The Weakest Link

Recently, I was sent an email from the Marriott Hotel chain warning me that their “world-class” site had been compromised and that hackers had obtained some of the passwords to their clients:  “There have recently been attempts made to gain unauthorized access to a small number of members’ online accounts.”  Notice how there was little information concerning the extent of the compromise.  I wrote my first software program forty-two years ago in Fortran IV and have written over a million lines of code since.  If there is anything that I have learned over the years, there is always a weak link in any system and it can be exploited by hackers.  A system can be “fool-proof” but may not be “hacker-proof”.  Systems are built by people and those people are of varying levels of expertise.  Personal assumptions and bias are embedded in the design and implementation of those systems thus the hackers look for the unanticipated.  Since Our Heavenly Father is the only flawless One, all of men’s systems will contain flaws.

J.C. Penney’s computer network has been compromised for over seven years by hackers.  Other companies that were victimized included electronic stock exchange Nasdaq, JetBlue, Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and the Belgium bank Dexia Bank Belgium.  Hackers stole over 160 million credit card numbers.

We have a perception of security but the reality is we don’t have a guarantee of security.  This is why physical paper checks are superior to electronic transactions from the consumer point of view.  The physical piece of paper eliminates the ability of someone on another continent creating a fraudulent transaction on your checking account.  Banks assure us that online checking is safe.  Yes, the transmission link may be encrypted but how do you know that a hacker hasn’t loaded a “ghosting” program on your pc that records every keystroke of your keyboard then sends it to his database for later use?  If he knows what website your are at and knows what keystrokes you entered, then he knows your User ID and password.  Get my drift?  A smart hacker will simply gather the data until such a time he decides to sell it to someone else.  If hackers target a single bank or group of banks, how much damage could they inflict?  This is why I don’t do internet banking.

The Weakest Link applies to all aspects of systems and organizations.  The weakest link in credit processing is the minimum wage server who takes your physical card, takes a picture of the front and back and texts it to a buyer for $10.  Later that buyer encodes a card for use at a gas station or fast food restaurant.  The transaction may not be noticed.

As man’s systems become more complex, there are more inherent weaknesses in the systems.  At some point, those systems are at risk of collapsing.  This is true of the current global fiat currency system.  Since all of the major countries are fiat-based, there is no physical backing to keep men from exploiting the weaknesses of the system.  This is what lawless men do.  With over 1 quadrillion dollars in financial derivatives in existence, the question is not whether they system will have a fatal flaw causing a collapse, but when.

Another reason to simplify.  Also, you can’t “hack” gold & silver coins.  It may not be a bad idea to keep a couple of coins around, just in case.

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