Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Stock Market Floatation Plans:: Just how bullet proof are you?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Did you ever employ people who could be a threat to your stock market floatation plans in the future? Did you do something to someone that might just come back to haunt you? Did you impart information to people that could sink your investments?

Just how bullet proof are you?

Have you spent time massaging your history to make it look more consistent than it really was? To make it look like its all been a linear movement, both in the evolution of your brand and financial success? Have you hidden the flaws behind the persona you portray to the marketplace, which will only be found out when you submit your returns in the future? When the weeks and months ahead come under the truest of scrutiny, by the custodians of the marketplace?

Just how bullet proof are you?

No one expects a perfect story - but just how far are you off the mark?

Have you thought about the kinds of external things that could be revealed that could damage your share price? How about things that you should have disclosed, but didn't?

Just how bullet proof are you?

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Security through Obscurity? Or Insecurity through Obscurity?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Mike the security consultant says that we must keep on top of those Microsoft update patches, else we're open to serious attack. He says that we need to purchase the latest firewall product, think about updating our internal security policies and perhaps undertaking a security awareness campaign for staff across the group. He says hacking is on the increase and that the best way to protect yourself is to start getting inside the minds of the computer hacker. That way we can more intelligently manage our security, because we know how they think, every step of the way. "You know.....it takes one to know one and all that!".

Mike also mentioned that we could deploy a honeypot as a way of learning about the way hackers think. This will help us to do what Mike is always saying "develop our systems to be obscure". It makes them much harder to attack then. See, we can really outhink the hackers, by learning the way they think. They think obscure, so we position our security posture to be obscure. It makes us much harder to attack that way.

OR DOES IT?

What Mike failed to say (or worst still never realised) was that obscurity is only of value to protecting against novice hackers or hackers without serious intent. Too those hackers who are experts in their craft or to those who are highly motivated to undermine your systems security, obscurity presents a joyous challenge. In fact the more obscure the security the greater the challenge and the more the hacker is attracted to crack your security.

From this point of view, Obscurity = Insecurity - not the other way around.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Dick the Unethical Stats Analyst: The idiot that counts fraudulent numbers

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Like a spider driven by an invisible force doth Dick the stats analyst crawl through the web of his various numerical repositories. Like a superhero doth he weild the figure models in his head. Slicing and dicing the data into tangiable morsels of value that can cause revelations on the executive top floor.

Only Dick has the key. Only Dick knows how the data should be integrated with the perspective to make sense. Like a greedy spider doth Dick the stats analyst cling jealously to his throne. Sharing out only the fragments of his knowhow that make him feel safe. Sharing in such a way that appears to be in the company's interest, when exactly the opposite is true.

Like a threatened spider doth Dick the stats analyst resist the truth of his ways.
The truth that Dick is not working in the company's interests
The truth that Dick knows that he has been found out
The truth that Dick now wishes to cover his tracks

So cover his tracks he did.

Like an ignorant spider, doth Dick the stats analyst still count numbers
Still crawl through repositories
Still weild figure models in his head
Still slices and dices data into tangiable morsels
Still causes revelation on the executive top floor

Had Dick not been so dirty, so deceitful, so frightened!
Dick might have noticed that the data was under investigation by the serious fraud office
And decided to take a less ill informed route

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Are you a cold-blooded subversive - or worse still - a warm-blooded reptilian?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
To answer this question lets first look at the definition for subvert.

sub·vert
–verb
1.
to overthrow (something established or existing).
2.
to cause the downfall, ruin, or destruction of.
3.
to undermine the principles of; corrupt.

If you consider that "to subvert" can sometimes result in the arrival of good results, as much as bad results, you can then consider whether "subverting" something can be done with or without conscience. In other words (without conscience) meaning cold-blooded subversion and (with conscience) meaning warm-blooded subversion. Here is an example of something that got subverted where the results of which were all good.

Paul was hired because the executive director wanted to sack half of the management team and didn't want the blood on his hands. The message he sent out was one of "the new guy is here to sort things out for the better" when he really mean't "he's here to sack half of you wasters".

Paul conducted some analysis and found that the problems were emanating from an entirely different source. He determined his approach which was to develop a plan that would appear inline with the executives true intentions, when in fact he was about to unleash a strategy that would resolve the problems entirely - without getting any blood on his hands. In short it was a strategy that would subvert the real nature of his appointment, yet resolve far deeper problems that lay at the heart of his business.

He did this cold-bloodely because he knew that what he was doing was the right thing and his conscience would always be clear. Had he been a total subversive (warm-blooded), he would have sacked all the people he was supposed to and probably become financially wealthy in the meantime.

But he opted for strategy which engendered both spiritual wealth and financial health for everyone concerned. The true cost of which meant that he lost his job.

Behold, a warm-blodded repitilian.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Corporate Intelligence Spies:: Should we be looking Beyond the Obvious?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
If you came across an Al kaeda cell, would you think of calling your local policemen to deal with it - or would you call MI5, MI6 or CIA? So why do managers think that corporate spies can be repelled using IT security policies or Human Resources Personnel? After all, Corporate spies have a very different motive and capability than a 16 year old hanging off an ADSL modem out of a basement in Belarus or a stupid incompetent employee pressing all the wrong buttons.

