Executive ego and the Sony Pictures network hack

sonyhackReaders have been asking me to write about the recent network hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment. If you run a company like Sony Pictures it has to be tough to see your company secrets stolen all at once — salaries, scripts, and Social Security numbers all revealed along with a pre-release HD copy of Annie, not to mention an entire database of unhappy Sony employees who want to work anywhere Adam Sandler doesn’t. But frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about any of that so let’s cut to the heart of this problem which really comes down to executive privilege. Sony was hacked because some president or vice-president or division head […]

To stop data theft, pull the plug

moneyBack in the 1980s, when I was the networking editor at InfoWorld, one of my jobs was to write profiles of corporate networks. One of those profiles was of the Adolph Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado, now known as Molson Coors Brewing. I visited the company’s one brewery at the time, interviewed the head of IT and the top network guy, then asked for a copy of the very impressive network map they had on the wall.

“Sorry, we can’t give you that,” they said. “It’s private.”

“But we always print a map of the company network,” I explained.

“Fine, then make one up.”

And so I invented my own map for the Coors network.

There’s a lesson here, trust […]

Why I have grown to hate steamgames.com

steam-logoA son of mine, I’m not saying which one, borrowed from my desk a credit card and — quick like a bunny — bought over $200 worth of in-game weapons, tools, etc. for the Steam game platform from steamgames.com, which is owned by Valve Corp. Needless to say, the kid is busted, but the more important point for this column is how easily he for a time got away with his crime.

I would have thought that vendors like steamgames.com would not want children to be buying game stuff without the consent of their parents, yet they made it so easy — too easy.

When I use […]

Home Depot and the smoking zip-zap machine

VigodaI was at Home Depot on Sunday, buying flower pots and some lumber to repair the fence where Sadie the Dog has been plotting her escape. Checking-out of the Garden Department I handed my credit card to the cashier, who promptly dragged out an old zip-zap machine (that’s the technical term coined by BankAmeriCard 50 years ago) and took an impression of my card.

“You’ve been hacked,” I said.

“No, it’s just that my terminal is down so I have to do it the old fashion way,” said the cheery cashier.

“Don’t give me that, you’ve been hacked,” I said.

The lady behind me with fertilizer and a Jack Russell Terrier began to […]

Bitcoin quietly goes legit

bitcoin-logo-3dThe U.S. Marshals Service doesn’t normally make economic policy but this week they apparently did so by auctioning 30,000 Bitcoins, a crypto currency I have written about before. This auction effectively legitimizes Bitcoins as part of the world economy. Am I the only one to notice this?

My first column on this subject was a cautionary tale pointing out the two great areas of vulnerability for Bitcoin: 1) the US Government might declare Bitcoins illegal, and; 2) someone might gain control of a majority of Bitcoins in which case their value could be manipulated. While number two is still theoretically possible it becomes less likely every day. And number […]