Mutually Assured Disruption

Symbiot a Texas based Internet security company has announced a new technology that allows companies to ‘strike back’ at cyber attackers. Symbiot is looking to become a sort of ‘Smith & Wesson’ or Winchester of the ‘world wild web’, this may not be a good idea. Imagine giving bank staff access to machine guns. Then imagine telling them that you are going to export their jobs to Mumbai or a 14 year-old kid upsets them and you end up with a Falling Down type scenario. Further imagine that the bank employee kills a whole pile of bystanders.

This is the real-world equivalent of what could happen on the Internet. Hackers and script kiddies use slave machines to mount an attack whilst being concealing their own identities. ISPs and POPs (the internet equivalent of bus companies and roadways) could end up casualties, whilst the real perps get away scot free. In fact, this infrastructure disruption could encourage hackers to seek out and provoke a Symbiot powered response as a ‘denial of service attack by proxy’ on a particular network provider.

Now, imagine if one of Symbiot’s killer boxes was hacked and got into the hands of someone who really knew how to do it?

While the Dept of Homeland Security worries about the risk of radical Islamic hackers, its time they should start looking a little bit closer to home….

You can read my contribution to AlwaysOn about Symbiot here

The curse of Wired Magazine strikes again

Following in the illustrious footsteps of Enron, Vivendi Universal / Vizzavi and Iridium the DARPA Grand Challenge fell victim to the curse of the eight page spread in Wired Magazine.

For those who don’t know the Grand Challenge was a way of DARPA (America’s military think-tank who supported the development of the graphical user interface for computers, the development of packet networks and the ARPAnet (the Internet’s granddaddy)) to get ideas on the best way to develop driverless vehicles (ensuring that the Private Lynch fiasco could not happen again).

An assortment of vehicles were going to navigate without human help from Bakersfield to Las Vegas. The event was feted as a true geek sporting event by intelligent techie site IT Conversations.

Unfortunately the vehicles underperformed with the best only managing to get seven miles down the road. Hopefully the lessons learned will be worth the considerable resources thrown at the problem.