Skip to main content
Bend it Like Beckham

For heaven’s sake, any return match with Iraq is not going to be played-out in cyberspace, regardless of media pressure on the Pentagon to drop millions of ‘Nanobots’ or ‘Kylie’ CDs infected with a more potent version of Slammer on Baghdad.

Outside of the playground of the Emirates, the Middle-east is not particularly well joined-up or connected. I should know, having visited all the GCC states, as a UK “Technology Ambassador” last year, presenting on InfoSec issues. For anyone who might be interested in the business opportunities in the region, my eighty page report on Saudi Arabia is on the DTI website and there’s even more information sitting up on

In fact, as I noted in every report I have written on the region, information security is an oxymoron which makes the development of eGovernment and eCommerce problematical. What little good security there is, may have already been stripped-down by Arab governments worried that the CIA or Mossad might have clandestine ‘access’ through American or even Israeli-sourced software.

According to the BBC, Iraq only has 12,000 people online - possibly 24,000 - and like its neighbours, you can be sure that all the traffic passes through a heavily-censored proxy-server, which makes using the Web as an information and communications medium, a challenge akin to watching paint dry.

Unlike the Americans, who rely on the Internet and now, even Instant Messaging, as a fundamental component of their command and control network, the Arab world is rather less sophisticated and learned from the last Gulf war and the more recent conflict with Serbia. So while Iraq will expect to have its both cellular and conventional telephone networks targeted by a mix of different weaponry, I very much doubt if the Internet figures much in any plans they might have, because they can reasonably expect to have their circuitry ‘fried’ by a large electromagnetic pulse within minutes of the first cruise missiles appearing on the screen of any radar stations that have escaped the attention of the 'Wild Weasels' and are still working.

So while it makes great TV to speculate on a country bought to its knees by Keanu “Matrix” Reeves or John “Swordfish” Travolta, I’m sorry to tell you that this fixture, if it isn’t cancelled, will be played out with all the traditional toys and the cover of night.

My own modest solution to the problem is simple and doesn't involve explosions. Given that David Beckham is a hero-figure in Iraq, why not offer the Iraqi people a swap. David for Saddam, a friendly visit by Manchester United in exchange for any weapons of mass destruction and we’ll throw in Posh too. It’s too good an opportunity to miss.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…