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 […]

News we aren’t supposed to know

notacrookI’m writing this post on Wednesday evening here in California. Normally I wouldn’t point that out but in this case I want to put a kind of timestamp on my writing because at this moment we’re at the end of the second day of a concerted attack by the UAE Electronic Army on various DNS providers in North America. If you follow this stuff and bother to check, say, Google News right now for “UAE Electronic Army,” your search will probably generate some Facebook entries but no news at all because — two days into it — this attack has gone unnoticed by the world at large. My last column was about fake news. This […]

Saving the Internet of Things (IoT)

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-10-00-amThis is my promised column on data security and the Internet of Things (IoT). The recent Dyn DDoS attack showed the IoT is going to be a huge problem as networked devices like webcams are turned into zombie hoards. Fortunately I think I may have a solution to the problem. Really.

I’m an idiot today, but back in the early 1990’s I ran a startup that built one of the Internet’s earliest Content Distribution Networks (CDN), only we didn’t call it that because the term had not yet been invented. Unlike the CDNs of today, ours wasn’t about video, it was about the daily electronic delivery of PDF editions of […]

Fifteen years after 9-11 threats have evolved, too

Fifteen years after 9-11 it’s interesting to reflect on how much our lives have — and haven’t — changed as a result of that attack. One very obvious change for all of us since 9-11 is how much more connected we are to the world and to each other than we were back then. Politico has a great post quoting many of the people flying on Air Force One that day with President George W. Bush as his administration reacted to the unfolding events. Reading the story one thing that struck me was the lack of immediate information about the attacks available to the airborne White House. They had televisions with rabbit ear antennas and […]

Outsourced IT probably hurt Delta Airlines when their power went out

DELTA_WING_UP_PFDelta Airlines last night suffered a major power outage at its data center in Atlanta that led to a systemwide shutdown of its computer network, stranding airliners and canceling flights all over the world. You already know that. What you may not know, however, is the likely role in the crisis of IT outsourcing and offshoring.

Whatever the cause of the Delta Airlines power outage, data center recovery pretty much follows the same routine I used 30 years ago when I had a PDP-8 minicomputer living in my basement and heating my house. First you crawl around and find the power shut-off and turn off the power. I know there is no […]