The future is here…. Accumulating IT Debt

This is a story about IT debt, and it begins with the recent request by the Chinese government asking all foreign companies to disclose the source code for their software ( According to the Chinese, these rules should ‘only’ affect software and hardware meant for the financial sector. Their given reasons are that the financial sector is so very important for China and they wish to:

a) make sure there is no secret back-door created by foreign companies, which would allow spying and more importantly;

b) ensure that the Chinese government can insert its own back-door.

One vendor that has been specifically targeted by this new rule is Microsoft. Based on the reports by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Windows 8 should already have implemented a back-door as a result of a collaboration between Microsoft and NSA. Perhaps this is true and is present, but this is only part of the picture. Chinese officials are upset about their dependency on Microsoft and its operating system – and they are still using a lot of Windows XP. Why Windows XP? Ex-CEO Steve Ballmer is on record saying that 90% of Windows XP installations used in China was pirated. That’s fancy talk for free illegal copies. Pretending to be concerned about a possible back-door in Windows 8 but having no issues about millions running pirated Windows XP is a pretty curious position for a national government to take.

Consider another fact. Even if Windows XP were around for another ten years (and we somehow figured out a way to keep it secure), the number of supported applications which are able to run on the XP operating system is rapidly disappearing. The problem for the Chinese is no longer Windows XP; the problem is the overall obsolescence of IT Architecture. And that brings us to what’s known as the IT debt. Here is a great explanation of Technology Debt by Mihir Shah, Chief Technology Officer at Fidelity Investments Asset Management : Every CEO, CIO and CFO should watch it.

Windows XP and its IT debt is not only problem for Chinese banks: it is a problem for many of us living in the Western world with all of those ATM machines on every corner. Many devices here in North America use Windows XP to run the application software and there’s more; another industry still heavily dependent on Windows XP are medical device manufacturers. This situation there is even more complicated by the fact that any change in the software has to be approved by a regulatory authority. These security vulnerabilities from IT debt surround us everywhere.

IT debt and security go hand in hand. There are very few organizations that don’t depend on technology and don’t require reasonable measures of security for themselves and their customers. For the rest of us, we have to deal with our very own IT debt and it can’t be fixed overnight. What you can do, however, is build a plan for the future and start paying your IT debt off today.

Trending this week …

This week brought us some interesting, note-worthy articles and news:

  • Google doesn’t like mobile apps. Why? It can’t index them and doesn’t have the visibility to all the data flow between customer and vendor. Google now provides a tool to the app vendors to fix that —>
  • Everybody talks about SmartCity, but nobody really knows what it is. If you are not living in SmartCity does it mean that you are living in dumb city? So, before we start talking about SmartCity, let’s define what it is —>
  • Blackberry introduced two initiatives. Blackberry should be the glue Operating System to tie together the Internet of Things (IoT). That’s a very good idea —>
  • The second idea from Blackberry is to demand that application vendors are mandated to also develop for this platform next to Apple and Android. Who is going to pass this law? Congress? Focus on quality, reliability and security. People will come. —>
  • Everything these days is Smart. SmartWatch, SmartCity, SmartPhone. Finally we can get SmartGun. As the vendor emphasised, it is powered by Linux, which on its own guarantees smartness, and it doesn’t miss. That’s smart. —>
  • There is a lot of talk about 3D printing. The next thing is 4D printing. What is it? 3D object which adjusts to the use. Have a look at 4D dress —>
  • Security, ease of office access, ease of login to computer are the some of the reasons why Swedish company put RFID chips under the skin of its employees. Now, we also know who doesn’t flush —>
  • To expect Internet everywhere we go is so nineties. Elon Musk wants to build network from here to Mars. Finally good coverage —>
  • There are many people happy with low oil prices. In case you think that the price f oil will bounce back, here is the recipes how to make you tons of money when it will go up. Hint: You will need a tanker. —>
  • Have you heard about lawyers giving away things for free? Here is the freemium model for you —>
  • Have you heard about these two new car insurance companies? Their names are Google and Apple —>
  • Check out even more trending topics here –>

White Papers

New addition to our archives from Gartner – ‘Designing an Adaptive Security Architecture for Protection From Advanced Attacks’ and ‘Malware Is Already Inside Your Organization; Deal With It’. Very good reading if you want to improve your company security.

You are welcome to browse the archive – . Feel free to send me any white papers you may come across that you would like to add to the archive.