Corporate Spies are only interested in three things:
1. Gaining 'just enough' access to the target organisation
2. Perpertrating a specific attack, such as sabotage, theft and/or installing a trojan horse.
3. Exiting out - or better still, being exited out - under a cover.

Corporate spies have absolutely no interest in the organisation other than gaining sufficient access to target areas, then maintaining and leveraging their position in the organisation until such a time as they have infilitrated their tradecraft to achieve the desired result.

A spy will not play the same games as security personnel expect them too. They will not attempt to gain access to a system, whilst sitting at a desk with a fixed ip address, so system logs can be later scanned and reveal their attempts at locating data inside the managing directors PC folder. They will not make any specific requests themselves for access to any resource, so they build up a record of attempted breakins. They will not allow themelves to be seen to see or do anything that can be classified as 'out of the ordinary'.

What they will do is take more documents to the photo copier than they needed to (maybe pocket the ones they weren't supposed to be copying). Perhaps print 2 copies of the same document (under the guise of being a mistake if detected -"only meant to print one guv!") and then fold the second copy into a paper airplane and slip it in to the top pocket.
What they will do is elicit certain types of information from staff by offering stories of past experiences designed to provoke the right kinds of response and to develop trust.
What they will do is to alter the AT settings on a modem to enable them to dial in to the network at midnight and lift one or two interesting company files.
What they will do is look technically inept, to enable them to engender pity and support from their peers, which usually leads to access to further information.
What they will do is test the strength of executive accumen and corporate strategy by demonstrating potentially viable business solutions or scope the security officers level of knowledge and confidence, by mentioning they have recently read an article on a new security threat, that they know you won't have implemented measures for.

No, the activities of the corporate spy will not be halted by conventional approaches to information security or personnel management.

They can only be halted by trained counter intelligence operatives. People who look beyond the obvious.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Insurance bosses jailed for fraud

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Our post on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 entitled Executive Fraud: The biggest killer of commercial brands ever at.
http://intrench.blogspot.com/2007/10/executive-fraud-biggest-killer-of.html
revealed the kinds of psychology that can unfold inside UK insurance companies.

Below is an article, care of the BBC that provides further evidence of the kinds of executive threat that can exist within these companies. Much of which is less to do with intent to deceive for personal gain and more to do with attempting to keep the ship afloat long enough to save it from hitting the rocks. Only to find that you do hit the rocks, but instead of living to fight another day - you wind up in prison.

A former insurance chief has been jailed for seven years after being convicted of defrauding investors. Michael Bright, 63, was in charge of Independent Insurance when it collapsed in 2001 in one of the industry's most high-profile insolvencies.
Finance director Dennis Lomas received a four-year sentence. Deputy manager Philip Condon was given three years. A jury had heard how the trio masked the firm's financial problems by withholding details of claims.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Technology Exploitation Strategies:: Draw your own Market Attack Monsters!!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Technology Exploitation is about engineering systems that meet strategic business requirements and integrating technology with people and information to construct killer business applications. Its about selecting the right developers and integrators and applying effective IT outsourcing strategies and its about designing targeted exploitative implementation programmes that support strategic marketing initiatives.

Yes, you really can exploit most areas of your business, marketplace, customers and competitors just by targeting technology effectively. But by "effectively", we mean, the same way as those vendors who pioneered the computer software industry. IBM, Microsoft, Lotus etc.
By effective engineering, you arrive at technology design strategies that support and energise the body of your strategic vision.
By effective integration you get to concentrate and hone the collective intellectual power of your organisation to bring all your forces more effectively into line, to create strategic thrust.
By effective exploitation you gain clear vision of the target, whilst you begin to deploy technology as a powerful strategic weapon to leverage your strategic delivery.

What is Technology Exploitation?
The exploitative discipline by which competitive strategies are targeted, deployed, and integrated such that they engage, enable and entrench technology firmly and securely inside a business target.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Microsoft:: Intellectual Engineers OR Technology Engineers?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Effective technology product engineering begins and ends with the construction and management of intellectual space. Every other discipline, every other motivator, every other force must be directed and governed by a process of intellectual engineering. Companies like Microsoft realised long ago that for the intellectual engineering process to work effectively, that it must only be directed by the most highly effective minds.

That's why Microsoft are in the intellectual engineering business, not the technology engineering business. One defective mind can ruin a project & you can kiss good-bye to your investment forever. Effective minds aren't just highly creative, pragmatic and intellectually motivated. They're also fair, reasonable, honest and reliable. These last attributes create the conditions upon which rich intellectual exchanges occur amongst collegues, leveraging intellectual property investment.

Whatever technology engineering project you are embarking upon, if it contains all of the above ingredients, then you won't go far wrong.

If it doesn't, better reorganise your project team!!

