Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Obscuring the Message

This ad pops up regularly when I browse through a certain well-known media website. It is oddly fascinating but, as you will have to come to expect, for the wrong reasons.

F-Secure is one of many tech firms supplying security related software. I have never used them but have no reason to doubt the usefulness of their products. This is, of course, irrelevant to my interest. For, as is sadly common with this sort of ad, nearly the entire content is taken up with a picture. They could have used this space to explain more about what they did, why their stuff works and perhaps how much it costs. Nope. A full two-thirds of the space (and they are paying the said media website for the privilege of clogging up my timeline, remember) is the image of an attractive young lady smiling warmly at the camera whilst perched, a little coyly, on a flight of steps in some office or maybe a flat.

 The young lady is not named or identified. She is dangling a smartphone but seems much more interested in whatever the cameraman might be saying. "Come on darling, undo a couple of buttons", perhaps. And hence, rather than click on the ad to find out more about the benefits to my online security from investing in F-Secure, I naturally ponder about this female (remember, she is worth twice as much as the contents of the ad). A number of possibilities suggest themselves, viz: 

  • She works for F-Secure and her happy whistling as she brings round the afternoon tea-trolley lightens everyone's day.
  • She is the girl-friend of their marketing director.
  • She would like to be the girl-friend of their marketing director.
  • She has recently found her phone that she thought lost forever and has invited a photographer chum in to record her relief for posterity.
  • She is an experienced hacker and denizen of the "dark web" and is precisely the sort of person who must be warded off by the appropriate security software.
  • She has installed  F-Secure on her phone and is jolly pleased with herself, despite her IT knowledge being not much than knowing how to press the power button to turn it off.
  • She is the copywriter at the ad agency and author of "Stolen data can lead to financial losses", shortly to be published as part of a series. Other titles include "A nicked car might put up your insurance premium", "Don't fall of ladders if you can help it" and "You better have a napkin with that sticky bun or you'll get marks all over your screen".
  • She is actually modelling the beige cardigan in another photo-shoot and has nothing whatsoever to do with any software vendor.  
And now see why I love this ad. Every time I see it, I add another line to this list. In the long winter evenings I intend to take it out whilst I sit beside the fire and look it over approvingly, making the odd emendation here and pencilled note in the margin there. With such a feast of entertainment, my time for exploring the more risky corners of the Internet will be greatly reduced and hence my risk of stolen data will be minimised. Job done! and I didn't even have to buy the software.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Disrupt Media Giants the Bognor Way

I don't know why, but I found something endearing about this story on the BBC website yesterday.

Pic: BBC
The hacking event was serious, involving misuse of the credentials of a number of very well-known people. Somehow, one expects the perpetrators to be a sinister gang of Russian or Ukrainian hackers, perhaps led by a bald gentleman who strokes white cats whilst issuing his softly spoken orders to inflict mayhem on the world in order to bring about the end of civilisation, or something. One does not really expect the trail to lead to a small bungalow with sea-shells embedded into the walls and a plastic model windmill on the front lawn, in a quiet street with a friendly corner newsagent who sells beach umbrellas and flip-flops and where the distant smell of seaweed wafts invitingly up from the beach.

I wonder how the local newspaper will play this one -
"Local man displays world-beating tech skills" perhaps or "Hacking: Littlehampton trounced again".

 "He was a quiet lad and we thought some clerical job might have suited him best" his old form master will say "He clearly had hidden depths and I'm pleased that he might have got his start from St Merridew's."

The neighbours will, of course be quoted as saying "We never would have expected it. He was such a quiet man, always kept himself to himself. We always thought he would turn out to be a serial murderer. Who ever would have believed he was up all night on his computer, I mean what kind of normal person does that?"

And when that case gets to the local magistrates court, how many times will the beak peer over her horn-rimmed glasses and murmur to the prosecuting counsel "Remind me again, Mr Jefferies, what is Twitter?"