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Drew McAdam

SIMPLE CYBER SECURITY EXPLAINED

By | News

Concerned about cyber security and Info security? Then you have to read this.

JUST HOW MUCH sensitive information can an unscrupulous “hacker” glean from you, your colleagues or staff? If you think “not much”, you’re mistaken.

If you are part of an organisation, are connected to the Internet, and you have employees, then you are at risk. Actually, you are at risk from more than just one angle, but for the moment let’s ignore the Insider Threat, and concentrate on a risk that you may not even have considered…

Wee Mary in accounts.

Seriously. You see, the main threat to your info security is not some faceless, hooded hacker in a dim and distant basement. Rather, it is the very real possibility of an employee inadvertently giving out information. Alternatively, any company employee with access to a keyboard and the internet, clicking on a link and connecting to some website you’d rather they didn’t.

Next thing you know, you are the target of fraud or ransomware.

Most people think of a “hacker” as somebody with highly developed computer skills who breaks into accounts. But that’s not how it’s happening nowadays.

More recently, the hacker is somebody who “tricks” the target – a customer, employee or service agent – into opening the way for them. This strategy has been given the title “Social Engineering”. And it is how more than two-thirds of security breaches are achieved these days.

Rather than the whiz-kid “hackers” we hear so much about in the media, these fraudsters are “social engineers”; crafty individuals who exploit the one weakness found in each and every organisation: human psychology.

Using any means at their disposal, these attackers will employ everything from phone calls to social media in order to trick employees into giving them access to sensitive information.

Indeed, the most effective and efficient way for somebody to access and play havoc with your system is by employing Social Network techniques and skills. And the reason is that these techniques utilise the weakest point – the Human Factor.

In my keynote addresses and workshops with companies, I define Social Engineering as: “The psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information”.

Now, as a performer of “mind reading” (or mentalism), the definition of my “art” is the “…ability to read body language or to manipulate the subject subliminally through psychological suggestion”. And I use pseudo- scientific subterfuge to achieve that.

A Social Engineer will “Change perceptions or behaviour using the psychological manipulation of others to gather information.”

Well, as a mentalist / mind magician, that is exactly what I do for a living! The only difference is, I don’t use my skills for fraud, or to access your infosecurity. Indeed, if I wasn’t doing this for entertainment, I would be a crook. I would be your enemy.

When I’m performing on stage, I play with the perceptions of my audience. I gain information – without the participant being aware how I’m doing it – then revealing it as a sort of “mind reading” demonstration (rather than using that information unethically or for reasons of fraud.)

So, though the worlds of stage entertainment and infosecurity may seem quite different, they have a great deal more in common than you might initially think.

And with more than two thirds of cyber security breaches being of the Social Engineering flavour, it’s hardly surprising that the most powerful hack is Social Engineering – gathering information by tricking people into doing what the crook wants.

How powerful is it? Well, as part of my stage performance, I offer a selection of books to a participant. He selects one, then flicks back and forward through the pages, selects a page, a paragraph and any word. You can’t get much more random than that. I get the participant to imagine that the word is his password to his computer… Then within around three minutes, I write something down on my pad. The word I have written down (nine times out of ten!) is the word he was thinking of – his password.

Make no mistake; the underlying principle I use to achieve this result has parallels with the techniques used by Social Engineers.

I’ve given numerous keynote addresses at Cyber Security events and conferences throughout the UK, including Stirling University (NHS), SBRC “Insider Threat” (Royal Bank of Scotland). RSA (Kings Place, London), and Hargreaves Lansdown (Bristol).

At each and every one, delegates were astonished and amazed – and hopefully a little concerned – at just how easily and quickly I could harvest “secret” information. What’s more, they had little idea exactly how I was doing it. Now, if I can do that with hardened security experts, what chance does one of your employees have? Unless they are made aware just how easily they can be psychologically manipulated, and how real the threat is.

When it comes to Phishing, the attacker tries to learn information such as login credentials or account information. They do this using a selection of techniques and skills. Once they have that information (whereas I reveal it, so it looks like mind reading) they use it for a ransomware attack or some other form of cyberextortion.

During my “mind magic” and mind reading shows I use mentalism techniques to get even the smallest scrap of information. From there, I can build upon it, rather like building a jigsaw, piece by piece, till I have all the information I need. And that’s exactly how a Social Engineer works. The only difference is that you, your colleague, or your employee won’t be standing on a stage, having their mind read. And the result could be devastating to the company.

