From the Director

A Word from Our Executive Director

Usenix and UniForum: An Educational Partnership that Works

A relationship that UniForum has valued over the years is the one we enjoy with our sister organization, Usenix, the Unix and Advanced Computing Systems Professional and Technical Association. Usenix has been a leader in providing consistently high-quality educational programs to its membership and the Unix community, most prominently through its outstanding series of conference and seminar programs.

Over the past year or so, UniForum's department of conferences and seminars, directed by Deborah Murray, has worked closely with Usenix to cosponsor several stand-alone conferences on specific topics. The most recent of these was the Sixth Annual Usenix Security Symposium, held in July in San Jose, CA, cosponsored by UniForum with the cooperation of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). I want to report on this symposium and why its success is important to our organizations and to you.

The four-day symposium featured both tutorials and technical sessions, with UniForum sponsoring a full-day tutorial and four panel sessions. As with other UniForum/Usenix symposia, the mix included managerially oriented sessions run by UniForum and technical sessions directed by Usenix. This model works well, and there was obvious crossover attendance between Usenix and UniForum sessions.

UniForum participated in this same symposium last year in Salt Lake City, where overall attendance was 447. This year's attendance was nearly double; more than 150 took the UniForum tutorial "Keys to Successfully Implementing Cryptography." The four UniForum discussions drew well over 200 participants, who heard panels led by security experts Rik Farrow, Peter Neumann, Fred Avolio and attorney Dan Appleman. There were sessions on privacy issues, security and electronic commerce, and an especially lively one on cryptography and the law.

Appleman's panel on cryptography and the law drew a standing-room-only crowd that heard a fervent attack on and defense of the United States Government's latest attempt to employ a key escrow security system for access to encrypted materials. Staffers from the office of U.S. Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, the author of a bill that would prohibit government-mandated key escrow, participated by telephone and vocally advocated their position that the government has no role in restricting software export sales under the guise of national security. Absorbing the verbal missiles and more than holding his own was Scott Charney, chairman of the computer crime unit at the U.S. Department of Justice, who held firmly to the position that, when faced with national security or public safety crises, the government must have the tools necessary to forestall terrorism or protect the public. The room was viscerally against Charney, but he would not waver.

The point, of course, is not that this is an important issue--it is--but rather that it received such a sound airing at an event your organization helped sponsor. That so many people attended is testimony to the reputation for excellence that Usenix enjoys and the trust that people put in UniForum to provide educational opportunities that help them do their jobs better. The Usenix/UniForum educational partnership is one that we want to continue and grow, as we believe the combined strength of the two organizations brings about some of the best training to be found anywhere in the industry.

Much of the credit goes to my counterpart at Usenix, Ellie Young, for her work to make these cooperative programs such a success. Thanks to her support and creativity, our relationship has been made to work for the benefit of all. In that spirit, I'm pleased to tell you that there will be at least four Usenix tutorials during UniForum '97 this March in San Francisco, and there's room for more.

Richard H. Jaross is the executive director of the UniForum Association. He can be reached at