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Jeopardy GOATs Buzz In, Security World Groans

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By Tonia Dudley

When Jeopardy invited its top players ever to battle it out, the winner would be crowned the Greatest of All Time (GOAT). Not the Pretty Goodest or the Gosh, Nice Try-est. And certainly not the Wow, You Very Nearly Failed-est.

But when three acclaimed geniuses hit the buzzers last week, those were the titles they earned in the cybersecurity category. The contestants missed two out of five. No big deal? Normally not, but these guys were the best of the best—and their combined score of correct answers equaled 60 percent. In most grading systems, that’s one point shy of an ‘F.’

I mean, shouldn’t a Jeopardy GOAT be good at almost everything?

Really? They missed ‘BYOD’?

Yes, they did. And it was worth $600, a pretty generous sum for a pretty easy answer.It was exciting to see cybersecurity included in this highly watched episode. To be fair, I thought the show came up with an interesting selection of topics. Ransomware. Keylogger. Whitehats. And sigh, BYOD. Again, if this were a normal episode (or a normal game show) you’d expect easier questions. But hey, this is Jeopardy, GOAT Edition.

Here’s the dagger: current GOAT tournament leader Ken Jennings is in IT. Ken, you let us down, man! Okay, “keylogger.” Not everybody knows what it means.But, sorry to say this, a real genius would. To claim GOAT status, you need to go beyond the basics. And not wait until the other categories are nearly exhausted before summoning the courage to tackle cybersecurity. Call me biased, but it’s a pretty important subject these days.

Kudos to the players for knowing what bitcoin is.And for nailing HTTPS and whitehats. But millions of people watched this episode. Ken, Brad, and James could have shown America that any self-respecting GOAT knows cybersecurity as well as The Oscars or American Idols.

And couldn’t there have been one measly phishing awareness question? “Who is John Podesta, Alex?” Or “What is a fraudulent email?” The FBI published two alerts last year on business email compromise alone.

All right, enough griping. At least our industry got some recognition. But if Jeopardy ever includes us again, I want the players to do better than a D+.

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