Monday, July 14, 2014

Why do they do it?

Well, a completely different source, from my usual dose of NPR, got me to scratch my head and inspired me to write today.  I was reading a slightly older post from a colleague at work who shared a link to an article...and began to think that there was much more to the subject than was being discussed.

The article from mid-June about why Russian hackers are so good is here.

One point that is very much missed is the simple fact that the good guys have to be right all the time.  The bad guys only have to be right once.  That certainly slants the numbers in your advantage if your failures are basically ignored and only your successes count.  A very simply point, but consider this too...every country in the world could have iron-clad security protection laws, yet one does not.  As long as bad guys have a safe harbor of their own to ply their craft, they will operate with impunity from that base of operations like the pirates of 17th century that sailed the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.  This is an unrealistic description of a slightly shy of the ideal world where only one country would have less than iron-clad laws.  However, the reality is that anywhere in the world where there economic disparity exists, there exist opportunities for money to be made by hook or by crook.  This lends a Robin Hood-like charm to those that would steal from the 'rich' and give to the 'poor.'  This condition also gives a voice to those that see themselves akin to Robin the Hood and makes those that would otherwise play the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham less likely to enforce the laws, if any such exist, and care much less than they might otherwise be so inclined.

The Enemy of My Enemy


The Chinese have a saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." If there is a country that has my country under it's economic or military thumb, how eager might I be to bother to do anything other than encourage, albeit quietly, some computer hacker that is stealing from my enemy or causing them economic heartache?  Simple question, huh?  If I don't like my neighbor and you are stealing from my neighbor's house, why would I care?  Ok, maybe in good conscience you might care a little, but what if your neighbor was a rich, pompous, jerk that did nothing but jump up and down and shout how awesome they are and it really sucked to have to live near them and see that all the time and no one liked him or her?...would you care then? Not so much, huh?

Let's take that a step further, what if this horrible excuse for a human was your neighbor and this person stealing their stuff was selling it real cheap at the swap meet? And some other less fortunate people in your neighborhood were able to buy some of this stuff for cheap and have a better life...would you be so quick to cry foul and demand that your local lawmakers or law enforcers do something to try to stop it? Dumb question, huh?

Certainly there are lots of historic reasons why a group of people become practiced at what might otherwise be considered questionable skills when they are fighting against an oppressor to survive.  Without being too controversial (what? no controversy...I'm outta here.), I'll point to the examples from the US Revolutionary war as an one easy point of emphasis where questionable skills were used by the 'oppressed' against an 'oppressor.'  The soon-to-be-US stole assets from the British overlords to fund their new country.  We call them 'startups' today.  Should that mean that such skills, maybe being the easier path to tread than the path of hard work and innovation, should culturally become the norm?  Obviously not...would be the morally correct answer.

So when do you change from criminals to a respectable society?

I would hope that the answer to this question would be quite obvious...when you have something to lose.

Let's go back to the Chinese saying again.  What is the enemy of my enemy from our perspective? Hopelessness...or rather having nothing to lose.  Wouldn't it make more sense to help these fellow humans past the stage of hopelessness and teach them how to create their own intellectual valuables that they can cherish and thereby desire a system of laws of their own to protect those valuables?

Recognize the symptoms of the real disease.  Hopelessness, pure and simple.  If you have nothing to lose you are willing to ignore nearly every legal and moral precept to improve your condition.  The catalyzing event is when you suddenly accumulate enough capital (intellectual or real) that you feel you have to worry about someone else wanting to take it from you.

(Now that leaves no excuse for those three-letter-agencies out there that simply are evil because they can be...sorry...couldn't resist one controversial dig.)

Wouldn't it be better all around for those of us that have plenty to teach those that don't have much how to create their own business, with all the computer bells and whistles?  Better than trying to go into their country and export our businesses to their country for the purpose of exploiting their resources so we can have more stuff?  Now there's a risk management tactic you won't learn in school.