Town Hall Meeting

12 Dec 2014

Sony Hack Thoughts

Filed under: — Al @ 11:35 am

–UPDATE Jan 25, 2016 —-

Seems the hack caused little damage to their stock price as it is now $21.13, over a year later.


My biggest surprise is that something this awful hasn’t happened before.  Usually hackers steal data and try not to make a big deal out of it.  Here, they seem clearly interested in taking down the company.  Sony is doing a great job helping them by having terrible security practices, having seeming racist email conversations, and having odd salary choices.  So far, the data made public has included:

1. Internal email communications
2. Full Employee Records (SSN, offer letters, salary, etc)
3. Medical information, including what treatments were being given and how much they cost
4. Intellectual Property (soon to be released movies, scripts)

Some of the more sensational things are the conversations between the chair of Sony Amy Pascal and a powerful producer Scott Rudin. Some published emails show them making very racist comments about President Obama and condescending ones about Angelina Jolie. The innocent victims are all the current and former rank and file at Sony who now how to live with very private medical data online and/or their SSN forever.

Someone obviously wants Sony to go down and go down hard. No one knows who actually did it yet or how they did it. Sadly if Sony would have kept all this data separate at least they could have minimized the damage. Why have accounting data on the same subnet as your intellectual property? Its insane. I have a feeling their security department is either non-existent or not big enough for their network size.

As of today their stock is worth $20.74 today and was $21.63 the day the hack was made public on Nov 24. A couple questions linger for me: will Pascal get fired for her clearly racist remarks and will lawsuits from employees be allowed to go through the courts and how much the damages will be?

16 Dec 2013

Federal Judge Rules on NSA Spying Program Today…

Filed under: — Al @ 1:20 pm

…shocker, it’s likely illegal! Nice to see someone with power do the right thing.

Judge: NSA spying ‘almost Orwellian,’ likely unconstitutional

In a stinging rebuke to President Barack Obama’s surveillance policies, a federal judge on Monday branded the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone data “almost Orwellian” and likely a violation of the Constitution.

Appeals Court Judge Richard Leon invoked Founding Father James Madison and the Beatles in a frequently scathing ruling. Leon, appointed by then-President George W. Bush, ordered the government to halt bulk collection of so-called telephony metadata and destroy information already collected through that program. But he suspended his order as the case works its way through the courts.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Leon wrote.

The judge also dealt a blow to the government’s argument that such surveillance programs — a source of controversy ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed their reach in a series of unauthorized disclosures — are necessary to thwarting terrorist plots.

“The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature,” he wrote.

Read the rest here.

06 Aug 2012

Facebook CIA Project

Filed under: — Al @ 4:13 pm

Funny and true. Very very true.

20 May 2011

Facebook is ‘Most Appalling Spy Machine Ever Invented’

Filed under: — Al @ 7:27 pm

FYI to Facebook users (Google or Yahoo! too). The interview touches on Facebook about 2 minutes in. He also touches on how the NY Times and the Guardian have broken their agreement to only redact things that save peoples lives – they now redact wikileaks info to save reputation and profit.

The interview was done by the Russia Times and the text can be found there.

20 Jan 2011

How to Win Votes and Influence People – The Wrong Way

Filed under: — Al @ 11:55 am

Mother Jones magazine has a great article this month exposing the “Tea Party Patriots” organization as a pyramid scheme derived from Amway and Herbalife, whose founders are not coincidentally Right Wing, and now Tea Party activists. The idea in Amway and Herbalife is to convince others to work for you, and give you a cut of their money, and then get others to work for them, and so on, hence the pyramid. The money flows up in the billions, if you are Amway. This is also called “Multilevel Marketing.” In Stephanie Mencimer’s article, she shows how the TPP does this too, by getting activists to send them money, so they can get more activists, so they can get more money. The network itself is the product, which as we know (because its how Google and Facebook make their billions) is worth a lot of money, and of course has serious privacy implications. Another very informative point Mencimer makes is that the Multilevel Marketing pitch of “freedom from bosses, schedules, and financial worries” fits right into the Tea Party pitch.

How to Win Votes and Influence People:
Is the tea party movement’s biggest group just a marketing scheme?

Mother Jones, Jan-Feb, 2011 by Stephanie Mencimer

There’s a book Mark Meckler recommends to reporters and others seeking insight into the tea party juggernaut. Called The Starfish and the Spider, the popular business text explores the “unstoppable power” of decentralized organizations. (Cut off a spider’s head and it dies; cut off a starfish’s leg and it may grow into a new starfish.) “We’re like the starfish,” Meckler, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the movement’s factions, remarked in February. “There is no head, there is no leader of the organization. There are thousands of starfish out there, and they are self-replicating in that way.”

