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Forget Security 3.0. What Will Security 4.0 Look Like?

Believe it or not, people already are starting to ask this question as it becomes painfully obvious that today's teens, whose dexterous thumbs have grown up tapping away on cell phone keypads as they check out the latest action on MySpace or YouTube, will be part of the workforce before you know it.

Believe it or not, people already are starting to ask this question as it becomes painfully obvious that today's teens, whose dexterous thumbs have grown up tapping away on cell phone keypads as they check out the latest action on MySpace or YouTube, will be part of the workforce before you know it.What happened to Security 3.0? We're right in the middle of it, Gartner VP and analyst John Pescatore told attendees at Gartner's IT Security Summit in Washington, D.C., on Monday. If you consider Security 1.0 began back in the heyday of mainframes and Security 2.0 launched with the dawn of client-server and networked computing, then Security 3.0, to use a hockey metaphor, means "skating ahead of the puck," or, to use a hunting metaphor, "shooting ahead of the duck," in terms of thinking about where security needs will arise. (Incidentally, Pescatore's next presentation will be titled "Fun With Metaphors." Or so I heard.)

If security executives are tossing and turning at night thinking about organized crime on the other side of the globe launching a cyberattack that will steal customer data and shut down their networks, or if they're breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of disgruntled employees raiding their databases or planting logic bombs, think of what could happen once workers find meaningful ways to regularly use MySpace, Facebook, and other Web 2.0 sites as part of their jobs.

Pescatore likened today's approach to security as the game of "Whack a Mole" (a problem pops up, security pros hammer it down) when it should be more like chess, where the white pieces, or "good guys," go first. In chess, the strategy is forcing your opponent into places on the board where you're stronger, Pescatore said. (Again with the metaphors.)

What will Security 4.0 look like five years down the road? With globalization growing and grid computing expanding, companies won't even own a lot of their IT infrastructure, and they'll buy their IT resources from the provider offering the lowest cost, Pescatore said. "They'll be trying to spend the least amount of money while trying to be secure," he added. "At the same time, MySpace and Facebook users will be entering the workforce."

Of course, today's workforce is no stranger to the concept of figuring out some way to use the latest gadgets at work. As Microsoft continues to develop its Smartphone operating system and software, such as Pocket Outlook, and when Apple's iPhone hits store shelves, "you know you'll want to use it," Pescatore said. "I'll go to the Pentagon next year (to do consulting work), and some general will have one and want his staff to have them."

Are you ready to secure your IT systems in such a way that lets your colleagues make use of this gadgetry to your company's advantage? "Consumerization of IT -- and that includes Web 2.0 and people working from home -- is the biggest security issue for companies," Pescatore said. "Our information is flowing to god-knows-what devices" that users have.

How will companies deal with Security 4.0? Pescatore had this idea: "This means companies will be looking at which mobile security providers have the best in-the-cloud service," in order to keep up with securing expanded network use. Indeed, AT&T, Verizon, and others already are beginning to expand their managed security services.

It's a compelling idea, but not foolproof. In the end, it will still come down to end users and their commitment to "safe" computing that doesn't put their employer's systems and data in jeopardy. That's right, the kid sitting across from you on the train, iPod ear buds jammed in his ears, thumbs racing across his Sidekick, may someday be sitting in the next cubicle. Even scarier, he may someday be destined for the corner office.

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