Threats never take a vacation

August 4, 2015 JP Blaho

Close-up of hooded man hacking computer

It is that time of the year. Kids call it summer vacation, but as an adult, I simply refer to it as the ‘hot months’ (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere). Like most of Europe, August in the US is the last possible month to load up the car and head to the beach, mountains, forests, or grandma’s house to get away from our daily routines.

For the month of August, Arbor has decided to take a lighthearted approach to discussing network security through sharing some of our personal vacation horror stories with you, while discussing the ongoing threat of attacks, breaches and risk. So while you plan your next extended weekend, stay-cation or dream vacation, remember that while you might be on vacation, threats are always hard at work.

You can draw a lot of similarities of daily life from IT. Why? Because they are an extension of how humans interact. We develop technologies to simplify routines and improve the quality of our lives, but like humanity, we inevitably create chaos in the system. It is our human nature to do so. Conflict is created because of the human factor. In our August blog series by our CSO and CTO Sam Curry, we explore this human-to-human conflict. Tomorrow Sam will post his first blog in a series. The first blog focuses on the idiom “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Let’s use that title today to focus on vacation planning and reaching the intended destination.

Pain is inevitable. No matter how much planning and preparation is involved, or no matter how much time you allow yourself to reach your destination, something can and will go wrong. It might be a traffic jam on Interstate 95 as you make your way to the Florida Coast. It might be an extended delay due to congestion at Heathrow Airport. Or it could be that you arrived so early to your hotel in Bangkok, your room is not ready for another 7 hours. If you cannot acknowledge that everything is not within your control, pain, or rather suffering, will occur.

Let me share an example of one such experience. My colleague recently got married. It was a beautiful occasion. Like most weddings, the planning that went behind this occasion was well thought out, and done in advance over the course of months upon months. Nothing was left to chance, not even the honeymoon. The wedding went off as planned. The newlyweds were as happy as can be, and looked forward to a week of sun, sand and romance on the island of St. Lucia.

Due to travel delays, the first leg of their flight to Jamaica was cancelled. By the time the next available flight was available, they had missed the second leg of their journey to their final destination. Instead, they were able to get as far as Jamaica and were forced to stay at an airport hotel, missing the first night of their all-inclusive resort stay in the honeymoon suite. Instead of a private cabana and pool, they had a 2-star motel stay.

Regardless of all the planning, events occurred which were outside their control. The pain, although unexpected, was inevitable. The suffering was optional. Did they choose to let this incident ruin their honeymoon? I am sure that there were some suffering, but overall, the answer was no. Sometimes when things are out of your control, it is important to simply acknowledge it, and work towards resolution.

In our first vacation horror story, we have pointed out that regardless of the best made plans, disruption and uncontrollable circumstances can and will occur. Tomorrow Sam Curry will post a blog making a strong case as to why technologies and security implementations are flawed. Part of it has to do with a long-term belief that security solutions must be developed to address unique and specific security threats, while the true conflict is never addressed, therefore making the pain inevitable. How we adapt to these conflicts is key, and just like vacation planning, adapting to the inevitable changes is integral to the vacation itself. To further this point, let me finish the story since we left them at a motel in Jamaica.

The just married couple snagged a flight the next morning to St. Lucia and arrived to their intended resort destination. By accepting the disruption, and following through with their plans, they ultimately reached their paradise. Through this journey, and by interacting with all participating parties (flight attendants, hotel operators, etc.), our newlyweds received an additional night at the resort to make up for the missed first night…free of charge. The resort also made adjustments to their flight itinerary to get them home a day later without incurring additional fees.

The lesson here is to make all the necessary plans to limit the risk of vacation disruption, but be prepared if and when the disruption occurs. Also, be willing to work through the pain so that your suffering is mitigated.

Come back to read tomorrow’s blog on “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

And next week we will discuss vacation preparation with the family in mind. Think about the last family reunion, or extended vacation that you went on? How many people participated? Where did you go? How did you get there?

On a more personal note, I can say that in my many years of taking vacations, I can only recount one time where the vacation itself went smoothly, and without any hiccups. Now there may have been more than one, but none that were memorable to me. I suppose that the crazier and more screwed up the vacation, the more memorable they are.

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