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Halloween costumes only an IT geek could love

What could be scarier than IT security breaches and software audits? For those of you who want to impress your friends and co-workers with a little bit of Halloween creativity (while sending along some subtle hints), Rachel Lebeaux, associate editor of, and I have compiled a list of the perfect tech 2008 Halloween costumes. From fun to frightening, these costumes are sure to be a hit at any party. You can even wear one of them at home as you greet the trick-or-treaters — passing out Hershey’s miniatures and disaster recovery advice to the ghosts and ghouls in your neighborhood.

– The computer virus. This frightening costume can really be ANYTHING, as these horrifying threats come in many forms. Need an added boost to identify yourself? Carry around a sign that reads something like, “computer viruses helped contribute to $8.5 billion in consumer losses in 2008” or “Click me! I self-replicate.” Have some fun with it – this is the one day of the year you can.

– A Post-it note with a secure password written on it. Get a plain, bright yellow shirt and write something like “PW- 1hgjM87c” across the front. Wear this one into the office as a subtle reminder to your IT staffers. If they ask you what you are, tell them they should know – one third of the most powerful passwords are still being written on Post-it notes.

– A software audit. No one will be pleased to see you show up at the party! Why? Because deep down, they may have been expecting you.

KACE Networks Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based systems management company commissioned a survey this year and found that 69% of those surveyed said they were “not confident” that they were in compliance with software license agreements. And 67% of the IT executives and managers surveyed said their companies haven’t taken steps to ensure compliance. What would you wear? Anything, really. Just make sure to tell people you’re there to collect thousands of dollars in legal and licensing fees after finding those extra, unlicensed mailboxes in Microsoft Exchange. Get official – start with a certified letter.

– A bad disaster recovery plan. This one may take a bit more explanation. Safety pin some basic (bad) plans to your shirt, like “physically relocate servers – down the street” or “only back up user data every so often … or when the mood strikes you.” Maybe not as sexy and exciting as some of the other options but for those who have experienced a disaster and have lost valuable time and money as the result of a poor plan, it’s an absolute nightmare. Go on, apply some ghoulish face paint for good measure.

– A hiring freeze. At first glance, this costume isn’t too scary but requires you to channel in some Debbie Downer remarks. Drape paper icicles over your light-blue (ice-blue?) shirt with the words “Now Hiring” written across it and then crossed out. Walk around telling people that a recent Fierce CIO report found that out of the 50 CIOs surveyed, nearly 25% said they have imposed a hiring freeze, while half said they are cutting spending on consultants and contractors. Tell them the job cuts and hiring freezes mean expanded work roles for IT staff are becoming standard procedure and, as a result, they’ll be spending more time in the office. Eek!

Want the other five? Visit the Total CIO blog for more chilling ideas.