Zero-day Hacked Bugs

Every once in awhile I read a non-fiction book that challenges my intellect. The most recent is called “This Is How They tell Me The World Ends,” by Nicole Perlroth. This account on cyber security scared me to death about the internet and computers in general. It is my conclusion that the only way one is safe from being hacked on the internet is to shut off the computer and pull the plug, and never plug it back in. If you are using a laptop the only way I can think of is to disconnect from the web, and pull the battery.

Cyber security is something that bugs the crap out of me. I have written just recently about my hatred for using passwords. Companies like Google, and Apple are password paranoid. I always tell people that the only one being protected from getting into my programs and sites is me. I don’t remember passwords at all, and these companies are forcing users to input passwords for every segment of their business. Take Google for instance, I am now familiar with Google, but I wasn’t really interested in Google Drive, Google Photos, or Google anything. They now require user names and passwords for each individual segment of their business. Apple has iPhone, Icloud, and Ipie all demanding user names and passwords. I confess that I don’t get into these segments very often so I don’t remember those details. I keep a 3 x 5 card file with the information as my password manager. The trouble with my system is that it is antiquated and cannot keep up with the digital world. In the case of Apple, I have a stack of 3×5’s stapled together that are 1/4 inch thick with information. Usually, by the time I need to use one of these passwords Apple has deemed it too old and requires a new one. That blows the hell out of my system to make all passwords the same. Recently, by the recommendation of my friends, I am searching for a digital password manager that will replace my card file. I am convinced that it might be easier to give in and use the suggested long complicated passwords generated for me and to forget about keeping track of anything. Except, now that I have read this book I cannot knowingly give in to the hacking world by allowing easy access into my world. It is bad enough that every professional program that I use is froth with hacker entry points that would easily circumvent my passwords.

Let me digress for a moment from the general theme of this post. I like to read news, that is genuine news, and not all the political clap-trap being put before us as news. Over the last few years there have been some notable stories I have followed and forgotten. One of them was a story about a mysterious bug that took over Iran’s computers and disabled (destroyed) several thousand computers they used to control their centrifuges to enrich Uranium. At the time, there was no proof, but the speculation was that the United States and Israel were responsible. Another story, more recent, involved a complete power blackout in Ukraine that crippled the country for days that was attributed to Russia.

As it turns out, both of these stories are accurate and both hacks caused extensive and expensive damage to the countries they were perpetrated on. STUXNET was the invention of the U.S. Our government genii invented this mechanism by sewing several known software-bugs together and also invented a way to sneak it onto an Iranian computer. It took a while for this new bug to work it’s way through the Iranian network, but eventually, it infected a lot of machines, which in turn infected the devices controlling the centrifuges. I give our government an “A” plus, plus, plus for committing an act of war upon Iran without hurting people.

According to author Perlroth, the United States unleashed a weapon that other countries either never thought of, or were afraid to undertake. The end result was a string of cyber attacks by Iran on the U.S. and also from other countries all using “zero-day” openings in software that allowed hacks to occur(a zero-day opening is a hole in software that allows another hacker to enter and infect the program). For years Hackers have been finding these openings in programs and a market for them has developed. At first they were being sold for a few dollars each. As brokers began to understand the value of the bugs the prices shot up. The hope was always that the company whose software the bug was found in would buy it and fix it. Instead, the bugs were sold to the highest bidders which were often countries that could benefit by using these bugs in cyber warfare. The STUXNET was developed using several zero-day bugs. The prices on the market shot up to $250,000 and higher. The U.S. with its deep pockets bought many at millions of dollars a bug. They didn’t use them but rather stored them for future use. After STUXNET, the cyber world got the idea to do the same and wage war the same way.

On the Ukrainian front a special task force of Russian hackers was assigned the task of developing cyber war. They began by developing small discreet components which caused trouble in the Ukraine but because of the size of each they were not considered dangerous. What the world cyber experts did not figure out was that Russia was testing the Ukrainian systems with their hacking bugs. Eventually, the world found out that Russia’s goal was to shut off the lights of a country, and this was probably a test to determine how to shut off the lights in America.

This book is loaded with story after story of hacks that were publicized, but the public didn’t think much of them or was too dense to accept the fact that these wars were taking place on a regular basis. When we think of countries going to war against one another we think of planes bombing sites, tanks shooting buildings to pieces and soldiers shooting each other in the field. We don’t think of war being computers in banks and hospitals being crippled with millions of dollars of damage, or you and me having a bank account hacked and drained of our savings. Luckily, so far that is because the damage is restricted to the computers whose programs had the zero-day bug in them.

