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"The future of privacy is one of the most crucial issues facing business and society." This statement, made by Perri G., appeared in the February/March 1999 issue of Fast Company Magazine.

Consider also a comment from the research firm Frost and Sullivan, "The growth of global enterprise has stimulated phenomenal development in the secured communications markets as a result of increasing communications traffic. Vulnerable information such as business plans, strategies, new technologies and other proprietary information are at risk of industrial espionage and other possible exposures. Encryption is being pursued as protection for sensitive information by both major and minor participants in global enterprise."

The Internet has brought a new dimension to the Information Age. By allowing the real-time exchange of information regardless of location and distance, it has greatly increased both the pace of business and the number of ways in which we communicate. We conduct business on the go, from our homes, cars, planes, even restaurants. Success now depends on being able to access, share and use information whenever and wherever needed.

At the same time, reliance on the Internet and the flexibility it enables pose new serious threats to the privacy and security of our information. Unauthorized access, piracy and the loss of a laptop are just a few of the ways information is compromised, misused or lost.

While the need of protecting information is well acknowledged by financial institutions, many executives maintain their misconception that the threat of intrusion is remote and unlikely to occur. Nothing gets the attention as fast as tangible violations. By that time, it is often too late to salvage the compromised digital assets.

Our immediate challenge is to capture the attention of the potential users, to enlighten them and demonstrate the ease of use and versatility of our products. This requires a change in perceptions for the need to protect digital assets, and a change in the way information is accessed, retrieved and exchanged. Executives need to weigh carefully the benefits of security with minimal effort versus the probable risk of serious losses.