Conference Keynote: The future as an ever-evolving attack surface

I was invited to speak last week at the annual cybersecurity conference hosted by AusCERT, at The Star Hotel on the Gold Coast. The conference theme was “Back to the Future”, and the topic I chose was ‘The Future as an Ever-Evolving Attack Surface’, which I thought might be interesting enough to hold the many-ways-divided attention of the assembled crowd of very busy cyberfolks. And the feedback does seem to have borne this out, I’m pleased to say.

The MC for the event was Adam Spencer, and it was a good deal of fun to relate to him over breakfast the following story I used to tell my students in the Masters program (see under the de Bono Principle on the scanning heuristics page).

Back in late 2004, a Federal election was to be held in Australia. Adam Spencer and Wil Anderson used to co-host a morning show on one of the radio stations (JJJ) on the national broadcaster, the ABC. As this was an election, naturally many politicians would be travelling the length and breadth of the continent, huckstering for votes. Adam and Wil did a particularly memorable segment, introducing it by saying “Listen, Young Folk! Soon, pollies of all persuasions will be coming to your electorates to try to win your vote. What sorts of language or expressions should they use to get your attention, or capture your interest?”

Several calls followed, two of which I always recall.

One said: “You’re talking ‘showbags’!”

“What do you mean?” they asked.

“Well, what’s a show bag full of …?”

“Ah, crap.”


The second call simply said: “DILLIGAF!”

The hosts sought clarification.

“It stands for: ‘Do I Look Like I Give A F…?”

The reason I even heard these at all is because of the use I made of The De Bono Principle in my scanning – purposefully seeking out novelty from sources I might not ordinarily use. The process was to change the radio tuning each morning as I drove to work by exactly one station in the current direction it was heading (up the dial, down the dial, …, etc). It had to be either on or off, but it was not allowed to be changed for something else. That is how I ended up listening to Adam and Wil on JJJ that morning nearly 20 years ago…

As a further bit of fun, when I moved cities some years later, I eventually ended up seeing the phrase DILLIGAF as bumper stickers on three separate cars on three separate occasions in quick succession over a few weeks. This then obviously activated the Goldfinger Principle, and I was able to excitedly say to my colleagues and students, “Aha! DILLIGAF finally seen in the wild!”

And that might be a good cue to re-visit the scanning heuristics page for a quick refresher , wouldn’t you say?

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