Normal service may NOT resume!

We have all this modern technology, but ………………..

I love reading books – good old fashioned hardback books. They appeal to one’s senses – they‘re tactile, they rustle when you turn the pages and they smell like a book, which is more than can be said for an Ipad or kindle. As a young scholar I remember reading about the burning of the library at Alexandria and how many historians used this to represent an irretrievable loss of a body of collective knowledge. In those days, the writing medium was papyrus or parchment which was expensive and difficult to come by as were the people capable of writing down the wisdom of the day. The thought of losing a body knowledge like that struck me as tragic, look at what has been lost over the years ……..Damascus steel, Greek fire, Roman Cement and a variety of ancient plant drugs that had medicinal value to quote a few, but unlikely to happen in these more modern times.

These days technology has moved to the point where any literate person may add to the body of knowledge or more often, simply express their opinions. We can tweet, text, add stuff to our Facebook pages and update our other numerous social personas, but does it really benefit anyone? The current trend seems to be the need to write and publish an e-book and whilst I am not knocking people’s creativity, I prefer to read something that either makes you question a belief or makes you think and reflect, rather than rehashing known subject matter or telling me what your kids had for dinner!

I believe that Nuclear weapons provide sufficient deterrence to preclude major large scale war, but smaller conventional wars are therefore more likely and at time of writing this article, there are 10 wars and 8 serious armed conflicts documented. But we don’t hear much about the ongoing Cyber warfare that is happening.

Are we susceptible?

The Federal government of America has admitted its power grid is susceptible to cyberwarfare (Shiels) and many of us are aware of the Shamoon virus attack in 2012 on the Aramco servers (Infosecurity), so we know that the game is afoot and that cyber-attacks are probing various countries / businesses and testing their defences. As individuals we are subjected to reports of identity theft and cyber-scams. What would happen to your memories if someone infected or collapsed the cloud?

Remember what they said about the Bibliotheca at Alexandria!

Pace of Change

More concerning for me is the pace of change – keeping up with the formats that we use. How many of you remember the Betamax / VHS video formats war nearly forty years ago? We hardly use video tape these days. What about vinyl, cassette tapes and do you remember the different floppy disk formats for different computers like the Atari and the Commodore 64? Given the fact that we store large quantities of digital data in the cloud are any of you asking the question – How can we be sure that our trusted memories are going to be in a recoverable format and will I still be able to access it in twenty years?

Take Action

So there’s TWO reasons why you should take action to protect yourselves.

As a Project Management consultant with an interest in Business Continuity developed from my days during the millennium bug and subsequent banking implementations, I strongly advise that you take advantage of the relatively cheap costs of external hard drives and get yourselves backed-up. It doesn’t take long and you will feel much better in the knowledge that you have your contacts and personal pictures stored on an external device. Don’t forget to back-up your important e-mails and any important documents.

If you run a business, talk with your IT team and check the backup procedures and policies – get them to run back-up and restore exercises and check to see they can do it without any problems. Also get them to ensure that any long-term data storage, such as certificates, deeds, wills, testimonials, codices and financial records require by the governments, are in a format that is still supported. If it is not, get it converted while the opportunity exists.

Your data is your most important asset –care for it, protect it – ‘cos the next time your system crashes – well, normal service may NOT resume!

References

  1. Shiels, Maggie. (9 April 2009) BBC: Spies ‘infiltrate US power grid’. BBC News.
  2. Infosecurity magazine (8 May 2014) Infosecurity Magazine Home » News » Saudi Aramco Cyber Attacks a ‘wake-up call’, Says Former NSA Boss

Worryingly, how can we be sure that what we write remains in its true form? There is an ongoing debate at the moment centred on the updates and changes of the Original 1978 STAR WARS and the subsequently updated and enhanced versions released. I am now led to believe that it is practically impossible to find the 1978 original anywhere! Mr. Lucas is entitled to want to revise and improve his creations, I just hope his motivation to enhance his films is based upon sound financial reasoning and artistic desire rather than some other more sinister intervention.