it isn't yet possible to obtain one of these ladies for your network, there are other ways to keep the wrong sort of people out.
Adopting the right kind of layered security approach - firewalls, anti-virus software, intrusion detection and virtual private networks for your remote workers - rather than a single-fix solution will ensure that your company remains safe.
Paul Briggs is on holiday.
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