Hi-tech hacking versus Social Engineering? Perhaps Houdini said it best when he said: “Why pick the lock? It’s easier if you have the key.”

Well, in my performance I don’t even need the key. I use Pseudo-scientific subterfuge in order to get people to open the door for me. I manipulate people to give me the information I need, without them even being aware that I’m doing it. They give me information, and they are unaware of the fact.

And that’s fine, because it’s me, and it’s for entertainment. Not so fine and dandy if it’s an unscrupulous fraudster who’d really like to get hold of the sensitive information on your computer.

You can read more about the threat of Social Engineering, and Drew McAdam’s views, in this article:  http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/24538/mind-reading-hackers-are-stealing-your-data

WHO IS DREW McADAM?

Drew McAdam is an entertainer based in Central Scotland. He has performed his distinctive form of pure mind magic across the UK and from the United States to Russia. From Europe to Africa – and most places in-between. Though mainly performing in the corporate market, he often performs in theatre and on TV – and had his own series with BBC. While specialising in corporate after dinner astonishment and cabaret performances, he loves nothing more than taking his spellbinding demonstrations to private functions, parties and weddings.

If your requirement is for entertainment that is uniquely practical and practically unique… Get in touch.

info@drewmcadam.com

07711 590618

www.drewmcadam.co.uk

HOW TO BOOST TRAFFIC ON YOUR TRADE SHOW BOOTH

By | News

HOW TO BOOST TRAFFIC ON YOUR TRADE SHOW BOOTH.

(How to use an addition to your sales team that will target your prospects, engage your potential customer, get them onto your stand… and talking.)

The answer to the question “How to attract customers to your trade show stand” is pretty straightforward… Simply, give away a shed-load of promotional products. And to answer your next question: the best kind of promotional product to give away is free beer.

Big crowd. Guaranteed.

Of course, whether it’s going to attract the right kind of customers is another question. Attracting a thousand people onto your stand doesn’t mean you’re going to generate a thousand sales leads; or anything like it.

RULE NUMBER ONE: Identify the type of customers you want to attract to your company’s booth or stand. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You want prospects, not a big crowd of suspects.

Your primary goal is to attract potential customers and clients. The “obvious” solution is to hand out heaps of promotional products. Unfortunately, what you term “promotional products”, most of the trade show attendees refer to as “freebies”.

Often referred to as “bag collectors”, these individuals can be seen drifting from booth to booth, clutching plastic bags which they stuff full of promotional key fobs, golf balls, and pens.

Sometimes, companies decide to really splash out, and bring in all sorts of “attractions”. Interactive robots are all the rage at the moment. A few years ago it was human statues. Golf simulation and chocolate tasting – even a Formula 1 racing car simulator – make regular appearances these days.

But be honest with yourself; are the people queuing up at these attractions potential customers, or just people who are out for a jolly?  Surely the purpose of a stand at a trade show is not to attract everybody, their auntie and the dog, but to be a focus for gathering valuable contact information and sales enquiries from genuine, potential customers.

RULE NUMBER TWO: Your promotional thrust must be more than simply a crowd-pleaser. It needs to do more than just attract and entertain.

Yes, getting crowds of people onto your stand is relatively easy; you simply put on a big attraction and entertain them. The more you spend, and the bigger the attraction, the larger the crowd you will pull. But a crowd doesn’t guarantee qualified enquiries from genuine prospects. There are better ways…

Increasingly popular at Trade Shows in the US is the use of entertainers – particularly magicians and “mentalists”; mind readers who perform a sort of psychological illusion. They are employed as “traffic stoppers”. Indeed, some of these individuals work exclusively for the exhibiting company at every trade show, seminar, workshop… Ambassadors for the company, who know the products and the personnel inside-out.

I have done this kind of work for numerous companies, from insurance giants and oil companies, to sporting goods manufacturers and the medical profession. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that you might just find helpful.

As a psychological illusionist, I saw myself as part of the marketing / sales team. Yes, I would start a performance on the stand to bring in a small crowd – perhaps even plug the company logo or a particular product as part of the programme. But I was aware my task entailed much more than just entertaining.

I would have the sales team identify and single out certain individuals that they would really like to talk to. I needed to know who were the centres of influence, the decision-makers; qualified prospects who would benefit from the offered service or product. I would then target those individuals, approach them, and engage with them.

