Jericho on my mind

Jericho is a city in the Palestinian Authority and is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is east of Jerusalem near the banks of the River Jordan and close to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on the earth's surface).

Many will remember the biblical story of the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land by way of Jericho. The story is told in the Book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible. After a small espionage story we read that the marching of the Israelites, and their loud trumpets, caused the walls of the city to fall... I believe there is a Spiritual that tells the story this way: "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down".

Imagine my surprise when I recently heard that a global group (possibly the leading group) of information security professionals is called The Jericho Forum. Jericho, as you (now) know from the story, was open first to espionage and then to a complete failure of its main security mechanism, the city walls.

The website does clarify the reasoning for the name, however. It states "the Jericho Forum began in 2003 when a group of global corporate CISOs [Chief Information Security Officers] came together informally to discuss an issue that no one was addressing –de-perimeterization – the erosion of the network perimeter."

Aha! De-perimeterization (that word alone deserves its own lengthy blog posting) - I suppose Jericho suffered seriously from de-perimeterization and hence is the archetypal security failure the analogs of which these CISOs are bound to prevent in the future.

Erosion of the network perimeter is an interesting topic in enterprise information technology world. No longer do people connect to the company network only from inside, from their desks. Now we all want our computers to talk to the corporate email or applications when we are on the road or at home. Our customers and suppliers need access, to say nothing of our offshore software development teams. What used to be the city walls, our network perimeter, is no longer so relevant, however strong it is. We ourselves are creating so many holes or gateways through the perimeter to allow for all this inside-outside communication, that IT security has to learn to create security in this new world dominated by, yes, de-perimeterization.

So, kudos to The Jericho Forum for remembering the mother of all de-perimeterizations, and allowing me to tie my modern VC life back to a biblical story and a dusty city in the desert.

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