Before I was an engineer, I was an entryist. Engineering pays better, but the big advantage of engineering is that one’s coworkers are less likely to kill one. Working with evil people is not a good idea.
Entryism is a small team of conspirators trying to manipulate and control another organization – usually a larger organization with a bigger mailing list and more funds. Thus for example a small group of political extremists, a team of half a dozen or so people, would naturally like to take over an big organization involved in some big money, moderately leftist, politically progressive task such as funding housing for the poor, if lots of funding for the poor flows through the housing organization.
There are commonalities between computer engineering and entryism, particularly security engineering. A background in entryism gives important insights into security engineering. Entryism is the same sort of job as hacking, but with entryism, one works entirely on human factors, whereas with hacking, one only partially works on human factors, and mostly focuses on such things as buffer overflows and protocol failures. There are some similarities between taking over someone’s website through flaws in the software, and taking over someone else’s organization through flaws in their internal processes – the main commonality being to distinguish between the way things are supposed to work, and the very different way they actually work. The frame of mind and way of looking at things is similar, like a magician’s misdirection. To attack, one looks for ways that expectations can be violated. Conversely, to make stuff secure, one tries to make sure that expectations cannot be violated. The excruciatingly complicated procedure for electing a new pope reflects a thousand years of such attacks by ancient entryists aimed at rigging the election, and thousand years of security design aimed at making sure the election works the way it appears to work. The papal election procedure is sometimes studied by computer security engineers to illuminate their art.
Entryists use fraud and lies, while hackers use some combination of fraud, lies, buffer overflows, and protocol failures. Hackers tend to be nerdly people who eat far too much junk food, while entryists usually played in the right sports teams at the right educational institutions, and have good social skills. (Perhaps that is why I wound up in engineering instead. It is more my line)
Now recently the GOP has nominated the extreme left candidate Scozzafava for a seat in congress – and I do mean extreme left. So naturally, with my background, I suspected entryism. The Democrats might well nominate an extreme left candidate and regularly do, the Republicans might well nominate a candidate so “moderate” that he looks suspiciously like a Democrat, but extreme left? This “Republican” lady is far to the left of the Democratic party candidate.
Scozzafava turns out to be the candidate of the Working Families Party, whose name is typical of entryist front group names– a more or less random string of moderate sounding words that carries no real meaning. The declared objective of the Working Families Party is to move the Democratic Party further to the left. To influence group X is a fairly typical mission statement of an entryist team, though their real objectives usually involve a lot more than mere influence.
But the dead give away is that they share their headquarters with Acorn. Long ago a team of entryists took over Acorn, and this team now hangs out at Acorn headquarters, Acorn being the largest and best funded of the many, many, many, many organizations that the team has taken over. A great pile of organizations share Acorn headquarters, more than anyone can keep track of, and the theoretically separate funds, agendas, objectives and activities of these organizations are all mingled, and they are all run by the same people from the same office . This is the usual pile of residue accumulated by a successful entryist team. If someone has fifteen thousand credit card numbers with names, real addresses and login passwords, you know he is a hacker. If someone has a hundred organizations, with separate mailing lists and funding, you know he is an entryist. If someone has the backing of an organization that turns out to be a hundred organizations all with one headquarters, you know he is an entryist.
But entryists are like termites. If one entryist is in an organization with assets and name worth having, there are usually others. Termites do not mean the house is fallen yet, but if drastic measures are not taken, the house will soon fall. It is time for a hard disk reformat and restoration from backup.