Privacy and Security Conference 2009 – Day One

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the 10th annual Privacy and Security conference in Victoria, BC on behalf of Techvibes. At first glance, I was worried that the subject matter may be a bit dull for a web junkie like myself, but my skepticism was quickly washed away after attending a few interesting speakers and panels.

Here are some highlights from the panels I attended:

Rotman-TELUS Study on Canadian IT Security PracticesPresented by Alan Lefort, Director of Product Management at TELUS Security Solutions.

Alan conducted a study in conjunction with the Rotman School of Management to examine the current state of Canadian IT security practices. Together, they interviewed over 300 technology workers in an attempt to extract key findings that may lead to security improvements within our country. The study also examined the key success factors of leading firms to provide added further insight. A broader, more in-depth 2009 study is already being planned. To view the 2008 report: Rotman-TELUS Study on Canadian IT Security Practices.

Cloud Computing – Privacy and Security, is there a Silver Lining?Panel discussion.

This panel took a look at the concept of cloud computing and how many traditional desktop processes and applications are shifting online. Obviously, the benefits are numerous – from cost-savings, to accessibility, to scalability, and more. The main take-away point from this discussion was that as we become more reliant on online service providers (such as Google), we must understand that we lose control of our data and privacy to a large extent. This isn’t to say that any or all organizations will use this information for malicious purposes, but rather that the prospect is possible. In other words, we may be sacrificing our data by engaging in the “cloud”.

Web 2.0/3.0 – The Pros and Cons of the New NetworkPanel discussion.

This panel discussion was interesting, but touched on many points that were already apparent to a web 2.0 advocate like myself. The first speaker was from TELUS and he spoke about the emergence of web 2.0 within the enterprise realm. The second speaker touched on cyber-terrorism and the misuse of user-generated media. Finally, the third speaker was a professor from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson. He conducted a comprehensive research study of privacy issues and concerns with regards to social networks, more specifically Facebook. The targeted group (aged 18-24) was given a series of questions and asked to provide quantitative and qualitative answers. Some of the results may surprise you. I highly recommend everyone read this report: The Next Digital Divide: Online Social Network Privacy.

Social Networking – The Business Opportunities, Risks and Mitigations to ConsiderPresented by Hein Gerber, Director of IT Advisory Services at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

This was probably the most interesting presentation of all those that I attended. Gerber provided keen insight into the growing world of social networks by identifying corporate opportunities, but also outlining the risks. He used several examples to depict how social media has benefited large organizations and vice versa. He points out that firms can choose to deny, ignore, or embrace this new phenomenon. A biased Techvibes crowd can guess which path he suggested companies choose…

Today, I will attend the second day of the conference where I am excited to hear Nicholas Carr speak. He is a best-selling technology author and a well-known web 2.0 critic. Opinions aside, I am looking forward to hearing his thoughts on the future of IT and the web.