Imagine your employer has been hit by a malicious attack. If everyone in the company is instantly alerted the company could be saved. If not, everyone’s life falls apart. You need to explain the situation with the utmost speed and clarity to everybody. This is your only hope of getting them to understand the gravity of the situation and to galvanise them into collective action. Your LinkedIn profile says you are “passionate about security” and it’s your ‘mission’ to explain.
So, how do you alert people that they need to act instantly? You put out a message headed “Zero Day Exploit”.
Momentarily, everyone is stunned. What on earth does this odd phrase mean? To regular English speakers, it doesn’t have any logic. If you were to put this phrase into an English language compiler, it would come up multiple error messages. It contains two illogically juxtaposed nouns for a start. And the third word, a verb, doesn’t seem to make any sense in this context either.
So instead of taking affirmative action, half the readers of this memo will be puzzled by this apparent non-sequitur. What’s Barry from IT trying to say? There are no days to exploit? What does that even mean? Maybe he’s saying we should live life to the full. Is this an inspirational lifestyle tweet that he’s decided to share? What’s he on about? Eventually the users will shrug and give up, joining the other half of the workforce who ignore everything from IT.
A tiny minority of the workforce will be familiar with IT jargon, and realise that, for no apparent reason, the verb ‘exploit’ is being used here as a noun. And the term ‘Zero Day’ means ‘on the same day’. So a zero day exploit is an attack, that is happening now, and there’s no time to lose. Why didn’t you just say that Barry? You could have been the solution - but instead you became part of the problem. We should have ‘zero tolerance’ for these over complicators.
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