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Help, my car has been attacked by ransomware


The smart key lock on the front door wants money too. The thermostat is stuck at 90, cranking out heat. Burglars learn to hack into surveillance video cameras to determine when occupants aren’t home, then rob the houses.

Gosh, isn’t the Internet of Things wonderful? I’ll rephrase that. Yes the IoT will be wonderful and useful once it has iron security baked into it. Right now, it’s not even close. There are no standards for IoT security. Many IoT devices now cannot be patched or updated when vulnerabilities are found. Some, insanely, have default passwords that cannot be changed. Plz hack me, they scream.

If your computer has a modern OS and is patched on a regular basis, you are well protected from ransomware attacks. This is not at all true for IoT devices, which of course are connected to a home network. Malware on IoT devices can travel throughout the network.

Security has to be baked into the entire system. One reason Win 10 is so secure is because it was designed with security as a primary concern. Your handy-dandy internet-enabled thermostat probably has little or no security.

But it is a system that’s going to fail in the “Internet of things”: everyday devices like smart speakers, household appliances, toys, lighting systems, even cars, that are connected to the web. Many of the embedded networked systems in these devices that will pervade our lives don’t have engineering teams on hand to write patches and may well last far longer than the companies that are supposed to keep the software safe from criminals. Some of them don’t even have the ability to be patched.

Fast forward five to 10 years, and the world is going to be filled with literally tens of billions of devices that hackers can attack. We’re going to see ransomware against our cars. Our digital video recorders and web cameras will be taken over by botnets. The data that these devices collect about us will be stolen and used to commit fraud. And we’re not going to be able to secure these devices.

Like every other instance of product safety, this problem will never be solved without considerable government involvement.

No amount of regulation can force companies to maintain old products, and it certainly can’t prevent companies from going out of business. The future will contain billions of orphaned devices connected to the web that simply have no engineers able to patch them.

The True Believer syndrome, mental illness, murder

An 18-year-old man in Florida, Devon Patrick,  went from being a Neo-Nazi to strict Muslim, murdered his neo-Nazi roommates just because, then took hostages at a smoke shop. He probably had never been to a mosque and was barely acquainted with Islam because he made references to “Allah Mohammed” not realizing one was God, the other his messenger. This is akin to referring to “Jesus Jacob”, I suppose, and shows a seriously muddled brain.

True believers are scary because they are convinced of their inerrancy. Their mania can be political as well as religious. They have the inner truth, all others are wrong, and in extreme cases like this one, must die because of their apostasy or refusal to accept the Obvious Truth. In this particular case, the conversion from Neo-Nazi to supposed Muslim apparently happened very quickly. True Believers rarely stay in the middle. They careen from edge to edge, looking for something to stop the voices in their head.

Yes, much of this is almost certainly mental illness. Political and religious cults actively recruit people like this because they are obedient drones, who never ask why. If we want to stop terrorist recruitment, we need to better understand the true believer process and how extremists exploit it and manipulate people to join.

Chillingly, the one roommate who Patrick did not murder (because he was on National Guard duties) was arrested on explosives charges.

From the article:

An 18-year-old man in Tampa who held neo-Nazi beliefs before converting to Islam told police he shot and killed his roommates for being neo-Nazis and disrespecting his Muslim faith. Feel free to take a moment. We realize that’s a lot to unpack there.

Evan McMullin and the leaked House leaders tape

If Speaker Ryan is publicly concerned more secret recordings may emerge that are highly damaging to House Republicans then it’s a given Ryan knows what could be on the tapes and is scared.

Most think the tape of House Majority Leader McCarthy saying Trump and Rohrabacher were being paid by Trump then Ryan telling everyone to keep it a secret (even if they were supposedly joking) was recorded by Evan McMullin, former CIA counterintelligence officer. The Rabbit Hole opines McMullin became appalled by dirty money in Republican Party, taped what he could, and probably let FBI know.

