HackenSack

I was laid off from Sony Pictures last year, but now I cheekily refer to the studio as HackenSack. A few days ago I heard the news that Amy Pascal, the head of Sony Pictures, is stepping down to start her own production company. Amy was always very supportive of me and I enjoyed working on events for her. She’s smart, savvy and has a big heart.

Change is never easy, but always good in the end. I’ve been reminded of this a lot over the past year. One person even going so far as to say, “Without change there wouldn’t be any butterflies.” The cynical New Yorker in me wanted to tell them to go fuck off, but deep down inside I knew they were right and meant well. I find as I get older, change is a much more difficult adjustment to endure. I like routine. If I hadn’t been laid off, right now I’d be sitting in another meeting feeling my brain being sucked out of my left eyeball. So when change happens to you, you have to ride the wave until you land on a brand new shore. Ugh, I think I just puked in my mouth writing that.

The studio has endured many changes over the last year and its most painful moment, the computer hacking by the North Koreans. I felt horrible for my friends at the studio. It wasn’t an easy time for anyone. Who knew Lil’ Kim from NK could be so crazy? If he’d had a good publicist she would have told him, “dude, don’t pull the plug and info dump ‘cause that will just give more publicity to the movie!” And it did. Then the US retaliated and shut off the web. That must have been terribly hard for the ten people in North Korea who have internet service.

I had randomly checked my credit card statement after watching a 60 Minutes report on credit card fraud just after Thanksgiving. I found two charges that weren’t mine. The first for $1 at a Miami limousine company which was followed by a $187 charge at a Walgreens in Sheboygan.

“Are you SURE you’ve never been to Sheboygan?” The rep was grilling me like I’d lie about traveling there.

“I think I would know if I’d been to Sheboygan.” Seriously Sherlock, put your magnifying glass away.

After this thorough interrogation by Citibank they cancelled my card and reissued me a new one. The next day I found out about the breach of 47,000 current and former employees personal information and was quickly sucked into the drama. My personal credit card had been on file in the travel department which is how it had been compromised. I ordered Lifelock to watch my credit and a few weeks later the company offered AllClearID to current and former employees. I just got another alert from LifeLock that my social security number has been listed on a black market website. Good times in these cyber times.

A group was created on Facebook by former employees which quickly grew to over 4000 members where helpful advice was shared on what to do to protect your identity. The amount of information contributed was extremely beneficial in dealing with securing your credit and personal data. While people at Sony would come and go over the years, there was always a common bond that banded us together to help each other out.

Which brings me back to “Change is Good.” It can be uncomfortable, but it prevents stagnancy and boredom. And theft. The biggest takeaway during the hack attack has been to: Change your PASSWORDS frequently! It’s right up there with change your underwear daily, change your tires when they’re bald, and change a diaper when it’s full!

I’m a creature of habit and always hated when that annoying little box would appear on my computer threatening me with ‘you have 3 days until you must change your password.’ Invariably I would wait until the day three when I was pressed for time and had to create a new password. Then I’d forget to write it down or worse scribble it somewhere — a random notebook, Post-It or an old Starbucks cup. Even now, I have pieces of paper littered around my home with passwords cryptically scratched on them. I think I’m fooling someone else by not writing down WHAT that password is for. I only fool myself when I’ve been given three attempts to login to Amazon and get locked out. Damn you InterWeb!

Other companies look at HackenSack as a cautionary tale. No doubt they’re getting their computer systems up to speed security-wise. But then Anthem announced that their computers had been hacked too, most likely by China, and that the information from 80 million current and former customers had been breached. Anthem used to be my health care provider, but all of my personal data was already leaked by North Korea. I hear I’m huge in Pyongyang!

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