Hacking The IOT

This is a post series on cyber crime. For more posts click here or the cybercrime tag below.

It turns out that yesterday’s DDOS attack on a DNS server was carried out primarily by using devices not typically considered computers but connected to the internet.

Read More

Ransomware Posts From Black Hat

This is a post series on cyber crime. For more posts click here or the cybercrime tag below.

This is a bunch of links from the “Black Hat” Hacker conference on ransomware.

First of all the rather scary keynote from Dan Kaminsky.

What was scary about this is that he’s talking about the same possibility of the fragmentation of the internet that I’ve been talking about from the other side. The thing is that you know a neighborhood is going bad when the fences and grates go in. You know a neighborhood is shot when the barbed wire comes out. Most of this is fear rather than actual reality, but when everybody knows somebody that gets hit, it’s hard not be afraid.

What I don’t think that the hacker community realizes is what happens when the essential trust is replaced by fear.  That’s a topic in another post. Suffice to say that the end is not much fun.  Anyway here’s a bunch of post from this year’s Black Hat on ransomware.  They haven’t put up all the talks up yet and I will update and  post the videos as they become available.



The reality of Ransomware: an in-depth study

Black Hat 2016: Ransomware Could Lock Your Brakes … At 75 MPH

One Take Away from Black Hat 2016: Designer Ransomware!

The Guardian seems to sum it up, “we are all screwed.”

Here’s the week in ransomware. No good news for me:





The Power Of The Internet

When I was growing up, one of the things I hated was the research paper.  Every year through middle school and high school we would have to do at least one.  I hated them first because my handwriting was terrible and typing was a pain. The largest reason I hated them was that the actual research was frustrating.  Those of us of a certain age know how it worked.  You were given a topic and off you went to first the school library and then the local main library hoping they had more than one book on whatever the topic was.  And then you would have to put together enough material to make up a ten page paper, with footnotes, which can be difficult when there aren’t very many notes to foot. Frankly as I think about it now, I’m not sure why I didn’t go down to the NYPL just a short distance from Grand Central, but I suspect that I thought that the library was for real researchers, not high school students.  Hey I was a kid and stupid. In any case the typical research paper was a combination of hard fought finds and vivid imagination.

The frustrating part is that you always know that there was more out there if you could just access it. In the  1970’s  that was not possible without a budget for travel and the ability to access library catalogs.  That ‘s why many books you found did not seem to be complete or very deep.  There just was no possible way to have access to enough information to get the full picture.  In order to create a book and get it published, you had to do the best you could and get as much as you could within your budget and then write well enough to give as good a picture as you could

The internet changed that completely.  I ran into that when I was working on the Akihabara post last night. First of all before the internet, doing something like that, say for a magazine would have been expensive and difficult. you would  have to go there and take pictures and go through the magazine’s archives and possibly the NYPL for whatever you could find, look through the stock footage libraries and hope that there was some historical pictures, and go with what you had as the deadline approached.  Now, it was one link to a website with some stuff including this picture of the Akihabara freight station.

Now I’ve been to Akihabara and I look for railroad stuff

so I was interested in where it was.  Now in the 1970’s that would have an unrequited impossible search.  Now it was the work of a google search and some digging through sites to find still more pictures, map location, track maps and other information about this interesting facility.

Getty images has stock photos and video.


There are Japanese sites with yet more history.

Click to access photo.pdf






And ariel photos.



And track maps.



All this from just one picture and a little searching.  This is just ONE of the searches I did today.  With a little more work, this would make a complete article in many of the magazines back in the day. put together in minute, with probably too much information, but I can live with that.

The Top YouTube TV Stars

I think it helps to be a cute kid.  It’s helps more to be entertaining. Here’s Forbes list of the top YouTube channel owners late last year.


If you look at successful YouTubers   you can see that they provide two things, character and value.  The good YouTube Channel, will provide you with an entertaining character in front of the camera, whether it’s somebody you can relate to or just a cute kid, and real entertainment or educational value.  Like the cooking show in the article below, the ingredients can be very simple.   Yet that is enough for an aging Chinese man cooking.

Now 7000 odd subscribers isn’t huge, but the channel means something to 7000 people.


For somebody who grew up in the age of three networks, three independents and PBS, the democratization and variety of entertainment is incredible. Who would think that a guy playing with a hydraulic press would be a hit, but entertainment and humor can attack at any time.


That’s the democratization of YouTube.  Of course the Hydraulic Press channel is hardly the only one where the crazy stuff goes down.


Or where the fine art of screwing around goes on.


Of different kinds.




Then there’s the useful stuff, where real experts share what they know in their areas of  expertise, for instance electronics.











Or industrial design.


The best thing about YouTube is that anybody can be a star.  Look at the first videos of any of these channels and well they are usually pretty crappy.  All you need to do is keep being creative and be real.  The next big YouTube star could be you.