McMullin ran for president in 2016 on a last-ditch attempt to stop Trump by trying to get enough electoral votes from states like Utah to force the election into the House.

We are way down the rabbit hole here.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the possibility that more secret recordings could be leaked is a “cause for concern” after a leak emerged from a 2016 House GOP leadership meeting.

Ryan on Friday refused to speculate who might be the culprit, but he agreed that former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, a former leadership staffer who attended that meeting, was the name on everyone’s lips in Washington.

The gig economy and online stores

Up In The Valley, from the San Fernando Valley in L.A. where I lived for years, talks about the gig economy, and how excellent it can be until it isn’t or if you aren’t part of it. One big problem with the gig economy of course is there are no benefits, no health insurance, no paid vacations, no safety net. If something goes wrong, like you fall and sprain your ankle and can’t drive for Lyft, you are on your own.

Uber may be displacing the grotesquely overpriced Hertz, which is a good thing.. However Uber is currently losing billions of dollars a year with no clear way to actually make a profit any time soon. Amazon, Jet, and Etsy are clobbering suburban malls. Here in Vegas, Strip casinos have their own malls with upscale stores and business is good because of the constant flood of visitors. However, drive a few miles away from the Strip and you’ll find suburban malls with empty stores that are slowly dying.

I buy clothes online from Galls, a tactical clothing supplier. The clothes come with a no questions return form for credit, different size, refund. Not only are there no stores here in Vegas with what Galls offers online, returning clothes to a store is a hassle compared to just mailing them back.

Online stores and the gig economy are indeed disrupting and displacing, changing the economy. So, keep hustling and don’t fall.

More of us are working, but fewer us are employed. Our world is rounded in 1099 forms.

Uber has been extraordinarily good to me. So good I don’t have to consider renting a room in our house on AirBnB. Everyone knows what it’s doing to the taxi business. Few know Uber has become so ubiquitous in the past two years it has displaced rental cars as the most commonly utilized ground transportation, even among corporate clients. Last week Hertz disclosed massive losses, and may default on its bond debt. Its fleet of aging cars are flooding the after-market. The inventory spike will put pressure on the dealerships to unload inventory, which makes for a buying opportunity if you want a new car to drive for Uber.

Amazon and Etsy are slowly strangling Fashion Square. On the other hand, the Century City mall is expanding, upscale. Our economy is bifurcating into hyper-luxury and dollar stores. Concierge service or waiting at bus stops with street people. UberPool is getting cheap enough to displace Metro riders. Soon, perhaps only derelicts will ride the bus.

It’s an extraordinary time to be grinding out a living in Los Angeles. Unless you’re not.

Nakba protests in Israel

May 15 Nakba protests in Israel. Nakba for Palestinians is “The Catastrophe”, the day they they were displaced. My personal opinion is there will be no peace there until Palestinians have a place to call home.

From someone who was there:
“This started as a peaceful march to the Palestinian side of the Wall in Bethlehem. A French student at the Bible College told me she was in the front row. Someone asked her if the Palestinians were throwing rocks, and she said no, it was a bunch of kids, indicating that they were about her waist high. The soldiers used tear gas to drive the marchers back two blocks from the wall, in front of the Bible College, where my group was eating lunch. The marchers were milling around, waving the Palestinian flag (which is illegal). The soldiers fired a half dozen tear gas rounds at us over the course of a few minutes. My eyes burned a little, but not badly. Then the marchers moved forward again, to about a half block from the soldiers. I went with them, and started videoing. Then an APC came forward. What happened next is shown in the video. When the gas cleared, I saw three or four Palestinians throwing stones (but not before), and someone piled tires in the road and set them on fire. That’s about the point we gathered our group and the local pastor escorted us back to the guest house.

Coming back into Bethlehem from Hebron there was burning debris all over the road: tires, dumpsters, trash cans. Looks like there was another altercation. The thing is, the back entrance is well inside PA territory, and there aren’t supposed to be Israeli troops there.

No internet on the bus today. I wonder if the Israelis shut it down because of the protests…”