Ruben Contrasenya, a senior network admin for the World Health Organization, sat in his 18th floor office in the city center of Geneva, Switzerland, and stared at his iPhone 11 Pro+.
“Dude, this is fin. Barnini Chakraborty at Fox News is reporting my network got hacked, and I always expect better of people with names like Chakraborty,” Contrasenya said. “I’m devo.”
I was there to interview Contrasenya about WHO’s digital efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, but this was big. I tapped my own iPhone and quickly scanned the story, subconsciously looking for a quote about that weird band from Akron.
“At least, uh, he/she/it had the sense to lead with ‘the stolen information was immediately used to incite harassment and hate by right-wing extremists’,” I said with a sigh of relief. “Maybe Fox is a real news organization after all.”
“It helps that Chakraborty said 4chan got my passwords first,” Contrasenya agreed. “And that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was also hacked. You want a Bronson?”
Contrasenya opened the mini-fridge under his desk and pulled out two National Bohemians. “Even in Geneva we revived PBR to the point where it was too successful to drink,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied. “But do 48 of your people really have ‘password’ as their network password?”
“Who pays attention to passwords anymore? 2FA and biometrics are deck,” he said. “You know I can unlock my phone just by pressing it to my ear, right? Effing jomo on the password.”
I looked over his shoulder at the computer monitor on the desk and counted at least 20 passwords stuck to the screen on sticky notes.
Contrasenya showed me his locked iPhone, then pressed it to his ear. It emitted the “unlock” sound, and he said “take a picture of my ear.”
“See?” he said, showing me a photo of his inner ear. “Now that’s kale, right?”
I couldn’t tell if he was excited, because the wry half smile seemed permanently affixed to his face and the Italian wayfarers blocked the window into his soul.
“Hold on a minute,” he said, logging onto the WHO International website, launching the “Report a Suspected Scam” page and offering me another Bohemian.
Losing interest in the password story, I took a long pull on the Bohemian. CNN would pick up the right-wing extremist angle. My job here was done.