Illena Armstrong, editor-in-chief, SC Magazine
Illena Armstrong, editor-in-chief, SC Magazine

The SC Magazine Awards have been going strong for years now. Throughout that time, we've made changes and various improvements to the process and categories. This year is no exception and given that nominations are now open, I thought it might be good to quickly call out some of the modifications you'll run into when you look to enter your product or service into Reader Trust, your company or flagship solution into Excellence Awards, and your leading pros and industry certs into the Professional categories.

First and foremost, while over the past couple of years we have opted to establish a Reader Trust Panel that would comprise a more than 1,000-strong sampling of our readers from across all vertical markets and from various sized organizations, this year we decided to renew a previous route: We're opening voting to all end-user readers, but streamlining it a bit further in order to keep competitors from stuffing the ballots with votes for themselves – a no-no that leads to disqualification. Those subscribers who note themselves as coming from end-user organizations, rather than vendors, will be invited to vote via our automated system. In this way, we have all of the appropriate people at the ready and can vet them according to subscription information. Yes, there will be some vetting, however, we think this will further help to widen the voting pool – something we had striven for in past years – while keeping competitors honest.

Secondly, we've modified the Reader Trust categories to mirror more the types of products that we cover in our monthly Group Tests. Also, we've noted the minimum requirements that products/services must have in order to enter each of these – something that we've not done in the past. Basically then, in addition to a series of questions that each entrant must answer, we also have those wishing to enter check off various things their offering must do in order to compete in the category. So, let's take unified threat management as an example. To be eligible for this category, entrants must be able to confirm that their products are centrally managed, policy driven, operate at the endpoint, optionally operate at the gateway and at least include firewall, IDS and anti-virus. Not only does this streamline the process further, but it also helps to ensure that competitors in categories match up.

Besides these modifications, which deal with Reader Trust section, we've added some categories. In the Professional Awards section you'll run into two additional categories: Rookie Security Professional and Best Information Security Program. These have been tacked on this year for a couple reasons. Regarding the former, we really wanted to call out the outstanding contributions of end-user practitioners who have only been working in the field for less than two years. This will give my panel of judges, me and the information security industry as a whole the opportunity to look forward to the growth that newly minted security pros will undergo over years to come, as well as allow us all to see what they're doing now that makes them stand out.

As for the latter, some on my editorial advisory board were quite keen to see how organizations formally are developing their IT security programs to tie into and become an integral part of the overall business. While competitors in this category likely will prove challenging to judge, it will be intriguing to see just how end-user companies are tackling both the short-term and long-term planning of mitigating risk and instituting IT security practices and policies that address it, compliance requirements and business goals.

And, there are some additional categories we tried out last year that will make it back this year: Most Popular Security Blogger, Best Corporate Security Blog and Five to Follow on Twitter. We got a huge response to these last year and, with a little bit more lead time added this year, we expect even more.

The nomination period closes Sept. 3. Be sure to hit our website to learn more and do throw your hats into the ring. Meantime, look in the pages of future editions of the magazine to see what past winners have experienced as a result of their wins and how things have changed in their organizations since their triumphs were announced.