Outsourcing Projects::Get ready to hold on tight!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
You may have spent many years and many millions of dollars on projects developing and integrating your staff. You may have reached a point of some stability and are now considering introducing new IT systems to underpin future business expansion. You determine that you don't have the internal resources & expertise to deliver against expectations on new projects. Your choice is to invest in new staff or to outsource development to an external company. You opt to go with an external supplier.
Get ready for the biggest roller coaster ride of your life. Get ready to start giving your independence away. Begin worrying about breaches in confidentiality and having to pay over the odds for maintenance. Get ready to spend the next 3 years in tow with an organisation which really only ever had its own self interests at heart and has a mission to increase your dependence on it - for ever more.
Well, its not always as bad as that, but it can be. Effective outsourcing relationships take time and careful planning to come to fruition. Selecting an outsourcing partner to help with your IT projects is not something you should do without a formal due-diligence process. Suppliers should be vetted for their technical competence, ability to bridge the techno-business managerial gap, possess business integration skills, as well be accessible and sympathetic to your needs. Whatever the size of your investment, you don't want to introduce negative influences into your organisation. You don't want to weaken the foundations of a company you have fought so hard to build. If you are already in trouble with an outsourcing project, get tough or get out!!!!

Systems Integration:: A Hell Past human imagining?

Brand Security expert reveals::
Your company's value is equal to the sum of the intellectual bandwidth that each of your staff shares with you whilst they are at work. Your company's potential value is far higher than this when your staff are effectively integrated, through educational and motivational programmes.
In the world of intellectual property development every aspect of what you do, from the activities you carryout internally, to the products you deliver to your customers, to the value of the equity your shareholders own, rely on the performance and quality of your staff's intellectual contribution.

Integration of people, information and technology is only ever effective when the belief systems of your team are at one with each other. No amount of analysis, design & engineering will help, unless your project team are firmly committed to the plan. Effective integration must therefore address every level of social, business and technological factor that can have an impact on assuring a successful business / technology integration.
Systems Integrators who have a deep & broad understanding of social and business psychology are likely to achieve the best results.
Integrators without knowledge can cause a hell past human imagining.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Executive Shape-shifting: Subversiveness by Proxy

Brand Security expert reveals::
"Look Mike, i am interested in this business, but i just can't get there today". "My sister inlaw needs me to be here for her kids, whilst she takes her uncle Tony to the hopsital". She wouldn't ask but Pete her husband has had to go to work today."Oh by the way, that board meeting you want me to attend on Thursday, no can do! I've got a checkup in the afternoon and there is no way i can cancel. Can you ask Cinthia to switch it to another day next week.
Right thought Mike, someone better start playing the Directors role or this ship is going to end up on the rocks. The phone rings, its Dave - one of Mikes clients.

"Hi Mike, thought i better let you know that our website is on the go-slow again for the tenth time this week". "James (other director) was working on it last week, but he never did get back to me." "I wouldn't bang on about it, but my MD is telling me that unless it gets fixed, we're going to have to reconsider our working relationship".

"Right Dave, i'm right on too it!". I'll be back within the hour".

Mike calls James. "Hi James, i know you can't make it in today mate, but Dave says their website is on the go-slow again and i need you to take a look at it now". Ok Mike, i'll dial in and take a look at it, but the problem is likely to be with the speed of their network. Everytime i test the site, it runs within the service level agreement guidelines. Listen James, can you test it out and then give Dave a ring to inform him of how we move forward, i'm just about to go into a meeting with the accountants to discuss this years annual report and then i've got a meeting with the bank manager to extend the terms of that loan.
"Well i'll try, said James" and then rung off.

Later on in the day Dave calls. "Oh", said Mike, "did James not call you back". "Yes he phoned back, said Dave, but he didn't resolve anything". "Right", said Mike, "i'm going to get on to him right away". No don't worry said Dave, i really rung to say how sorry i am to hear the news". "What news!" said Mike. "The news from James about your business being in trouble and that you are unlikely to be able to service us in the future!". I mentioned it to the MD and he has also expressed his condolences too".

Help, thought Mike!


Mike explained as best he could that the company was going through a period of transition and that a new investor was coming onboard, but as his last words left his lips - he knew that his biggest customer was now heading out the door. Probably to never return and worst still to fan the flames of the rumour still wider.

James left the company shortly after, with his head held high and personal integrity seemingly intact. But his subversive efforts were never, ever forgotten.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Executive Desire:: Its lack of passion that dilutes brand equity!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
What's the difference between building a business and building a brand?
We like to think the answer to the question is "its the difference between pride and passion on one hand and practical business management on the other. The difference between love and knowing on one hand and marriage and convenience on the other. The difference between dreams of shared riches on one hand and pragmatic calculation on the other. The difference between revelation and infectious belief on one hand and an accountancy exercise on the other.

To executives who concentrate on brand (not business), brand is a reflection of greatness of honesty and integrity. A thing of beauty to be shared, to be nurtured, to be caressed. Like a lover, like a friend. For those who have set their belief in you. For those who have invested in your vision. Invested in your love.

How many executives today, really understand this feeling? How many of them have built visions out of nothing? Taken a risk with their career to articulate them to those who know and dare? To arrive at a point where their infecticous belief turns dream into investment reality. To one day awake and see the reflection of their love and dedication within a truly international brand. To see that brand being consumed by thousands of customers. To see that brand equity grow and grow each day and to direct it towards a multi-million dollar brand equity sale.

