The challenges facing IT professionals in today's market are formidable. Heightened security concerns and looming Y2K issues top the list.

Complex Countdown

The challenges facing IT professionals in today's market are formidable. Heightened security concerns and looming Y2K issues top the list.

At least two of the topics covered in this issue indicate the scope and complexity of the challenges facing many of you in the coming year.

First is our series of stories on the Year 2000 challenge. I assume you’ve read more than enough in the computer press and elsewhere about that pending crisis (coverage predicted by our own Em C. Pea in last issue’s column). The Y2K approach we’re taking in this issue provides you with a series of articles that offers some truly hands-on information about how your peers are dealing with the rollover to a new millenium.

Our Y2K stories are written by people like you: Microsoft Certified Professionals in the field. These authors aren’t professional writers—they’re professional network administrators, systems engineers, consultants, and IT group leaders. Like you, they’ve had to look beyond the hype to explain Y2K issues coherently to management, help draw up a compliance plan, figure out where to allocate limited resources, run system-wide audits, decide what to fix, what to replace, and what to ignore, and help educate users about it all. Like many of you, they’ve rolled up their sleeves and are dealing with Y2K right down to the individual desktop and BIOS level. Their stories, which we hope will inspire and educate you in your own Y2K efforts (you’ll find them under the Features section of this issue's table of contents).

The second indicator of the kind of tough challenges you face daily is Roberta Bragg’s new column, “Security Advisor.” This month, in her second column, Roberta discusses how to conduct an internal security audit. The column’s capper is Roberta’s 107-question “security checklist” to help you evaluate just how well your company defends its fort. Simply reading through her list is enough to whip up some big appreciation for those responsible for security in a widespread network.

Here are just some examples of the scope of the security challenge: Has someone at your company taught users what a secure password is, and where not to store it? On another level altogether, does someone make sure doors to the outside world are secured when they should be so that property can’t disappear? Do you have a proxy server in place for Internet connections? What about a sniffer? Have you checked to make sure the server screen can’t be read from outside the room? Who has the keys to the server room? Did you get them back from that employee who left a few months ago? Has someone created an ERD for every server? Where are they? And on and on. If the network you manage rates anywhere near a perfect score, send Roberta and me mail, would you?

What’s the biggest daily trial you face in the trenches of IT? Send me mail at—maybe we can turn it into a future cover story.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.


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