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"Is that really you?"

Google Duplex is now in public beta

That is the question we are going to need to increasingly answer in a world where the birth rate of AI, robots and drones is far outstripping any human growth rate. I just watched this fascinating video previewing Google Duplex: It shows how Google's forthcoming AI can impersonate a person, having a natural conversation with someone else -- in this case, to book a restaurant reservation. While I love technology and am fascinated about this emerging capability, I am also alarmed that we have found yet another way to unleash counterfeit humans on one another. In the case of this demo, the use is benign and helpful. But we have all seen the movies when technology gets into the hands of villains... What is important to take away from all of this? Get serious about learning how to spot counterfeits. It is a fool's errand to try to stuff the AI genie back into the bottle. But we can start taking the security side of information technology more seriously. Over the past three years, I have been working on ways to help humans from getting hacked, and the issue of counterfeits is at the heart. It may be a counterfeit e-mail (phishing), or a counterfeit scam phone call. It may be bot nets (a network of tiny AI "bots") with the simple charge of pretending to be users accessing a network, with the goal of taking it down (and if we don't change default wifi passwords, we are not anticipating these counterfeits). It may be the person tailgating your badged access into a secure area that looks like they belong -- but we never check their credentials. In the bright sun of the new year, I'm the last person who wants to throw shade on the hope that springs eternal. But in the same way we have to teach our kids to balance possibilities with safety, we need to keep in mind the dangers that lurk around us. My graduate work at MIT was in the area of risk management, and cybersecurity is at its core a risk management game. One must take calculated risks in life and business to fulfill one's potential. But risk taking must be accompanied by risk management: what's my situation? what can I do to reduce the risks I face? how can I develop capabilities over time to increase my resilience in the face of adversity? These questions reflect a risk management posture. At CyberHabits, we help do just this through cultivating the habits of cybersecure cultures. While massive organizations like the military, tech giants and other Fortune 1000 companies must -- and do -- take these steps, the most vulnerable are small and mid-sized businesses. In a world of AI bots, you cannot achieve "security through obscurity" any more. Even if you unplugged all of your computers, a hacker with the ability to exploit something like Google Duplex could wage a cyber attack through the phones. You and your people need to be prepared. The remarkable thing is, there are "ounces of prevention" that yield "pounds of cure," and CyberHabits is committed to making these accessible, affordable and tailored even to smaller organizations. We have some exciting things in store this year. Stay in touch with us by liking this page or visiting us at to learn more. Or try this free cyber health check to get started; Have a happy, safe and secure new year!

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