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Thursday, 28 June 2007

Why the use of an External Consultant Makes Sense

Employment costs are probably the biggest overhead that any organisation has to cover taking on specialist employees such as Quality Manager, Environmental Manager, Information Security Manager or Internal Auditor are not only hard to find but attract a premium in salary and total package.

A number of companies are taking the view that it is better to use the services of a specialist consultancy where a consultant is used for a specific task or period of time. There are a number of advantages in this sort of arrangement; consultants are paid only for the work or time involved, consultants are not 'employed' so do not have paid holidays, sickness, time off for domestic or social reasons, do not require pension or other benefits. And as they are not employed, no disciplinary processes and/or extended periods of notice are required to terminate a contract. There is also no risk of the dreaded Employment Tribunal.

The consultant is usually an 'expert' in the chosen field and will often have a greater depth of experience than the equivalent employee.

Used on a short term basis a consultant represents good value for money as there are no overheads to take into consideration.

But be sure that the consultant is covered by the rules of a governing body such as the Institute of Business Consulting (IBC) and is covered by appropriate Business Indemnity Insurance.

Consultants Are Good Value

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Laptop Data Safety

Basic levels of password protection on laptops are easily overcome by the experienced thief and this is causing considerable concern within the industry.

There are two things you should do:

  1. Physical security - Don't let your laptop out of your sight. Never leave it unattended in a public place. Never leave it in the boot of your car overnight at hotels. Always use a steel cable to attach it to a firm structure when in use outside your normal environment.

  2. Electronic security - Don't have sensitive data on a hard disk in the first place. Use a complex password and if possible second level authentication, such as a token or other device. When the laptop is on but is not being used, use the electronic lock facility to activate the password entry facility. Use a password on any screensaver.

That takes some account of security for the laptop, but with attached devices such as SD cards and USB pen-drives the situation is different:

Anyone stealing the SD Card or Pen-drive can read the data on any computer loaded with similar software. This is clearly a point of vulnerability; the best method to protect this type of device is to encrypt it so that it is useless without the decrypt key.

This protection is not the expensive option it used to be, with open source software freely available. The best of these encrypt and decrypt on the fly and are transparent to the authorised but render the device useless to the thief and in may cases appear to be a blank device.

ISO27001 and Laptop Security

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Quality is not an Option, it is Essential

Any organisation is unlikely to last long if quality is not built into the product or service supplied. Most purchasers will be looking for that little extra when making a buying decision; this could be a superior after sales service, fast delivery or better value but in every case quality is assumed, if this base quality level is not in place then the purchaser will look elsewhere.

With this mind many organisations will choose ISO9001 as their preferred method of demonstrable quality. ISO9001 is a third party assessed system and so it is an independent body that is certifying the quality management system of the organisation; this says much more than any self certifying system can.

There are over a million organisations certificated to ISO9001 and there are many more in the pipeline.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Don't Hit Your Laptop

I was with a client recently and using my HP Laptop when it suddenly stopped working, froze completely and refused to do anything at all. I tried to shut it down by Ctrl – Alt Del, but nothing. I was getting very frustrated by this time and uncharacteristically I lost it, I thumped the keyboard. Result: the screen went blank and the laptop never worked again.

This was an expensive tantrum as I had to buy a new laptop, software and then spend what seemed a lifetime setting up the machine.

Worst of all I have lost some important data. I do of course back up but on this occasion this component was missed. A security lapse which shouldn't have happened.

Don't take it out on machines they don't care.

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