Another example is Russia’s attempt to influence the election in this country. I truly believed the crap that Hillary was the one trying to cause our problem, but she was accurate in blaming the Russians. Trump (my hero) on the other hand sided with the Russians to aid him in his quest for the presidency. All I can think of in his defense is the story about Senator Harry Reid from Nevada claiming that Mitt Romney didn’t pay his taxes. After Romney lost to Obama and everyone was asking Harry how he could tell such a blatant lie is “that Obama won the election didn’t he?” This has truly soured me on the election process and politics in general. All of the lies that were told about Russia trying to affect the election were not lies, they were true, but Trump took advantage to use the Russian influence against Biden.

I wrote several times advising not to trust any election in any state that uses computers in the process. there is only one thing worse than using a computer and that is using a computer that is connected to the internet. Author Perlroth used several more examples in her book like the Russian hacking of the DNC. She also explained that hacking into a state’s voter database invites the opportunity to change a voter’s party or to change his vote, and a number of other egregious offenses.

Finally, I am getting back to the point where I broke off above. What can be done about all this shit happening worldwide against us? First, we can regulate the entire software industry and require that they have controls in place to monitor their products. Except, regulation stifles corporations from creativity in favor of safety. Congress won’t buy it. Why don’t we require software companies to ask the public to find these zero-day bugs and pay for them, so they can fix their products? Again, it requires a Congress that is not in the pocket of lobbyists. Why don’t we offer tax incentives for companies who will comply with hack free software? Again, the answer is lobbyists.

There is no easy fix for this problem, but I would certainly be in favor of government regulation of the software industry to produce programs that would offer us some degree of protection from cyber warfare. Our Constitution dictates that the government protect the people. Just as banks are regulated to protect us why not software? Especially software that can be used to harm both the people and the country.

There is a lot more in this book that I have not tried to cover such as China’s role in the world. It is a huge subject, and Nicole Perlroth spent many years researching for her book. Once you read the story, the title will make perfect sense.

Technology Is Beautiful, When It Works

One of my favorite sayings is “technology is wonderful when it works, when it quits working life suddenly becomes horrible. A couple of weeks ago I experienced a failure of the connection between my phone and my ears. We sent a man to the moon and recently landed an unmanned ship on Mars, but we are still unable to produce a hearing aid that works effectively. My aid is made by Siemens, a German company the size of General Electric. Their products are world renown for reliability. One of their most reliable products is jet engines. Yet, when it comes to the lowly hearing aid it lacks something. Probably because everything they make is the size of a locomotive and the hearing aid is the size of a pea. The hearing aid I currently used is a now called Signia. Siemens finally decided to break off the hearing aids from their parent company and to let it stand on its own. That is common is big business. Cut it loose and let if fly on its own.

Bluetooth technology is separate from Siemens, and most likely Siemens has a license agreement with Bluetooth to connect their hearing aids to the rest of the world and to my ears. It is Bluetooth that allows my phone to be piped into my ear. For a hearing impaired person that is a miracle. Listening to a phone conversation over a common phone or a device like the iPhone is not a pleasant experience. First, if I hold the phone too close to my ear I get a shrill feedback. Second, If I accidentally touch my cheek against the touch pad I readily disconnect myself in favor of some app on my phone. Third, phone companies today cut the amount of energy and effort it takes to transmit real sound over the airwaves. They conveniently cut frequencies that they deem unnecessary for people to hear a conversation. To a hearing impaired person these missing sounds contribute to their handicap. When I get the sound piped into my ear directly, it is a thousand times more effective. The same holds true for televisions and radios. With the Blue Tooth device sending the sound directly into my ear the experience is enjoyable. As opposed to listening to a program via tinny-television speakers into a tiny hearing aid microphone located behind my ear and then piped into my ear canal through a tiny hearing aid receiver. I love my Blue Tooth, except when it stopped working.

My trusty Bluetooth pendant has hung around my neck for three plus years without any disruption in service. Each night I plug it into a charger and in the morning I rehang it on my body. The necklace is really an antenna it uses to transmit signals. If I take the necklace off I no longer get sound piped directly into my ears. I made an appointment with my audiologist to have it fixed.

