Risk Management and Crazy People, a Script Using Stock Characters

Posted September 10th, 2009 by

Our BSOFH meets a Crazy Homeless Guy on the street just outside the Pentagon City metro station.

Crazy Homeless Guy: (walks up to BSOFH) Can I ask you a question?

BSOFH: (Somewhat startled, nobody really talks to him unless they’re trying to sell him something) Uhhhh, sure.

Crazy Homeless Guy: You know that there are people who claim to be able to say… take that truck over there and just by moving their finger make it fly into the Washington Monument.  Don’t you think that this is a threat to national security?

BSOFH: (Realizes that Crazy Homeless Guy is crazy and homeless) Not necessarily, you see.  I would definitely classify it as a threat.  However, when you’re looking at threats from people, you have to look at motives, opportunity, and motives.  Until you have all three, it’s more of an unrealized threat.

Crazy Homeless Guy: But what if these same guys could kill the President the same way, isn’t that a national threat?

BSOFH: Um, could be.  But then again, let’s look at a similar analogy:  firearm ownership.  Millions of people safely own weapons and yet there isn’t this huge upswell to shoot the President now is there?  Really, we have laws against shooting people and when somebody does that, we find them and put them in jail or *something*.  We don’t criminalize the threat, we criminalize the action.  Flicking a finger doesn’t kill people, psycho people kill people.

Crazy Homeless Guy: Or even if these same people could use the same amount of effort to kill everybody on the planet.  You know the <censored, I don’t like being sued by cults> people claim to have this ability.

BSOFH: (Jokingly, realizing that somebody has been taking 4chan too seriously) Well, I wouldn’t care too much because I would be… well, dead.  But yes, possibly.  But then again, since the dawn of the nuclear age and all through the Cold War we’ve had similar threats and people with capabilities created by technology instead of word study and the power of the human mind.  You have to look at these things from a risk standpoint.  While yes, these people have the capability to do something of high impact such as kill every human on the face of the earth, the track record of something like this happening is relatively small.  I mean, is there any historical record of a <censored, I don’t like being sued by cults> actually killing anybody through sheer force of their mind?  In other words, this is a very high impact, low probability event–something some people call a black swan event.  While yes, this is a matter of national security that these people potentially have this capability, we only have so many resources to protect things and we have our hands full dealing with risks that actually have occured in recent history.  In other words, risk management would say that this event you’re speaking of is an acceptable risk because of more pressing risks.

Crazy Homeless Guy: (Obviously beaten into oblivion by somebody crazier than himself) Well, I’ve never thought about it that way.  I’m really scared by these people.  Hold me, BSOFH.

BSOFH: Um, how about no?  You’re a Crazy Homeless Guy after all.  I have to get back to work now.  Come hang out sometime if you want to talk some quantitative risk analysis and we’ll start attaching dollar figures to the risks of <censored, I don’t like being sued by cults> killing all of humanity.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  If we can get you cleared to get into the building, we can have a couple of whiteboarding sessions to determine the process flow and maybe an 800-30-stylie risk assessment just to present our case to the DHS Psychic Warfare Division.

Crazy Homeless Guy: Uh, I gotta find a better corner to stand on.  Maybe over by 16th and Pennsylvania I can find somebody more sympathetic to my cause.

BSOFH: You’re crazy, man!

Crazy Homeless Guy: You’re crazy, too, man!

And the moral of the story is that no matter how crazy you think you are, somebody else will always show up to prove you wrong.  And yeah, black swan events where we all die are dumb to prepare for because we’ll all be dead–near total fatalities only matter if you’re one of the survivors.

This story is dedicated to Alex H, David M, and some guy named Bayes.

OMG It’s a Psychic Black Swan photo by gnuckx cc0.

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Posted in BSOFH, Risk Management, The Guerilla CISO | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1.  Tweets that mention Risk Management and Crazy People, a Script Using Stock Characters | The Guerilla CISO -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ann Vyce. Ann Vyce said: RT @rybolov New Blog Thingy: Risk Management and Crazy People, a Script Using Stock Characters http://bit.ly/140Qqv ## Nice bedtime story […]

  2.  Twitted by devyces Says:

    […] This post was Twitted by devyces […]

  3.  Blog :: by Wade Woolwine » Blog Archive » News and Commentary :: by WadeW and You (09/11/2009) Says:

    […] Good vs. Good Enough from PreachSecurity This is a really interesting (and simple) approach to scoping. Lets say your site is a mildly interactive blog, like a generic Honda Civic with the bare bones accessory package and a stick shift. Setting your club and locking your doors is really all you need to do, unless you’re one of those really paranoid people. On the other hand, if you drive a Ferrari with every luxury option and a laptop with $20k in cash on the passenger seat, you’re not only going to set your club and lock your doors, you’re also going to install an alarm, lo-jack, and possibly post a very large and menacing looking man to stand guard. Not only that, but if the laptop and the 20k in the passenger belong to me and you’re responsible for keeping them safe, I expect you to post 2 very large and menacing men outside your car. Here’s another great post from @rybolov with a similar tone, but focusing more on motives and opportunities – http://www.guerilla-ciso.com/archives/1312 […]

  4.  furicle Says:

    You only *think* that’s a black swan… Got the psychic part right though.

  5.  David Mortman Says:

    *laugh* Just so long as you think I’m the BSOFH and not the CHG.

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