How many executives today truly understand the sheer enormity of travelling such a path?

How so fewer understand travelling such a path, only later to fail? How many could ever travel this path and how many fewer still could cope with the alternating emotional roller coaster of success, then failure? Of risk and then no-risk? Of light, then darkness? Of passion, then passionatelessness. Of total acceptance, then total redundancy?

Like a broken face peering into a fractured mirror, doth the war-torn self-brand will itself into tangible fruition again.

There are many who understand business. Many who can turn their hand to task.

But few who understand the true mysteries of brand.

Hire executives who deal in passion, not those who deal only in practicality.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Flyboy Recruitment agents damaging trust in the financial services sector

Brand Kller Robots reveal::
Douglas, a good friend of mine called me to say that he needed to speak to me about a problem he was having finding work. He said if he didn't speak to someone soon he would probably find the nearest sky scrapper, climb to the top and jump off. Douglas was a real high flyer (forgive the pun), he'd held executive positions in 4 out of 5 of the top blue chip banking organisations in the UK, but after taking time out to have a nervous breakdown, had recently taken voluntary redundancy. Not being the kind of guy to bunker in and dumb down for years, he thought he'd try and secure employment back as a business analyst.

Well, first off, no one wanted him back in the banking business. No one said it, but, well perhaps he was too much of a risk - given he'd has a full on nervous breakdown. After six months of lonely, unsuccessful job searching following the "Pull up your Parachute" How to get a job book, Douglas decided to throw himself at half a dozen recruitment agents. After a few weeks of discussion and umpteen reconfigurations of his Resume, Douglas finally was invited to interview for four BA posts.

His agents were extremely well spoken, upstanding (looking anyway) positive in their approach and promised that with his background, the whole thing would be a breeze.

After two hours driving he arrived at the First interview where he was pumped for as much information on the competition as time would allow, the result being that the agent informed him that the employer had decided to review the role further and would be in touch shortly. He didn't hear back!

Second interview, he was pumped for as much information as possible on past employers, the result - he was told that the recruitment agent in question had resigned and no record existed to support his interview. Six weeks later he received an email from the same agent, but now working for a different agency. Even more worrying was the email contained 300 other addresses for business analysts, which had obviously been borrowed from the candidate database of the original agency.

Third interview, he was pumped for as much information as possible on past projects, the result - he was told by the recruitment agent that they were unable to get any response back from the hiring company and he never ever heard from them again.

Fourth interview, he turned up, but they said he must have the interview dates mixed up, he called the agent but they were away from their desk and the colleagues said they would call back. He never heard back from them again.

£200 later, stripped of self-esteem and racked with major anxiety and stress Douglas gave up and gave me the call.

Poor old Douglas I felt. Better make sure i've got plenty of scotch in the cabinet when he arrives.

To cut a long story short, Douglas finally secured employment with a leading investment bank in London. He is now Head of Outsourcing where he definately does not invite the four recruitment agents mentioned above to tender for major contracts.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Executive Intelligence Warfare : Deploying Moles in the Camp to save your brand.

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Parachuted in to the company under cover and with a limited brief, James the Agent Provocateur quickly began to get to grips with the tricky jungle terrain. First the players. Who are they, what's their motivation and how are they grouped. Second, where are the problems? Not the ones people tell you about, but the ones that lay deep in the malignant body of the causes?
Finally, whats to do about it?

Executive Meeting One:: Conclusion:: This place is run by a bunch of prima donnas and a loyal but heavily submissive workforce.
Executive Meeting Two:: Conclusion:: No effective systems in place to support and promote healthy, transparent inter-departmental communications.
Executive Meeting Three:: Conclusion:: These guys are lucky that they're still in business.

Action1:: Reassure workforce that new systems are being introduced to support them.
Action2:: Deploy intelligence unit to design and implement inter-departmental communication systems.
Action3:: Seek buy-in from Prima donnas [DENIED]
Action4:: Recruit moles from inside Prima donna departments
Action5:: Demonstrate to board value of new communications
Action6:: Executive Buy-in
Action7:: Prima donna buy-in [CONFIRMED]
Action8:: Time to Bail-out

bye bye...

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Internet Trolls : Provocative Communications - How far should moderators go to defend your brand?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Last week we put a post up on the BBC 606 website that went something like this. If Alonso wins Formula 1 and it is clear that the whole thing was rigged, then we will never, ever watch F1 again.
It came straight from the heart. We felt that the FIA were fiddling around in issues that had absolutely nothing to do with them and were if anything designed to discredit Mclaren even further and threatened to tarnish the sport entirely, rather than reinforce confidence and trust.

So when we got the response back from BBC moderators that our post was rejected on grounds of criteria set by the BBC, it made us feel like we were a bunch of Internet Trolls. Here is the definition.

As defined by Wiki 15.10.07
An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang is someone who intentionally posts controversial or contrary messages in an on-line community such as an on-line discussion forum with the intention of baiting users into an argumentative response.

It is true, we are anything other than non-controversial. Always have been, always will be - A BIT. But come on guys! What kind of moderation is this? Especially as our post was a response to a seemingly provocative debate, along side debates such as "Mosley, are you a Hypocrite?".

