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Two phone scammers walk into a bar to lament their declining revenue over drinks.

“People don’t even answer their phones anymore,” says the first phone scammer. “We might have to find another crooked line of business.”

“Hold my beer,” says the second scammer.

Then this happened.

Two screen shots of a phone. On the left is a contact entry for “Robocall Hangup” with several associated phone numbers. On the right is a notification from a chat app that the same number is now available through that app and present in the in-app contact list.
Image by the author

That first screen shot is from my contact list. Whenever I get more than one call from the same number that leaves an empty voice mail or just hangs up, I add the number to this contact entry which is blocked. …


Pogo famously said “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I was reminded of that today reading Tony Fish’s post #Identity. Are we (the industry) the problem? Maybe.

Plush giraffe silhouetted against a monitor displaying a blank spreadsheet.
Image by the author

Tony asks “How come, as an industry where 3.2bn people have a digital identity, are we so fragmented, uncoordinated and disagreeable?” In my experience identity itself tends to be fragmented, uncoordinated and disagreeable so I am unsurprised that in modeling it digitally we arrive at the same condition.

The singular problem with digital identity

If we start with a digital authentication requirement and work forward, the goal is to resolve a credential to a single, unique…


Dear Mike,

I heard that the retail distribution channels for My Pillow dried up after you were seen at the White House carrying notes about martial law and the Insurrection Act. While I fully support the reaction of national retailers to this news, I worry that My Pillow employees may now face an uncertain future. It is on their behalf that I offer the following advice: Diversify into a market in which demand is inelastic, apolitical, and universal. The adult products market fits the bill.

In other words, Mike, I think you should let The My Pillow Guy persona fade…


What does the term “malware” bring to mind? Something that steals your information? Logs your keystrokes? Turns your device into a bot? How about malware that shows you ads?

AdWare is a type of malware designed to do exactly that. Whereas legitimate ad traffic is served inside an app or on a web page, AdWare displays ads inappropriately such as on the device lock screen, is aggressive about showing a high volume of ads, and uses device and software exploits to evade anti-malware and resist removal. The hacker participates in the ad network just like any other app developer and…


And by “not impressed” I mean that there’s a good chance that impression an advertiser paid for was coerced and likely causing bad will for the advertiser, which is pretty much the opposite of what was intended.

Implicit in the value of online ads are the assumptions that ad impressions are targeted by interest and that clicks are real-world manifestations of that user interest. While these assumptions hold true in the legit ad market (and given the nature of surveillance ads these days I’m being generous in my use of the word “legit”), they are utterly broken in a vast…


A couple of years ago I discovered that Yandex, roughly described as Russia’s equivalent of Google and a known SigInt partner of the Kremlin, had installed key loggers on dozen’s of the Internet’s top web sites, including a leading porn payment gateway. This gave Yandex access to the login credentials, personal demographic data, account recovery details, credit card info and in the case of the porn gateway the kink preferences of tens of millions of users.

Naturally I tried to report this. First to the FBI. Then to my Senators. I got nowhere and eventually I was just tweeting about…


An open letter to Samsung

Earlier today I received an email from Samsung’s SmartThings department who wanted to tell me “Five things to take your smart home to the next level.” I’ve been playing around with Z-Wave a bit lately and as it happens I have my own list of things vendors of “smart” devices should do to level-up. I jotted down my thoughts, keeping to their 5-things format, and sent them to Samsung. The remainder of this post is that email.

Dear SmartThings,

Thanks so much for your email explaining how to take my smart home to the next level. Please allow me to…


Before you delete your Facebook account, go have a look at the No Boundaries series by Princeton U. Facebook was irresponsible as a data custodian but hundreds of thousands of web sites from small to large allow 3rd parties to keystroke log all your activity on their site, including capturing the account creation, the profile information you enter, and all transactional data.

So let’s say you create an account on such a web site. The 3rd party (or parties plural in most cases) have your account credentials and account recovery questions and answers. They can log onto your account at…


This is to thank the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and from around the world who protested today. It turns out you were marching for my life today, too.

As a school kid I had epilepsy which was diagnosed, and Asperger’s Syndrome which was not. That combination made me a bully magnet. What were, in the hindsight of an adult diagnosis, typically autistic traits were treated by teachers and even my parents as character defects. My stimming and spontaneous unfiltered utterances were the acts of a willful, disobedient, incorrigible kid as far as adults were concerned, so they tended to…


It’s Primary day in Charlotte, NC

A Facebook poster replied to my comment noting that “it’s not just about showing up to vote” and pointing out things like gerrymandering, vote suppression, SuperPACs and more. Maybe it’s not just about showing up, but showing up is the most important thing. Here’s why.

I voted in a primary today and asked about stats. There are just under 2,000 registered voters in my precinct and they are expecting 20% of them to vote, or about 400 in total. Someone who gets 201 votes is guaranteed to win the precinct. In order to swing the precinct, a motivated activist needs…

T.Rob

WebSphere MQ security guy! My Tweets/views are my own. Also blogging at http://ask-an-aspie.net and http://tdotrob.wordpress.com

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