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

Just another sucker on the vine

So it comes to this, a sad, yet necessary departure. A bitter sort of weak surrender. A long-delayed recognition that my reality doesn’t reconcile with my self-perception. Yes, I own a ‘hoover’.

Not just any ‘hoover’, mind. This is a gleaming mulberry 1976 Hoover TurboDrive Junior with one prior and now deceased owner. It’s suction power was unrivalled for the decade of its manufacture and I note, with some satisfaction, its extended handle seems perfectly designed for platform boot wearers. Its action is factory fresh and its suction really sucks.

My initial temptation to road-test it immediately has been resisted largely because I have no carpet but were I not so hung up on the nasty paedophile echo of Gary Glitter’s ‘Leader’ I might take it for glam-glide round the floorboards of my flat. There is sadly an additional problem here – I’ve got no floorboards.

My builder ‘D’ya GetMe’ Dave, is poised to sort out my structural deficiencies. This has involved long conversations about galvanised joist supports and penetrated Victorian slate damp courses during which each sentence ends not with a full stop, but a ‘D’ya GetMe.’ I’m getting on quite well with Dave – it’s my first encounter with a construction professional and, having privately calculated that the work will cost me between 30% and 50% more than the quote and take 30% to 50% longer than the schedule, we have made a breakthrough – I have assured Dave I’m good for a grand and I think, at long last, he gets me.

So here I am with a mortgage, an artisan in my employ and the brand royalty of home suction devices. This was not meant to happen but at least I have resisted acquisition of an iron.

Additional Contributors

Well-known journalists Bob Emmerson and George Malim have agreed to contribute to the blog. This won’t happen for a while because Bob has a trade show in the US to attend, but I look forward to having my own copy disrupted by some well written postings!

Howard Dean, an American Neil Kinnock?

Dean was feted by the media before the nominations started, because of a vocal and visible core of supporters, but then disappeared as the votes were cast. IT Conversations has a very interesting recording of a speech byJoe Trippi who was responsible for Howard Dean’s democratic party campaign at the recent O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. The Dean campaign looked to overthrow the system of interest group money purchasing television spots and presidential ads and so an election. He was inspired by the dialogue empowered by different web technologies.

Joe Trippi admitted that he was defeated by the system of lobbyists, money and traditional media. Dean started with 137,000 USD in the bank, 437 supporters nationally and a campaign team of seven. Dean did manage to use the Internet to get grassroots support to achieve an unparalleled amount of campaign funding from over 300,000 supporters.

The use of to get online supporters to meet up and then plan real world grassroots action over the water cooler, or over the garden fence was a key element of the campaign.

Trippi said that the internet community do not get the harsh realities of real world politics – money matters. It has also shone a spotlight on the established political machine of special interest groups.

Is Trippi the next Peter Mandelson? I don’t know but his tactics have raised awareness of the web as an effective political tool. The key problem with the Internet based campaign is it couldn’t respond to the repetition of negative television advertisements and negative new stories in the established media. So there is hope for PR people and ad agencies yet.

As an aside I would be interested to see how online grassroots lobbying communities like MoveOn (from the people that gave us the original Flying Toasters screensavers back in the day) will influence the political debate.

Keeping a 63-year old happy

My parents came down for the weekend. While my Mum was content to chill out and do some knitting whilst listening to Daniel O’Donnell slaughtering country and western standards, my Dad was at a loss for something to do. Having been told by my friend Kirsty who has a little boy that the Science Museum has free admission, I had a brain wave.

My Dad is a fitter by trade and we spent about two hours finding out about the development of the steam engine and the rise of the internal combustion engine. We found out that James Watt did not invent the steam engine (our school teachers lied to us) but improved on existing designs. We took a brief break and then pushed into the space section and then on into the modern world with everything from a Mills & Boon novel to an transgenic sheep proteins (derived from their milk). So far so good, the digital section did not impress, despite its architectural scale, but the aviation gallery got a big thumps up from Pops.

When he comes down to pick my Mum up next week, we hope to go back to explore more of the Science Museum.

The journey home however was a bit of a trauma with Thameslink trains shutting down their service completely. We had to get home via Milton Keynes (a soul less bit of urban planning) and it took us four hours.