A few observations while traveling the Net Neutrality Highway.

The first modern telecommunications law passed in 1934.  It formed the FCC.  When cable was introduced in the 1070’s the FCC said they should be treated like the telephone carriers.

This and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 laid the ground work for what we now know as “net neutrality”.
So I first heard the term “net neutrality” in 2004.  It was when the FCC made the “Brand X decision”.  They decided to treat cable and DSL differently for regulatory purposes by deregulating cable.  I have done a bit of research. Why was it called “The Brand X” decision.  Apparently Brand X internet was a local Southern California internet provider in the Santa Monica area.

Originally it was because there was an ISP in North Carolina who was blocking a VOIP service that conflicted with their own.

In 2005 AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre warned that ISP’s want to demand a cut from every website just to reach their customers.

In 2006 In an attempt to explain why the consumer protections that exist for the phone system should not extend to the internet, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says “The internet is a series of tubes”.

2008 Comcast blocks Bit Torrent and gets sued by the FCC. Comcast appeals and wins.

2012 AT&T blocks Apples Facetime unless the AT&T subscriber enters into a “mobile share” plan.  AT&T is hit with lawsuits and they back down.

In 2014 the FCC chairman is forced to go on record that he is not a “Dingo” as John Oliver calls out the FCC for not protecting Net Neutrality.

So, as you can see there is plenty of reason to be concerned.  Internet providers and telecoms want to protect their investment and I have no problem with this.

However is should be plainly evident by now that these large companies who provide an absolutely invaluable service are motivated by the bottom line, stock performance and stock holders.  Imagine the electric company or gas company interfering or blocking some startup who has come up with an innovated way to save money using your electricity.  Look at the solar industry.  There is so much backlash from the local power utilities over solar.  We went solar in 2012.  I was told our rates would freeze.  Well it turns out not only did our rates not freeze but the DWP wants to raise rates because they aren’t getting enough revenue because so many people are using solar.  If the solar company had known the power company would do this, maybe they never would have started their business.  Its the same with the ISP and Telecoms.  What would their incentive be to innovate and integrate when they control the speed limit on the digital highway.

The internet is so pervasive that it should be treated as a public utility, indeed it is already.  So why pretend its not?

One way or the other this will affect you.  The question is what do you want?

Some serious WIFI problems and an Attitude to Match

It seems as if the digital world around me is falling apart.  Ransom ware problems, Cryptolocker viruses, WIFI hacking, and the latest shark fin on the horizon…the REAPER botnet. I don’t know…maybe it’s just perception, maybe it’s real and maybe it’s a combination of both.

Noooo…its real all right!

So I have been posting on LinkedIn and Facebook some thoughts on security and why this is still such an overwhelming problem and not getting better.

Read up on the Reaper Bot:  bit.ly/reaperbot
Read up on the KRACK vulnerability: bit.ly/wifikrack

Over the last few decades it seems that security, digital security has always been stood up on it’s ear, always behind the curve.  One surprise after the other.  I posted in an earlier blog about the massive scale of data breach’s getting worse, bigger, more critical data and what not.

So it got me thinking about the last two weeks and the announcements of the WIFI KRACK (breaking the WPA2 encryption….probably the most common encryption in use today) and the arrival of the Reaper bot.  Something that could conceivable take down the entire internet.  Both of these threats could be avoided by proactively updating and patching our hardware and operating systems.  But we don’t

So how could this have happened?  I believe it is the inherent problem that we humans…are well…human.   We are not proactive.  Microsoft automatically reboots your computer after an update because they know you wont.  I recall with XP…there were people who had 6 months of updates and they had been putting off the reboot for all 6 months!  How many times have you registered a device and gotten email about “do you want to be notified about firmware updates?”.  Most of us do not want to be bothered.

But the Reaper bot is not human, it knows what it must do and does it, relentlessly, over and over and over.  It knows no such thing as procrastination. So it will win….IF…big IF….we let it.