Siemens Easy Tech Pendant for Bluetooth

In the past year I have had a couple of problems with my hearing aids and have had to take them in for service. Because of COVID I could not enter the building. I called when I arrived and they came out to my car to learn what the complaint was. This time, I called thinking the routine is the same. It changed. They now allowed me to enter and I was able to sit opposite the technician and explain my problem. I asked him where Dr. Laura was. He said she no longer works for us. I know she would have been able to resolve the problem much quicker but she wasn’t there any more. Mike as he is called honestly told me he has never seen a device such as mine. After all it is three years old and technology changes rapidly. He found a number on the device and called it. Luckily, the other end knew of this model and told him it is repairable for a fortune. Visions of spending a fortune to have this device repaired and then my hearing aids crash. This is the third set I have owned and each has failed at three years and a few months. Regardless, it is only money so I went for the repair. Hopefully, the aids will last long enough to make it worthwhile.

Technology is beautiful when it works, but when it doesn’t I want to stomp on it.

My Idea Of A Green New Deal

The world will be hard pressed to give up oil for one reason alone. Where will we get plastic for all the things we use? Plastic has become a mainstay of our lives. It is in everything. Plastic is made from oil. So when we stop drilling for oil and using oil, where will we get material for plastic bottles, dishes cutlery? There are so many things made from plastic that waste disposal is a major problem. Communities are dumping their waste in the oceans with the result being that the oceans are polluted. We need better answers for how to address plastic disposal. The video below is one answer to using wasted plastic. It brings the material into another dimension of usage, a new life. The new life will be more lasting than the first life of the original product that the plastic was used for. The second life will last for decades while the first life may have only lasted for minutes, weeks, or months. Watch and tell me this isn’t a good idea for recycling?

Stealing Trade Secrets

When you are in business and working your ass off to develop a new product, and someone sneaks into your building and steals that secret, and then builds a competing product that beats yours to the market place would you be angry? I would, and I am. I don’t have any secrets because I’m not researching or developing a product, at least not anymore. When I did work, I was researching and developing new products continuously. I can vouch for the amount of energy it takes to do that. Thankfully, my boss, who happened to own the company had a tough security policy in place. His philosophy was that he pays for developing new products and his competitors should do the same. He refused to give competitors the keys to the factory.

There was nothing he could do about a competitor buying our product and reverse engineering it, or giving it to one of our material suppliers to have them analyze it. I did the same thing, but that is fair. What is not fair is stealing the key design features and or the process for making a product from the producer.

Today, I read another news article about how China has infiltrated so many of our institutions of learning and research to find shortcuts to their success. They don’t have the brain power to do the job so they use any method they can to take products to market. It seems they have the money to bribe employees within key markets but not the money to develop the same information. Actually, I think they have the money. What they don’t have is people smart enough to think for themselves.

Why does China do this? Because they can. We let them in and open the files for them to see. Yes, they are thieves and they take advantage of our country at every opportunity, but that is because we let them do it. We look upon them as a country with too many people to feed and as a backward nation so we tend to be loose with our information. It is my opinion that America will continue to get raped by China until we take action against that happening. A few new laws might help, but what will help the most are tough security policies within companies. If a company is complaining that China is stealing its secrets then that company should take a look in the mirror and examine its security rules and its philosophy on transparency. Transparency and security don’t always mix. The most secure companies operate under handicaps in the industry. I for one thought our policies about not speaking to vendors about our processes and designs made my job a thousand percent tougher because i couldn’t get technical information from vendor experts without divulging my information. The result was we had to expend more time and effort to learn what we needed when experts in companies like DuPont, Monsanto, Celanese had super labs with a myriad of Ph.D.’s hired to help customers.

Competition is what makes capitalism work as well as it does. Competition keeps companies sharp and focused. All it takes is for a competitor to tweak a design to make it better than yours and bingo you just lost. The end result is you spend more money catching up and out doing the foe. If the profit is there it is worth doing, if not, you may just give it up and sell it cheaper than him to save your initial investment. All products have a life cycle and the first one on the market may last for forty years as did the products I worked on. In today’s world the life cycle may only be eighteen months, meaning your product will be out dated by a newer product that people will want more than your tired old eighteen month one. With products that have such a short life cycle security is imperative.

