Foiling the Hackers--and Who Anticipated Them
It's not clear what all the fuss is about ("Cyber Crime," Cover Story, Feb. 21). The solution for the large "denial of service" hits to Yahoo!, eBay, and E*Trade is so obvious: legal responsibility.
All owners of Net-connected computers where the hackers were able to plant their "traffic generators" are guilty of generating the traffic that blocked the target sites. Just because others planted the generators should not absolve them of blame and liability for damages. The hackers were able to use those machines only because the machines had inadequate security.
You would be surprised how quickly those "innocent" partners of the hackers would clean up their acts after a few healthy damage awards against them.
Your editorial ("E-Barbarians at the gate," Feb. 21) described the hacker attacks on Web sites as "right out of Philip K. Dick's science-fiction classic Blade Runner."
So far, so wrong. Dick's novel initially had the thought-provoking title Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In truth, it had no content similar to the latest attacks. Maybe you were thinking of (Canadian) William Gibson's Neuromancer--though the whole episode is much more similar to The Shockwave Rider, a novel by the late British science-fiction writer John Brunner. That story includes a distributed "attack" on a global network, organized by one person (though his intention is to make all information available, including secrets corporations and governments want to keep secret).
Brunner had never heard of the Internet when he wrote the book. Perhaps that's not surprising, since he wrote it in 1975.
LondonReturn to top
Don't Paint All Consultants with the Same Brush
John A. Byrne's review of Consulting Demons sidesteps the responsibilities of book reviewing and exposes his own personal contempt for the consulting profession. Byrne, like Lewis Pinault, attempts to characterize a whole profession as a bunch of snake-oil salesmen. The title, "First, let's kill all the consultants" (Books, Feb 21), is irresponsible and unfair to all of your readers.
The majority of consulting professionals do not work for the big brand- name firms, and Pinault's experiences have more to do with his personal guilt and the practices of many of the "elite" firms' selected individuals than with the profession as a whole. Many of us who have spent a number of years in the field have come to realize that the practices of many of the prominent players--be they bait-and-switch or hired gun--exhibit a complete disregard for client assets and human capital.
Unlike the big firms, a small consulting practice would not survive if it tried to pull off some of the stunts referred to by Pinault and Byrne. The attributes of small firms often offer relief from such tactics because in a small firm, practitioners quickly realize that consulting is a labor-intensive profession focused on meeting client needs, not simply pumping up billing.
J. Kevin Fisher
Dartmouth Research & Consulting
The highlighted phrase "lying, cheating, and stealing are standard practice in the consulting business" is factually wrong and offensive to thousands of ethical consultants. The Code of Ethics for the Institute of Management Consultants states: "We will serve our clients with integrity, competence, and objectivity," and, later, "We will accept only engagements for which we are qualified by our experience and competence." Similar codes are used by other consulting organizations. The book's author is not representative of the management-consulting profession, and your reviewer has done our profession a disservice by failing to sufficiently emphasize that point.
Milton D. Rosenau Jr., CMC, FIMC
Rosenau Consulting Co.
Bellaire, Tex.Return to top