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PowerBlog Review: The Security Mentor

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Editor’s note: Over at Small Business Trends, we do a regular weekly series of reviews of business weblogs. This is the fifty-first in that series, called PowerBlog Reviews.

We like to think that all the blogs we review in our PowerBlog Review series are helpful resources. But The Security Mentor has to be one of the most practical of all the blogs we’ve looked at.

The Security Mentor provides “advice for normal people about computer and information security from Beryllium Sphere(R) LLC.” (By the way, aren’t blogs great, with their plain English topic descriptions? How different from traditional websites they are, where you can read the About section and still not have a clue what the business does.)

The blog is a client resource and marketing tool for Beryllium Sphere LLC, a computer security consulting company in Redmond, Washington, USA. Fred Wamsley is the owner and chief blogger. His company specializes in serving small businesses, especially the SOHO (small office/home office) market.

Fred has a crystal clear idea of who he is trying to reach with his blog, saying:

    ‘My target reader is someone motivated enough to do online research but unwilling to become a full-fledged nerd. The “computer person by default” at a small business, who becomes the de facto IT department because “s/he knows about those computers”, is a perfect example.’

He started blogging after a businessman friend suggested he start an online newsletter in blog form. The friend suggested it as a way to publicize what he brings to the table for small businesses.

The Security Mentor solves a growing problem on the Web today: too much information. With all the billions of Web pages at our fingertips, it can be surprisingly difficult to find the answer to your questions. Information is often too general to be useful, or alternatively, is too detailed and assumes the reader starts with technical knowledge he or she doesn’t have.

Fred filters data and turns it into useful information that is understandable by non-technical people. As Fred tells me, he does a lot of professional reading. He is plugged into dozens of mailing lists and RSS feeds — something the average small business owner doesn’t have time to do, let alone know where to look for the information.

When Fred comes across something of interest, he applies common sense, asks himself whether the item really matters to small businesses, and then translates it into plain English in the blog. This makes The Security Mentor one of the most readable technical weblogs out there.

The blog does something else that blogs are quite good at: correcting misinformation. If a major news story is getting lots of attention but Fred doesn’t feel people are getting it right, he will correct it.

One of the other features about this blog I really like is the “Security Mentor Medal of Cluefulness.” This is a mock award that Fred gives out to businesses that implement innovative security techniques. The first Medal was given out in January to U.S. Bancorp, for giving customers little devices that plug into USB ports and take the place of remembering passwords to log onto their online banking.

The Power:
The Power of The Security Mentor is in the way it filters data relating to a highly technical subject, pointing out just what small businesses need to know, and doing it in plain English.

To read the other 50 PowerBlog Reviews, come on over to Small Business Trends. And sign up for our free monthly newsletter while you are at it.

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