The technical requirements of the Internet - so essential to modern business - often exceeds the knowledge of the average businessman. I'm a good example. I'm just a lawyer and a writer. I abandoned writing my own HTML when style sheets were introduced and since then, I've relied entirely on Lance Long, a Victoria-based techie, to write the underlying code which supports my website. The website, in turns, supports my law practice and brings me most of my new clients.

But I do not set my law firm business on the Internet. It is all safely stored on the harddrive of my desktop computer.

However, many business do store confiedntial and personal information on their website. Every web-based store does and many consultants have log-in features for their prospective and actual clients. In a nutshell, the business-owner is required to give a techhie access to confidential and personal information belonging to the owner or his/her clients, without which, the techie simply canot do his/her job.

It can be a very awkward marriage and often takes the business owner by surprise who hadn't factored in that the techie can only set up a database and run it if he or she has access to the data.

But misuse of confidential or private database information by the techie, or access to it by others through the techie's portal, could literally kill a company. Imagine the headline:

ABC Company Inc. Client Records Sold on Craigslist

Psychologist's Clinical Notes Published on Chinese Facebook Page

E-Bay Credit Card Records Found in Montreal Computer Crime Sting

The harm done can be irreparable.

Unauthorized access is not always done in dark alleys. A techie may simply wish to show his or her work to peers and even that guided tour can compromise the data. The techie may be swamped and decide to subcontract out without your knowledge or consent. Just so happens that the subcontractor also runs the competition's database and weeks later, the competition rolls out a new product or service mighty similar to the one you were researching.

There is no magic bullet for this. There is no miniature tazer gun that can be triggered to shock the techie if ever he or she attempts to manupulate or access personal or confidnetial data for purposes other than systems maintenance. If there ever was such a device, it probably died with Gene Rodenberry.

But there is something: the confidentiality and non-disclisure agreement: a contract between the owner of the computer database and the techie, or his/her company, that identifies the sensitive information, states the information to be confidential and imposes the obligation on the techie to keep it that way.