Security Corner

Sep 9 2009   8:09PM GMT

President Obama’s Back-to-School Speech: My Advice

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Yesterday, Michael Morisy, ITKnowledgeExchange’s community editor, posted “President Obama’s back-to-school speech tells students to pursue technology. What’s your advice?” It contained a transcript of The President’s speech. Ignoring the controversy and the politics, one has to agree that he made some good points; in fact, I found the whole speech inspiring.

One thing President Obama said relative to the pursuit of technology careers stood out: “Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.”  Yes, and before that another generation of students invented the Internet and founded the biggest software company in the world. What he left unsaid is that these technological advances have not been without problems; indeed, they have created entirely new problems that have spawned a separate IT industry: Information Security.

My advice to students who pursue technological careers—particularly IT related—is to realize that the development of new technology also carries with it the responsibility of ensuring that technology is safe to use. The lack of such responsibility in the past, whether through shortsightedness or outright neglect, has given us an Internet that is a haven for a new breed of criminal, that exposes our children to predators, hate propaganda and smut all at the click of a button and often unwittingly. And I haven’t even mentioned the threat to our national security.

President Obama said, “…you become good at things through hard work.” There’s a lot of hard work ahead before we get to the point where anyone can buy a computer, plug it in and use it safely without having to be an information security specialist.

We’ll know we’re there when the PC is as safe to use as a TV.

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