What does the financial meltdown mean for security?

Bill Brenner wonders if it's irrational or appropriate to make connections between the current financial crisis and the state of security

At first, this was going to be a column about the PR machine's hyperbolic efforts to connect the state of IT and security with the current financial crisis. Indeed, some have shamelessly sent me story pitches that try to get some bang out of the Wall Street meltdown.

This pitch, from a PR flak whose name I won't mention, even starts with an admission that the proposed IT angle is a stretch:

"This might be a bit of hyperbole, but as companies like AIG and Lehman Brothers look for a bail out, it's not surprising that adoption of open source software is increasing significantly in the wake of today's economic downturn," the person wrote in an e-mail that circulated around my office. That's right, the financial crisis means companies are fleeing to the safety of open source software, whether it's for security or other purposes. By the way, the flak wrote, her vendor client would be more than happy to talk to us about this all-important issue.

But as I started to look around for more examples of FUD, I started stumbling across blogs and articles examining the potential impact of the crisis on security in a more reasoned fashion. Now my take on things isn't as black and white as it was a couple days ago.

Columnist Rob Kall suggests in this OpedNews.com piece that the financial crisis itself may be a sham dreamed up by government officials who want to scare us into allowing their excesses much as we did after the 9-11 attacks:

"The news is abuzz with the reports of the solemn, haggard faces of the leaders of Congress when Bush's economic czars Paulson and Bernanke informed them of the deadly threat of financial meltdown the US, even the world economy, faced if something dramatic was not done immediately. So, of course, they came out, shaking in their boots, telling the nation how awful things were, how close to the abyss we've come," he writes, adding, "This sounds far too similar to Bush's surrogates Condeleeza Rice and Colin Powell warning us - at the UN and in Congress in 2003 - that Iraq and its WMDs was an imminent threat to the nation and the world."

Dan Blacharski at IT World writes about the "Financial Meltdown and Impending IT Crisis," suggesting that the current crisis will trigger a drastic pullback on IT investments.

"There's more evidence that [the financial crisis is] hitting the IT business, which until now has been relatively untouched, he writes, citing a Channel Insider Mid-Year Outlook survey of 300 vendors. "Not too long ago," he writes, "at the beginning of this year, the survey said about 75 percent of resellers expected profits to be up compared to 2007. Today, only half said that. According to the report, providers say their customers have delayed IT projects, are taking longer to make purchasing decisions, scale back deployments, and push back on pricing."

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