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 […]

The Internet of Crap

silverchambersCisco CEO John Chambers gave a keynote speech last week at the Consumer Electronics Show laying out Cisco’s vision for what he called the Internet of Everything and other people are calling just the Internet of Things. The idea is very simple: put intelligence in every device and connect them all together on the Internet. And the idea behind the idea is even simpler: the everything is what we’ll first have to throw away. Because that’s the only way the Internet of Everything can work.

Throw away your routers, wireless and wired. Throw away your network adapters, wireless and wired. Throw away your modems. Throw away your network extenders. Throw away anything with a radio or […]

Is cyber insurance AAA for data or another back door?

GMCtowA few days ago I promised “tomorrow” a column about the future of data security. Then, just as the electrons were flowing on that DefCon column, I bought on eBay a 1978 GMC Royale motorhome in Bismarck, North Dakota that Channing and I have been trying to bring home ever since. We’ve so far broken down in Fargo, North Dakota (air suspension leak) and Brookings, South Dakota (ignition failure), but are now back on the road headed for California. We met Rick, the tow truck driver who used to be a rodeo bull rider, and Wayne Westerberg, the RV mechanic who gave up his Friday night to get us back on the road. Try Googling […]

Advance to the rear: Is military Win8 computing the future of computing?

armydriveThe U.S. government, which is usually very slow to adopt new technologies, signed an agreement recently to move much of the Department of Defense to Windows 8. The three-year, $617 million deal for up to two million seats is a good proxy for where American business users are headed. Or is it? Microsoft of course hopes it is, but I think that’s far from a sure thing.

This isn’t just trading Windows XP for Windows 8. The U.S. Navy, which isn’t (yet) included in this deal, only recently signed their own agreement with Microsoft to take the fleet to Windows 7. But Windows 8, being touch enabled and running all the way from smart phones to […]

More stupid IBM tricks put customer data at risk

I heard from dozens of readers this morning about a message IBM sent to its current employees concerning their 401K plan — changing it from a contribution in every paycheck to a single contribution at the end of the year. Of course if you are laid off that means no annual contribution, less retirement savings, but a real bonus to the company. This, in itself, isn’t worth a column. It’s just Scrooge IBM being more Scrooge-like in search of that 2015 earnings target. What is worth a column is putting this news in the context of IBM having failed its recent internal security audit, which should concern IBM customers.

What, they didn’t tell you?

How well is […]