Friday 27 April 2012

ISEB Accreditation: The exam

Wow. The dirty deed has been done. I can relax and carefully store my ISEB coursework and revision notes in a safe place (but definitely where the sun won’t shine) until I get the result of today’s efforts.

If all does not quite go to plan, I’ll have about 4 weeks from the date I get the result of today’s exam to the date of the re-sit. But as I spend my professional life looking on the brighter side of things, I am determined to enjoy the rest of the spring and not start to panic until the summer.

What can I say to those who have not yet taken the ISEB exam? Despite my very considerable experience in applying common sense to problems that popped into my email box at work, the exam is not just focused on common sense. It’s focused on the wording of the 1998 Data Protection Act – that remarkable piece of legislation that will celebrate its 14th birthday on 16 July. And you know what 14 year olds can be like. Sometimes you just can’t understand a word they say – without professional help, that is.

Who can clearly remember as far back as July 1998? Well, who can forget The Spice Girls, who went to the top of the charts with “Viva Forever” at the end of that month? Or perhaps you prefer to recall the single “Three Lions 1998”, reworked by David Baddiel, David Skinner & the Lightning Seeds from their Euro 96 success? Unfortunately, the England Football team's success didn't reflect the song either time. I plan to have much more to celebrate when I get today’s result.

Anyway, what can I say about this experience? Well, it’s hard work. There is a lot to know. You can’t just wing it. No matter how experienced you are. But, having done it, I feel it ought to be valued to a far greater extent than it currently is.

If there’s anything useful to come out of that Regulation, it’s a wakeup call to data controllers to get their houses in order and to understand the data protection landscape. One of the biggest challenges, though, is that controller’s don’t fully understand their regulatory responsibilities, because it’s so low down on so many people’s risk radars.

As we’ve seen, the ICO is determined to do something about that, but is the message getting into the Boardrooms? I think there’s a long way to go. I also think that when the penny does drop about the significance of the issue, all of the data protection training firms are going to be swamped with applications to educate and help certify staff.

If I were a canny student, wondering where the next “job for life” were to emerge from, I would take a close look at issues relating to information risk management. Corporate reputations are so easy to lose should any sloppy practices or sneaky stuff come to light, and the scarcity of people with hands-on date protection experience, and a certifiable level of knowledge, ought to put them in a great position.

From my perspective, pass or fail, it’s been a great financial investment – and one that I’m sure will prove to be far more lucrative than wagering an equivalent amount on Neptune Collognes, who was this year’s Grand National Champion, coming home at odds of 33-1.

If you do take this data protection stuff sufficiently seriously, I do urge you to have a word with Chris Pounder and Sue Cullen over at Amberhawk and ask them how they can help you prepare for the ISEB exam.

You know it makes sense.

Source (And no, this is not marketing...):