It may not matter how close you are to Tom Cruise, but it matters how close you are to a hacker

Arun Vishwanath
3 min readApr 20, 2023

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How many degrees separate you from a major Hollywood star? Most of us could care less about this. But the idea of degrees of separation also applies to hackers — and can tell you how likely you are to being hacked. It can reveal your risk of getting hacked. Take this free 8-question quiz and find out how many degrees separate you from a hacker: https://0oxloyflc3p.typeform.com/to/mTc2sV8Q. The answer will instantly reveal your likelihood of being hacked.

Credit: Scott Garfield

Degrees imply steps — as in the number of other people you know, who connect you to others they know, to ultimately contact that actor. The fewer the degrees, the closer you are.

And because the world of people is finite and people are interconnected, most of us are connected — even to total strangers — by six or fewer degrees. For that reason, it’s called six degrees of separation.

The basis of this is research from the 1960’s, from Stanley Milgram’s work on Small Worlds. There is even an online game, where you can locate the degrees separating people from the actor Kevin Bacon.

All this was before social media demystified the lives of the rich and famous. Now many of us would rather not be close to someone in Hollywood.

But there is another group we’d rather not be close to: Hackers.

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

You see the same degrees separating us from each other, also separates us from hackers. Only the degrees here translate to how much of our personal information is out there, available to them for exploiting.

Sadly, because of all the many data breaches over the decades, there is enough information about all of us already available. Hackers can use this data to find just about anyone, anywhere.

They can use the data, even train generative AI programs, and craft highly persuasive social engineering attacks.

This means the fewer the degrees separating you from a hacker, the more of a risk you, your devices, and that of your organization are from being hacked.

https://arunvishwanath.us

So, while you may not care about being connected to Tom Cruise, you should care about how many degrees separate you from a hacker.

Knowing this can reveal who is likely to be in the crosshairs of a hacker and who needs urgent protection. It can tell you about the Weakest Link in your personal network or in your organization.

But how does one figure out the degrees separating them from hackers?

There is a simple way. Developed by a Harvard trained technologist, there is an 8-question quiz that can give you the answer.

Here is the quiz: https://0oxloyflc3p.typeform.com/to/mTc2sV8Q

The quiz is free and it doesn’t collect any of the data you enter. The results are instantaneous and you will not need to enter your credit card number or your email information to get the results. The answer will reveal the degrees separating you from a hacker — and your cyber risk.

The answer is important to you. Use it. Protect yourself and those around you. Share this with people and organizations you care about.

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Arun Vishwanath

Arun Vishwanath, PhD, MBA, is a technologist who endeavors to make people, companies, and nations safe from cyber attacks. (https://www.arunvishwanath.us)