Free Milo

Now Milo Yiannopoulos makes me nervous. maybe because it’s because he looks and acts like a Classical Greek God.  Or the fact that he rubs his gayness in everybody’s face.  Certainly not one to make you feel comfortable. Still, if there is one thing you can say about him, is that he is as smart as he looks.  And that he doesn’t suffer foolish SJW’s gladly.  So when Leslie Jones started twittering about her movie and Milo responded she was completely out of her depth.


Read More

Been There, Done That

Lately there has been a push to have the government impose “net neutrality” and regulate the internet as a public utility.  A lot of people seem to think that this would be a good thing.  But before letting the government camel into the internet tent maybe we should look at previous examples of what happened before.  After all there have been dynamic industries that became regulated.  we should looks at what happened to them and what that cost everybody before rushing into what could be a debacle for every body concerned. :


Looking at the articles, I get certain feeling of deja vu over this. This story is very similar to what happened at the beginning of the 20th century and it’s a story that did not end well for those companies involved. In the end, if the internet becomes a public utility we, the customers are going to be the big losers, just like, in the end the customers of that other industry ended up being the losers.

Those that advocate net neutrality and the turning of the internet into a “public utility” should look at the consequences in another industry that did the same thing. Replace the FCC with ICC and Internet with railroad and look at 1915 rather than 2015 and you can get a good look at what’s likely going to happen with “net neutrality.”

In 1915 the railroads were coming under rate regulation by the ICC to provide fair service. Was the rate regulation necessary? I don’t think so. Rates on the four major Chicago to East coast trunk lines trended downward for all of the last quarter of the 19th Century. The  standard explanation was because large shippers such as Standard Oil were getting “unfair” rates. But most of it was because operation efficiencies were being passed along to customers because the competition between the four large trunk line was so fierce.

Now as to  those “unfair rates that Standard was getting Now those rates existed because the railroad had to provide fewer switching service to Standard becuase Standard shipped entire trainloads in unit train service and Standard’s smaller competitors shipped essentially single carloads. Standard insisted that the operating efficiencies of Standard shipping directly be passed back to Standard and thus to Standard’s customers.  The reason Standard passed on those saving was, that even with it market domination Standard still got an advantage by making it’s oil products as cheap as possible.


Now some of the trunk line railroads, the PRR, for instance pushed for the ICC takeover in the belief that it would bring normalcy to the business. The rate regulation would, for instance eliminate Standard’s special rates. And the four large trunk lines would no longer be competing constantly on rates. They gained an advantage from the regulation the same way that ATT and Comcast will gain an advantage.

On the other hand other railroads like the New Haven were screwed over by the arrangement. In a mileage based rate schedule the New Haven was going to be definite loser. If the PRR had 1000 miles east to west, the NH had barely 300. Now the NH had a long term business plan to mitigate this by creating a fifth trunk line through Canada through aquisition of some smaller railroads( Boston And Maine, The Rutland) and additonal construction of a bridge line into NYC, the country’s biggest market(The NYW&B) that plan was killed by the New Haven’s inability to set better rates for traffic.

In the end, the ICC regulations hurt all the railroads in the North East. The story for those railroads is a loong tale of prosperity turning to ruin. You can see that story in ruined railroad facilities, abandoned trackage and dperessed economies all over the Northeast to this day.

This how the ICC regulation story ended. In addition to a very expensive bailout by the government for the dead railroads of the Northeast. In the end we all paid for the things enacted by the government in the early 1900s.:

It’s just a classic case of watch out for what you wish for, you just might get it. When you advocate for regulations you essentially handing your business to people who may not have your business’s interests in mind. There will be new taxes and I can guarantee that legislation will be proposed and probably enacted so that those extra costs cannot be passed on to customers.


In fact the broadband companies may not be able to pass on those newly enacted customers without losing big chunks of them. The people lobbying for the title II regulation are like the big shippers and some Trunk lines in 1907, lobbying for what they see as an advantage, without undertstanding that by doing this they creating a deal with the devil. Anybody who buys broadband stock expecting great things is just kidding themselves. At least for a long term investment. Regulation is going to make the internet les able to respond to changes and les profitable:

I should tell you how the ICC story more less ended for the railroads. The regulations more or less went quickly to outright takeover supposedly caused by the national emergency of WW1. If you look closely you can see that the ICC created the problems that caused the ICC, coincidently to recommend the takeover. The railroads were able to get control of their property back under the Taft Adminstration, but they carried the ICC like a millstone aroung their necks for most of the 20th Century.


Frankly I think that everybody who believes that an internet takeover by the government should consider that waht you get is an internet run by the likes of John Gruber and managed by the same type people who created the healthcare.gov website. A government run or regulated internet is not something that will be good for the big content producers, the broadband suppliers or the customers. If your business relies on the cloud, if you like to stream video or want to write new apps, if you do anything at all on the internet you take the exampel of what happened to the railroads to heart and lobby against this takeover.