Invisible prims are not security

ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy

ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy

Guess what, the below is not security!

“If we want to put a life-size prototype of our super-secret product in Second Life, then there are many creative ways we implement extra layers of security such as making it invisible unless we’re in the room.”

Really? Did you just say that?

A recent “Letter to your boss” from the Lab recently got me laughing a bit. In a nutshell it suggests there is no lack of security, no lack of tools, and no lack of return on investment in Second Life. It suggests that your boss is missing out already, that a powerful collaboration tool is ready to go that will overnight change your business by virtue of things three dimensional. They even dare to say SL is inexpensive! Crikies when did tens of thousands a year become inexpensive? Maybe since they say the Navy uses it (on the expensive Nebraska behind a very secure firewall) we’re to assume they are keeping our nuclear secrets there in a notecard?

REALITY CHECK

Virtual worlds are not a collaboration tool by default. By default they are game-like as that is their lineage. You have to work really hard to make virtual worlds fit into business processes from corporation to SOHO. You have to understand the business goals and audience on a deep level, designing a space that fits their needs. You cannot simply plop down a patch of land and then suggest business is ready to flourish inworld.

Our experience & success with clients like Microsoft has taught us this. Yes they have tons of cash but guess what, you have to work for it. You have to prove the medium, not suggest your boss “check it out”. Instead of this letter to your boss get in and work on some projects, experiment yourself, this is the power of user created virtual worlds. The first collaboration step should simply be how to use the space yourself for business before you invite upper management in.

In addition why else would you even care to benefit your managers unless you had a stake in the process? So if you have an idea on how something can be done more efficient make it happen, sell it to management or become your companies virtual world consultant by virtue of your efforts and success. Even better take your idea, after proven, to market yourself! If anyone should get the letter of encouragement to press forward with virtual worlds it is the very people already using it. You do not have to be a 3D or scripting guru to get your ideas to come to life. You can find people to do such things or learn them on your own.

Second Life and other virtual worlds hosted in public are also not secure enough to protect intellectual property or trade secrets. Nowhere even close! We host virtual worlds but would never suggest a public one is secure no matter what current platform. It is ridiculous to insinuate a disappearing prim is a security feature. Please do not tell your boss any virtual world hosted publicly is secure for mission critical data. Behind the firewall is the only place for such a thing. You will look silly when the IT department realizes its all unencrypted traffic. My job in aerospace made me familiar with government security, being on the F22 Raptor & F111A development teams required a regular government G-Man type interview each year. Working with secured documents requires many layers of security, none of which do virtual worlds address in any way.

Second Life is also not affordable. If it was on-demand yes, this is a great way to hold meetings. Our own system using OpenSim allows for on-demand meeting spaces, a service we’re rolling out this summer in fact. It will be filled with tools from our “Trusted Developer” group who are right now collaborating on how this space will look. Pricing for even full time secure worlds (you can even lock out our team by changing your dedicated server password!) starts at $75 monthly for the base system for up to 25 users on OpenSim. That’s affordable and secure!

Finally the issue of X rated content has not been addressed by Second Life properly. Moving the content to a certain section of the world will only annoy those who want to use virtual worlds for entertainment. Our program of deploying OpenSim behind your companies firewall assures you of no contact by proxy or otherwise with anything x rated. Your server, your application, your database, no one else gets in period.

I appreciate what was attempted in this letter and why. Getting business and education to use virtual worlds is our company’s focus because it yields amazing return on investment when used properly. But the key to success is not sending a form letter to management via your users. It is helping your current users do things so amazing (after all they are the pioneers) that one day they then feel compelled on their own to talk with their boss.

ReactionGrid is far from flawless but we keep our users expectations on a smart level. We do not suggest security where there is none, we do not suggest every business is today ready to use this new medium. We only suggest we can take a good hard look at your business with you and see if there is some low hanging virtual fruit we can find a foothold of ROI with and build upon that. Business and education will love this new medium but it will come by word of mouth not pre-fabricated letters with fill in the blanks.

Kyle Gomboy

Kyle Gomboy is founder and president of ReactionGrid.