But as with many message board services, we don't have a right of reply to the moderator, we just have to shut up or change our post to something that is acceptable.
Suffice to say, we erased our presence from all of the message boards, including 606 and then went a little crazy later on and dumped our entire BBC membership in the trashcan.

Advice being to monitor member posts over a period of time in order to determine if they have are behaving as trolls, rather than determining intent on the basis of one fairly innocuous post.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Video Game Piracy:: Multi-Dimensional Brand-Level Security Strategies Required

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Anyone who has worked for a video games publisher knows about the impact that piracy is having on the industry. They know that there are a million different ways to prevent the criminals from stealing or forging their wares, all of which have failed to make any significant impact - relatively speaking.

Publishing people also know that unless they remain focused on their core task, that of building great games, the issue of security is largely irrelevant. No game, no publishing business, no need for security!

Analysis, conducted in 2002 and financed by one of the UK's leading publishers concluded that there are three parts to security in the video game publishing industry.

Part 1 being technological solutions to security, Part 2 specifying the use of the power of media communications, in conjuntion with strategic relations with partners, the police and governing bodies with Part 3 offering a product management solution. The analysis concluded that publishers had been more successful combining part 1 and part 2 elements to form security strategies for combating piracy, as opposed to simply implementing part 1 and part 2 strategies separately. Furthermore, the analysis revealed a new dimension that is largely innovation driven, in the sense that if game content was launched in the marketplace at such a time and at such a velocity it could undermine the efforts of pirate organisations.

Furthermore, the analysis concluded that for publishers to stay ahead of the pirate distribution curve, that they must position their production operations "to make more games faster". With more games hitting more windows in the marketplace, the advance of pirates would be dramatically repelled. Furthermore, the analysis concluded that object orientated techniques, agile project management methods, centralised automated compilation and art rendering and design and franchise reusability be implemented in order to proliferate the delivery of products, along with investment in R&D in the area of high-value, low aesthetic content design.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Executive Procrastination: could it be the greatest threat to the security of your brand ever?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
"So the big question is this one". "We need to work out editorial policy and an accompanying technology strategy that enables us to store a specific type of customer sensitive data securely. "It is important that there is concensus on this, so you will need to ensure all parties are fully bought into the loop". "So we leave it to you to ensure that this is done as quickly and effectively as possible".

It's not everyday that you wind up leading a team of some 30 executives for one of the biggest online businesses in the world, with a noble remit that ensures the protection of millions and millions of subscribers.

So where do you start? Should you begin by doing a little background research, followed by drawing up an agenda for an initial meeting of the executive team. This seems to be the way my predecessors have approached it - although, they never seemed to have solved the problem themselves? Or should i arrange a meeting with the board of Directors before i meet the executive team, to engender the fullest support of the ultimate decision makers?

Is there another way of doing this, i thought? Well lets look at the question!

The question is "how do we store a specific type of sensitive data securely?".

So, taking in mind that there has already been a great many abortive attempts at reaching a satisfactory conclusion on this question, I conclude that there must be deeper issues regarding reaching a concensus over the storage of this type of sensitive data. This was confirmed after calls to a handful of executives.

I concluded that the supposed starting question of "how do we store sensitive data?", should be altered to "should we store this specific type of sensitive data?". I concluded that the question of "should we store?" should have been asked before "how we store?".

Furthermore i concluded that the reason for the numerous failed attempts of arriving at a satisfactory conclusion was not a breakdown in the application of communications to determine an outcome. Rather it was a failure in determining the most effective starting point - "the initial question".
I further concluded that given the fact that this data was being collected, that subscribers had already been placed at risk for some 5 years and that urgent measures should now be rushed through to mitigate the risk. Executive procrastination should now take a back seat to customer data protection and to the security of the company's good name.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Executive Silence: making brands a target in the future?

Brand Killer Robots reveal:
How many times have you written a very nice email to someone, who totally ignores it and you know they did? You might have been offering some advice, or helping them in some other way. Hell, you might have just been saying "Hello".

What does it feel like to be ignored? What does it feel like to know that you said something to someone - and they simply ignored you, like you were nothing, nobody and nowhere. How does it feel - Mr crappy, nobody?

Do you want to go back to them and tell them how you feel? What would you say? How would they respond?

"Wait", you might say!!!!!..... "what would happen if i got it all wrong? Perhaps they're on holiday or perhaps their email system went down and my message was lost so they never saw it"!

"Ok, so i'll send the same email again and wait for a response". "Perhaps this time i'll set the message for a read receipt so i know that they got it this time". "Well, what if they got the first message and are just thinking about a response and i sent another email with a read receipt". "Perhaps they're going to think twice about responding at all". "So perhaps i'll wait another week and then send my email without a read receipt request, then think about what to do after that ".
So you wait a week and don't hear back so you send a message again without a read receipt. You wait two more weeks, don't hear back so you send the email with a read receipt attached. You never get a read receipt back. Right you think, "they got the messages and they were so ugly toward me, they couldn't be bothered to respond and they tried to cover it up by not even answering my request for a read receipt".

