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Strategic Inflection Points

Tech is Global, Right? Not Exactly!

1964 was a harbinger of the future we now inhabit, but no one knew it at the time. It was the year of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at the University of California Berkeley, the first stirrings of the cultural revolution to come. FSM epitomized the fear of a world dehumanized by mainframe computers controlled by corporations. Yet that same year Marshall McLuhan also first articulated his famous concepts of “the medium is the message,” and his vision of a “global village.”

Internet Security

Yesterday's Internet Outage In Parts of U.S. and Canada You Didn't Hear About

A year ago, a DDoS attack caused internet outages around the US by targeting the internet-infrastructure company Dyn, which provides Domain Name System services to look up web servers. Monday saw a nationwide series of outages as well, but with a more pedestrian cause: a misconfiguration at Level 3, an internet backbone company—and enterprise ISP—that underpins other big networks. Network analysts say that the misconfiguration was a routing issue that created a ripple effect, causing problems for companies like Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, and RCN across the country.

Russia

Kaspersky Lab Security Software Implicated in Russian NSA Breach

Many know the name Kaspersky well. Others may only dimly recognize the brand name. Its anti-virus and Internet security software has been around for years in computer stores and OEM’d with computer systems. More than a year ago, I became concerned about what I was learning about Kaspersky Lab and its headquarters in Moscow, I began asking myself hypothetical rhetorical questions. What if Kaspersky was quietly working with the Russian FSB? What if Kaspersky had installed a sleeping Trojan Horse in millions of copies of its consumer computer security software? I was a user of Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity software myself. I knew that it was rated very highly by the tech journals. I liked its elegance and simplicity compared with other competitor products from U.S. based companies like Symantec and McAffee.  Nevertheless, as the Russian hacking of the 2016 election became an ever-larger issue, I decided to pull the plug on Kaspersky because of my fears, though there was no direct evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Kremlin at that time, wiped my system clean, and installed another competitor product. 

Wikileaks

Does the U.S. have a case against Julian Assange?

UPDATE: This mayo615 post from October 2016, discusses the legal complexities of a potential espionage or conspiracy charge against Julian Assange by the United States. My reading that such a charge was likely and possibly imminent, is now fact. Ecuador’s newly elected government insistence that it will continue to provide Assange with diplomatic protection is becoming very thin. It is more likely that time and diplomatic pressure will force Ecuador to give up Assange and cause his extradition to the United States by Great Britain. The increased likelihood of moving against Assange has been heightened in my opinion, by two factors: Obama’s announcement on October 7th that the United States officially holds Russia responsible for the cyber theft of the Democratic National Committee documents released by Wikileaks, and Assange’s own statements of his intent to harm the United States, most recently in a video interview with Bill Maher, which are now coming back to haunt him.

ISIS

Anonymous, Chinese Hackers, RickRolling and ISIS

Anonymous, the murky global and leaderless hacking group has struck out on a campaign to disrupt ISIS’ sophisticated use of the Internet and social media. It claims to have disabled over 11,000 identified ISIS Twitter accounts with looped Rick Astley videos. For those of you not familiar with Rick Astley, he was a 1980’s British pop star of limited talent, whose videos are sometimes painful to watch. For unknown reasons, Astley’s videos have been used in a variety of online pranks and hacking incidents. So Anonymous did the convenient thing and used old Astley videos, a tactic now known as “RickRolling”, to disrupt and confound ISIS Twitter and other social media accounts. I like it. Striking back in this way is probably causing smiles in the French Intelligence Service, U.S. Defense Department, NSA, and GCHQ in the UK.

Globalization

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Largest Cyber Attack In History Slows The Internet

The last two days have seen one of the most interesting and disturbing examples of the ongoing problems with Internet security, and the potential of contending with anonymous groups and aggressive governments who use the Internet for hostile purposes. We have just experienced the largest Internet cyber attack in history. The New York Times, The Guardian and host of other global media and technology news sources, and blogs have seized on this story. Internet experts are pessemistic that anything can be done to defend against this situation, or any other similar attack, other than to find and prosecute the perpetrators. Some experts have speculated that another attack on this scale could have grave consequences for global banking and investment trading systems.

Globalization

Eric Schmidt Nailed It: China's Military Is Hacking Us Silly

the New York Times published a Breaking News Alert on a story written by three of the best NYT investigative journalists. The four page detailed article, “Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.,” provides extraordinary detailed evidence. The breadth and depth of the cyber attacks on the United States go back as far as 2006, and the article describes attacks on numerous industries and hundreds of U.S. companies. Most concerning, there is now compelling evidence of near-miss attacks seeking means to disable our critical infrastructure. There has been much talk about our vulnerability, but until this NYT article nothing has so explicitly exposed our risk to cyber attack from the Chinese military. For me, one of the more interesting details was that the source of the attacks was a PLA building in Shanghai.

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