Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Virtual Reality of Hacking

Memes, flash ads of the day. Suddenly we can all quip and write up zingers to share through social media.

Advertisements, presentations. What is the difference? Follow this link and that one, but is there something hidden in that link? Will sunglass spam harass my friends or something more sinister?

Our culture is shifting, reshaping the boundaries of friendship and affection into the latest sales hooks. What is friendship worth, listening to pitches, offering connections, because bills seem to grow and income does not.

Your name, your number, is it who you are? Do your expenditures define you?

Do you wait for the media to tell you what to shirk and what to embrace? Social media is a soothing drug you use topically through touch and sight, sometimes sound. If it had a warning label:

"Do not use while operating heavy equipment or driving. Dangerous when combined with other substances including alcohol, caffeine. Use with caution if you have medical conditions including hypertension, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, diabetes or if you may be pregant. Consult a physician before use. It is for entertainment purposes only, do not take what you find on social media as anything other than entertainment.

Overuse may cause irritability, mood swings, short attention span, impulsive behavior, eye strain, depression, anxiety, hypertension, anger, and cancer. "

Danny often says,
"Why not talk to the people around you, people love talking about themselves, it's interesting and you learn a lot."

Today I stood in line, waiting to board my flight to California. Mentally preparing for the eight people I will be this week, checking off details in my head. A conversation caught my attention like a martial artist might catch a fly. Here's what caught my focus:

"The company I work for does cyber security. The public only hears about one in ten attacks. Companies don't want the public to know, as the first month after the attack their sales drop over 30% and in the first couple of months there is a customer loyalty decrease of over 40%.  Our company does all the security for the secret service and government because we've never been hacked. We change algorithms, which all the other companies and protections stick with one. Anyone could run a number of credit cards over a few weeks and figure out the security algorithm being used. Happens all the time. Identify thieves now hack you, then spend the money online using addresses for spending in your home zipcode so it doesn't flag quickly. Takes longer to catch.

Over 90% of cyber crime in the United States is perpetrated by criminal enterprises in foreign countries, not other governments and not here by citizens. We just got contracted by Burger King, working with all the separate franchise owners. The large companies have realized the potential disaster it would be if they get hacked. Burger King can't afford to watch forty percent of their sales to go somewhere else because of a hack, so they invested in our company to protect them. We guarantee our work, we've never been hacked and we guarantee to cover losses if someone does succeed at hacking us."

Think about that.

What would you have asked this gregarious fellow? What wisdom he could share:

"When you use credit cards, debit cards- they are protected, you are protected. They've got it in their contracts that merchants are responsible for protecting themselves. If the merchant does not or their algorithm is hacked, the merchant is out. The credit card companies are not responsible for losses from cyber attacks. The cardholder and the credit card aren't affected. The businesses, often small businesses are, they take the full losses, and doubly so when news of the hacks go public.  "

Small business owners, I thought perhaps you would appreciate this wisdom.

The next war will use virtual weapons. Viral soldiers camouflaged by code.

When you've got a chance to connect, to stretch your knowledge and understanding it is good to open your mind and ears. Listen, consider. Most of the folks in line were absorbed in social media. Two of us listened as that man spoke. Most important lesson I've had in a long time.