'Net dreams or nightmares?

It is hard to believe it is 2001—the year that Arthur C. Clarke foresaw mankind moving beyond lunar colonization, propelled by curiosity to explore the outer solar system. But nearly foiling this evolutionary journey was Hal, the HAL 9000 computer that served as the nerve center of the Discovery. Hal revealed a dark and dangerous side, showing the capacity not only to violate privacy, but to put the mission and its crew in jeopardy. Hal presents us with an early but compelling reminder that computer technology, as it advances, can bring with it new dangers.

In this issue of ADT, we explore both the promise and potential dangers of the Internet, which, like the HAL 9000, enables us to do wondrous new things while also presenting new risks and challenges.

In our cover story, "E-business without security is not an option," Graham Titterington and Paola Bassanese examine one of the most noteworthy dangers of the 'Net—the security risk created by the Internet as it exposes IT to the dangerous world outside the firewall. To minimize this danger, the authors warn, companies must develop and implement a security policy that enables people to access IT systems safely, a process requiring an understanding of the security tools available.

In his feature, "Internet opens market for offshore development", George Lawton examines one example of hope as the promise of the Internet allows IT managers to contract directly with talented developers all over the world, regardless of their location. Lawton examines new Web portals established to bring together developers and employers—portals that would not be possible but for the very same features of the Internet that create the security risks examined in our cover story.

Lana Gates, in her "Analysis and design: Critical yet complicated", looks at the both hopes and challenges brought to analysis and design tools by the Internet.

Richard Warren, in his "Microsoft Commerce Server: The next generation", provides a close look at a new version of Commerce Server 2000, a tool that demonstrates how leading-edge computer technology can make it easier to do Web-based transactions and conduct business online.

But with new promises come new letdowns, and the B2B space has exprienced its share of the latter. John Waters, in his "B2B Bottleneck Blues", examines the unfulfilled promises of B2B commerce on the 'Net and finds a "bottleneck that is slowing the widespread adoption of B2B e-commerce caused by inadequate enablement," the high cost and time-consuming process of which has slowed the ramping up of B2B commerce.

The issues examined in this month's ADT serve as a reminder of Arthur C. Clarke's imagination. He foresaw advanced computer technology guiding us to the stars, and also how our dependence on this very same technology nearly turned this dream into a nightmare. Our job is to continue to explore where technology leads us, while protecting ourselves along the way from new dangers it exposes.