I would use a quick mind-reading demonstration to capture their attention and curiosity – perhaps tell them the name of their first love, or reveal a word they were merely thinking of. I would then invite them onto the stand to see one more remarkable thing. There, I might bend a spoon in their own hand; Uri Geller style, or duplicate a drawing they made in secret.

But my job didn’t just stop there. I then introduced them to somebody from the sales team, leaving them with something to talk about – and for the sales process / information gathering to begin – while I set off after the next prospect.

Be honest, doesn’t that sound more productive than merely handing out key-rings and pens?

RULE NUMBER THREE. Find a way of engaging with genuine prospects – ideally using a professional “attention grabber”, such as a magician, who can target those you want to talk to – rather than simply handing out free promotional trinkets.

A little bit of imagination goes a long way towards attracting the right prospects onto your trade stands – and keeping them there.  For example, at several trade shows, I took part in a “Challenge the Mind Reader” competition. Selected individuals (and by that I mean genuine prospective clients, as identified by the sales team) were given the opportunity to challenge the mind reader. If I failed to read their mind, given three attempts, they would win an iPad / laptop. (Nobody ever beat me!)

After having been at that for a while, I was delighted to see every single one of the sales staff engaged with a genuine prospect – one that they had earlier identified.

See? A little bit of imagination – and a rifle bullet, rather than shotgun, approach – to getting your potential customers onto the stand, and talking.

So, here is your DO and DON’T tick list for a successful trade show presence.

DON’T do anything that will simply attract those looking for “freebies”

DON’T employ a novelty “attraction” simply to get a crowd – any crowd.

DON’T waste time and effort on those who are not centres of influence or decision makers.

DO think about the kind of prospects you want to attract.

DO use the rifle, rather than the shotgun approach.

DO consider employing a professional “traffic stopper” – entertainer.

DO use an entertainer who is briefed on products and personnel.

DO use an entertainer who considers himself part of the sales / marketing team.

DO identify the prospects you want to talk to, and have your entertainer bring them to you.

Next time you have a trade show, think about ditching the promotional gimmicks. Instead, consider hiring in an individual who would be part of your sales team, tasked with targeting your potential customers and clients.

It would probably work out less expensive than a fancy novelty attraction, and would certainly prove a great deal more effective in actually bringing in business leads, too.

And after all, isn’t that what you want?

WHO IS DREW McADAM?

Drew McAdam is an entertainer based in Central Scotland. He has performed his distinctive form of pure mind magic across the UK and from the United States to Russia. From Europe to Africa – and most places in-between. Though mainly performing in the corporate market, he often performs in theatre and on TV – and had his own series with BBC. While specialising in corporate after dinner astonishment and cabaret performances, he loves nothing more than taking his spellbinding demonstrations to private functions, parties and weddings.

If your requirement is for entertainment that is uniquely practical and practically unique… Get in touch.

info@drewmcadam.com

Tel: 07711 590618

www.drewmcadam.co.uk

How Much Does a Magician Cost?

By | News

How Much Does a Magician Cost?

I promise, I will answer this question. But first, there are a few things that must be taken into consideration.

Asking “What can I expect to pay for a magician?” is a lot like walking into a car showroom, and asking “How much is it for a car?” You see, much like booking a magician, it depends on your requirements, not the price tag on the windscreen.

So, right from the start, let me tell you what you might expect to pay for a magician. You can get a wonder worker who will perform in your front room for your private party, or at your wedding, for £50. Yes, you really can hire a magician for that; maybe even less! Of course, whether he’s going to be any good – or any better than the flat-tyre old banger that’s rusted away in the back area of the car showroom for two years, and only costs you £200 – is something to think about.

I recently saw a question posted on an Internet forum, asking; “How much should I expect to pay for a magician”. Somebody responded that they had recently booked a magician who was the son of a friend of their next-door neighbour, and it was only going to cost them £50. They genuinely thought they sealed the bargain of the year… Who, knows? Perhaps they had. But I very much doubt it.

And I doubt it, because the first thing to take into consideration is the professionalism and experience of the performer.

If you want a performer who has a full time job, but practices card tricks in his bedroom, and would jump at the chance to make a few bob from a one-off performance, then you’re going to get that at a great price. If you’re having music at your event, you could apply the same thinking and hire a band with a singer who’s tone-deaf and a guitarist who only knows three chords; and hasn’t quite conquered the third one.

