In 1972, at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, meteorologist Edward Lorenz posed the question “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

In today’s world, the question might be considered one of the most successful forms of clickbait ever because more than 50 years later, most people recognize what is now known as the Butterly Effect.

Lorenz used the question to illustrate how small changes in a system can create completely unexpected results. In the case of the butterfly and tornado, disastrous results.

The concept is often humourously applied to situations outside of meteorology. But, humour aside, it can also apply to serious situations.

For example, a small over-correction in steering could lead to a car veering off the road, a slight slip of the surgeon’s knife could have life-threatening consequences, a decimal in the wrong place could cost millions, or a small change in your business technology could lead to cyber attack that shuts down your business.

It may sound far-fetched; but here are a few seemingly innocent examples that could have disastrous consequences:

  • A job applicant asks the HR manager to print a resume from a USB stick during the in-person interview. While the stick is in the HR manager’s computer, malware is installed, employee records and all the HR manager’s passwords are stolen, and email is infected.
  • In your daily rush to get things done, you accidentally click on a link you know isn’t safe. You immediately close it; but that simple click exposed the banking password saved in your browser.
  • You’re conveniently provided access to security cameras throughout the facility on your phone. That opening is then found by a bad guy and they now have full access to your business.
  • You receive an important PDF attachment in your email. When you open it, nothing happens. You ask for it to be resent and the second copy opens. BUT simply by trying to open the first copy, someone now has full remote access to your computer.

These innocent activities are like the flap of the butterfly’s wings in Brazil that unleash a tornado in Texas. The difference is that it’s a cyber tornado of chaos in your business.

If you’re wondering how effective your security measures are, Birmingham Consulting provides complimentary and confidential Cyber Risk scores through an assessment of where companies are at high risk and need attention. Visit to learn more.