500MB is small potatoes now

Articles highlighting the 500MB stolen from NASA, suggesting that is a huge amount, are (inadvertently) misleading. 500MB seems like a lot. It used to be a lot. But these days it is small potatoes. Don’t judge a hack by the volume of data.

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It isn't "political correctness" when the issue is real: women under attack in tech

Black Hat had invited Rep. Will Hurd to keynote the Black Hat security conference this year but quickly pulled the invitation after a backlash from some in the cyber security community who believed Hurd has a bad track record in supporting women’s rights. Critics pointed out Hurd’s position enacting legislation that

  • voted for allowing states to restrict abortions (which has gained momentum)

  • voted to defund Planned Parenthood (which does not use federal funding for abortion)

  • voted against a bill to support women in STEM fields

Rob Graham, a significant member of the computer security community, tweeted out that this was just “political correctness.”

Rob post.png

The problem with this view is that it shows a complete lack of understanding or at least empathy of what it is like to be a woman, and especially a woman in tech these days.

Harassment and assaults against women is well documented, and the cyber security community has it in spades.

Bruce Schneier wrote about it back in a 2012 blog post “Sexual Harassment at DefCon (and Other Hacker Cons)”.

Last year Emily Chang’s book “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley” highlighted how pervasive this horrible behavior by men is.

Last year Ava Kofman wrote about the horrible treatment many women are still experiencing in the cyber security community - “CAN #METOO CHANGE THE TOXIC CULTURE OF SEXISM AND HARASSMENT AT CYBERSECURITY CONFERENCES?

And Black Hat event tried to begin to address this problem last year. “BLACK HAT HACKER CONFERENCE BEGINS TO GRAPPLE WITH GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IN CYBERSECURITY“.

Many women in cyber security that I follow on Twitter have posted about their #MeToo experiences.

Just listen to them.

So at a time when women’s rights across this country are being rolled back (mostly by men lawmakers and judges), and then Black Hat invites a keynote speaker who has been instrumental to rolling back those rights for women, only the ignorant should be surprised that many feel this was somewhere between a brain dead to offensive move by Black Hat organizers.

Having said that, I have to admit that I have been ignorant too. As a straight white male with an American sounding name, I honestly cannot remember ever being harassed (except by the occasional Trump troll) much less having to fear for my safety. I had been blind to how much of it was going on. But with the #MeToo movement I have had a chance to learn. And since then, several personal friends have told me their stories.

I encourage others, especially those like me who have had few to no negative experiences, to listen to the experiences of others and try to have a little empathy.



Galap Crater on my kitchen table

Using Apple’s ARKit to put a Mars crater on my kitchen table. This is my weekend project of visualizing digital terrain data. It’s nice to take a break from cyber security.

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Facebook as the scorpion

There is a famous parable called the Scorpion and the Fox. Facebook is clearly a scorpion. Central to their business is the collection of as much information as possible about people, so Facebook can help their customers optimally manipulate you. Facebook just can’t help itself but behave the way it does.

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The Googol, Google, 1e100.net, and Richie Rich

In 1976 I learned what a googol was through a clever Richie Rich mystery. 21 years later the founders of a search engine botched the spelling of the word when they registered their new domain name, but I think they might approve of the villain’s words on the comic’s cover - NOTHING CAN STOP THE '“GOOGOL” NOW!

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Apple Watch - living like Richie Rich, the richest kid in the world

Richie Rich comic book covers often showed what the creators imagined what the greatest wealth in the world could buy. In 1976 that included watches that could play music or make telephone calls. 42 years later, in some ways, I am living like the imagined richest kid in the world could.

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The Rise of the Manipulation Platforms

The new business models enabled by the Internet is highly effective platforms designed to manipulate us. We offer ourselves up for manipulation every day. Even if you think you are immune, the people around you are also being exposed to these manipulation platforms, and they have a very real vote in your life.

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