I’m back after a well deserved and enjoyable break, and as it’s the spring it’s time for another show, and this one’s a biggie, Info Sec 2006. This is probably the largest standalone IT security show in Europe, and certainly one of the biggest IT exhibitions still running in this country, if you get a chance I’d recommend visiting it.

In honour of the event, I thought today I’d look at one of the most used terms in IT security, Malware. Malware is another of those wonderful portmanteau terms, created by putting parts of two completely separate words together as a shiny new creation.

The mal most likely comes from malicious, though possibly the derivation could be from the French mal roughly translated as bad. The ware comes from software, so putting the two together you get malicious or bad software, easy eh?

Malware can therefore be applied to any software that was created with the deliberate intent of causing harm. This doesn’t include damage caused by defective software that was created with innocent intentions.

Malware as a term is therefore most commonly applied to things like viruses, trojans, worms etc, all of which deserve a definition of their own once I get round to it.

As a seasoned veteran of the IT market I have over the years visited a large number of exhibitions and conferences. These have ranged from huge behemoths such as the old Networks-Telecom show, stretching over an unfeasibly large number of the NEC’s halls. To ASP World in 2002, this comprised of just 6 stands of purgatory in the hallowed environs of the dockland’s London Arena.

Exhibitions and other events, despite the coming of the web, still form the cornerstone of many IT vendors marketing strategy. Where else the canny salesman will tell them can you find 3,000 people wandering around all of whom might have a potential interest in your product?

Certain larger events such as Info Sec and Storage Expo also act as once a year gathering for that whole industry segment, with good opportunities for networking (drinking,) socialising (drinking) and of course drinking.

Booze seems to be a necessary lubricant for nearly every event I’ve ever participated in. This has always struck me as a little strange, since this is quite often also the biggest sales lead generating opportunity of the year.

And yet, after show drinks will inevitably be followed by a visit to the bar where expense account millionaires will demolish their company’s entertainment budget with ever larger and more lurid drinks.

The combined effect of this bonhomie is to reduce by the third day (the exhibitor’s party is inevitably on the 2nd night) even the most hardy exhibitor to an intellectual level generally slightly below that of the stand furniture, and this at a point when they should be bright as a button and ready to negotiate some of that year’s biggest deals.

I personally love these gatherings. You really don’t get that many opportunities to catch up with so many acquaintances old and new in one place that often. You might even learn something in the keynote speeches and of course there’s always the chance of selling the tackiest stand give away on eBay. Back with more definitions later this week.