The Witches of Adams Hall
What Are Risk Scenarios?
Each Risk Scenario consists of two parts — The Scenario and The Analysis.
Part 1: The Scenario (15 minutes) Read The Scenario and answer integrated poll questions that solicit your approach or feedback to the situation. The Scenario is based on hypothetical situations that showcase emerging risks.
Part 2: The Analysis Review key themes in the Summary, access relevant articles and resources, learn about existing products and discuss the scenario with other participants.
Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.
As dawn broke over Boston, collegiate rowers were already knifing through the grey, green-tinged waters of the Charles River in their shells in twos, fours and eights. There was mist on the ground and through it could be seen the blooms of daffodils and azaleas along the walking path that meandered next to the river.
In her dorm room in Adams Hall, Marijke Haddon, an electrical engineering and computer science major, had been up all night and was still hard at work. Just down the hall, so too were her close friends, Greta Milne and Lindsey Rosen.
The three sophomores had been particularly quiet these past three weeks. They had recently come under the influence of Dierdre Livingstone, a political science professor who had become infamous among the faculty for her tendency toward virulent socialist and feminist rhetoric. Another influence, rooted in modern paganism, or Wicca, had influenced the coeds to the point that they had started calling themselves The Witches.
Spurred on by numerous lattes quaffed at a local Coffee Shop, unfiltered nicotine, little sleep and their worship of Livingstone (they could quote whole paragraphs of her book “The Dollar Dragon”), The Witches came to the conclusion that they would use their technology skills to right some perceived wrongs. The three tech-savvy students had been hackers since high school and they were very good at it. Now, they wanted to do something to make their teacher proud.
Oblivious to the spring dawn unfolding outside her shuttered dorm room window, Marijke pushed the “enter” button on her computer, saw what she had done then turned to her iPhone and texted a brief, triumphant message.
“Done!” came the spark of the instant messages to Greta and Lindsey’s iPhone 6S’s. Marijke’s brilliant green eyes flashed as she held her clenched hand to her lips in excitement: She felt the tingles along her scalp under her bleached and dyed dreadlocks threaded with tiny sea shells and multicolored beads.
Marijke, the daughter of Jungian therapists from Mill Valley, Calif., had reason to be proud of herself and her friends. Using a combination of techniques and focusing on a specific weakness they identified in a ubiquitous email server, The Witches had stolen entire email databases from thousands of companies, both large and small.
The massive amount of data (more than 25 terabytes) was stored amongst hundreds of hacked servers around the world configured to create a virtual RAID-5 array. The beauty of the architecture was that even if as much as 20 percent of the servers failed or were brought down, the system would still function. The Witches were confident that this combination of disbursed storage and redundancy would make it very difficult to shut down the database.
But The Witches were not done yet. Big Data is only as valuable as the meaning that can be derived from it. To that end, The Witches’ crowning achievement was their creation of TRUTH, a search engine that not only made the database searchable by company, topic or executive, but also formatted results to read like dialogue in a novel. Accessible via multiple webpages and apps, TRUTH results were also easily shared and distributed via email, text and social networks.
The Witches’ accomplishment represented a quantum leap beyond Wikileaks. Rather than a massive document dump, this was an organized and highly secured system that presented results understandable to all and easily shared.
Like all well designed user interfaces, the system was dead simple and required no instructions. The Witches pushed out their creation to the world through all available social networks, with a sample search that was sure to grab headlines:
“Discover the #TRUTH. Search ‘Om-Orange and Cheap Labor’ at www.SeeTheTruth.com”.
(The Scenario continues on page 2)