Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Blame Game – Less Fun Than Monopoly ….

…. and not as productive either.

Recently, as an intellectual exercise and in the midst of all the hacking going on with large organizations, I explored some companies in the oil and gas sector in Canada in a non-intrusive way to see how secure their infrastructure was.

If I saw holes in their security, I sent the CTO / CIO / CEO (in that preference order, depending on who I found on their website) an email similar to the following:

Dear <<Mr. / Ms. so-and-so>>.

I am a Fortune 25 strategy and global technology advisor.  As a professional and intellectual curiosity, I have been scanning companies in <<city removed>> to see how they compare to companies on the east coast from a technology and security perspective.

I noticed that your servers have a number of ports open on them that make them potentially vulnerable to a security compromise.  Specifically, ports .. << details omitted for privacy >>.

Please have your webserver administrators change these ports in the following way: << detailed omitted for privacy >>, thus minimizing any efforts people might take to compromise the integrity of your operation.

This is not a solicitation for business on my part – just trying to help out! :-)

Take care and create a great day, <<Mr. / Ms. so-and-so>>.

I received a few thank-you’s and an “F off, we know exactly what we are doing” (literally, although they spelled the word out).  I didn’t really expect much as I wasn’t asking for anything.  I also know that such an email might be received with a little skepticism, as people who have an interest in helping while expecting nothing in return may be viewed with suspicion. Smile

However, an email response I received this morning deserves special mention.

According to the email, one of the companies that I had contacted was in fact hacked over the weekend and some information was lifted from the servers.

The reason the CEO was writing me was to assign partial blame to me for the success of the intrusion attempt.

“Why was I to blame?”, you may ask.

Well, it turns out that when the CEO received the email from me, he assumed it was either a solicitation for business or was fake and in either case, he was, apparently, dead set against responding or acting on it. 

When the very thing I warned him about came to fruition, he thought of me.  To quote the gentleman from his email:

“I hold you partially responsible, Mr. Tucker.  If you had worked harder at convincing me that you weren’t soliciting me and that your email wasn’t a prank, I would have taken the appropriate action that would have prevented this from happening.”.

Ah yes, the blame game.  A one-minute test by his IT team would have determined that my email was quite authentic, both in diagnosis and recommendation for correction.

This was one minute he was unwilling to spend. 

However, it took him more time to write the email to me than it would have taken to authenticate the message that I sent to him.  The downstream ramifications of the intrusion are also unknown, depending on what information was lifted and who lifted it.

The universe is filled with messages, some containing opportunity and some containing warnings.

Oftentimes, we are so busy or we are so filled with ego, that we don’t hear these important messages.

Unfortunately, if we miss these messages and pay some type of penalty as a result, it seems pretty easy to find the time to explain why others are responsible for us not hearing the message.

I know for the many mistakes I have made in my Life, I could, at the time, find many people to blame.

Innocence feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

In retrospect, if I look at those events objectively and honestly, my involvement, my level of responsibility and my failure to hear the warning signs was much greater than I would have liked to admit.

Even if someone / something else eventually pulled the trigger on an event that created trouble for me, my actions (or lack of) leading up to the event should have been different ….. if only I had been listening.

Yes, it is easy to blame others.

But if we do so, we hurt others unnecessarily and miss the opportunity for personal growth.

And if we insist on blaming others while missing the learning opportunity ….

…. the lesson will repeat itself

….. perhaps with increasing pain and pressure

….. until we finally get it.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a few messages to listen to from the Universe.

How about you?

In service and servanthood,


My Musings-in-a-Minute version of “The Blame Game – Less Fun Than Monopoly ….” can be found here.

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