Prediction #7 — 2018 will see the first Alexa virus

There’s a new Marvel superhero series on Fox called The Gifted that this week inspired my son Fallon, age 11, to predict the first Alexa virus, coming soon to an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show cloud device near you. Or maybe it will be a Google Home virus. Fallon’s point is that such a contagion is coming and there probably isn’t much any of us — including both Amazon and Google — can do to stop it.

The Gifted has characters from Marvel’s X-Men universe. They are the usual mutants but the novel twist in this series is that some of these […]

Net Neutrality will die, so let’s take the profit out of killing it.

The U.S. Federal Communication Commission, under the leadership of chairman Ajit Pai, will next week set in motion the end of Net Neutrality in the USA. This is an unfortunate situation that will cause lots of news stories to be written in the days ahead, but I’m pretty sure the fix is in and this change is going to happen. No matter how many protesters merge on their local Verizon store, no matter how many impassioned editorials are written, it’s going to happen. The real question is what can be done in response to take the profit out of killing it?  I have a plan.

The concept of Net […]

I have no boils

This is probably the last picture ever taken of our house in Santa Rosa, California. The time was 11:30PM Sunday and a neighbor had just pounded on our door. Fifty mph winds had been blowing all day but nobody expected fire. Yet the glow you see is from burning houses behind and beside ours. They, too, are gone.

We left with what clothes we could grab. I forgot my computer. I’m still blind and awaiting surgery so Mary Alyce drove one car and we left the other to burn.

By 8AM we were on the Mendocino coast with crappy Internet service and this iPhone. But we were all safe.

Certainly I’d been stupidly feeling a bit sorry for myself, but that ends now.

The […]

Wikileaks finds a business model


1Within minutes of the electrons drying on my last column about the Wikileaks CIA document drop called Vault 7, Julian Assange came out with the novel idea that he and Wikileaks would assist big Internet companies with their technical responses to the obvious threats posed by all these government and third-party security hacks. After all, Wikileaks had so far published only documentation for the hacks, not the source code. There was still time! How noble of Assange and Wikileaks!

OR, Wikileaks has found a new business model. When organized crime offers assistance against a threat they effectively control it’s called a Protection Racket and is against […]

The CIA, WikiLeaks and Spy Versus Spy

Spy_vs_SpyAs pretty much anyone who reads this column already knows, WikiLeaks has dropped a trove of about 8700 secret documents that purport to cover a range of CIA plans and technologies for snooping over the Internet — everything from cracking encrypted communication products to turning Samsung smart TVs into listening devices against their owners. Two questions immediately arise: 1) are these documents legit (they appear to be), and; 2) WTF does it mean for people like us, who aren’t spies, public officials, or soldiers of fortune? This latter answer requires a longer explanation but suffice it to say this news is generally not good for anyone, not even for spies unless […]