Why I care when people with ‘something to hide’ are hacked


“Privacy” by Melanie Feuerer used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 United States License

It’s all about the Privacy. 

Do some people deserve it less than others?  Who decides?

Online Cheating Site AshleyMadison Hacked
Brian Krebs, @briankrebs Krebs on Security July 19, 2015

When people who are supposed to protect someone’s privacy fail, what should their responsibility be following the failure?  How do you make “someone whole,”  as they say in the insurance biz, following a privacy breach?

Hacks of OPM databases compromised 22.1 million people, federal authorities say     — Ellen Nakashima, @nakashimae, The Washington Post, July 9, 2015

 What are the valid reasons someone’s privacy is violated? National Security? Public safety? Potential violence? Donating to the wrong cause?  Who gets permission? Who oversees this?

“I don’t care if the government listens to me, I don’t have anything to hide. If you don’t have anything to hide, what are you worried about?”

— US citizen comment I read in response to Snowden revelations

Are there standards and regulations that organizations should meet? Who enforces them? What are the penalties if they don’t?

If they don’t follow the standards should there be additional sanctions? Who decides?

“JPMorgan Chase Hacking Affects 76 Million Households”
Announcement of breach delayed months, only revealed due to SEC filing–Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Matthew Goldstein and Nicole Perlroth

What are the requirements for reporting to people when private information is revealed? Who sets these requirements and who enforces them?  Do the agencies suffer from regulatory capture? Do they have a budget or was it slashed so “the market” can decide?

Yesterday on Virtually Speaking Jay Ackroyd  and I talked about cybersecurity, cyberterrorism and end-to-end encryption. I touched on some of these questions, but I think the Ashley Madison breach might get more people to pay attention to this issue. Here are for two reasons why, plus an attitude to notice.

1) Salacious! Schadenfreude!
2) Famous people having sex.

Moral superiority, (“It serves them right, those cheating bastards!”)

The news media will cover all the juicy details because it’s fun, but, like some 1st Amendment fights, privacy protecting should extend to unsavory characters,  such as lying cheaters, who DO have something to hide.

There are criteria on privacy that need be discussed.  It’s easier to say some people don’t deserve it, especially when it’s an activity you don’t approve of. But think about what activities that happen between consenting adults in the bedroom that recently became approved of in many states.

My favorite response to the US Citizen comment is from Glenn Greenwald following the Snowden revelations:

Jay and I discussed the massive Office of Personal Management breach quite a bit but not much about privacy. Part of that was because of a question Jay poised:

 ‘What will it take for people to take this computer security and cyberterrorism seriously?”

My first response was, “An effective attack on the power grid by a non-state actor in which important people die.”

I quoted from Shane Harris’ book @War, (page 52-53) What most people don’t know is that our power grid has been hit twice (that we know of) in 2003 and 2008. But because the entity that appear to be behind it was a State Actor (China) the cases were covered up.

If people die, and those attacks get pointed to ISIS as the entity behind it, that would give certain groups a “Cyber 9/11!” power that they want. But it has to be pointed at a group or individuals that aren’t a huge trading partner.

Today I realized that my answer was incomplete. There need to be multiple attacks on the right kind of infrastructures, in theright regions, and from the right sources.  So for example, power grids, in media dense areas. They need to be TV visual, innocent powerful people or children need to be hurt. The source needs to be an entity without state backing  or an individual.

Also, the reasons need to be the right ones. As we might be seeing in the Ashly Madison case WHY someone starts an attack is important. It’s NOT always about the money. Sometimes it’s revenge. Other times scores to settle. “Senseless” reasons,  like the kind that does not pay off in cash are harder for the media to understand.

It’s all about the Leverage.

The other big issue I mention on the show is leverage.  If you are an entity that has personal information on government employees and their relatives from one hack and you also have information on their financial status from another hack, together you have a perfect tool kit for a Spymaster.

Spymasters don’t sell their info on the open market. They save it. And use it when they need something bigger to happen,  like a Trade deal.

Maybe I’m like Richard Clarke running around with my hair on fire, telling people to do something on this issue and they can’t see the fire.

