Will the Un-Hackable Typewriter Gain Market Share in 2019?

By Drew Baumhauer

In a word, maybe

In fact, the typewriter market has experienced a resurgence over the past 10 years. But you probably haven’t heard about this comeback. Until 2018, it has been a relative secret, closely held by a subculture of our populace known as “the hipster”. But not long after, and in a world of technical espionage and alleged collusion, the typewriter is returning to serve a new purpose: the un-hackable communications device.

It’s true, the genesis of hipster culture gave the typewriter a shot-in-the-arm that has maintained some momentum even now at the beginning of 2019. Closely following, perhaps on the coattails of vinyl records, typewriters have enjoyed a piece of the “retro-resurgence.” What’s old is somehow better again. Some great memes are out there poking fun of these hipsters and their superior typewriters. I’ll leave you with two:

 

So why does our industry care about this or why am I writing about typewriters as a security engineer? The truth is that from a sales perspective, typewriters will not have any impact in 2019. No customer is going to write a PO to any of the last, languishing manufacturers for $100,000 worth of typewriters instead of the latest IT solution. Any typewriter market share gain would be minuscule at best, mostly due to the fact that no one is measuring that data! However we can approach our delivery of service as if the typewriter was impacting our market. But first, some recent history.

Several articles written over the last few years shine a light on a problem that won’t be solved in the foreseeable future. Network security. In one example, these pieces highlight booming typewriter sales in Germany as government and businesses look to avoid spying and hacking, respectively. Amazingly, one German manufacturer, Olympia, experienced a 30% increase in sales between 2011-2012. They achieved another 50% bump in growth from 2013-2014! Another manufacturer, Triumph-Adler, now markets their machines as “Bug proof. NSA proof.” Russian intelligence continues to use typewriters for high-level communications. Bottom line, you can’t hack a typewriter. It almost sounds like something out of a Twilight Zone episode, but there must be something to it. Let’s think about the root cause.

Champion’s Frank Hansen writes the majority of his code on a 1974 Royal Apollo GT

 

Back to how we can approach our service delivery. Security solutions are only as good as the organization deploying them. In our ever-changing landscape of hardware and software, keeping up with the latest tricks, trends and vulnerabilities is a full-time job and a battle that we’re typically losing. How many times have you seen a SIEM deployed with nearly just an “out-of-the-box” configuration? How many times have you seen environments far behind in their patching practice or show any evidence of a quality patching strategy? These products are only as good as the team deploying and maintaining them.

Flawless, frictionless and thorough deployments are the minimum. Ongoing managed services with experienced and dedicated engineers keeping client environments locked down and current should be part of every deal. Let’s always strive to create the un-hackable environment. At Champion, we need to do our part to keep the typewriter dead and buried. This will keep our customers secure, and the prices low for collectors like me.

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