"Something has happened here to our relationship". "Why don't they respond?" "Why are they being so mean to me?" "This is a direct attack on who i am!" "They want to bring me to my knees!" "They have all the power now and i have none!". "I thought they were my friend".
"What am i going to do to get back at them?" "What can i do now?"
"Whatever it is i do, i'm going to make sure I break their silence".

Friday, 12 October 2007

'Defensive Security Domain' or 'Offensive Security Domain' - You choose!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Talk to most security consultants and the theme of their advice would be to park your goods in the middle of the road and then deploy sentries to defend against the incoming.

They will tell you that it is very important to get inside the mind of your attackers so that you can understand what is happening to you - when it happens to you!

They'll also tell you that no security measure will ever stop a perpertator hell bent on mischief and that the Internet is just so vast that incoming threats could come from anywhere, at anytime and using a multitude of fake identities.

All of which is significant unless you are thinking about security from the perspective of an unconventional 'non-victim state' security posture.

There are two base security postures in existence; posture 1 relates to the defensive security domain (DSD); which began life as instinctive behaviour in prehistoric times to defend against predators and has been adopted throughout history in wars and civil strife. Much of today's business and information security practices are based on the concept of the defensive security domain.

"Placing your goods in the middle of the road and deploying sentries to defend against the incoming".

In others words the defensive security domain uses the 'victim state posture i.e "If someone sneaks up on me and says boo, i'm going to jump, run for cover, then try to ID them and take action later, if i can".

Posture 2 relates to the offensive security domain (OSD); which started life in the CIA, MI6 and other such agencies. OSD use a predatory (non-victim state) posture to ensure perpertrators are taken out before they ever arrive at their destination. OSD relies heavily on tactics that make it difficult for an attacker to lock on to the intended target and utilises brand level security assessments and intelligence profiling techniques.

"Constantly shifting your goods out of harms way, whilst deploying agents to locate and take the predators out - before they ever begin to show up on your doorstep".

A typical example of a defensive security domain (DSD) application would be a firewall, a penetration testing exercise or any security awareness campaign. A typical example of an offensive security domain (OSD) application would be a roaming honeypot device designed to detect and track subversive behaviour, a targeted surveillance campaign or a 'bogus download' that pinpoints the location of a media pirate.

Whatever it is you have invested in you need to identify from your company risk register just what should be protected by conventional security measures (DSD) and just what ought to be added to a new security strategy that will become part of your offensive security domain (OSD).
Why take on a rigid, victim like security posture, when you have the means to fly?

Why watch your business be ripped apart bit by bit, when you have the means to severe all the heads of the beast before it ever arrives on your doorstep?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Why schizophrenia could be an asset to your brand - A defective or beautiful mind?

Brand Killer Robot reveal::
How many extremely smart people with mental illnesses have been ostracized by their peers and constructively dumped out in the middle of nowhere by the management team of the day? How many of these people could have added significantly to your brand, if you found it in your heart to understand them? Ask yourself, how much investment would it have taken to do this and more importantly - what might the return on investment have been?

If we all thought the same - how competitive might we be?
If we were all unwilling to challenge - how competitive might we be?
If we were all unable to accept each others differences - how effective as human beings might we be?
Anyone with a background living with MPS (multiple personality syndrome) or schizophrenia would be able to tell you just how competitive you could have been. Attached is a rather enlightening article for you, discussing the creative mind of schizophrenia sufferer Stuart Baker-Brown.

Produced by the BBC entitled "The beautiful mind"
Stuart Baker-Brown, 43, a photographer and writer based in Dorset, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996. On World Mental Health Day, he delivers a unique personal insight into how his condition has nurtured his artistic expression.
In the past, schizophrenia has broken my life and taken away many of life's opportunities, such as work and the ability to interact with society and family or even myself.
The symptoms have been very disabling and destructive and have included psychosis (delusion and hallucinations) which is understood to be a disturbance of sensory perception and creates the inability to recognise reality from the unreal.

Other daily symptoms, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces, paranoia and fear of persecution, have made life very difficult to cope with.
There is also the stigma and discrimination attached to the condition, especially the perceived link to violence - less than 1% of those diagnosed are violent towards others.
I believe the condition is very misunderstood, especially the link with creativity.

The Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky; Nobel prize winner in economics, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind); novelist, poet and writer, Jack Kerouac; and musicians such as Peter Green, Syd Barrett and James Beck Gordon have all either experienced, or are believed to have experienced, schizophrenia in some form.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Commercial Analyst or Spy - Did you open yourself up to Corporate Espionage?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
In the world of commercial analysis, it seems that there are a hundred different job titles for almost every role. Everything from technical, networking, data and systems analysts on a technical level and business analysts, information analysts, competitive and business intellgence analysts on a business level. Then there are even more specialised types of analyst such as stock market analysts, underwriting analysts, financial analysts and business systems analysts.

With such a diverse array of analysis talent on show, how can hiring managers ensure they are selecting the most appropriate level of analyst - and more importantly hiring analysts they can trust? In other words, how do they ensure that they are hiring people who have the right intentions - not the wrong intentions? How can they tell when they interview them?

