"data warfare" entries

Stacks get hacked: The inevitable rise of data warfare

The cycle of good, bad, and stable has happened at every layer of the stack. It will happen with big data, too.

First, technology is good. Then it gets bad. Then it gets stable.

This has been going on for a long time, likely since the invention of fire, knives, or the printed word. But I want to focus specifically on computing technology. The human race is busy colonizing a second online world and sticking prosthetic brains — today, we call them smartphones — in front of our eyes and ears. And stacks of technology on which they rely are vulnerable.

When we first created automatic phone switches, hackers quickly learned how to blow a Cap’n Crunch whistle to get free calls from pay phones. When consumers got modems, attackers soon figured out how to rapidly redial to get more than their fair share of time on a BBS, or to program scripts that could brute-force their way into others’ accounts. Eventually, we got better passwords and we fixed the pay phones and switches.

We moved up the networking stack, above the physical and link layers. We tasted TCP/IP, and found it good. Millions of us installed Trumpet Winsock on consumer machines. We were idealists rushing onto the wild open web and proclaiming it a new utopia. Then, because of the way the TCP handshake worked, hackers figured out how to DDOS people with things like SYN attacks. Escalation, and router hardening, ensued.

We built HTTP, and SQL, and more. At first, they were open, innocent, and helped us make huge advances in programming. Then attackers found ways to exploit their weaknesses with cross-site scripting and buffer overruns. They hacked armies of machines to do their bidding, flooding target networks and taking sites offline. Technologies like MP3s gave us an explosion in music, new business models, and abundant crowd-sourced audiobooks — even as they leveled a music industry with fresh forms of piracy for which we hadn’t even invented laws. Read more…

Join me for the Strata Online Conference on data warfare on January 22nd

Learn more about potential attack vectors and how to defend against them

Jeez, the days are flying by,” I muttered to myself the other day. The next Strata Online Conference on data warfare is just around the corner. I’ve been excited about this event for some time. How could I not be excited? There will be discussions on using data for evil, hacking cybersecurity, crowdsourcing identity theft, black hat data science, and more.

As I have referred to before, I just love thought provoking and candid discussions.

I first heard about the event when Kathy YuAlistair Croll, and I met at the SF Ferry Building to talk about Strata over breakfast. I’m not a morning person. It takes a few moments for the caffeine to take effect. Alistair is the opposite. I don’t know if Alistair had his dose of caffeine earlier that day or if he just generates his own energy. Whatever it is, it enables him to chair Strata, run his own business, keep up with his precocious two-year-old daughter, and co-author the forthcoming Lean Analytics. Yet, that morning, I was half-tuning Alistair out while I was sipping on my coffee and taking a picture of my crispy caramelized waffle. Yes, I’m that person. But when Alistair started talking about data warfare, he had my full attention. As we rely more upon data, we become more vulnerable to various attacks. It is important for us to learn more about what the potential attack vectors could be and how to defend against them. The speakers at the upcoming Strata Online Conference on data warfare will get us all thinking about this.

The speakers and the topics of their sessions include: Read more…