Vulcans love to be right on things and have nobody listen to them. Just like dirty hippies loved to be right about the war in Iraq and have nobody listen to them then or now.

As Jay pointed out there ARE things that can be done,  both personally,  corporately and federally.  But an attitude of  “small government” and weak regulation conservatives always push is harming our economy and jeopardizing people’s lives.

But I guess they need to wait until cyber attack or computer breach leads physical death to do some deeper investigation into failures and make changes to secure our systems and people’s private data.

I don’t want to assume that mostly conservatives are on the Ashley Madison list, it’s none of my business if they aren’t breaking the law with consenting adults. But if they dodge a bullet this time, maybe they will consider the importance of privacy for everyone.  And do it soon more before more lives are ruined, after all,  as the people at Ashley Madison say, life is short.

Fighting Evil Corp. There’s an App For That!

I’m a crappy chess player. This became clear to me when my 8 year-old nephew beat me while explaining, “The horsey piece can only move in an “L” way Uncle Spocko!”

One of the things they say you learn from chess is thinking several moves ahead, anticipating your opponent’s responses and acting accordingly. I learned this skill from life experience.

Right now I’m watching Mr. Robot. They are looking at the personal reasons people fight big institutions, as well as the human cost of those fights. That’s the part people don’t see, and it can be exhausting.

When I went about the process of defunding RW talk radio, I knew I needed to anticipate how they would respond to my actions.  Then, how they would respond to my responses.

When I started alerting advertisers to the violent rhetoric, sexism and bigotry coming from the RW radio hosts I knew the radio station would use multiple excuses to keep the advertisers. First they discredited me, and then the information. Next, threats of arrest from law enforcement agencies, then hints of exposure of my identity. Finally legal threats, which they carried out. They threw around phrases like libel, tortuous interference with contract . . . → Read More: Fighting Evil Corp. There’s an App For That!

Trump’s Clownish Run For President vs. Pat Paulsen’s

I was in downtown Chicago this week by the river. A woman next to me was taking a photo, of Trump Tower. I asked her, “So are you voting for him?” She burst out laughing, “No!”

Donald Trump running for President is a massive gift to the media, almost as big as his ego. He also is a Trump Tower shaped gift to certain members to the Republican Party running for President.

Sam Seder predicted this months ago on the Majority Report and it’s coming true. Trump is great fun for the press. Look at it from their point of view. Would you rather cover Trump or Ted Cruz? (Cruz makes me feel like his Brylcreem  is oozing out of my speakers when he talks)

Watching Rubio makes them thirsty and listening to Jeb Bush makes them sad. But Trump can be treated as both ridiculous AND serious which meets both tabloids and “Very Serious People” needs in the media.

Come for the Guns Stay for the Racism

I watched the GOP candidates speak at the NRA convention. Trump was energetic, funny and pivoted from “I love the 2nd Amendment” to CURRENCY manipulation in his speech!

It actually wasn’t . . . → Read More: Trump’s Clownish Run For President vs. Pat Paulsen’s

Shark Week!

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Mr. Robot Will Scratch The Corporate Justice Problem in Your Brain

The pilot of Mr. Robot is the most interesting TV show I’ve seen all year. (Watch it free at USA’s site here)

It has the potential to become as enlightening (and predictive) about how our current computer-connected corporate power elite function as Person of Interest did when dealing with the ramification of widespread surveillance and the morality (or lack of) in our detection and execution of possible terrorists.

My recap has spoilers, some you could tell from watching the extended trailer. Here’s the marketing blurb.

In MR. ROBOT, Elliot, a cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night, is recruited by a mysterious underground group to destroy the firm he’s paid to protect. Elliot must decide how far he’ll go to expose the forces he believes are running (and ruining) the world.

The opening scene takes place in a urban coffee shop. Elliot, the lead character, is describing to the shop’s owner why he ending up finding the 100 terabytes of child pornography the owner had that was serving 400,000 users. We don’t see a single computer screen or keyboard during this, just Elliot and the owner.

It all started because he liked the fast wi-fi in . . . → Read More: Mr. Robot Will Scratch The Corporate Justice Problem in Your Brain

Obama on Maron podcast. The Presidency is sort of middle management.