It is our experience that many UK executives are failing to conduct proper checks on analysis staff prior to recruitment, prefering to protect the company from any hiring misjudgements by offering short-term contracts or exercising rights by extending periods of probation.

Whilst employment law may protect companies like this from dealing with analysts who have somehow not met the conditions, it does not protect the company from industrial espionage.

In a recent study, a comparative analysis was conducted which investigated the behaviour of military intelligence analysts versus that of their commercial analyst counterparts.

It was clear from the investigation that military intelligence analysts asked very different questions than that of commercial analysts. Military Intelligence analysts were highly objective, impersonal and non-specific in their approach whereas commercial intelligence analysts were highly subjective - preferring to concentrate on the specific labels and subject matters of the company, rather than obtaining a higher level objective view.

Another difference was in the methodologies of analysis used. Intelligence analysts preferred to develop open methods of analysis, using transparent communications. Whereas business analysts were happier maintaining a less open methodology with closed communications.

Suffice to say that infiltrators prefer to install devices and mechanisms to encourage staff to do the knowledge acquisition, requirements gathering and even the analysis work for them, thereby freeing the analyst to concentrate on the real purpose of their engagement i.e trawling for secrets (espionage). Whereas the business analyst would be so absorbed by the burden of using conventional business analysis techniques for acquisition and analysis that he or she would only be able to concentrate on what he was being paid to do.
If any advice were to be offered to managers in this respect it would be to hire and train analysts from within, rather than seek them from outside. In the Competitive Intelligence business, there is no substitute for loyalty.

For more information on this study email Stephen at intrench@gmail.com

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Games Publishers not willing to play 'Dirty Games' to defend their brand

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
We used to work for these guys who built a video games business from their bedroom. They spent years doing their stuff and never let anything or anyone get in their way. They carried the responsibility for the wellbeing of hundreds of people at the same time as living with the day to day threat of losing everything they had worked for and loved - because the business ran out of money.

For 20 years these guys kept their heads down, road the wave of fear and made the most beautiful things known to man - "Video Games". Millions of people in the world bought their works, enjoyed their titles and they were heralded from the UK to Timbuktu.

Then one day they awoke to find that all they had worked for was being stolen by lazy b*sta*ds. They were being plundered by Russians. Raped by Australians and ripped off by Americans.
These people were doing it online, offline, inside and outside of their business.
These people were doing it covertly, overtly and pervertly.
These people were doing it for money, for fun - for jealously reasons.
What could they do, thought the two biggest games geniuses on earth?

They thought and thought and tried everything they could. But try as they might - they were not used to playing this type of 'dirty game', so they finally gave up and left the industry.

Never to return again.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Dotcom experience turns Creative Innovators into Security Experts

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Just how many security experts used to be dotcomers, programmers, designers, producers or editors of creative material? Well the answer appears to be that a relatively high proportion came from these backgrounds. On closer inspection the results suggest that many of those with backgrounds in the creative industries became at one time or another disallusioned by their work and many found themselves becoming profoundly more interested in applying their creative and technical talents within the field of information security. Many of today's information security entrepeneurs were in fact executives of dotcom or computer companies in the 1990's.

One could draw the conclusion that these are just the types of people who are prone to chasing the next market trend or wave of hysteria, but analysis suggests that there is more to their motivation, than simply entrepreneurial spirit.

One hypothesis suggests that when you take the beautiful, creative, human spirit and you abuse it in ways that it does not understand, you firstly corrupt it beyond all recognition and secondly turn its will toward concentrating its energies in the ways of trying to defend against attacks from the dark side. Those who are intrinsically good will eventually become what is known as "white hat" security experts or ethical hackers and will turn their energies to fighting fear and injustice within the security arena. Those who were always motivated by some kind of financial gain or some other personal ambition will become "black hats" and become involved in some kind of criminal activity.

It could be said that the cognitive processes that lead to the invention of ideas are the very same processes that can be utilised to manage risk. The only difference being - how the creative mind is conditioned at any point in time.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Executive fear said to be holding back brand performance

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Executive fear is said to be a major obstacle to optimising brand performance. Top of the fear list is losing your job, closely followed by fear of humiliation in the workplace.

Many of the UK's top 100 companies are littered with devisive political systems designed to protect executives, rather than defend and improve the value of brands. Executives are said to be concentrating much more of their time on managing their own fear, rather than building fear in the competition. Resistance to change, lack of transparency and high staff turnover are a few of the tell tale signs of executive fear.

A recent reality TV programme by entrepeneur Richard Branson entitled Rebel Billionaire challenged a group of executives to pit their wits against each other in order to win £1million prize. Unlike many similar productions such as "The Apprentice", Richard Branson designed the challenge to find the executive who was least affected by personal fear. Candidates were expected to show high business accumen, passion for their work, but most of all the ability to maintain utmost focus to the cause - whatever adversity they are beset by.
Many of today's executive decisions are made on the basis of how to allay management fears, rather than what is necessarily good for the brand - and utimately it's shareholders.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Executive Desire: Just how far would you go to build a brand?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Someone once said "imagination without reason is a monsterous thing". Another saying that seems to parallel this is, "Science for science sake is evil".

