After a Lay-Off, Move On

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These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the June 13, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Computer Security’s New Dimension

Gary Lynch’s first computer security job involved

a mass murderer who chopped prostitutes into tiny pieces. The year

was 1978, computers were kept in locked rooms, and the axe-happy guy

also happened to be in charge of night shift computer operations at

Blue Cross, where Lynch held the brand new title of electronic data

processing auditor. The powers that be at the company were "concerned

about this person having full authority over the mainframe," says

Lynch. It was not all that easy to trace computer transactions back

then, but Lynch did a check and turned up nothing nefarious. "He

was considered a good employee," Lynch says. "I never found

anything."

Twenty-three years and several computer revolutions later, Lynch owns

a Morristown-based computer security company, Technology Risk Advisors,

which helps companies work at security issues that go way beyond figuring

out whether murderers messed with the mainframe before being carted

off to jail. He speaks on "How Secure Are You?" as part of

a panel on computer security issues at the New Jersey Technology Council’s

CIO Peer Network Program on Tuesday, June 19, at 8:30 a.m. at the

Morris County Fire Fighters & Police Training Academy. Cost: $40.

Call 856-787-9700.

Lynch says he "accidentally fell into security," and has been

trying to fight his way out ever since. "I was a financial auditor

when I was young," he says. "I counted cash in vaults."

He was also a computer programmer. The combination appealed to companies

just starting to put their data into computers, and a head hunter

recruited him for the job at Blue Cross.

Back then, nearly 25 years ago, "there was no such thing as computer

security," Lynch says. "All the computers were locked up in

a room. They were not accessible to the outside world." For the

most part, computers in businesses were used to crunch numbers at

night. "Customers never had access," Lynch says, "and

employees had limited access."

As access opened up, computer security became a big issue. Lynch,

in on the ground floor, went on to become head of security for Chase

Manhattan and for Prudential, and launched a computer security department

for the Gartner Group. Most recently, before founding his own company

one year ago, he ran Ernst & Young’s security practice in the Metro

New York area.

As Lynch traces the history of computer use in offices, it becomes

clear why security concerns mushroomed as the machines evolved. "In

the early-80s," he recalls, "companies began to give privileged

employees access, but only on site." Then, more and more work

was shifted to computers. Everything from drawings to sophisticated

logic to legal briefs moved from drafting tables and legal pads to

software. More employees had access to the company’s computers, and,

at the same time, companies "began to give access to privileged

people in other sites."

"Then," Lynch says, "we had the PC revolution in the mid-1980s.

Everybody had access to offload from mainframes. People became very

creative." Worlds of possibilities opened, Lynch says, but the

seeds of future security nightmares were sown as companies threw open

access, but "decided to do it with no rules." The PC revolution

that put a computer on every desk was followed by a trend toward sharing

and collaboration where local area networks (LANs) linked employees,

and sometimes vendors and business partners too.

As important as these milestones were, Lynch says, "The real revolution

came with connectivity." This, he says, for the first time allowed

people the company did not even know, people who in many cases were

unknowable, to get information. "The focus was on the customer,"

he says. "There was a push beyond employees and business partners."

"Knowledge has become a business weapon," says Lynch. The

question is how to control it. Businesses are concerned with customer

relations management (CRM), transactions executed online, intellectual

property sharing, and access to data. And they all now know that they

need computer security. There are 2,000 companies selling more than

4,000 computer security products, and Lynch says businesses no longer

have to be sold on the need to buy a good number of them, often from

small, highly-specialized companies.

Corporations are spending a lot on security, Lynch says, but they

"never reach the finish line." They buy and buy, but never

quite sew up all the holes in their systems. Lynch’s nine-person company

is building a business on helping clients — most often COOs, CEOs,

and CFOs — figure out where the finish line is, and how to cross

it.

Securing computerized data is so complex that even the location of

a security finish line is extremely elusive. How secure is secure

enough? Some security measures, 128-bit encryption for example, are

extremely expensive. Is it necessary? And if so, should it be deployed

for all data? For all computer functions? Lynch says companies have

to decide "how high do we place the bar?"

