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Infotech in the age of angst

It has been a sombre start to the New Year, writes Ganesh Natrajan.

india Updated: Jan 08, 2008 21:03 IST
Ganesh Natrajan
Ganesh Natrajan

It has been a sombre start to the New Year. On the business front, rising oil prices have raised fresh concerns about the future of the US economy, while in neighbouring Pakistan, the unfortunate assassination of Benazir Bhutto has generated the expected slanging matches between political parties groups.

Closer home the unsavoury molestation incidents across Mumbai and other cities which spoilt the arrival of the year for many have raised once again the refrain of "what is the country heading for?" We are truly entering an era where fierce competition – for riches, for status and for business success -- will result in the inevitable jealousies and deepening of the cracks that separate the haves from the have-nots.

One symptom of this simmering discontent is the emergence of anti-social networking sites that seek to feed off the angst that many people, particularly the young, have against other members of the community. While social networking, epitomized by the success of sites like Facebook and Orkut, has enabled new lines of communication to emerge across culture and country barriers, the new sites that enable and even encourage expressions of dislike and dissent are a trend that cynically attempt to monetize the number of people who would visit such sites to express their own discontent or just look at the hate campaigns generated by others.

In the context of the IT industry, the deliberations at a recent conference in Pune showed that the need for network and application security is both a challenge and an opportunity for all leaders to recognize and address. The challenge is obvious because it is very conceivable that the next incident of comparable magnitude to the falling of the World Trade Centre towers in New York at the beginning of this decade could be the demolition of a country's ability to communicate and collaborate – in its financial institutions, e-government and education initiatives by malicious hacking and infiltration of its communication networks. In a few years' time, as information technology networks become the connecting spinal cord of all economic activity, any disruption or loss of availability of the network can bring an entire economy to a halt.

Every possible step needs to be taken to secure our networks and build in fault tolerance and redundancy in mission critical application design and deployment.

Information security is also an opportunity – for consulting firms and for the entire IT industry -- to position India as the most mature destination for secure and trustworthy computer applications. The differentiation we seek is here for the taking!

Ganesh Natrajan
Deputy Chairman & MD, Zensar Technologies