NS • CFS Writer’s Guide

Network Security

Computer Fraud & Security

Writer’s Guide

NB: All articles must be accompanied by a signed copyright agreement – included in the Contributor’s Pack.

Articles for Network Security (NS) or Computer Fraud & Security (CFS) need to be highly focused on particular technologies, trends or issues.

Here are some of the key characteristics of what we’re looking for in an article – but please read all the text below:

  • Ideally at least 1,500 words – up to a maximum of 4,500 words. Articles in the 2,000-3,000 range are most likely to get published quickly.
  • Articles should be as technically detailed as possible.
  • If possible, the article should be accompanied by illustrations – diagrams, charts, graphs (no ‘conceptual’ or product images).
  • No first-person or references to your company or products/services.
  • Accompanied a professional biography for each author (up to 75 words) which can include a URL for the company.

We like the features to be packed with facts, figures and insights. Some opinion is fine so long as it’s backed up by supporting material – eg, market research, statistics, published papers, reports or other factual information. (But, again, no first-person.) Anecdotes and case studies are also welcome so long as they match the focus of the piece and support the issues being discussed rather than being the main content. They should not mention vendor or products.

Important: NS and CFS are read by people knowledgeable about security and IT. They don’t need explanations of basic terms or concepts. Nor will they benefit much from very high-level overviews. The type of article that you might write for a CEO with little or no domain knowledge, or the generalist press, is not going to work here. Nor will consumer-oriented pieces. We want real, solid detail of value to security practitioners.

Both titles examine IT and information security from the practitioner’s point of view. They bridge the gap between news-led titles and research-oriented journals. They are read by infosecurity professionals, consultants, heads of security (CSOs, CISOs), academics, researchers and R&D technology departments around the world.

It is important that the article is as technical as possible. Our readers want useful, actionable information that’s going to help them with their real-world tasks or to understand the challenges they face. Ideally, we want them to come away from the article with new information, a new perspective or a new ‘to do’ list!

Network Security is the (slightly) more technical of the two and is slightly more focused on corporate network issues (firewalls, IPS, UTM, penetration testing etc), although we also cover malware, hacking, cybercrime, cyberwar and broader cyber-security subjects.

Computer Fraud & Security is more oriented towards policy and strategy issues and is slightly more geared towards wider subjects beyond the organisational boundaries, including cybercrime, compliance and data governance.

The biggest danger is that an article becomes too general.

You can’t be too technical. Our readers understand technical issues and want to know more. They like as much technical detail as possible.

At the same time, we’re interested in insights into security and implementation issues. The particular approach you wish to take in your specific article should be detailed in the brief.

If you are an industry person contributing copy, please don’t include any references to your own company or products in the main text. Any ‘marketing’ copy will have to be pulled out, as will terms such as ‘market-leading’ and other superlatives. The copy must be vendor-neutral. Of course, you get to mention your company and what it does (with a URL) in the author bio, and (where appropriate) you may be able to include brief case studies as illustrations of the main theme.

Don’t use the first person. And please don’t refer to your organisation or institution in the main body of the text. We prefer an analytical, authoritative style. It must be vendor-neutral.

Avoid funny stories, puns, strained metaphors and gratuitous literary quotations!

Quoting industry people, experts and other relevant sources is fine. But not too many quotes, please. Three or four per article is usually sufficient. You can paraphrase any other information given by sources.

Please remember that we have an international readership. Cultural references or references to news events specific to one country (eg, the UK or US) may need to be explained. Generally, it’s better to avoid them unless they are very relevant.

Also, our lead times are long. References to ‘in the past month’ or similar are problematic.

Please provide proper references to any papers, reports, websites and other sources mentioned in the text (see below for how to do this). This provides extra value for our readers by pointing them towards relevant material.

The word length agreed is a minimum. Fewer words can cause problems but we never have an issue with too many words, so don’t feel you have to trim the copy if you run over.

If you have any doubts or questions when writing the article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for advice or guidance.

What to submit

Author photo and bio: Please provide a hi-res headshot photo for each author (minimum size 500px per side) – as a separate file, not embedded in a Word or PDF file. Please also be sure to supply an ‘about the author’ section at the foot of the article with a 50-75 word biography. This can also include a brief profile of your organisation, with URL. If there is more than one author, please include a photo and bio for each.

Diagrams, illustrations etc: We ask that you include at least two illustrations with your article. While we may be able to make use of photographs, as a journal we prefer diagrams, illustrations, graphs and charts that illustrate points made in the text or provide additional data. (Illustrations we definitely can’t use are ‘conceptual’ or generic images.)

Where to find illustrations? If you speak to vendors, they often have diagrams & charts from white papers and reports. If you mention a report (even in passing), please see if you can find a copy of the report & send it with your text – or at least a URL for it. I can often find tables of figures in reports that I can work up as graphs. (Don’t worry about doing this yourself: it’s better if I do it as we have something of a house style.) Haven’t mentioned any reports? Why not? There are reports out there about everything…

Please do not submit tables or lists of bulleted text as images. If you use tables, keep them to a minimum – one per 1,000 words of main text.

We need high-resolution images (TIFFs and JPEGs are generally best). Images should be at least 1,500 pixels per side – 2,000 pixels is better. If your images are smaller, do not simply upsize them – this introduces problems.

