HACKERS & POWER
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
25 June 2020
When I contemplate the word and the concept of peace, I think about humanity. I think about singing Kumbaya by a fire while holding hands with people I love and people I’ve never met. I think about wars ending. I think of my children’s smiles. I think of closing my eyes at night knowing I’m proud of what I accomplished that day. I think of a peaceful meditation playing on my phone. I never used to think of my server humming along uncompromised, until recently.
Has your website ever been hacked? It’s feels almost as violating as someone stealing your identity or breaking into your car. How did they get in? What could I have done to prevent this situation? Who would do this? And why?
Power and Control
I remember sitting in my third-grade classroom. I was the new girl in school. I hadn’t moved, but my parents could no longer afford to send me to the private Catholic school I had been attending, so I now attended the local public school. Sure, I knew a few neighborhood kids, but they weren’t in my class. It was me and a bunch of kids I didn’t know. I was a sociable kid, but when you’re the new girl in class, it takes some time to find out who your friends are. Kids aren’t overly warm and inviting. They’re more likely to see you as the outcast.
Either my teacher was lazy or trying to teach us responsibility, but she would have us grade each other’s spelling tests. Having even one tiny bit of power over one student felt amazing. In an environment in which I felt like I had no control over my circumstances, I did have power over one person’s grade. Make no bones about it, I loved when there was a misspelling. I would so happily mark it wrong, knowing I could’ve let the mistake slide. If I was going to be picked on, I was going to get revenge.
Thirty-five-year-old JoAnna cringes while writing that story. Why did I derive so much joy out of someone else’s inadequacies? Why did power give my developing brain so much pleasure? I’d love to grade some spelling tests these days. I know instead of cheering for the errors, I’d cheer for the successes. Two wrongs do not make a right. I’ve since learned that lesson loud and clear.
The Power of Love
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I may not have control or power over the hacker that broke into my server. But I do have power and control over myself. I’m not going to allow said hacker to get me unhinged. Instead, I’m going to learn how and why it happened and ensure it doesn’t happen in the same way again. I can’t control the way anyone else feels or sees the world. I can’t ensure they aren’t getting pleasure out of my missteps. But I can keep moving along, embracing the imperfect humanity in others and learning about the imperfections in myself.
Now that the immediate threat has passed, my thoughts of peace will include an inbox without emergent notes pertaining to account security and the gentle hum of a server peacefully doing its routine assignments. If that sweet little server were tangibly here now, I’d likely play it a peaceful meditation and softly cheer it on for its successes.