Do Hackers serve a useful purpose? Strangers to the London insurance market are often surprised at the lack of obvious security that exists with brokers' folders often left unattended in the city's various meeting points such as coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Rather like never-never-land, nobody actually appears to care, and if somebody did want to peek inside a folder well, “who worries?”, seems to be the attitude. The London Underwriting Centre was actually designed with shelves for brokers' folders while they took advantage of the facilities.
It is strange, but probably inevitable, that somebody would want to interfere in this rather quaint, trusting way of working. The electronic offerings of secure data would point to the fact that the idea came from people who do not really understand the market's ways and have to provide a service at great extra cost, for something that the brokers and underwriters in Lloyd's have not historically worried about. In fact the open visual meetings, whereby market gossip is used to create the best cover for risks is what has always been one of its best features.
The anguish over security is in fact a failing of management and not the person who breaks its boundaries. Systems are too easy to develop these days and the management of testing can be too lackadaisical. The hacker who breaks into an internet system or an office security system is able to because of the fault in the first place of the designer and secondly management. If a system is violated, or if a member of staff finds a route through the program structure, causing a problem or system failure then it is the fault of the designer not the violator. The violator is doing us all a favour if he is able to show up the weaknesses that the designer had not been efficient enough to check for.
Topically the London Stock Exchange was recently put into chaos because an operator pressed the wrong buttons. No serious system should have been developed without better systems security. This is a clear case of design failure.
If email is to become an even greater part of business life, then the basic international internet structures should be able to cope and should not need the added expense of centralised market offerings. The telephone system exists with its own in-built security, similarly the internet has these controls at no extra cost. The London market network system for transacting accounting information among its four or five hundred users has never failed in getting the correct information to the relevant recipient in 15 years so why must there suddenly be this big extra cost for what is already available?
London's sharing of its business among many does not lend itself to a secret society intent on controlling and managing every facet of its existance and strength . It would appear that this evolving of change is taking away, once again, the advantage London has over the rest of the world.
Employ the hacker and sack the designer.