Cyber Crime

Bush, Xi, and McCain walk into an Auditorium

Bush, Xi, and McCain walk into an Auditorium

The face of conflict is changing.  While leaders like Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump still see conflict in the traditional light, many of their peers - and certainly the next generation - see conflict differently:  Cultural, Economical, and Ecological. The kinetic warfare of the 19th and 20th century is a relic of past generations, a fact never more poignant than after recent speeches by three prominent politicians across two countries.

The Accidental World War

The Accidental World War

A recent report by the Washington Post claims that the IC is investigating the possibility of Russian influence in American politics through cyber attacks, propaganda, and disinformation.  While this makes for a fantastic headline, it doesn't really tell us anything.  

However, the existence of the investigation does give us an interesting thought experiment. US interests are routinely being barraged by cyber attacks, like the Sony hack by North Korea in 2014, that are nominally ignored by the US government apparatus and IC alike.  However, there are two key differences between an attack at the electoral system:  First, it is an attack that undermines our ability to practice democracy; and second, it undermines our ability to project military, political, and technological power throughout the rest of the world.

Competing in Modern Business: Learning from the Hackers and Revolutionaries

Competing in Modern Business: Learning from the Hackers and Revolutionaries

The average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has declined from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today, and we can assume that a large part of this decline can be attributed to technological innovation outpacing corporate agility. Corporations that are designed for the industrial age, where you can turn a profit doing one (or a few) thing(s) relatively well, are having difficulty adjusting to the rapidly changing technological landscape.

So, how do we promote corporate agility?
 

Google made waves in the modern world of business by pioneering (or, probably more accurately, perfecting and publicizing) this small-team method of management.  By creating multiple small teams, on which a single person may reside in different capacities, you create a non traditional management hierarchy and a more robust meritocracy.  Plus, you have the added benefit of cutting back on mob mentality and bureaucracy, while also boosting your response time.

In hindsight, this should have been obvious to companies the world over.  Smaller teams means less effort for more coordination, more accountability and transparency, and less mob mentality taking over. The evidence and historic precedence is there to support small team leadership, the only question is, how am I - a middle manager on the Island of Obscure Project Management - going to implement these philosophies into my every day life?  So, I'm going to close with three concrete and actionable steps you can take to start your career, if not your company, down a more productive path:

  1. Break up large groups whenever possible.  If you have a team of fifteen people working on a project, focus on creating smaller group meetings based on specific specialties before holding a larger group meeting.  For example, if you're implementing a new software package, host a small group meeting with the application developers and a separate meeting with the system analysts, before hosting a town hall meeting.
  2. Diversify your (employees') skills.  No one (not you or your employees) are mindless drones capable of only doing one thing repeatedly.  Stretch yourself and your employees by placing them in tangential roles on multiple projects.
  3. Promote employee buy-in. Make sure that your projects are not being dominated by one or two self-assured individuals; ensure that all team members feel comfortable contributing and, most importantly, feel that their contributions are valued by the other members of the team.

Sony Pictures and Cyber Warfare

Sony Pictures and Cyber Warfare

On November 25th, Sony Picture Entertainment was hacked by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace, where millions of records of passwords, social security numbers, e-mails, salaries, and other extremely sensitive information was released to the public.  The exact scope of the data extracted from Sony is hard to fully grasp but, so far, the following information has been released to the public:

  • 47,426 Social Security Numbers
  • 3,000 employee records with salaries, benefits, passports, and contact details
  • 600+ plain text passwords, IP addresses, root certificates and other IT data
  • Financial reports, acquisition strategies, and budgeting forecasts
  • 19,944 e-mails.
  • 4,013,780 anti-piracy take-down notices

And while this is a staggering amount of information to be lost, it's a relatively insignificant event for the vast majority of Americans; yet we find ourselves equating the event to 9/11 and promising swift and equitable retribution on some fairly shaky evidence.