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December 2003

Columns and Opinions

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Flying Isnít Dangerous...

By Matt Purdue

As 2003 comes to a wintry close, I’m reminded of a world-shifting event that occurred 100 years ago this month. On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright purportedly made the first powered flight in history over the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

I write “purportedly” because there is credible evidence that New Zealander Richard Pearse actually accomplished this feat first, lifting his monoplane off the ground in March 1903. And there are contemporary reports that German immigrant Gustave Whitehead alighted in a monoplane near Bridgeport, Conn., as early as 1901.

Whoever it was that first took to the skies it wasn’t long before powered flights became common. Just five years after his brother’s inaugural sojourn of 12 seconds, Wilbur set an endurance record by staying aloft for 2 hours, 18 minutes—an increase of more than 60,000 percent in a mere half decade. Today even the most advanced computer maker can’t boast that kind of progress. And with the ascension of aviation technology came practical applications. The Wrights’ company completed the first-ever cargo flight in 1910, ferrying one bolt of silk from Dayton, Ohio, to Columbus. But aviation did not really take off, so to speak, until a less benevolent purpose was defined.

While many strategists claimed that the advancement of military aircraft would deter war—after all, what king would declare war and put his own palace at risk of attack from the air—we know the opposite to be true. World War I was a watershed for aviation technology, ushering in faster, sleeker, more durable aircraft.

It’s not a wild stretch to compare the evolution of aircraft design with the proliferation of mobile technology. While the benefits of mobility in the enterprise are being proven every day, the potential for disaster looms large. Each mobile device you deploy to the field could open a breach in your enterprise defenses. Now more than ever is the time to take a hard look at your mobile and wireless security strategies. The opportunities for calamity abound, from the theft of a device housing corporate data to viruses being carried into your company by unsuspecting road warriors.

Fortunately, there are safeguards available, and they are improving rapidly. Our cover story presents eight tactics you can examine today for fortifying your mobile enterprise against security risks. From installing a wireless VPN to “stealing” your own workers’ laptops, you can discover tips to implement now to secure your company.

Because employing new mobile technologies is not unlike taking those experimental flights at the turn of the past century. Just remember the old aviation saw: Flying is not dangerous; crashing is dangerous.

Matt Purdue
[email protected]

Copyright ©2004 Leisure Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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