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Intervention by Denise Caruso Read Intervention by Denise Caruso, Executive Director of the Hybrid Vigor Silver Award Winner, 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Best Business Books 2007, Strategy+Business Magazine

archive for August, 2010


by ~ August 26, 2010

USA Today reported on the growing trend for hackers to hijack people’s iTunes accounts:

They typically buy iTunes gift card codes, usually in $50 to $200 amounts. They then sell the codes — which can be used like cash to buy music and videos — at a steep discount, openly on the Internet.

If only these hackers could ensure their victims were from the landed class, they might be considered modern-day Robin Hoods. Alas, they’re garden variety thieves.

But what I liked about the article is that it captured the truly appalling apathetic attitude from Apple and financial institutions, who attempt to lay responsibility entirely on consumers:

Apple says there is little it can do about iTunes account hijacking. The company advises victims to change their passwords and contact their financial institution about being made whole.

Change their passwords? What good will that do? As the article points out,

iTunes logons also get stolen and sold off by hackers who spread computer infections containing keystroke loggers that capture logons as you type them.

So the hackers will capture you newly typed password, too.

Calls to your financial institution will likewise be met with a “talk-to-the-automated-hand” sort of attitude. After all, why should these guys care if you get hacked? These hackers drive up revenues by getting you to spend money that you wouldn’t have otherwise! Some economists would even argue that this kind of coerced economic activity is good for the economy!

Unfortunately, there’s very little consumers can do to protect themselves. How would you even know if you have a keylogger watching you all the time? Thanks to the lack of transparency in Windows and Mac OS, it’s difficult to tell when some rogue application is watching your every move. And of course, Apple shouldn’t be storing “credit and debit card, checking account and PayPal information” on their site. For their part, financial institutions need to come up with a better form of micro payments than opening a multi-year tab at iTunes on your personal credit card or PayPal account.

But will consumers care enough to boycott iTunes? Doubtful. So in the meantime, I recommend befriending a hacker.


by ~ August 25, 2010

John Fontana recently posted on the burgeoning interest in the topic of trust. One his links includes a discussion with two people I know and whom respect on this topic, Hilary Ward and John Clippinger (whose book “Crowd of One” I reviewed back in my Burton Group days). I highly recommend checking out all these resources!


by ~ August 18, 2010

My friend and security-industry-great, Gunnar Peterson gave a fantastic keynote presentation at the Cloud Identity Summit last month. During his speech, he used a series of images to show show some absurdly feeble attempts at security. One in particular caught my eye:

Bike Security

Given the subject of my presentation two days later—”trust” in the cloud—I couldn’t resist goading Gunnar a bit by countering that the bike’s security in fact passes muster. Here’s my argument:

According to Murphy’s Law, this bike should be stolen. And yet, there it is. Someone even took a picture or it. Is there something else going on here that’s keeping the bike from being stolen? I think so. In fact, I offer a special exception to Murphy’s Law. I call it “Mikey’s Law” and it goes like this:

Just because something can be stolen doesn’t mean it will be.

Perhaps in the society where the owner lives, simply putting a lock around something expresses one’s wishes for the item not to be taken—and that’s sufficient security because others respect that wish. People may even help you enforce your wish for respect of personal property by taking pictures and looking out for would-be thieves. Sounds like the kind of place where I’d like to live, in fact.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But for most of us it’s also part of our everyday experience. After all, do you lock up all of your valuables all of the time? Can you leave your wallet or purse in your office and expect to come back an hour later and find them just where you left them? In many cases, in fact you can. And that’s a good thing.

My point is that security practitioners are inclined to propose the “security society” as the ideal model for public safety. In a security society, citizens can’t trust others, fear that bad things always will occur, and lock up everything of value. In my view, the security society is the model of last resort. Where we “live” we should instead aspire to create a cooperative society, one based on trust rather than distrust. Yes, bad things will happen in the cooperative model, just as they do in the security society. But then again, all hell won’t break lose either, as some would have us believe. And even if the incidence of theft if a security society and a cooperative society were roughly the same, in which place would you prefer to live?