Key considerations include the following:

Where do customers want the bar?

Where do regulators want the bar?

Where do business partners want the bar?

Where are competitors setting the bar?

What are your auditors telling you?

What are you seeing as security breaches in your industry?

Once security parameters are set, they need to be enforced in

an ever-shifting environment. Lynch says the vulnerabilities he sees

"over and over" are caused not by technology, but by what

he calls "process breakdowns," which boil down to carelessness

by the computers’ human masters. "It’s simple things," he

says. "It’s installing new software, and not resetting default

passwords, or not applying patches to fix weaknesses. It’s not staying

up to date."

Beyond sloppy installation, the biggest security issue, Lynch says,

is that "companies don’t want to take a lot of time to integrate

security solutions into operations systems." A company, for instance,

will install intrusion detection, and then keep incident reports within

the IT department. Security, Lynch says, "should be woven into

the fabric of the company, and integrated into day-to-day processes."

The day when a company’s biggest worry was that one of the handful

of employees entrusted with the key to the mainframe room might have

criminal tendencies is long gone. Now computers are everywhere, and

so are security issues.

Top Of Page
After a Lay-Off, Move On

<B>Dina Lichtman was a senior executive in the human

resources department of a medical equipment rental company. She had

been with the company for nearly 16 years when a group of venture

capital investors took it private. The new investors decided on substantial

changes. "One year ago today, everyone from the CEO through senior

vice presidents was let go," she says. "I was the victim of

a downsizing."

Happily re-settled as vice president of career management at Right

Management Consultants, a global career transition firm with offices

in Forrestal Village, Lichtman has not forgotten how it felt to be

tossed from a job she had held so long that her children, ages 22

and 24, had no memory of her doing anything else. "I couldn’t

get past it," she says. "I kept saying `This was 16 years.’

It was a shock, a trauma. It was hard telling people."

Lichtman offers advice to others who may one day be in her position

when she speaks on "Repositioning Your Career in a Changing World"

on June 20, at 7:30 a.m. at a meeting of the Princeton Chamber of

Commerce at the Nassau Club. Cost: $21. Call 609-520-1776.

"It wasn’t even financial," Lichtman says of her lay-off.

She had been given a substantial severance package and didn’t need

to work right away to pay the bills, but even so, she found it difficult

to get over the dismissal. "I kept looking behind me," she

says. "I kept wondering if I should have done anything differently,

if I should have been more aggressive with the new management."

It was six months before she began a job search in earnest.

Now Lichtman works with people like herself, executives who find themselves

out of a job. She urges them to take time to think about what parts

of their former jobs they liked, and what parts they would be happy

never to have to do again. That is how she arrived at her current

job, which she landed just two months ago.

A "poor kid from Philly," Lichtman attended Temple University

on scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education

(Class of 1969) and a master’s degree and doctorate in psycho-educational

process, now called educational psychology. She had worked as a psychologist

as well as a human resources executive, and after her lay-off she

realized she did not want to "shuffle paper" anymore. No more

government reporting forms for her, she decided. What she liked about

her work was human interaction, "role playing, interviewing, executive

coaching." She narrowed her job search to concentrate on positions

full of client contact, and short on paperwork.

Her new employer works for corporations, giving their downsized executives

coaching in finding a new job, and business is up. A lot. Right Management

is seeing 30 to 50 percent more people this spring than it did last

spring as a number of industries, telecommunication and the Internet

among them, trim employees. Lichtman says, even now, a good two decades

after "downsizing" first entered corporate lingo, employees

often are shocked to find that hard work and longevity are not enough

to guarantee a spot on the company roster.

"It used to be a social contract," Lichtman says. "I do

a good job, and you’ll keep me forever." Not only is that contract

out the window, but length of service as an anchor is gone too. Newly

laid-off executives, still in shock, tell Lichtman how long they had

been with their employer as if the years were charms they believed

would keep the axe away. "It doesn’t matter anymore," she

says. "There are no guarantees."

