Unusable Money – An Analogy for Data Security

Last year, before the Covid-19 lockdown I was heading home from work. It was a nice evening and I was enjoying the stroll very much. I had the headphones on, the sun was shining, and all was good.

I rounded the corner to head up my street, and out from behind a trash bin jumped a young fella about 22 or so. He was the typical younger guy. Wearing a hoodie, baggy jeans. I thought I recognized him from the neighborhood but was not sure. I was just about to say hello when he told me to give him all my money. He did not have a knife or gun; but was just confident he was going to take it.

I was caught off guard and unsuspecting and being in a distracted frame of mind I told the gent that I would give him my cash but not my wallet or credit cards. Also, I’m not a fighter so throwing down with the gent was not an option. As the guy just seemed eager to get his payout and move on, he agreed immediately. I did not know how much I had in my wallet, but I figured it was about $150. Not that much, in the grand scheme of things I thought.

As I was walking further along though, I got a little angry with myself for having just handed over the money. After a few rationalizing thoughts, I figured there wasn’t much I could have done in hindsight. The young guy caught me by surprise, I didn’t have time to react, I wasn’t thinking about being attacked and I certainly had never thought of employing any personal security. I guess the more I thought about it though, the more I felt like I had dodged a bullet. It could have been a whole lot worse.

For one, I could have had a whole lot more cash on me. Two, the fellow could have taken my wallet with all my id and personal information, pictures, phone numbers…and then I would have been worried about future theft for the rest of my life. Thirdly and this was a big one, I was especially lucky that no one had seem me. I would have been a laughingstock at work and I’m sure my friends would have ridiculed me if they had seen me cave that easily. In fact, I was actually kind of glad the robber got away with it as I would not have wanted to get the police involved. If they caught him, I might have had to go to court or worse yet, get into the newspaper. That was a really scary thought and in my head, so I turned being the victim of a crime into a good thing.

When I got back to my home, I did the usual and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I put the tea pot on and said hello to the cat. Surprisingly, the cat was happy to see me that evening. I had about an hour before I was going to head back out to see a couple of friends for dinner.

After my tea was ready and my cat eating away and having returned to ignoring me, I booted up my home PC and decided to pay my monthly bills.

I am a fairly good internet person and take all my security pretty seriously. I was thinking back to my recent experience of having been robbed and thought how I take my internet security more seriously than I do than my personal life. I have virus protection, use a VPN, utilize secure chat apps and have crazy passwords no one will figure out.

Anyway, after I logged in to my back account I noticed a new deposit of $185. It had been made through a deposit at another branch ATM. The transaction was registered 15 minutes earlier. It really made no sense.

As I was paying my cable bill, I got an email from an unknown address. As I suggested, I am really diligent as to data security, but the Subject Line said, “I’m the guy who just robbed you.” I was too intrigued not to open it. This is what it said.

Hey xxxx (he knew my name)

I’m not sure what went wrong, but the money I took from you just now would not work. I tried using it at 3 places but for some reason the cash was not recognizable to me or the cashier. It was like there is some kind of cloaking device on it that made it useless to me or anyone else. I gave the cash to one of my friends to try using it as well and the same thing happened.

Anyway, as the cash is useless to me or anyone else, I decided to do the unthinkable and give it back. Therefore, I hacked your PIN and put it back in your ATM. I figured any other money I took out would be useless as well so didn’t even bother.

Very clever whatever you got happening there.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Thief and Hacker Guy


Though I was thrilled that my money had not been stolen, I was now upset that the gent had hacked my computer. I need better security on every device.

Though this story is obviously fictitious, it is pretty much a perfect analogy for what Helix22 does for your firm’s data. Even if a breach occurs, your firms data is rendered unreadable and useless to whomever tries to access it. Meanwhile, your original data remains in its original form on your sever.