I was walking in San Francisco yesterday and noticed a number of strangely-dressed, odd-looking people whose eyes kept moving rapidly left and right, as if they were watching Serena Williams.
And then I remembered the city was hosting RSA, the highly influential security conference.
With remarkable coincidence, I've just received some survey results from one of the attendees, a company called nCipher. These people appear to offer security for your security. Goodness, if ever there was a need, this is surely it.
Anyway, the survey.
1,000 Americans were asked some fundamental questions about their personal cybersecurity. The results are both riveting and depressing.
17.6 percent of these Americans admitted that their identities had, indeed, been stolen.
Only 17.6 percent, I hear you sniff. It seems that every day there's yet another security breach that releases millions of personal details to the underworld, the netherworld and the four corners of cyberworld.
Figures for 2017 suggest 16.7 million Americans had their identities thieved. It can only have been much worse in 2018.
Here, though, the survey adds more darkness. A further 16.5 percent of Americans confessed they had no idea whether their identity had been stolen or not.
Could it be, then, that as many as 34.3 percent of Americans have had their personal security actively compromised?
Naturally, the surveyors asked even more searching questions.
Who, for example, should be fired when a security breach occurs? 38 percent said organizations should fire their chief information security officer. 31 percent also want the chief technology officer to walk the plank.
Oh, and a fulsome 38 percent insisted there should be laws by which C-level executives who don't keep consumer data safe could be personally fined or tossed in jail. Which, oddly, means that 62 percent of these people were unreasonably kindly souls.
- Remove yourself from the internet and erase your online presence
- Forgot password? Five reasons why you need a password manager
- How Winston can protect consumers and smart offices from identity thieves TechRepublic
- Data breaches can sucker-punch you. Prepare to fight back CNET
My greatest respect, however, goes to a certain 20 percent of respondents who said they didn't trust anyone to protect their data.
Aren't these the greatest realists? Aren't they the people who see that the web's rapid development has incited an insecure madness that may never be adequately rectified?
Of course, promises of security will be made. Some people will get lucky.
But when organizations won't even tell their customers that a breach happened or when it happened until it's months or even years later, why should anyone hope for more?
We're hopelessly exposed and there's simply no cover.