Sunday, October 16, 2016

Progress and Success

This blog post is being written from a budget airline cramped seat 40000 feet above sea-level with an outside temperature of -69F. I am in the middle of a 7 hour flight. Besides blankly staring at others and listening to my snoring neighbor, I have nothing much to do. It's 2 PM in the timezone my body is. So any amount of coaxing it to sleep ain't helping. There is absolutely nothing to entertain me. I don't have a book to read, and my office laptop has absolutely nothing not even a song! My phone without the internet is just a brick that I can browse for photos that I had taken (mostly receipts to claim). Overall I realized I am a very boring person. So I am taking this opportunity to bore you guys, my lovely blog readers.

This thought has been bothering me for the last few months. What exactly is success and progress? And why do we value materialistic comforts and achievements so much? Every "successful" person I get introduced to is - necessarily rich and got a lot of stuff to show-off. And then every city/ country/ society that has "progressed" has big tall buildings, expensive restaurants, big roads, and lots of cars running around. Hasn't our definition of success and progress just become a marketers dream to make us feel incomplete all the time?

There is this beautiful sleepy seaside town that I frequent. The people used to be happy, but didn't really confer to our commercial definition of "progressive". This time when I went there, I see that there are lots of tall buildings coming up. All of it's natural beauty (I mean raw forests, wild bushes, clean pristine beaches) is being rapidly replaced by man-made progress - read - resorts, casinos, golf courses etc. It has become tourist "friendly". Yeah I mean big hotels and other forms of entertainment (ahem). The people there think that now the town is finally progressing. But is it really?

Almost everyone I meet dreams of owning - big houses, drive fast expensive cars, wear designer watches, clothes, shoes. The people who are "successful" already seem to be "there" and we dream to emulate them. But why do we need to adhere to this convoluted definition of success? Aren't the clothes, shoes, watches and houses that we are currently staying in not good enough? Isn't the food we already eat amazing enough?

Why don't we define success as being - healthy and happy? Isn't that the most important thing as a human being? What is the intrinsic value to a human being in wearing expensive clothes, shoes and watches? Similarly, why don't we define progress in terms of how contend the city is and how happy and healthy the people there are (like the "Happiness Index"?) Why should consumption and construction decide the progress of a country?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Yahoo! Hacked

Towards the end of September, there was news that Yahoo! had a massive security breach. 500 million accounts of Yahoo users were compromised. Like always, I was hoping, I was not among the ones breached. Unfortunately, that ain't true. I got this message in my Yahoo! mailbox recently:

It further reads below:

Getting my password stolen is the least of my worries. Passwords are easy to change. And as long as you don't use your same password for different accounts, that piece of information is not much of use for the hackers (unless they physically logged into my account).

What really scares me is this - there is a database of 500 million people out there which contains our - Secret questions, Birth-dates, Telephone nos, and full legal names. That information is just enough to impersonate as me in this online world and then wreak havoc with my life. The hard part of this information is - I can't change my birth-date, my secrets and compromising this is pretty much something that can't be ever undone. The full impact of this hack will not be realized soon enough. And random identity thefts somewhere in the future will be linked to this hack.

I am assuming this is just the beginning of more ominous attacks bound to happen going forward on the internet (state-sponsored actors or not - doesn't matter!). Further investigation reveals that this might not be even the work of a state sponsored actor, and the database has already been put on sale for other people to have access to.

It's time companies are made liable for securing the information about the users that they possess. And if you can't protect it, then don't store it.