Friday, October 12, 2012

Don't Answer the Door

I read yesterday, with amazement, the tale of how Lance Armstrong and his cycling team tricked the anti-doping authorities for years. We discussed it this morning and I told the boys that I thought their best avoidance technique was also the simplest: not answering the door. Apparently when the officials went to their homes to test them they would simply pretend they were not there. How simple! Surely beats spending hundreds of thousands of dollars developing hard to detect drugs.

Hackers often use an equally simple approach to infiltrate computer networks: call an unsuspecting user and trick them into divulging their password "Sally, this is John from IT, we are doing a back-up and I want to make sure all your information is safe. Can you please tell me your password". Who needs supercomputers with fancy algorithms?

Sometimes a simple, low tech, and inexpensive approach provide the best results...

Back to Lance, the most amazing aspect of the story, of course, is the number of years during which this deception took place. It is incredible that something of this magnitude can be sustained for so long. But, as has been shown in many other instances, e.g., Bernie Madoff, it sure can. We shouldn't lower our guard because someone, or something, has been "legit" for a long time. And I guess the "bright side" is that sooner or later, the truth comes out - or does it?

No comments: