It’s like brewing beer

Carboy

Several years ago I used to brew beer. If you've never done this, you let the beer ferment in a glass container called a carboy that's topped by a fermentation lock. A fermentation lock is a clever device that lets the carbon dioxide from the fermenting beer escape but doesn't let the outside air get in and contaminate your beer.

Once I noticed that the fermentation lock on a batch of fermenting beer had become clogged, so I took it off to clean it. This caused a dramatic reaction. Imagine shaking a five-gallon bottle of beer and then opening it. That's pretty much what happened. But because a five-gallon container is much bigger than a 12-ounce beer this didn't happen right away. Instead, I got to watch the bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the carboy for a second or two, fully knowing that there was no possible way to stop them and that they would almost certainly make the biggest mess that I'd ever seen once they made good their escape from the carboy. Fortunately, my wife was in Japan on business for a few weeks, so I had plenty of time to clean up the spill that resulted from this incident.

Every now and then I'm reminded of the mess that this particular incident caused. There's no clear analogy to popping off the fermentation lock, but the unstoppable flow of fermenting beer and the mess it made often reminds me of the huge amounts of sensitive information that's routinely revealed in data breaches and the high costs of cleaning up after the breaches. I was lucky enough to have a few weeks to clean up after the mess that I made. Few companies are as lucky with data breaches.

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