We humans must change our habits when using our devices.  I have probably told over 500 people….”Do NOT ever save your password”.  And I bet only 5 people have heeded this warning.  For some reason, unknown to me users are too lazy to type in a password…just once a day!  So until we are willing to change a simple habit like that….then we are doomed to suffer more and more data and computer hacks and breaches.


The Screach in the Breach!

So how common has the issue of data breach’s become.  It’s nothing new.  It’s become more and more common place.  I have been in the Information Technology business for almost 30 years. Started in 1988, a few years before the internet became a public household entity.  Corporate, academia and government had internal networks and may have used a modem to transmit data between institutions.  This was pretty slow and would not have permitted the kind of volume that today’s networks allow. This was also before the day of websites.  I’m sure there were some incidences but not wide spread or well known.

According Wikipedia, they have compiled and  listed only data breaches that affected over 30,000 records.  Starting in 2004 AOL was hacked from the inside and 92,000,000 records were compromised. In 2005 the major credit card companies, MC, VISA, Discover and AMEX had 40,000,000 records stolen, it was hacked from outside due to poor security.  The list goes on and on.  Almost 27,000,000 records were lost from The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, so you can see its not always a electronic based hack.  In 2015 80,000,000 records were hacked from Anthem inc.

According to statistics there have been over 300 data breaches since 2004 and we are only counting the ones with more than 30,000 records.  In 2015 the average cost of a data breach is over $150,000,000.  Now we have the Equifax debacle with over 143,000,000 and the grand daddy of them all (so far) is Yahoo, who back in 2013 announced that there were 1 billion records hacked but just came out this week, they have revised their estimate to over 3 billion!!  Almost half the population in earth!

Estimates that the total global annual cost in 2020 is forecast to be…wait for it…$2.1 trillion!

So here is my point.  Why?  Any business that had suffered this kind of financial repercussions due to lack security would have folded a long time ago, after all they could not handle the financial burden caused by the lack of trust and lack of business.  So why hasn’t that happened to American business.  My opinion…they have not had to pay the price.  Everything gets passed on to the customer.  It has become the cost of doing business.  They make the announcements, maybe someone is hauled in to congress and yes…now people are losing their jobs (with the golden parachute).  But there has not really been any consequences for allowing this to happen.  And most all of it is preventable.  Equifax admitted that the cost of patching the servers was just too much. I don’t mean to just pick on Equifax but they are a great example of the hubris of these companies.  They knew months in advance of the security flaw and failed to act.  Executives waited weeks before publicizing the breech to the public (while they sold their stock….I believe this is the very essence of insider trading….do you think there will be criminal charges…after Wells Fargo…don’t hold your breath.) and to top it off tried to financialy gain off of their massive error by charging people to freeze their credit records.

The answer to this.  Massive fines, do not allow the entities to pass on the cost to consumers and heads should roll and go to jail.  Plain and simple and you will see this problem to a large degree cleaned up.

Wellmax Computer starts a BLOG…on the cutting edge of technology!

Hey there folks, technical and non technical people.  Its been a long time coming….actually a long time thinking about it and not sure about it and wondering what I will do about it.

Although I have been into fixing computers, planning and laying out networks, building new machines I have not really taken advantage of what the internet (the thing I probably get more calls about) has to offer.

The definition of IT, Information Technology has changed so much in the last 20 years.  When I stated one could “know” almost all there was to know about computers and networking.  I mean if you knew binary and assembly code, if you knew digital technology, nand and nor gates, if you understood network technology and how packets were addressed and delivered then you almost knew it all.  Not now. It’s like knowing how a car works, all it it, electrical, physics, chemical but not knowing how to drive it from here to there.

So this is just part of an introduction.  I have come a long way and have learned and observed many things and part of what I will be posting about is how humans have been shaped by technology.  For example, people still neglect backing up even though everyone…EVERYONE knows the possibility of losing your data is fairly high.

So I will cover the gambit here, from the nor gates to the behavior behind the keyboard.