Part 1: Scary Stuff You Didn’t Know Existed!
Last week, I, along with 80 other YPO & WPO members from around the world travelled to Silicon Valley to attend The Executive Program at Singularity University. The objective of the program was to educate us about the accelerating technologies that are reshaping our world and to prepare us for the opportunities & challenges they will bring in the immediate to near future. We were told many of the basic facts about how far technology has brought us. For instance, children in rural Africa now have more information available to them than the President of the United States had 15 years ago. Beyond that, we were exposed to information that was so mind-blowing, it was difficult to believe.
Some of you who are connected with me on social media saw the content I shared and a few of you reached out to me and asked for more details. While I can’t do justice to a week’s worth of truly amazing presentations, I decided to share some of the sound-bytes that were impactful to me. In the coming days, I’ll be sharing some information that hit home with me. Not all of these points will resonate with you. Some of them you won’t even believe. Hopefully however, one or more of them will hit home in a BIG way and make you think about being disruptive rather than disrupted.
Overall, my takeaway from the week was that the people at Singularity University don’t say that something isn’t possible, they ask “how is it possible.” These people are taking on Grand Challenges…the kind that will positively impact a billion people in the next decade. Quite simply, these ideas are “disruptive” to our world. I am “quantumly” grateful for the opportunity to participate in this amazing experience.
Crime & The Internet: The Deep Dark Web
What most people think of as “The Internet” is a very small fraction of what is out there. Google “spiders” only catalog the Surface Web (and really only about 16% of it). Below the surface, lies 500 times more data…making a Google search roughly equivalent of exploring the top two feet of the ocean. Those who venture below the surface find themselves in a Grand Bazaar full of things that will amaze, and likely scare you.
Using tools such as “Grams” (a Google-equivalent search engine for the Deep Web), people buy and sell goods and services such as:
- Cocaine, Heroin, LSD and other illegal drugs (more than 20% of all drug sales last year were made through a Deep Website known as “The Silk Road”)
- Guns and other weapons including full-auto AK-47’s
- VC money from Crime Lords who are financing young criminals
- Hit Man Services
These people are able to mask their activities from law enforcement and other agencies by using tools like “Tor” which allow them to browse the web anonymously. Tor hides your location and encrypts your data while you are on the web and is often used for legitimate purposes, such as by journalists in oppressed countries. That said, those who download it to their computers immediately become persons of interest to the NSA.
An interesting side-note; The founder of “The Silk Road”, whose website did $1.2B in sales over 28 months, was arrested last October for hiring a hit man to kill one of his employees. Unfortunately for him, he hired an undercover DEA agent.
Every one of our firms and personal computers has been hacked in one way or another and our connected networks make it easier for criminals to gain access to our data. Target was hacked through their air conditioning system, ultimately leading to 100 million credit card numbers being stolen. Criminals don’t even need to be good hackers anymore as they can purchase Identity Theft Software, complete with tech support, from the Deep Web. Some interesting statistics:
- It takes the average firm 211 days to determine that they have been hacked.
- When your firm is hacked, each record taken costs you $206 in IT spending, legal counsel, customer care, etc.
- An ATM Card Hacking Heist boosted $37,000,000 in 10 hours across 27 countries.
- 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked every day.
- 78% of burglars check Facebook before they come to your house. In fact, there was a website called “PleaseRobMe” that scanned Facebook for vacation announcements.
Hacking isn’t limited to traditional computers. If you bring your mobile phone to China, you can count on it being hacked. Nearly 300,000 people use modern pacemakers and insulin pumps that are run by software which can be hacked.
Unfortunately, we don’t always even know who the good guys are. A Kiev-based company known as Innovative Marketing Solutions put out anti-virus software called Malware Defender 2000. Their application was highly rated by PC Magazine. They had an org chart and recorded calls for quality purposes. They were a company just like yours. But their software installed viruses on your computer instead of removing them.
Technology is growing at an unprecedented rate and criminals are constantly looking for opportunities to exploit it. Ironically, we can learn from these nefarious characters. Harvard Business Review published an article by Marc Goodman called, “What Businesses Can Learn from Organized Crime”. Here is a link to the article http://hbr.org/2011/11/what-business-can-learn-from-organized-crime/ar/1 . I found it interesting and recommend that you check it out.
In the next few days, I will be sharing more information from my week at Singularity University. Part 2 will cover some of the truly amazing advancements in Heath & Science that I hope you will enjoy learning as much as I did.