Meckler, it turns out, is intimately familiar with this kind of self-replication: For years, he was a top distributor for Herbalife, a company with a long history of runins with state and federal regulators that has been accused of preying on consumers with promises of easy money and health miracles via nutritional supplements. Multilevel marketing (MLM) companies like Herbalife (and Amway, Prepaid Legal Services, and others) make the bulk of their money not by selling retail products, but by recruiting independent distributors, who then make money by recruiting even more distributors. The more people you recruit, the more income you get. Like the tea party movement, these companies tout a bottom-up approach and depend on a never-ending supply of people willing to work long hours with no assurance of pay.

Read the rest here

04 Jan 2010

2009: Year in Review

Filed under: — Al @ 11:35 am

From the Inauguration, to Newspapers crumbling, to the Peace Prize, to Democrats. 2010 really is the Year of the Tiger!

Goodbye to 2009, Hello to 2010: Year of the Tiger


Once again hands are raised in stupefaction. How could they have missed him – meaning in this case Umar Abdulmutallab the Nigerian bomber on that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Why, his own father – one of the most powerful bankers in Africa – gave the US embassy in Lagos a warning! He was on the US master computer list of potential terrorists but never made it on to the watch list.

The Truthers reject the obvious answers – caution, bureaucratic inertia, buck-passing, turf fights – and say it was a plot. Obama joins Bush and Cheney in the big conspiracy. It won’t be long before David Griffin rushes out a book on the affair.

Personally, I’m not at all dismayed at evidence that intelligence gathering networks are flawed, that bureaucrats pass the buck. Hyper-efficiency in these matters indicates we have arrived at the perfect police state.

Of course there is room for common sense and elementary vigilance. In the case of the Virginia Tech killer there was plenty of evidence that Cho Seung-hui was a time bomb waiting to explode. Students talked about him as a possible shooter and refused to take classes with him. His essays so disturbed one of his teachers with their violent ravings that she arranged a secret signal in case she needed security during her tutorials.

And then was there was proof positive that the time bomb had exploded and the mass murder session began in the engineering building, the police state proved all too human in actual performance. The police cowered behind their cruisers until Cho Seung-hui finished off the last batch of his 32 victims, then killed himself. Then the police bravely rushed in and started sticking their guns in the faces of the traumatised students, screaming at them to freeze or be shot.

Read the rest here

03 Jul 2008

Art Exhibit: Photos of Spy Satellites

Filed under: — Al @ 9:23 pm

Even though these things don’t technically exist, artist Trevor Paglen has taken photos of 189 spy satellites and has put them on display at UC Berkeley. Below is one of the photos. Check out the Wired article about it here. The exhibition is August 6th through September 14th. Funny quote from Paglen: “The National Reconnaissance Office cannot classify Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.”

Spy Satellite Art Trevor Paglen

29 May 2006

Encrypted (and thus private) Phone Call Technology Released

Filed under: — Al @ 1:33 pm

Philip Zimmermann, who brought us PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for encrypting email for free, has just released encrypted VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol aka internet phones) software. See the story in the NY Times here. The name of the free software is Zfone. You can download Zfone free here.

15 Mar 2006

Sign Up If You Agree Bush Should Be Censured

Filed under: — Al @ 9:43 pm

MoveOn has started a petition to be sent to your local Senator to stand up with Senator Feingold to censure Bush. The Bush administration is using fear to get Americans to allow themselves to be illegally monitored. Information came out this morning, as reported here on Democracy Now!, that at least one pacifist group has been monitored. I believe the Bush administration is using this power to eliminate dissent, and so I signed the petition. Go to this site to sign up:

13 Feb 2006

Upcoming Protests in March

The anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is coming up again. There will be mass protests all around. Demonstrate your disgust for militarism, greed, nepotism, cronyism, or just go out and meet a bunch of fellow peaceful citizens. Try a google search to find a protest near you, or any of the following links:

Peace No War

12 Aug 2005

Okay Folks, Opportunity For Mass Protest

September 24, 2005 – mark your calendars! It’s a great opportunity to protest the illegal war on Iraq, the illegal occupation of Haiti, the attempted and failed coup on Venezuela’s president, and any of the other U.S. foreign or domestic policy horrors you can think of. The main protest will be in Washington, D.C. There will also be major ones in at least Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Go to our demonstrations page for links to more information.

Protest For Peace

05 Mar 2005

What Is Fascism?

Kathy found this video defining what fascism is (about 2 minutes) and alluding to what the U.S. government has been doing that falls under the definition.

27 Feb 2005

Ordering Pizza Made Easier

Filed under: — Administrator @ 11:12 pm

Andy suggests viewing this creative example to highlight the issue of privacy.

19 Feb 2005

No Place To Hide

Filed under: — @ 9:50 pm

Award-Winning Journalist Robert O’Harrow goes behind the scenes of our emerging surveillance society in his book, No Place To Hide, and examines how private companies and the government are working together to collect massive amounts of data on citizens.
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details about our lives are no longer our own
.” O’Harrow was interviewed recently on “Democracy Now!

Democracy Now!
May 21, 2024

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