The Three Little Pigs


Posted on: October 19, 2010 by Rob Price

Once upon a time there were three little pigs and the time came for them to leave home and seek their fortunes.

Before they left, their mother told them "Whatever you do, do it the best that you can because that's the way to get along in the world. And keep safe.”

The first little pig built his house out of straw because it was the easiest thing to do.

The second little pig considered the approach of the first pig carefully. He correctly identified concerns around the flammable qualities of straw, realised that a well equipped wolf may be able to cut through the straw, or tunnel under the house and most of all recognised that the sound insulating properties of straw were insufficient to protect secret piggy meetings that may take place within.

One night the big bad wolf, who dearly loved to eat fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in his house of straw. He said "Let me in, Let me in little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"

"Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig.

Wanting to surprise the first pig, the wolf declined the huffing option, but planned a tactical assault, snooping on the pig with listening devices planted in the straw, and determining the most suitable point of entry by a targeted incendiary device causing minimal damage to the pig and the contents of the house, especially concerned about protecting the integrity of any particularly interesting IP or intelligence that he could subsequently exploit after eating the first pig.

Of course, with low physical security protection, and insufficient controls and risk mitigation, the wolf’s plan worked. He got in, grabbed the pig and ate him all up before stripping the house of all relevant information and value.

The second little pig, surprisingly only mildly perturbed by losing his brother, took note and amended his plan to build his house out of sticks. Instead he stole the new designs for his elder brothers house and built his house from bricks (of course with cavity wall insulation to minimise sound transmission). He laid a thick concrete floor, a double skin thick steel door and had vibration sensors placed on each window.

He sat back and relaxed on his new (not pig) leather chair in front of the warm fire. Knock knock.

"Let me in ,Let me in little pig or I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in" "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", said the little pig, confident that no amount of huffing and puffing would get through his defences. But the wolf, being cunning, had a cunning plan. He set up a state of the art camera (with thermal detection) outside the house, connected to some movement detection software on his computer back in the lair, knowing full well that the pig had to emerge to get food at some point. As soon as the trap was tripped, he was there in an instant, grabbed the second pig and ate him up too.

The third little pig sat down and thought hard. He consulted with the best known of consultants, who regularly advised on how to build safe and secure homes. He incorporated every single trick of the trade, every security feature known to pigs, to ensure that his fate was not that of his brothers. He was given a guarantee that the structure, combined with the installed protection, had never previously been penetrated. He relaxed, content in his personal protective bubble.

The wolf then came to the house of re-inforced titanium steel.

"Let me in, let me in" cried the wolf

"Or I'll huff and I'll puff till I blow your house in"

"Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin. And anyway, like you could!" said the pig.

Well, the wolf huffed and puffed but he could not blow down that most secure of houses.

But the wolf was a sly old wolf, and fortunately had the latest technology that bridged physical and logical security. He found that the locking mechanism on the seemingly impenetrable door had a complex cryptographic key that itself was dependent on a range of parameters linked to the physiology of the third pig. Fortunately he had retained some biological matter from the pig’s first and second brothers, and he was able to model the pig biology and replicate it in a complex, and very cunning, remote detection device he had built. This eventually allowed him to gain access to those constantly changing biological parameters from the third pig, model an algorithm that determined the key at any moment in time, and trigger the opening of the door. He strolled into the house with a big grin on his face, and took delight in slowly eating the third pig all up.

And so it is with regret that I apologise to any children reading this article, for there is no happy ending. This pig litter is surely dead, as will be the one that follows it, as will be the one that follows that. The wolves are cunning, and constantly evolve their methods of attack to foil the protective methods that the pigs put in place. Whilst there is value within those houses, in this case a tempting slab of bacon, then the cleverest of wolves will willingly accept that challenge.

I would ask you to think carefully about the value that you have within your “house”, the IP in your business, the information on which your success is dependent, and think carefully how you assess the risks of attack by wolves in your neck of the woods. How “attractive” is your business, and what type of wolf might be attracted to you?

We used to think that the wolves had died out. Trust me, they’re hunting in some big packs these days. You just won’t necessarily know it until it’s too late.

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About Rob Price

COO for Worldline UK&I and member of the Scientific Community
Rob is COO for Worldline UK&I, the European leader in the payment and transactional services industry. He was previously Head of Digital for Atos UK&I, is a member of the Atos Scientific Community and was a founder of the award winning CIO/CTO Atos blog, the predecessor to Ascent. He successfully melds inspiration and creativity with strategic direction and implementation, focusing on driving more efficient and effective exploitation of technology and services to drive positive business outcomes and better connect our clients with their end consumers. The insight gained through both operational delivery roles and strategic Digital evangelist roles ensures that he views the Digital Revolution from multiple perspectives. Find him on twitter @The_Digital_COO

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