One of the things I love about radio and audio podcasts is that a good conversation or interview can be very enlightening.

President Obama on Marc Maron’s podcast. Photos by Pete Sousa

I recommend people listen to this Barack Obama interview by Marc Maron. Here is the link to listen or download.

I got a couple of things from the interview. First, was how Obama sees himself and his Presidency.  The second was his thinking and decision making process. Third was how he goes about trying to implement change.

The hot topic on Twitter about the interview is the use of the n-word by the President.  It was in context and about racism. I’m sure someone has already lost their mind over it, “Why is it okay for him to say it and not me!?” Yadda Yadda, bark bark, woof woof.   Please. Spare me your disingenuous hysterics.

The end of the interview gave me some hope for the last part of his Presidency, but based on the first part, I’m not expecting something wild, just “a bit better.”

The most interesting insight for me was Maron’s observation at 27:34 that Obama agreed with.  “There is an element of . . . → Read More: Obama on Maron podcast. The Presidency is sort of middle management.

Post-TPP action: Transparency Now!

All I know about lobbying I learned from the movie “The American President.” (During which I determined that Mrs. Spocko was more attractive than Annette Bening.)

The movie shows everything people think they know about lobbying: getting the vote count right, educating congress people, making deals, trade offs and pay offs with different groups in exchange for current or future votes, the unusual bed fellows (literally) and finally dealing with the expectations of, and exposure in, the media.

I saw that movie three times, so clearly I’m an expert on what the lobbyists will do next following this current vote on TPP.

Luckily I have some friends who actually were lobbyists and I talk and listen to them to see what really goes on. I wanted to know what they did after a failure and what they think the pro-TPP people will do next.

But first, what do WE do after success? One of my least favorite phrases after a victory or semi-victory is, “Now the hard work begins.” Screw you Negative Nelly! Bite me Pragmatic Patrick! Piss off Realist Rick!

I say, “Give the fighters a pat on the back!  Give ’em a raise.  Take a bow people . . . → Read More: Post-TPP action: Transparency Now!

TPP: The giant puking sound in your house

I’m sure you have all called or contacted your congress person about TPP. But if this passes and the hidden top secret crap that is included happens, it’s going to mean tens of thousands of Americans getting sick from imported seafood and beef. 100’s will die because of agreements to “harmonize” food safety rules.

But by then it will be too late.

We owe a great deal to the people who leaked some TPP text, but they never released the text about food safety changes. How insane is it that even our elected officials have to rely on Wikileaks to know what was in this twisted scheme? That’s messed up.

After I created the video above I made another one focusing on food safety, but didn’t use it because I couldn’t confirm what was in the text regarding food safety. And that is exactly what the the trade negotiators wanted.

Secrecy keeps the Mainstream Media from hammering on deal specifics. They say,”We can only quote from official sources.” meanwhile everything moves forward under cover of corporate darkness.

Early on I contacted someone at Politico covering the TPP to discuss the food safety part of this “trade” scheme. The ag . . . → Read More: TPP: The giant puking sound in your house

Only One Voter at Santorum Event. Not a Failure for the Billionaire Message


Today Politico ran a story “One voter shows up at Santorum event in Iowa”

It’s a sad story, if you look at it with the premise that a candidate is trying to get enough votes to be president.  But that’s so 2000 and late thinking.

If your goal is to talk about the GOP horse race, and who will eventually win, it can show how badly the campaign is run or how unpopular the candidate is.

But this GOP Presidential race is different. Last Friday Sam Seder and Charlie Pierce explained why. They talked about how every GOP candidate now has a “Pet Politician,” and because of that they will stay in the race for a lot longer than before.  (Link to Majority Report Audio)

Being the first in your yacht club to have a presidential candidate shows human votes are not as important as in the past. It’s about pushing the Billionaire Message. Some billionaires even have more than one PP! (“Collect all 12! Show ’em to your friends!)

Today it’s really about the candidate satisfying their lead billionaire.

So the question is, does this current story satisfy Foster Friess? He’s the billionaire paying for Sanatorum

(Aside, Friess . . . → Read More: Only One Voter at Santorum Event. Not a Failure for the Billionaire Message

Amazing data-visualization of WWII dead

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

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