You’ll save a bundle. (They won’t have overheads like Public Liability insurance or membership of Equity). But, of course, the event may not turn out to be quite the roaring success you envisaged.

And a search on the internet isn’t going to help either. It’s amazing how many seriously awful magicians I’ve seen that have incredibly flashy websites. And don’t be suckered in by celebrity endorsements. I recently discovered a magician who was caught out using Photoshopped pictures of himself with a number of TV and movie stars… Several from the famous London Waxworks!

Every second magician has the words “award winning”, on their website. But in many cases it means they were handed a certificate at their local magic club. I know of one “magician” who has that on their website; there were only two entrants in the competition.

So, how do you make sure you are paying a fair and reasonable fee for the quality and experience of the magician you hire?

Well, there is a great place where you can almost guarantee unearthing a magician who perfectly meets your needs, and that’s at The Magic Circle. It’s a society for magicians, but in order to gain membership, each applicant has to go through a 3-stage process. They are required to submit an application, attend an interview, and then perform an audition.

You can even search The Magic Circle website by location and the type of event you are hosting.

Another way of selecting a magician that will have all the relevant documentation and ensure your event is a success is through an agent. Additionally, you have somebody to contact if something goes horribly wrong. I have had dealings with people like Douglas Gillespie at The Entertainers Agency (douglas@entertainersagency.com), and Kenny Donaldson at Speakout (kenny@speakoutuk.com). Both are members of the The Agents Association (GB), take their jobs seriously, and will only recommend acts that they know will deliver the goods. They have magicians on their books who I know, from personal experience, are professional performers who deliver the goods each and every time – and have done so for a number of years.

Cost will also depend on another few factors:

(1) The type of event. Is it a children’s show? Or is it a full after dinner event?

(2) What style of magic do you require?

(3) What is the location? Is the magician local, or is he travelling from the other end of the country?

Just to give you an idea, I have performed in theatres, live TV, massive halls, people’s front rooms, and at weddings. Each will have its own price.

The type of “magic” I perform is mind magic – or psychological illusion. There are no cards, ropes or fluffy bunnies. Instead, it involves reading minds, fast memory work, influencing the choices of the audience and so on. Yes, it’s more expensive than a run-of-the-mill magician.

In terms of location, I have performed all over the UK, in Russia, The Netherlands, Sicily, Marbella, and dozens of other far-flung locations. I have also performed at a hotel, just six miles from my home. Obviously, that has a huge impact on my fee, too.

But I promised to answer the question “How much does a magician cost” – and taking everything into account – here is a very rough guide. (Given that, you may pay more. But if you’re paying less you are probably getting something that’s going to leave you and your guests seriously disappointed.)

For a children’s party, a professional with all the correct documentation will charge around £250 – £400.

* Hiring a magician for a private party – a bit of walkaround / table hopping plus a floor show should cost somewhere in the region of £400 to £700.

* A cabaret style performance for 100+ people or so will probably fall into the bracket of £700 – £1200. Of course, at this point you would also be considering a low stage (riser) and PA equipment (possibly lighting, too.)

* A big-prop illusionist show; well, it’s just going to be silly money.

* Walkabout (strolling table hopping).  Magicians tend not to charge by the hour, or to bring travelling costs into the equation – unless it’s a fair distance, in which case accommodation must be factored in, too. But it’s actually a pretty good indication of cost, if you consider (minimum of two hours) £150 – 200 per hour flat fee.

While all this offers a fair indication of a standard magician’s price list, it is worth bearing in mind that a more specialised form of “magic” such as mind reading / psychological illusion which I perform, may cost a bit more. That said; I, like many others of my ilk, are very keen to fit in with the client’s budget.

But one thing is for certain; if you are on a tight budget, you do not want to blow it on a performer who will at best disappoint, and at worst, prove to be an embarrassment.

WHO IS DREW McADAM

Drew McAdam is an entertainer based in Central Scotland. He has performed his distinctive form of pure mind magic across the UK and from the United States to Russia. From Europe to Africa – and most places in-between. Though mainly performing in the corporate market, he often performs in theatre and on TV – and had his own series with BBC. While specialising in corporate after dinner astonishment and cabaret performances, he loves nothing more than taking his spellbinding demonstrations to private functions, parties and weddings.

If your requirement is for entertainment that is uniquely practical and practically unique… Get in touch. Tel: 07711590618