If you have access to the original file for an illustration, (for example, source data for a graph) it’s often best to send that. We can accept: Excel, PowerPoint, Illustrator, Visio, Keynote, Numbers, Photoshop, Omnigraffle and most image formats. Images supplied as PDF are often a problem and best avoided.

Obviously we need to be sure that there are no rights restrictions on these illustrations, so please don’t lift them from other people’s papers or web pages unless you have obtained written permission (an email is usually enough).

Please do not embed images in the document. Supply them as separate files with filenames ‘fig1’, ‘fig2’ etc (eg, fig1.jpg) and simply include a reference where you want them to appear in the text, with an underlying caption, thus:

Figure 1: Caption here.

Where you include figures, statistics or references to studies, papers, reports etc, please provide references as endnotes (but please see note about NOT using Word’s footnote/endnote feature). See below for guidelines on how to write references.

Formatting the article

We can accept the article as Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) files. PLEASE DO NOT SUPPLY AS A PDF. We prefer, however, that you use our Word file (available in the Contributor’s Pack).

IMPORTANT – here are a few things we don’t like or which cause us problems:

  • DO NOT use blank lines between paragraphs.
  • NO NOT use your word processor’s bullet, endnote or footnote features. See below for references/endnotes.
  • DO NOT insert images in the document. All images should be supplied separately – see above.
  • DO NOT insert hyperlinks in the article. Word and other programs often make URLs clickable automatically. Please remove any clickable links before submitting the article.
  • DO NOT use any special formatting (coloured text, fancy fonts etc).
  • DO NOT use multiple levels of headings or sub-headings. We have one style of cross-head to break up the text. Keep the document formatting as simple as possible.
  • DO NOT use numbered headings.
  • DO NOT use ‘inline’ illustrations – we can’t guarantee that an illustration will go at a specific point in the text. Writing ‘as you can see here:’ and expecting the image to immediately follow that text just doesn’t work for us. Simply refer to the illustration (eg, ‘as you can see in Figure 3…’).

If your document contains equations using special symbols, it’s often best to supply these as graphics files.

References & Resources

At the end of each article, we run references and resources to point our readers to additional material.

References are papers, articles, books, reports, web pages etc mentioned in the text. These should be numbered in the text by putting a superscripted number at the end of the sentence, after the full-stop in which the referenced material is mentioned. Please do not use your word processor’s footnote or endnote feature to do this.

For example, in the text you may have:

... according to a recent report from Gardner, this is a rapidly increasing trend.2 The report states that ...

Insert the number as ordinary text and manually put the reference text at the end of your article.

The references must be numbered and listed sequentially as they appear in the article – ie, the first reference number in the article must be 1, the second 2, and so on.

In the main text, only insert only one reference per source – ie, if you reference an article more than once, put the number of the footnote in the main text when first mentioned, but not again. For example:

...as mentioned in a Gardner report on BYOD.2 However, when....

...was highlighted in the Gardner report. In many ways...

Notice how the second mention does not repeat the superscript numeral.

At the end of the article:

1. Smith, John; Doe, Jane. 'Trends in corporate security'. LulzSec, 1 Apr 2011. Accessed Oct 2011. www.example.com/2010/05/corp-security.html.

Please include a URL to the referenced material if it’s publicly available (ie, doesn’t require a subscription). If the address starts with ‘www’, it’s not necessary to including the ‘http://’ or ‘https://’ part.

Resources are like references, but are not mentioned in the main article – ie, they are additional material, background information or further reading.

The general format of references is:

  • Name of the author, if there is a named author. If not, omit this – don’t use the organisation name. Names are Lastname, Firstname. Ignore middle initials. Where there is more than one author, separate with semi-colons. If there are a lot of authors, it’s fine to use initials instead of first names.
  • Title of paper, article, web page or book in single quotes. If you’re referring to the home page of an organisation, omit quotes and simple use: Example Corp, home page.
  • Name of organisation or publication, followed by comma and date of publication, if known. See below for date format.
  • If there is a URL (and include these where possible, but not if the site requires a subscription), use: Accessed <date_you_visited_site>. <URL>. If the URL starts with ‘www’, you can omit the ‘http://’ or ‘https://’.

Date format: For the date of publication, use the format: dd mmm yyyy – eg, 9 Aug 2019.

For the date you last accessed the page, use: mmm yyyy – eg, Jul 2019.


Books: Kennedy, Dick. ‘Securing Area 51’. Simon & Schuster, 1981.

Reports/surveysKennedy, Dick; MacMillan, Kate. ‘Exploring Military Security’. Securisec, Feb 2015. Accessed Mar 2016. www.securisec.com/reports/exploring-military-security.html.

Magazine articlesKennedy, Dick; MacMillan, Kate. ‘Exploring Military Security’. Securisec Monthly, Feb 2015, pp.9-13. Accessed Mar 2016. www.securisec.com/reports/exploring-military-security.html.

Academic Journals/Conference papers etcWong, S; Ramachandran, T; Kennedy, D. ‘Assessing the frequency of security incursions in secure facilities’. Journal of Applied Secureness, Vol.17, 2011, pp.13-26. http://scribd.com/s/docs/hej8675jsbrjk.html.

Website home pageSecurisec, home page. Accessed Mar 2016. www.securisec.com.

Web page/blog postKennedy, Dick. ‘Exploring Military Security’. Securisec, 13 Feb 2015. Accessed Mar 2016. www.securisec.com/reports/exploring-military-security.html.