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Published on February 22nd, 2008 | by Tom


Trust is the New Money (Part 4)

"Stupid people, you don’t use a secure password."

The was the note left behind by a hacker on the Harvard University website Monday as a compressed 125 MB file described as the database for the Web site of Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences showed up on the Bit Torrent index, Pirate Bay. Apparently a lot of personal information about students was exposed. The hacker claims the stunt was intended to show the university’s Crimson-faced IT department just how vulnerable they are. Not too often the Harvard folks get called stupid. Just another warning of the threats that come with the opportunities after the Jump Point — and the obligations we all have to preserve trust as the coin of the new realm.

The post-Jump Point world will be populated by numerous scammers—so-called seeders and leechers, employing malware, adware, spam and spear-phishing to get the unguarded to give up valuable information. And nowhere is the new network more vulnerable than inside the social media sites that have emerged as the new market spaces. MySpace, Facebook, bebo, Hi-5, and the myriad communities like them are very attractive consolidations of consumers but they are also porous, unregulated frontier towns. And, frontier justice can be a bitch.

A warning today from an InfoWorld item:

"Companies need to adjust their security policies for Web 2.0 world today, they need to tailor their Internet use policies and create rules that include social Web sites, blogs, and all the other types of sites being created out there, the usage policies need to be spelled out specifically and enforced," said Paul Henry, vice president of technology evangelism at network gateway maker Secure Computing.

"Beyond that they need technical safeguards to back those policies, but the outlook for all this is still pretty grim," he said. "Most companies are barely providing sufficient protection in the context of Web 1.0."

The bottom line: After the Jump Point, three billion people will buy, sell, trade and exchange with each other directly–no government, middlemen or arbiters between them. And, they will do so, most of them, without ever coming face-to-face. Three billion strangers operating on one thing: trust. There are two sides to that coin. Be trustworthy, in fact be the most trusted source in your industry or segment. Make bank on trust. But you also have to be guarded and responsible stewards of trust. Don’t be vulnerable and hackable. Remember old Ron Reagan’s favorite Russian proverb, "doveryai, no proveryai." Trust but verify.

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