The Care & Feeding of Cyber Grenades

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Picture this scene: It’s a modern office in a high-rise building, well-lit with the rising sun washes over the city below as it comes to life. People are hustling around the floor space of the office, interacting with each other, moving amongst offices and cubicles. Phones are ringing, blended into the din of the normal operations of an otherwise ordinary company. There is something very different about the people, however. Each of them is carrying something, invisible to them and taken for granted, forgotten, even.

Everyone must have one. Even if anyone sets it down, it follows, and when interacting with technology, it gets even closer. Mobile phones. Laptops. Copiers. Anything to do with information makes this thing quite animated, even analogue items such as a filing cabinet. No matter how the device reacts, the owner of it is oblivious. A new hire walks by with one in her hand. It’s quite small. Someone from HR walks in the opposite direction, and they also have one, but it is more substantial. The CEO emerges from their office and, like all their colleagues, has one, but it is quite large and cumbersome. Despite the varying sizes, everyone ignores the device.

Are you curious about what it is?

The device is a cyber grenade, we all have them, and we create them with our digital footprint and grow in proportion to our responsibility. Ownership is mandatory, dictated by our very presence online and electronically. Social media. Online banking. Our records with the government. Medical records with our healthcare providers. Our details at our schools.

This cyber grenade is not just personal; it can be triggered by others just as ours may impact others. We’re oblivious to its presence most of the time, seemingly only aware when forced to be such as when someone else’s goes off. Sometimes our own go off without us even knowing, or merely finding out long after the fact.

This cyber grenade is not lethal to us in any traditional sense; only to our information and the information of others. Thinking back to our office scenario, imagine if the new hire’s grenade detonated. Perhaps they lose a few important files or a day’s work. Maybe it’s a folder full of relevant documents that get left in a public restroom.

Now picture the HR person’s cyber grenade. Or the CEO. It’s a far different story, isn’t it? The larger the cyber grenade, the more collateral damage it causes.

Perhaps you think that your cyber grenade will never go off; it’s a dud. A phoney. A replica like a movie prop. Maybe if you don’t think about it, it won’t detonate. We forget that it’s a matter of when, not if it will go off. We must plan for that event and be ready to deal with it when it happens.

Every year more and more rules apply to us and cause our cyber grenade to grow in size. Continued migration of services to the cloud, more information about us available from social media and many other sources. Sometimes we pull the pin accidentally. Sometimes it is deliberate.

We must be mindful of our privacy and the privacy of others. Confidentiality of data is crucial in so many tangible and intangible ways. Handle your cyber grenade with care.

Stay safe out there.

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