The Bigger It Is, the Easier It Breaks

17.05.2017 • Switzerland

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Olivier Perrin – The Brave Little Economist (Switzerland) –

Dear reader,

Never forget to let their mistakes happen.

Especially those of other, They always end up arriving and often, it’s spectacular. This is certainly not very heroic butformidableAnd asks only for courageTo wait

The computer virus “WannaCry»-invite of crying in French-infected200,000 computers around the world before being stopped after 48 hours of carnage

It is an example of the effectiveness of this precept. The hackers at the origin of this disaster probably did not think to do as much damage:

  • Disorganized emergency services in the United Kingdom;

  • Stations in German stations;
  • Completely frozen computer rooms:

The list of infected organizations is endless.National HealthServiceIn the United Kingdom (the British public health service), GermanDeutsche Bahn, theCentral Bank of Russia, The Spanish telephone operatorTelefonica, The courier companyFedExIn the United States, Chinese universities,Renaultin France…

These are companies and servicesvitalWhich have been hit hard.

And all this for what ?

Because all these organizationsneglectedTo upgrade their computers.

To be affected by this devastating

  • Either you have Failed to install a security update for several months On your computer (this is usually automatic);
  • EitherYour computer is so old that it does not even receive any upgrades Security from Microsoft … These are the majority of computers affected by the virus.

As if the British emergency still used ambulances of the 1960s … Even though they had not been maintained for years.

This devastating virus has mainly reached computers using very old operating systems as the software very popular at the time:Windows XP.

Windows XPIs an operating system (the software that runs your computer) launched in 2001More than 16 years ago. At that time, there was no flat screen, no smartphone, and the computers were less powerful than the entry-level phones today.

But this is not the most serious.

What isfault, Which is unjustifiable on the part of the affected organizations, is thatMicrosoft has not updated this software since April 8, 2014That is more than 3 years ago!

Imagine your mechanic who tells you that he can no longer service your car because it is too old but you continue to use it for years and years without checking the brakes, oil level or tire pressure .

Would you be surprised if they made accidents?

Please note that these are not individuals but large companies, Groups that haveComputer services of several tens and sometimes even hundreds of people.

These people whose job it is to protect you have been trapped by a hacker – no doubt a single person – who Used a virus known and neutralized By Microsoft for several months!

This virus has beenCopied on another virus created … by the American intelligence services: He was well known to everybody. This attack was even predicted by Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

Apart from you and me, NO PERSON HAS BEEN TAKEN BY SURPRISE. Negligence yes, surprise no.

This is to tell you the level of amateurism that prevails in a number of large organizations all around the world.

And understand that they are pirates “caring“Who perpetrated this massive piracy, at worst of small strikes in search of quick and easy money:Once your computer is infected, they ask for “only” 300 dollars of ransom to remove their virus… And probably most of these companies paid, too happy to get away with it so well given the size of their businessfault

But what would have happened if instead they had erased the informationvitalOf all English patient records? If they had destroyed the computer system of the Renault factory or pirated the switching systems of German trains to collide?

Fortunately the worst has been avoided so far …

The Real Law of Buttered Tartine

You probably know the joke of potache which says that a buttered bread that you make fall to the breakfast will always land on the wrong side, face buttered on the tiles of the kitchen …

It is a variation of what is also called theMurphy’s LaworLaw of the emmermaximum

The original law isserious. It was established by the American aerospace engineer Edward Murphy in the late 1940s during a series of very dangerous experiments.

At a press conference, a journalist was astonished that the experiments were without a major accident.

The response of the team fired, they had applied “Murphy’s Law” as they had called the golden rule of their boss:

“If anything can go wrong, it will”

If it can go wrong … It will go wrong.

That is, the team considered that it had toallThe possible scenarios, even the most unlikely,Without leaving anything to chance

This is not a pessimistic theory of the worst;The scrupulous application of a statistical law:

When you repeat a very large number of times a task or sequence (a plane takes off or an employee sorts his emails). If there is a chance, if it is not, a disaster will occur, then it will happen after a while. The only unknown is the time it will take before the disaster occurs.

This is true in the fields of aerospace excellence but also in everyday life and in the daily life of companies …

What happened this weekend had to come as surely as after the rain comes the good weather.

Why do not they buy machines that are suitable for their employees?

What is more surprising is that the cost of replacing an obsolete computer park does not seem very high.

Do these people save candlesticksThat the individuals themselves do not need to do?

This is of course a little more complicated. There are three barriers to replacing the IT equipment of a large organization:

  • The first and most important: these organizations have often developedTheir own specific and proven software.Changing the operating system would requireRedo all these home software and especially reimplant them: Test them to check their reliability, to test them, to correct the errors … All this is very expensive;
  • If you change your employees’ software,it is necessaryPlan to train them, accept a waste of time see a temporary disorganization in your servicesIn order to avoid a greater evil;
  • Finally,These are taskstediousThat nobody wants to dobecauseThere are only blows to be taken for the ambitious who populate the management of large organizations: If you do your job well, you will be blamed for having wasted valuable time on many people for nothing …And if it slips, everyone falls on you.

Despite all these problems, it iscertainthanThe renewal of an age-old computer equipment, if it is done seriously, allows high productivity gains: IT tasks easier to perform, faster thanks to more powerful computers, less fatigue thanks to better screens and quieter machines …

In short, the same reasons why individuals change their computers generally every 3 to 6 years … Not every 20 years.

But there,We live in a world of big organizations as agile as a bicycle elephant. This is not bad will, it’s size: like the dinosaurs.

You may warn them. You can show them how to do it and all they have to gain … The least order of plastic spoons requesting 3 forms and 4 successive validations you can be sure that changing a few computers will take forever and that everything will be done to the In spite of common sense.

The world of business has become so tedious thatFor the first time, individuals find themselves equipped with better tools than organizationsWhether in terms of machines or software.

It took 7 years for enterprise software to come up with features equivalent toFacebookWithin companies … And it will probably take another 7 for the companies to equip themselves.

Its very important,We tend to overestimate the capacity of large organizations … to organize well, Including the most advanced and elitist such as the NSA, the US security agency that has let its virus fall into the wrong hands.

Whether these organizations are public or private I can assure you that youYou will avoid many troublesBy giving them only a very moderate confidence when you are dealing with them

This is the title of this letter:The bigger it is, the more it breaks

Without going into the anguish of a devastating digital war, what happened this weekend reminds us of some essential rules.

The first rule to apply in any situation: if your instinct tells you that there is a risk, a problem or that it is a little too good to be true,Do not be lazy and dig right away, You will probably avoid significant problems at low cost.

In a store, a bank or an administration, it is often a simple question to ask, a confirmation to ask … something that seems so obvious.

And I can assure you that the surprises are proportional to the size of your interlocutor.

I am sure that as you have told me many times” I knew it “Or you bit your fingers as a result of a problem you had seen coming without taking the necessary precautions.

You are probably aware of the bitter bites of these administrations, which shamelessly send back on your shoulders the costs of their faults and incompetence.

In the face of these abuses, it is not a matter of cutting off the world or becoming a misanthropist,Be proactive and protect your independence.

To your good fortune,

Olivier Perrin

PS: If you use Windows XP yourself, it is more than time to change your computer. Or at least – and this is useful to everyone – make a copy of your files on an external memory (hard drive or even USB stick).

-Read more at (French)-

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