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COLUMNS & FEATURES–Hackers, Politicians Portrayed as Biggest Threats to Net

Internet security expert Ian Angell had been working on his book, “The New Barbarian Manifesto: How to Survive the Information Age” (Kogan Page Ltd.), for the past eight years.

He wasn’t in a rush to publish it until all the high-tech turmoil he was predicting in the book, including hackers crippling major Web sites, began to make headlines.

“In 1992 and 1993, people thought I was crazy,” said Angell, who teaches classes about the management of information systems at the London School of Economics. “Then, all my predictions started coming true, and I realized I had better get the book out before people said I was just reporting the news.”

Angell’s new book spookily predicted that hackers would knock out popular Web sites, which happened a few months ago to Yahoo and CNN.com.

“There are a lot of anarchists out there who see what they’re doing as a long-term war against technology,” said Angell. “They don’t believe in taking credit they just want to do damage.”

He warns that, while your site may be hacked by “bitter and twisted” people, you may also be attacked by competitors who just want to wreck your business. Angell said he is very concerned about the lack of back-end security features on most commercial Web sites.

“These dot-com companies pretend to be high-tech,” he said. “Their sites have a very flashy front end, but the back end is in shambles. The integrity of their computer systems is far from ideal.”

He said too many companies race to spend money on marketing and glitz, rather than investing in secure systems.

Angell’s book also criticizes politicians, blaming them for stifling creativity and overtaxing small-business owners who should be investing their profits in growth, not paying for government-supported programs.

His book boldly predicts the demise of the European Union because he believes the politicians in all the member countries exert too much power over entrepreneurs, thus stifling innovation and prosperity.

“American newspapers write about the information economy,” said Angell. “In contrast, Europeans speak of an ‘information society.’ (Europeans) believe business is there to be taxed, and to support the election of politicians.”

European countries with restrictive policies are forcing thousands of computer-savvy entrepreneurs to immigrate to the pro-business United States, Angell said.

In fact, U.S. immigration policies welcome entrepreneurs with cash to invest in the U.S. economy. There is a “fast-track” immigration program for business people who bring $1 million and guarantee to employ 10 people or more.

In 1993 alone, 600 millionaires immigrated to the United States. And in 1998, an Immigration and Naturalization Service program offering six-year visas to skilled high-tech workers was increased to cover 115,000 workers needed to fix the millennium bug.

Angell’s provocative book also lists “hot and cold” spots for business development. Seattle, New York City and Chicago are hot, according to Angell.

“Dallas has potential, but the mayor is talking about taxing the Internet,” he said. “Washington, D.C., is a freezing cold spot. The focus there is on how to manipulate and bribe politicians.”

Angell, who spends much of his time studying the global consequences of technology, said he wrote the book to “keep my students from being bored.” He didn’t expect it to be embraced by the U.S. media.

“Clearly, the old order is breaking down,” he said. “I feel so angry about the way small business is being abused by the government. When a small company pays its taxes, instead of having money they can invest in themselves, they have to borrow money to grow.”

News & Notes

-More than 1,000 chief executives at major companies will soon be receiving surveys asking for detailed information about their procurement policies from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, or WBENC.

The survey is part of the Washington, D.C.-based group’s search for the best corporations for women-owned firms to do business with. “The search offers a gauge by which corporate America can track its progress in providing equal procurement opportunities for women’s business enterprises,” said Susan Phillips Bari, president of WBENC, the nation’s leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women.

Women-owned firms receive less than 3 percent of the business contracts generated by American corporations, according to the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies. The results of the WBENC survey and a list of top corporations for women-owned businesses are scheduled for release in October.

For more information, or to obtain a survey, send your e-mail to: nominations@wbenc.org.

-“Money Hunt,” a public television show featuring entrepreneurs looking for financing, is planning to award a lucky entrepreneur $100,000 through its “Wow! What A Great Idea” contest.

In addition to the cash, the winner will receive products and services from the show’s sponsors. The prize includes 10 hours of public-relations services, legal and accounting advice, and office furnishings and computer products.

To qualify for the contest, entrepreneurs must submit their business plan for review by a panel of business experts. Semi-finalists and winners will also be given an opportunity to appear on the “Money Hunt” television show. Entrepreneurs with a business plan can learn more about the contest and rules at www.moneyhunt.com. The deadline for entries is June 5, 2000.

-The number of companies offering “work/life” benefits has increased dramatically in the past five years, according to a survey conducted by RHI Management Resources, a consulting firm in Menlo Park. The firm surveyed 1,400 chief financial officers in companies with 20 or more employees, finding out that a majority of the firms have started offering more family friendly benefits.

“Companies are instituting a variety of methods to enhance worker satisfaction,” said Cecil Gregg, executive director of RHI Management Resources. “Although extended work hours are becoming unavoidable for many professionals, firms are providing benefits such as telecommuting, flex-time or subsidized day care to help reduce some of the pressure of these demands.”

He said small businesses trying to retain good employees in this tight labor market must provide benefits aimed at helping workers balance work and family responsibilities.

-National Small Business Week festivities in Washington, D.C., begin May 23. The U.S. Small Business Administration and state and local business organizations are planning all sorts of events around the country.

Winners of a national competition sponsored by the SBA will be honored in Washington, D.C., May 23 to 25. Business owners and members of the public are invited to attend a free small-business trade show, May 24 and 25, at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave.

Reporting by Julie Neal. Jane Applegate is the author of “201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business,” and is founder of ApplegateWay.com, a multimedia Web site for busy entrepreneurs. She can be reached via e-mail at jane@janeapplegate.com.

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