* Posts by Gus McKay

2 posts • joined 20 Sep 2006

Data breach howlers to get up to £500,000 fine

Gus McKay

Not effective

There may be good things in this bill; I don't know. Sadly, all I need to do to consign it to the disappointingly large pile labeled "ineffective legislation for propaganda purposes" is read the max penalty.

ID theft can cost victims thousands, and relevant failures regularly affect thousands or millions. How about a modest penalty of up to £1000 per victim? £500,000 is so much less than it would cost to fix data security in many organizations, making it too easy to justify paying up, rather than fixing things.


Groping your way around the mobile device maze

Gus McKay

I've been looking for a new mobile, but it doesn't exist

Reading your article on the difficulties of choosing a new mobile solution I was moved to express an opinion. As a hard core IT techie it appears that I am just not catered for. My mobile device requirements as I traverse between home, desks, datacenters and meetings are simple:

1. None of these stupid little miniature keyboard buttons. You can only get 16 or 20 buttons on a phone before they become far too small to distinguish or use easily, always assuming you don't pursue some work or leisure related activity that causes fingertip calluses. If you want to enter text efficiently you need to use a stylus. I don't really want to learn graffiti, or similar, but it seems like a very good time investment that I would definitely make if there was a viable mobile device which used it.

For when I really, really need a keyboard, I'll definitely buy the optional extra flat plugin keyboard that goes limp and rolls up into a chunky magic marker sized case for easy portability.

2. SSH v2 xterm sessions with user configurable certificates (and timely security updates). Also user configurable IPsec and IMAP mail client with readers for standard attachments. I suspect a fixed IP address would be just the ticket here.

3. Synchronisation over (USB and Firewire) cable to Solaris, MacOS X and at least a published API for the Linux and BSD people. (Yes, call me paranoid, but I don't want to use bluetooth: being busier, and more forgetful than I used to be, I'll likely leave it on at some point and go out into the world, my virtual tinted electronic knashers advertising a potential security risk.)

Actually, maybe I should be syncing to corporate LDAP directories over an IPsec encrypted connection, so one day I won't need this any more [glances futilely out the window for evidence of passing pork].

4. Long battery life - as in at least a week on standby. This is more important than having a phone so small I keep loosing it. ["This office has a tidy desk policy?"] When you're away from base and you forget/break your charger you still need to look as professional as possible until you can get your own replacement. As a techie, not being in control of hardware looks bad.

5. Optional extra leather belt clip-on carrying pouch with transparent front bits. I know, it's really naff, but it is also really functional: you'll never drop your mobile out of your shirt pocket in the toilets, and it won't spoil your suit pockets. This is not supposed to be a device destined to win awards for being small.

6. No camera - some locations have interesting security policies.

7. Sensible car installation options. (There may well be already for all I know, but I have no incentive to investigate right now.) I want to be able to drop my phone into a slot in the car and have the car fire up secure short range communications to any headsets it specifically knows about (because I registered them beforehand.)

Now if someone was to make such a thing in a tri-band phone, and maybe add a bar-code/RFID scanner and minimal web browsing to it, just for fun, I'd be queuing up to buy it. Right now, my best hope is that Nokia decide to issue a real replacement for the 6310i, still by far the most popular ever phone with techies by a large margin.

Now I have to admit that while such a beast might be the very thing for work, but it isn't going to score in the fashion department. This brings me to another pet peeve about the mobile phone business. I want to have two phones. A solid, perhaps expensive, work tool that I keep for ages, and an up to date snazzy, polyphonic, photograpic, plastic (cheap replacable) popular style gizmo I can take down the pub. Nothing controversial here I hear you say, but, I want to be able to answer my call on whichever one I have with me at the time. I certainly do not want to fiddle with SIM cards to achieve this. If I have several fixed-line phones on the same line in my house and I answer the nearest one, the others go back to sleep. Why can't we do this yet with mobiles?

I look forward to being embarrassed by being told that I can have all this with device X and Y on network Z.

Finally, thanks to all at el Reg for a great website.



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