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Chapter 6

Two days after the breach, Dylan found himself being chauffeured from Newark-Liberty Airport to Manhattan. When the sedan finally stopped, Dylan opened the door and stepped out onto the curb in front of a chic restaurant. Checking his appearance in his reflection in the window, Dylan realized that he seldom wore suits anymore around campus– he much preferred chinos and polo shirts or casual button downs while at work. He shrugged off the revelation, straightened his tie and marched through the door.

Once inside, the hostess warmly greeted him.

“Good afternoon! Are you meeting someone?”

“Yes, Tony, er, Anthony Burgess.”

“Very good, he’s waiting. Right this way, please.” She smiled brightly before turning and walking swiftly through the restaurant which was seemingly carved out of single piece of wood. The oiled brown hues were accented by the dim, yellow-shaded pendant lights hanging from the ceiling above the ceilings. Dylan was reminded of the Armory in Edinburgh Castle by the old-world style craftsmanship of the furniture and decor in the restaurant. The hostess stopped and slid a chair out for Dylan, the man at the table looked up from his newspaper to see Dylan sitting down. “Your server will be right with you. Have a great day.” The hostess announced before walking away from the table.

“Hello, Tony. Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.” Dylan relaxed back into the chair, looking the older man in the eye.

Tony removed his rimless eyeglasses and set them on the dark lacquered tabletop, before rubbing his eyes.

“It’s not every day that a billionaire CEO calls me up offering an exclusive interview.” Tony paused deliberately. “That’s why I know that you’ve got an ulterior motive. It’s either damage control, or some sort of announcement. Which is it?”

Dylan leaned forward aggressively.

“It’s an announcement about damage control.”

“Sounds promising.” Tony picked up the spiral bound notepad and pen that had previously sat on the corner of the table. “So what went wrong in Sunnyvale?”

“Two days ago, our network was breached by hackers. It wasn’t a DDOS attack or anything like that, they were in our system.”

Tony looked up in disbelief.

“Two days? How does no one know about it?”

“Our security is tiered. Sensitive user data is tier three, these hackers were only able to get into tier one. They didn’t get anything useful except for a look up our skirt.”

“Well, that’s good. Imagine if that data got out.” Tony put his glasses back on and started scribbling notes on the pad.

“Exactly. Within twelve hours, we had found the access point and fixed it. We’re currently undergoing a top to bottom security audit, and are working with top internet security experts and the FBI to attempt to find the guilty parties and bring them to justice.”

“This isn’t an interview, Dylan, this is a press release. What do you need me for?”

“Press releases are cold and impersonal. Tony, I need you to give it a warm personal touch. So, in return for including this information, you’re also free to conduct and interview about whatever you want. But you can’t use one without the other.” Dylan relaxed in the chair again as he spoke. “Agreed?”

“Sure. Why come clean? If no data was accessed, why admit it? Every other company would keep it quiet.”

“When has Fieldy Lands ever been like every other company?” Dylan smiled proudly.

“Fair enough. But what’s your personal reasoning? I can’t imagine your investors and shareholders were on board with this.” Tony scarcely looked up at Dylan from his notepad.

“They’re not. But they tend to shut up when I remind that my ideas and my work has made them all a lot more money than they would’ve had otherwise.” Dylan thought for a minute while looking around the dimly lit cavern he found himself in. “It’s about transparency. Other companies keep things like this quiet, and people grow suspicious. This is me telling my parents that when I was driving their car, I scratched it. It’s just a scratch, and ultimately it doesn’t matter, I might have to pay for it or be grounded for a week or something, but ultimately, my parents’ trust is a reward bestowed on me for my righteous behavior.”

“You think that public opinion is comparable to your parents?”

“It’s a metaphor, but yes. A teenager can’t do anything without permission, unless they want to be rebellious. Rebellious companies that have no regard for public opinion don’t exist because they all go bankrupt. So, I’d rather that my business be the good kid that accepts responsibility, asks for permission, and earns more and more trust based on good behavior. That trust turns into good will, should something serious enough ever happen, excess good will will turn into forgiveness rather than torches and pitchforks.”

Tony continues scrawling on his notepad.

“Are you sure you want that on the record? It makes you seem a bit manipulative and disingenuous.”

“You can quote it, as long as you also use this… My biggest fear is seeing my company dragged through the mud for any reason, and the worst possible thing that I could ever imagine would be a failure to protect the privacy of our users. Honoring our pledge to privacy is more important than money to me, and if necessary, I’ll pay out of my own pocket to ensure that nothing bad ever happens regarding user privacy.” Dylan takes a sip of water. “Still disingenuous?”

“Maybe to people that don’t know anything about you, but no. That’s solid. Can we move on to something else?”

Just then, the server, a young blonde (probably an aspiring actress, Dylan presumed), arrived at the table.

“Sorry for your wait. My name’s Diana, I’ll be your server. Can I get you something to drink?”

Dylan looked across the table at Tony.

“I’ll buy. Help yourself to anything.” Dylan then turned to Diana, “I’ll start with a coffee. It’s still morning on California time.”

“Milk, cream, anything?” Diana asked.

“Yeah, cream would be good. Thanks.”

“And you, sir?” Diana asked Tony.

“Do you have any teas?”

“Yes, we have chamomile, chai, black tea, Earl Grey, green tea, white tea, and iced tea.”

“An Earl Grey will be fine, thanks. With skim milk.”

“I’ll have those right out to you.” Diana performed the slightest of curtsies before turning and walking away.

Dylan, drawing a blank, looked at Tony.

“Where were we?”

“I was trying to change the subject.” Tony stated plainly.

“Right, go ahead.”

“Well, the obvious bait would be the Stanford thing. That’s been reported to death. I’m interested in you and Alice, and what we can expect from you next.”

“Alice is great. There really isn’t anything newsworthy going on. She’ll be heading back to LA for filming in a few weeks. Otherwise we’ve just been shacked up in the house.”

“So, no wedding bells, kids, nothing like that?” Tony was probing blindly.

“Nope. Not at the moment. We’re just happy with the way things are.” Dylan could see the sense of disappointment on Tony’s face. “Sorry. It’s kind of a dead-end.”

Tony crossed something out on his notepad obviously enough for Dylan to understand the meaning of the gesture.

“Alright then,” Tony started, “what can we expect from you in the future?”

“You’re not going to like this.” Dylan replied. “There’s nothing in the works. No top secret projects, no grand ideas. I’m just going to keep pushing Fieldy Lands in the right direction, foster other peoples’ innovations through philanthropy and investment, and hopefully, inspiration will strike me soon.”