The KickStarter Paradox

Among the great business innovations of the Internet era are KickStarter and the many similar crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo. You know how these work: someone wants to introduce a new gizmo or make a film but can only do so if you and I pay in advance with our only rewards being a possible discount on the gizmo or DVD. Oh, and a t-shirt. Never before was there a way to get people — sometimes thousands of people — to pay for stuff not only before it was built but often before the inventors even knew how to build it. From the Pebble smart watch to Veronica Mars, crowdfunding […]

Your PBX has been hacked!

phreakThis past week a very large corporation on the east coast was hacked in what seems to naive old me to be a new way — through their corporate phone system. Then one night during the same week I got a call from my bank saying my account had been compromised and to press #4 to talk to their security department. My account was fine: it was a telephone-based phishing expedition. Our phone network has been compromised, folks, and nobody with a phone is safe.

Edward Snowden was right we’re not secure, though this time I don’t think the National Security Agency is involved.

Here’s how this PBX hack came down. Step one begins with looking for […]

A tale of three voicemails

Update – Audio problem solved (I hope). Just click on the play button at the bottom of the text.  Sorry.

I have three sons, Channing, Cole, and Fallon, who as of this week are 13, 11, and 9, respectively. They are all bright boys, full of energy, and completely different from each other. You can see this even in their approach to voicemail.

Each kid goes to a different school and since this mountain we live on has never seen a school bus that means one of us (usually Mama) drives to three schools, dropping a kid at each. To coordinate all this, we thought it was important for every kid to have a phone — all Samsung Galaxy S5’s. Yes, I have Android children.

Cole (11) […]

AWS shows Cloud is NOT a high-margin business

AWSearningsLast week Amazon.com was the first of the large cloud service companies other than Rackspace to finally break out revenue and expenses for its cloud operation. The market was cheered by news that Amazon Web Services (AWS) last quarter made an operating profit of $265 million with an operating profit margin of 19.6 percent. AWS, which many thought was running at break-even or possibly at a loss, turns out to be for Amazon a $5 billion business generating a third of the company’s total profits. That’s good, right? Not if it establishes a benchmark for typical-to-good cloud service provider performance. In fact it suggests that some companies — IBM […]

Where the money is… or was

fedcheckToday was Tax Day in the United States, when we file our federal income tax returns. This has been an odd tax season in America for reasons that aren’t at all clear, but I am developing a theory that cybersecurity failures may shortly bring certain aspects of the U.S. economy to its knees.

I have been writing about data security and hacking and malware and identity theft since the late 1990s. It is a raft of problems that taken together amount to tens of billions of dollars each year in lost funds, defensive IT spending, and law enforcement expenditures. Now with a 2014 U.S. Gross Domestic Product of $17.42 trillion, a few […]