CIOs Turning Attention from Y2K to E-Commerce

A recent poll of leading chief information officers (CIOs) at U.S.-based businesses shows that 65 percent consider e-commerce to have supplanted Y2K as their leading technology issue.

The survey by CIO Magazine also found that while 62 percent of CIOs believe that President Clinton should appoint a national security czar to worry about technology-related national security, only 52 percent support Clinton’s “digital divide” initiative to bring the Internet to disadvantaged sectors of the population.

CIO Magazine polled 191 CIOs at a meeting in late January. Though their level of concern about computer security is high, only 18 percent reported that their companies have had problems with “external computer crime,” such as infiltration by hackers, employees and former employees.

Nevertheless, 85 percent of the respondents support Clinton’s $2 billion (US$) plan to combat cyber-terrorism and make the government’s computer systems less vulnerable to attack.

Digital Divide Support Mixed

The weak support for Clinton’s proposal to spend $100 million of the federal budget on initiatives to close the “digital divide” suggests a poor outlook for the second phase of activity — encouraging private sector companies to donate money, equipment or training and support to needy areas.

AT&T, 3Com Corp. and Microsoft have already partnered with various urban organizations to set up computing centers, as well as to network schools and other community buildings in some communities.

Mitnick Could Have Tech Job in Three Years

Additionally, many CIOs indicated that their e-commerce plans hinge upon their ability to find qualified information systems personnel. However, 77 percent said that they are struggling to fill open technology positions.

To underscore the point, 31 percent of the executives said that they would hire convicted hacker Kevin Mitnick after his parole period expires.

Mitnick hacked into computer systems used by Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems. Though some executives said they would hire him, more than half also said that they support his sentence, which bans him from using any computer-related devices — including PCs and cell phones — for three years.

Another 34 percent said the penalty was too lenient.

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