What really gets me is the auto industry. Have you ever wondered how new cars always look eerily similar to each other? Sure they are noticeably different, but their general shapes and lines are similar. Many times I have seen cars in the parking lot that looked like mine but it wasn’t mine. I blame that on poor security within the auto industry. These guys must be sending each other design files via internet to compare shapes and features. Of course cars require a lot of tooling to make, such as dies, and molds. The tools are made by outside companies. This outside source is ripe for picking and giving the competition free peeks at designs. The owner I worked for understood this and insisted that all tooling needed for making our products will be done in house. Now that is expensive, but he felt it worth the money.

My advice to companies, hospitals, laboratories, etc that are losing information to the Chinese is simple, adopt a policy of ‘if you need to know it you get to know it.’ If you don’t need the information on your job you won’t get it. The key is to adopt the policy, and then to enforce it. If you don’t you will be raped over, and over, and over again. You know what is said about doing the same thing over, and over and expecting a different result, that is the definition of insanity.

Dreams

My pillow wrestled with me all night long while I dreamt sad dreams. I couldn’t believe the sadness that overwhelmed me even though I was in a deep sleep. The dream was about my former place of employment. Mind you, I retired in 2001 and yet I dreamed about the dismantling of the manufacturing plant where I spent a huge part of my life.

There was a lot of confusion that didn’t make sense as in most dreams, but the theme dealt with ending the life of a very successful manufacturing plant that began in the 1950’s and continued producing until sometime in the 2010’s. The product line consisted of two items in various sizes. One was a plastic duct for routing wire, and the second was a plastic tie to bind loose wires together. These products evolved into a catalogue of the same in various material, colors, lengths, and accessories to enhance the finished product of electricians who used them in their work. As most successful companies do, ours grew. By the time I left the company our product line was merely a section in a large catalog and a department within a larger division. The products still have life, but no longer merit the attention they once did. They still produce profit and therefore they continue to live, but at the sign of a decline the business will change the model and eventually they will be sold or dropped.

Throughout his life the owner re-invested his profits to make more stuff. Out first plant (the one in my dream) became one of eight around the world. Eventually, the product I spent my life designing, improving, and making became a Division. Each of the manufacturing plants had their own product specialties, and they also grew. Of the seven domestic plants in the towns of Tinley Park, New Lenox, Romeoville, Cummings, Burr Ridge, Lockport, and Orland Park four have been moved to foreign countries. Three of the plants were sold and repurposed by the new owners. Only one, the one I toiled in, is gone from the face of the earth, and now I am having dreams about it.

I don’t miss being there anymore, and I am forgetting the names of the people with whom I worked, but I still recognize their faces although with an extra twenty years on them it takes a few seconds to register who they are. Why my brain decided to play this movie about the dismantling of the Tinley Park plant makes no sense to me. The second thing that makes no sense is the feeling of sadness that overwhelmed me. Maybe it is because four of my former bosses have passed as well as the owner, and their souls were uneasy last night. What did I do to poke my mind into this confusing whirlwind of disconnected stuff being removed, sold, destroyed, or sent someplace else?

All day, I’ve been feeling down because of this dream. Maybe it was because I took a bike ride yesterday instead of a walk. My entire body might have gone into automatic as it did for the many years that I commuted by bicycle to the office. I didn’t drink anything unusual, nor did I over eat. I will never solve this mystery and once this post is online I will put the whole affair to bed.

I enjoyed the fire fly display the night before much better.

Tracey J Boothe Publishing Blog

Nature, books, exploring, publishing, photography, video, short films, lifestyle

Jim Campbell's

"Inside Every Progressive Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out"

Wavy and Anchored

The waves may come crashing down, but they will not break me.

Journeyman's Journal

This is a journal of the art of woodworking by hand

KetoJENic Vibe

🥓🥑🍳 Health and Wellness based, Easy Recipes, and Keto Product Reviews

Quotes Database

Your Site Of Influential Quotes!

The Lockdown Chef

A cooking survival guide for those who don't know how

My Serene Words

Seeking Solace in the horizon of life & beyond

MRS. T’S CORNER

https://www.tangietwoods

ESL Ventures

Teach ESL and Travel the World

Heart Felt

This platform is for the people who likes to talk straight from the heart🤩

THOUGHTS OF PESHY

on personal experiences and things I'm passionate about

Suzette B's Blog

Inspiration and Spirituality **Award Free**

Bhutadarma

Nothing is impossible (at least that does not violate the laws of physics). When you can..violate the laws of physics!

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind

summershaffer

A topnotch WordPress.com site