Catching More Flies With Honey

Catching More Flies With Honey

There’s an old saying that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

And this is true in cyberspace as well…

Like a honey pot that attracts cyber criminals, organizations are now hiring “ethical hackers” to teach employees a lesson, before the bad guys teach them the hard way.

The Wall Street Journal (27 March 2013) reports that ethical hackers lure employees to click on potentially dangerous email links and websites, get them to provide physical access to data centers and work site computers, or give up passwords or other compromising information through social engineering.

The point of this is not to make people feel stupid when they fall for the hack–although they probably do–but rather to show the dangers out there in cyberspace and to impress on them to be more careful in the future.

One ethical hacker company sends an email with a Turkish Angora cat (code-named Dr. Zaius) promising more feline photos if people just click on the link. After sending this to 2 million unsuspecting recipients, 48% actually fell for the trick and ended up with a stern warning coming up on their screen from the cyber security folks.

Another dupe is to send an faux email seemingly from the CEO or another colleague so that they feel safe, but with a unsafe web link, and see how many fall for it.

While I think it is good to play devil’s advocate and teach employees by letting them make mistakes in a safe way–I do not think that the people should be named or reported as to who feel for it–it should be a private learning experience, not a shameful one!

The best part of the article was the ending from a cyber security expert at BT Group who said that rather than “waste” money on awareness training, we should be building systems that don’t let users choose weak passwords and doesn’t care what links they click–they are protected!

I think this is a really interesting notion–not that we can ever assume that any system is ever 100% secure or that situational awareness and being careful should ever be taken for granted, but rather that we need to build a safer cyberspace–where every misstep or mistake doesn’t cost you dearly in terms of compromised systems and privacy. šŸ˜‰

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

>Information-Free Is Invaluable

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Tree-of-knowledge

At first I admit it, I didn’t really get Google; I mean what is this G-o-o-g-l-e and the shtick about “doing search”?

But the writing was on the wall all along with their incredible mission statement of: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

So search is the just the beginning of a long list of now amazingly valuable Google properties and services (now valued with a market capitalization of almost $169 Billion):

– Search (Google Search, Google Search Appliance, Google Desktop)
– Cloud Computing (Google Apps Engine, Google Storage for Developers, Chrome Notebooks)
– Advertising Technology (Adwords, AdSense, DoubleClick)
– Website Analytics (Google Analytics)
– Operating Systems (Chrome OS, Android, Honeycomb)
– Web Browser (Google Chrome)
– Productivity Software (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Apps Suite)
– Social Computing (Google Wave, Google Talk, Orkut, Buzz)
– News Aggregator (Google News, Google Reader)
– Translation (Google Translate)
– Telecommunication (Google Voice)
– Clean Energy (Google Energy)
– Geospatial (Google Maps, Google Earth)
– Video (YouTube)
– Photos (Picassa)
– Electronic Books (Google Books)
– Blogs (Blogger)

What Google seems to intuitively get is that their free powerful web services creates invaluable consumer market share and mind share–like a honey pot. Once the consumer comes on board–like good little bees, they are ripe for companies to reach out to via advertising for all and every sort of product and service under the sun. And according to 1998 revenue breakdown, as much as 99% of Google’s revenue is associated with advertising!

Google is brilliant and successful for a number of reasons:

1) Google is consumer-oriented and knows how to attract the crowd with free services, and they let others (the advertisers) concern themselves with monetizing them.
2) Google is incredibly innovative and provides the breath and depth of technology services (from cloud to productivity to search to video) that consumers need and that are easy for them to use.
3) Google is information rich, but they share this broadly and freely with everyone. While some have complained about the privacy implications of this information bounty; so far, Google seems to have managed to maintain a healthy balance of information privacy and publicity.
4) Google values their people, as their “owners manual” reads: “our employees…are everything. We will reward them and treat them well.” And to help retain their talent, Google just gave their employees a 10% raise in January.
5) Google wants to be a force for good–their creed is “Don’t be evil.” They state in their manual: “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served- as shareholders and in all other ways–by a company that does good things for the world, even if we forgo some short-term gains.”

Do not underestimate Google–as the Wall Street Journal, 23-24 April, 2011 summarizes today, they are not a conventional company.

At the end of the day, if Google is successful in their business of making information universally accessible and useful, then we are talking about making an invaluable difference in the lives of humanity–where information builds on itself, and knowledge–like the Tree of Knowledge in the Book of Genesis–is alive and constantly growing for all to benefit from in our Garden of Eden, we call Earth.

(Source Picture: Honeybird)