Great Potato Exercise

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.

Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato bags.

Then try 50-lb potato bags and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I’m at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

Cry me a ransom

Picture this. A busy office building, people everywhere, energy, tension, excitement, hustle, bustle… Phones are ringing, e-mails are flying, and computer keyboards are being hit non-stop. This is life in the fast lane.

In the typical modern corporation there will be strategic objectives and operational parameters, and of course, weekly reports, monthly goals, quarterly targets. And there is constant pressure to bring in the numbers. So, it is not uncommon to find stressed out people that are literally on the treadmill from the time they wake up until the time they hit their beds and collapse.

Long hours seems to be the norm for so many. And there is this never-ending pressure to check your messages. It used to be just e-mail but these days it is also WhatsApp and Slack and LinkedIn, and the occasional phone message (some people still do leave voice mail messages), and then there is social media, which is an abyss all on its own. The constant anxiety to stay up-to-date. Yes, stress is all around us, and it only seems to be getting more intense.

To hear someone joke, er, complain, about the pressures of modern day life is pretty common. So picture this now for a moment. A busy office worker talking to their manager :

I really need a few days off. I am just exhausted.

What’s the problem?

I am just tired of being on the phone all day, talking to customers, every day. It is exhausting. And some of the people are so rude.

Perhaps you just had a bad day. Tomorrow will be better. Come in a bit later tomorrow and try get some sleep tonight.

Ja, perhaps you are right. It was just…  this one guy today… I spoke with him 3 times and every time it was so painful.

Now, think about this for a minute … what business are they in?

Are they selling something over the phone? An insurance product? A mobile phone offering? Or perhaps this is travel service?

Maybe. But, how about this : organized crime. No jokes. Yes, the modern company I am describing in this story today are in the ransomware industry.

And this company has an HR department, and thirteenth cheques, and career paths, and mentorship programmes… yup.

Mafia are online these days, and they are extorting companies and people using malicious software (malware). It is big business, and it is professionally run and it is growing fast.

In the last month the world heard about WannaCry – this is going to continue. Ransomeware is big business.

When you think of computer hackers, think of high tech office buildings, complete with canteens and corporate pubs, and with modern day stresses.

This is the new world of online organized crime – modern, sophisticated, and yes, twisted.