Your data will get hacked anyway so you might as well give up protecting it

Spend the money on freezing your brain

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Flee! Flee! It’s the return of the frozen heads!

With childish inevitability, this steaming pile of perennial medi-nonsense is trying to stage a comeback. Walt Disney did it, and now your own bonce can jostle with his for space in the freezer at a fraction of the price. And it’s all going to happen within the next ten years.

Millennials reading this may be wondering why you’d want to freeze your head. You may also be wondering what a "Walt Disney" is but let that pass. Well, according to the old theory, future doctors will be able to cure illnesses that are currently terminal, so they should be able to revive your brain if it’s iced immediately after your death and safely stored as far from the Haagen Dazs as possible.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what terminal illness you had, you are now dead. Doctors might come up with clever ways of prolonging life indefinitely one day but it might be a while before they find a way of curing death itself once you’ve already snuffed it.

The chances of this coming about are as likely as oh, I dunno, something really unlikely... such as building a commercial hover bike by Christmas, developing a pocket time machine, or stumbling across a sci-fi space cowboy gunfight amid the sombre pebbled wastes of Dungeness beach.

OK so that last one’s unlikely AND random. That’s how very unlikely it is.

As a problem-solving management technique, "giving up" has a long and respectable pedigree...

The latest headcases to revive this ghoulish heap of illogic as a means to drum up publicity is stem cell bank, an organisation that ought to know better.

In fact, I imagine that somewhere in the world – probably next door to a warehouse of unsold flared jeans – is a massive storage facility stuffed with public relations collateral for the non-science of frozen head technology. It may even have a plaque on the front door labelled "The Michael Mouse Institute for Gullible Dead Heads".

I reckon there’s an old geezer who has keys for both warehouses and opens one or the other every few years, in the vain hope that one day he’ll finally be able to shift the buggers for good.

My advice: give up now. Give up before it kills you and you’re forced to have your own head squeezed in between the Birds Eye peas and chicken nuggets.

As a problem-solving management technique, "giving up" has a long and respectable pedigree. I observe that it remains very much in fashion at the moment. PwC Global State of Information Survey figures indicate that British companies have been cutting their expenditure on IT security by a third over the last year.

Why would a company cut costs on security at a time when security breaches are at an all-time high? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it: the millions they’ve been pouring into protecting data has been proven to be an utter waste. Hackers break in regardless.

One moment you’re signing off on a contract to surround your organisation’s data with a ring of steel, the next moment one of the contractor’s employees has wandered off with all your data on a CD crudely hand-labelled Madonna’s Greatest Hits. You may as well allow the security breaches to continue unchecked rather than fooling yourself that flushing cash down the toilet of IT security offered you some sort of protection.

Oh, and once you suffer massive irretrievable data loss, do what the professionals do: blame someone else.

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Alternatively, take some advice from Gojko Adzic, author of Humans vs. Computers, who proposes five cost-free ways to avoid IT mishaps in the first place. Allow me to save you time looking these up by summarising them as follows:

  1. Don’t do any work on the last day of February in a leap year.
  2. Don’t trust anything with a repeating reference number such as 1-1-1-1-1 or 222222.
  3. Don’t trust anything with a date stamp of 1 January 1970.
  4. Always total percentages to see if they come to 100, thereby exposing rounding errors.
  5. Print everything out.

There: all your IT problems sorted. None of this solves your security problems but hey, no data is safe, so why worry? Indeed, most hackers don’t really care what data they hack and are content simply to amass useless detail about human activity so they can blackmail you or sell you stuff you don’t want.

Hang on, am I writing about hackers or Google, Amazon and Facebook? I’ve forgotten.

I read that scientists at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have developed a sensor that monitors stomach movement and food intake. Inevitably someone has dubbed it (inaccurately and unfairly) “a Fitbit for the stomach”.

You might think that no one would want to hack into the data picked up by a stomach sensor. Wrong!

My guess is that it will be mere weeks before someone hijacks it – sorry, I mean monetises it – and makes it communicate with your other devices. It’ll notice if you’re drinking more booze and duly add you to mailing lists for wine merchants. It’ll detect when you eat a particularly spicy curry and automatically tell Alexa to order more toilet paper, ice cream and extra-strong mints.

Just don’t give yourself brain-freeze on all that ice cream – at least not unless freezing your brain is the ultimate goal, which I think we’ve already established is ridiculous.

Hover bikes, pocket time machines and space cowboys in Dungeness, right?

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Alistair Dabbs mugshot
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He recommends a trip down to Dungeness in Kent if you ever get the opportunity. It is not what you’d call a typical beach by any stretch of the imagination… unless your previous experience of beaches was acquired on Mars.

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