On colleagues and support

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On colleagues and support

We all have colleagues with whom we keep in touch. We all have colleagues who we call on from time to time for help when we run into knotty problems. And we all have organizations we turn to when we need specific advice. The trouble is that many of us do not mix those three groups to the benefit of our systems’ security, and we should.

This all came to mind as I was on one of my whirlwind travel months. This month included two conferences: SecureWorld Boston, and the First Advances in Digital Forensic Practice Conference in DC. I took my son, Mike.

He was amazed by the number of people with whom I have become acquainted over the years and, to tell the truth, so was I. However, something occurred to me as I was making the introductions. Many of the colleagues have kept in touch and there is a kind of informal mail list that we all use when we have a sticky challenge that needs solving. This mail list really only exists on our computers -- it is more a distribution list than anything else -- but I have lost count of the number of times one of us has sent out a 911 for help with something we never have confronted in the past.

Each person in the network has different specialties and skills. As a group I am convinced that there probably is not a single security problem one of us either could not solve or could not find someone who could. That is the lesson of this column: your friends and colleagues may be your best support team when things get strange on your network. Those of you who have been in the field awhile probably could have, or have had, the exact same experience as I. Those of you who have not, should start working on your personal tech support network right now.

Starting a personal tech support network is easy. Just get together a list of email addresses of your colleagues who won't mind hearing your cries of pain, and the next time you have a suitable problem, send it to the list. I don't recommend asking if people want to be on your list. That is way too formal. Just make the list and use it when you need it. Your colleagues will follow suit automatically. There is no need to make a big deal or to create a formal mail list. There are plenty of those.

You will find that after a while the others on your list will start doing as you are and the personal tech support group will be launched. And nobody will know but you.

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