Both sayings symbolise the age old problem of investment monies being spent on projects with flawed intentions.

Worse than this is the billions of dollars of funding being poured into gravely subversive projects like the US Military project which pioneered research into a "gay bomb" that makes enemy troops "sexually irresistible" to each other. Chemical warfare at its most subversive.

Analysis into the psychology of the R&D scientists behind such projects has revealed startling personality traits, that can only be described as cowardly, immature and high minded.

What appears on the surface to be a credible way to fight a war, where nobody needs to get killed, because they're all supposedly shacked up in an orgy, is in fact one of the most sinister kinds of psychological warfare known to man.

Question begs, how far would you or your executives go to build a brand that will place you right at the top in the history books? In 100 years from now, would you prefer your name to be mentioned in the same light as Bill Gates - or worst still, Genghis Khan!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Conspiracy Theorists: A Threat to your people and your brand

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Yes the truth is out. We're all going to die! Lady Diana was killed by Lizards, who were left behind by the martians who built the pyramids - and David Icke is going to be the next President of America, with Michael Moore playing deputy Pres.

For the vast majority of people, the rational mind will process such creative paranoia and place it in the memory bank marked "fiction". But for those who are the most vulnerable in our society this concoction of facts mixed with fabrication can become very real. In fact there are people out there who are so much in need of an escapism fix, they actually believe every conspiracy that is spun out of the squal.

This is not so much a problem when confined to healthy hobbies, such as collecting memoribilia built on a conspiratorial franchise such as "the Matrix", or when you head off for a weekend in the woods to reenact, a fictional battle - such as King Arthur. Where the problem really lies is where your staff begin to blur the lines of workplace reality with rampant fantasy.

We recall the story where an employee who was a Matrix fan decided that the management team of the day were in fact Lizards, dressed in human attire. Had his problem remained an issue of perspective nothing untoward would have happened. Trouble was his behaviour began to become greatly more hostile than was appropriate, until one day he finally went ballistic and shot half of his colleagues dead.

Whether you believe this, that or the other - matters not. What does matter is your mental health.

Such content should be accompanied by a Government Health Warning. Approach with care. This content can seriously damage your health - and perhaps that of others.

Keep it real guys!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Brands that get locked in by software oursourcing suppliers

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Think of your IT systems and business application software as a map of territory, some of which you own and some of which your third party suppliers own. Now sit down and consider, which are the most critical areas of your business operations and where you could be exposed to supplier lockin strategies. You need to look at the areas of potential exposure and consider the following:

1. How big a risk is 'supplier intrenchment' to my business?

2. How can i reduce the risk of exposure from IT intrenchment?

You need to consider if switching IT to another provider or in-house is simple, cost effective and technically achievable?

More than one acquisition candidate has been caught out when acquisition and merger specialists calculated high dependency on third party suppliers, which was too great a risk for the buyers of the business, products or intellectual property .

Watch out for high supplier lockin factors. It may be great for the technology provider - but fatal for you!

How not to hire a security consultant

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
So this IT security guy at a major investment bank in London says, "hello Mr X, thank you for coming along today to interview for the position of security consultant with ABC Merchant Bank".

He says, "what we're really looking for is someone who has a good level of understanding of business level security matters, because the current IT team are only really competent in Microsoft technology level security". Mr X replies, "so what do you mean by business level security". After a brief pause the IT security guy says "well i don't mean site security or business contiguency security, i guess we're really talking about is any other type of security beyond IT, office and disaster recovery". Mr X replies, "so what specifically do you mean?".

IT security guy finally cracks and says, "well...... we're really concerned that nobody is in control of the gaps which exist between the different areas of security specialism in our company". "What really frightens us, is that if this information leaks out and we become a target for every one and its cat, from our most fierce competitors to the hacker guy working out of his basement in Atlanta.

"I see", said Mr X, "so when do you want me to start?". By this time IT security guy has built up sufficient confidence in the candidate Mr X, to offer him the job on the spot.

Several days later, the recruitment agent calls to say that the company in question has had second thoughts about hiring Mr X, as the information gleened from the interview had lead them to the conclusion that they must restructure their entire security operations forthwith.
Had Mr X been a black hat, he might have sought revenge in a multitude of different ways, from hacking their highly visible UNIX systems, to dropping a line or two to some interested parties or perhaps even having a whisper in the chief executives ear.

Executive Fraud: The biggest killer of commercial brands ever

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Week 1 CEO Email to all staff: "Dear everyone, I just wanted to say as your CEO how happy i am with everyones contribution this year. I believe that we are well on the road to acheiving our goals in 2006 and with greater effort in the last quarter, breaking through the £50million premium".

"Special thanks go to Don Simpson who as you all know has been with the company more than 20 years and will shortly be undertaking a part-time role, because of ill health".

"Don has been a great servant to the company and we will miss his integrity and loyalty to the cause".

Week 2 CEO Email to all staff: "Dear everyone, it is with great concern that i have to inform you that we have had to terminate Don Simpson's contract of employment because we have found major discreprencies in the affairs of the claims department. We cannot say any more than this is now a police matter and we will be in touch in due course".

Who would ever want to be a CEO of an insurance underwriting company?