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Monday, July 6, 2015

Hacking Team Downfall: Mistaking Marketing For Competence

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"The wholesale sacking of the spyware firm's systems" demonstrates a reality we all face (see the ZDNet story here). Namely, it takes more than clever marketing in the tech world. You've GOT to have the smarts to back it up. Often I get ad campaigns turned down by my clients because, in their own words, "Uh, we're really not THAT good." 

It looks like the Hacking Team should have just said, "We supply invasive systems to repressive governments; sorry about that." 

Hey guys, Karma is a bitch.

As recently as this weekend, on the 4th of July, I was reminded of my own inflated ego. Every day, I ride my bicycle up the mountain where I built The Pirate Cottage. All my neighbors think I'm quite a stud, doing that every day. I even started believing my own hype, just like I did back in 1978 when I sold my electronics company and ran for Congress. I was full of myself then, and clearly this weekend I was full of myself.

Not only did I sponsor a King/Queen Of The Mountain (KOM/QOM) bicycle race up my mountain—a mere 3.4-mile jaunt with nearly a quarter mile of vertical elevation, but I actually threw down a challenge to all the under-40 riders on my mountain. I said "Age and experience will always prevail over youth and energy." That may be true, but my own performance wasn't even on the same planet as the over-40 winner.
 I finished the race almost 22 minutes behind the winner. The good news, he was 43 years old and whipped the mortal snot out of the next-closest rider, who was 17 years old. And then to add salt to my badly bruised ego, the winner's wife achieved Queen of the Mountain status by beating my time by 10 minutes. The only good news of the day—besides my not having had a coronary on the ride—was that I beat a fellow 15 years younger than myself by 4 minutes.

Now back to the Hacking Team debacle.

You guys really need to watch the Paul Newman movie Buffalo Bill and The Indians. The great showman Buffalo Bill assembled (in his own words) the "greatest group of riders, ropers, trackers and indian fighters in the world!" When Sitting Bull, his show centerpiece, takes off, Buffalo Bill (Newman) says "get me my REAL hat and my REAL gun and let's go get him." And as the goofy troop of misfits and drunks rides over the hill, several off them fall off their horses.

So there is a difference between self-promotion delusion and quiet competence. Which is why I publicly confess my own inflated bicycling acumen. Just another in a long line of wake-up calls. As for the Hacking Team? If you really did sell surveillance solutions to repressive governments, your becoming the laughing stock of the hacking world is well deserved. I salute you, King of the Morons!

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?