The result, Lichtman says, is that the laid-off people she sees are

no longer willing to make work their life. Many thought a short-term

sacrifice of family, outside interests, and personal time couldn’t

help but make them stars, forever valued at work. When, instead, they

were shown the door, many vow not to repeat the mistake. Lichtman

says, "More and more, people say, `I’ll do a good job, but equally,

if not more, I will value family time, community time, and personal

time.’"

But no matter how they decide to work, the jobless executives Lichtman

sees do need to get to work, and it is her job to help them find one.

Here is her advice for conducting a job search after a lay-off, and

using the event to build a stronger, more resilient career.

Take a deep breath. "Don’t do anything right away,"

Lichtman advises. "Step back, reflect a bit, take seminars, decompress."

Rushing into a job hunt before the shock of a lay-off has worn off,

sending off hundreds of resumes willy-nilly, and going into interviews

unprepared is rarely the way to find a really good fit in a new job.

"I had a young woman this morning," Lichtman says. "She

reported she had just gone on an interview." This job candidate

had summed up her skills by telling the prospective employer "`I

can do everything!’" Bad move, Lichtman says. "No one wants

someone who can do everything."

Get to know yourself. A little reflection might have helped

the hapless interviewee understand what strengths she could bring

to a job, and what she wanted the job to do for her. Right, like many

firms that work with downsized employees, offers a range of tests

to assess clients’ talents, personalities, and preferences. And a

new test is being added. Lichtman says her firm will soon start offering

a tool to measure clients’ tolerance for stress. She says all job

hunters should think about what it is they want in a job, besides,

of course, a manageable stress level. "Is it money, time, leadership?"

she urges them to ask. Being unemployed for a time can be an opportunity

to find a better job fit, but only if the laid-off employee takes

the time to think about what would make a job ideal for him.

And that is not as easy as it sounds. "Very senior folks hide

behind the jobs," Lichtman says. "To be out there and have

to look at what you really like, it’s hard."

Forget pre-conceptions. Many of Lichtman’s clients are

embarrassed about their lay-off, thinking others will assume it was

somehow their fault. Relax, she says, there is no longer a stigma

attached to losing a job. Neither, she is finding, is there is much

of a stigma attached to age as there was. "I think it’s changing,"

she says. "Employers are looking for wisdom and experience."

Older job hunters — like their young competitors — need to

demonstrate creativity, energy, competence, and an ability to adapt.

If they do so, they may find age is not much of a problem for recruiters.

"I was offered a job by a 30-year-old at an Internet company,"

Lichtman says by way of example. Her firm has clients who are in their

early-60s, and she says they are doing well in finding good jobs.

Design a marketing campaign. While Lichtman says recently

laid-off workers need time to adjust, she also says they like to have

"a tangible product" in their hands. Working up a first-rate

resume, not a historical document, but an embodiment of who they are,

is a confidence builder, and an important first step in a self-marketing

campaign. Work on interview skills also is important, as is polishing

a personal presence, but the most essential part of the campaign is

networking.

Up to 85 percent of jobs are never advertised, Lichtman says. She

has her clients ferret them out by listing 100 people they know. Yes,

she says, absolutely everyone knows at least 100 people. Count the

hairdresser, and her receptionist too. Then get in touch with each

and every one. Tips, she says, can come from anywhere.

Negotiate for a great package. "People are petrified

to ask for more money," Lichtman says. "There’s a reason professional

athletes have agents." She has been amused to find that top salespeople,

pros who can sell anything, choke when it comes time to negotiate

their own salaries.

Keep on managing your career. Gaining ground after the

upset of a lay-off does not end with landing a good job. The lay-off

should serve as a wake-up call, alerting the executive to a changed

work environment. Mergers, acquisitions, falling profits, changed

priorities, plant closings; any or all of the above could cause the

new job to crater. Or the new job could prove to be unsatisfying.

Employees need to take charge, keep their resumes up to date, scan

the horizon for new opportunities, and, most important of all, keep

on networking.

"Ultimately," says Lichtman, who is both happier and

wiser after her own lay-off, "you are in charge of your own destiny."


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