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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.”

French Tech

Huawei Telecom Gear Much More Vulnerable to Hackers Than Rivals' Equipment – WSJ

A detailed report, prepared by Finite State, a Columbus, Ohio-based cybersecurity firm, concludes that Huawei telecom switching gear is far more vulnerable to hacking than other vendors’ hardware due to firmware flaws and inadvertent “back doors” that were discovered. The report has been circulated widely among cybersecurity experts in the U.S. and UK, and it is considered credible.

Espionage

Harvey Weinstein Hired Israeli ex-Mossad Agent to Intimidate Women Accusers And Journalists

In an extraordinary revelation today by Ronan Farrow, son of Woody Allen and the writer for The New Yorker who broke this story, it was revealed that Harvey Weinstein hired a female Israeli ex-Mossad agent via a private firm, Black Cube, and who used false identities and secret recording devices to intimidate Rose MacGowan and other female accusers of Harvey Weinstein.  Mr. Farrow appeared tonight on PBS Newshour in an interview by Judy Woodruff to detail his investigative findings. This has also now been reported by the Washington Post and other journals. 

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.

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