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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Free Copy of DADDY'S LITTLE FELONS From Amazon Through Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don't miss the Amazon promotion. This week, you can download a copy of Daddy's Little Felons from Amazon free of charge at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DV80PZ8.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Symantec Left A Back Door Open For Five Months!

This just gets weirder and weirder. My July 30th Register carried the story (read it here) how Symantec was notified on Feburary 22nd of an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it vulnerability that they sat on until July 25th. I guess when then-FBI Director Mueller asked Silicon Valley to build back doors into their stuff (see my story here), Symantec hopped onto the band wagon. Conclusion? My BIGFIX ads attacking Symantec didn't go nearly far enough, eh?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Microsoft Spies For U.S, Huawei Spies for China.

The Register story of Friday has the former head of both the CIA and NSA saying Huawei spies for China (see story here). They previously reported that Microsoft spies for the U.S. (see story here). I contend, once again, that privatizing cyber security with licensed and bonded privateers is a superior solution, that an openly stated doctrine of international Internet conduct (my Cyber Privateer Code, see it here) has the following advantages:
  1. It protects the innocent.
  2. It creates a growth industry.
  3. It stops the silly expenditure on a cyber arms race by governments, because
  4. It takes government completely out of the picture
How does it take government out of the picture? Simple. Rogue governments who get cute on the Internet risk having their liquid assets impounded.

Any questions, Grasshopper?

"If you can see this image, we've taken over your computer."

Principle 14 of The Perfect Virus (see it here) is STEALTH.  Almost three years ago, I posited that "hiding in plain sight" by embedding virus elements in images, kind of a perverse steganography, was an excellent stealth mechanism. The July 18th Network World story (see it here) indicates that a variant of this has actually been employed: attackers embedding back doors into image files. Actually, they're using file header information as a back door key mat. A "baby step"using the What About Bob line, but a good one nevertheless.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Sorry, this computer has become a zombie and we had to kill it."

With the large numbers of computers that have been infected with malware and now act as proxies for nefarious DDoS and/or fraud schemes, is it time for someone with superior skills to put these "zombies" out of their misery? They'd simply leave this message on the disabled device:
Sorry, this computer has become a zombie and we had to kill it. If you have important data you'd like to recover…
 Two questions arise:
  1. Would would be the economic impact of such a draconian measure? 
  2. What mechanism could be put into place to save the data on the disabled computers for their obviously surprised and frantic owners?
Getting the IP addresses of infected computers is no problem, since they can be aggregated from server error logs around the world.

This question is brought to you by a collaterally damaged Network Solutions customer whose email was severely impacted this week by yet another DDoS attack on his provider (see my post of eleven months ago on the subject here).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Snowden: Microsoft Opens Back Door. Ellison Data Exhaust: "Fat Chance!"

Five days ago, the U.K. Register reported Snowden's revelation that Microsoft opened a back door to Outlook.com for NSA (see story here). So how about the number-one database company, Oracle? My prediction, based upon data exhaust from multiple sources over multiple years, is that Larry Ellison would have no part of giving the NSA back-door access to anything in Oracle, anywhere. On January 8, 2011, I reported that FBI director Mueller went to Silicon Valley to ask all the tech companies to build "back doors" into their products (see story here). I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of any meeting between Larry Ellison and the FBI director.But since I wasn't, I'll take a stab at creating Larry's reaction to such a request:
"Bob! Can I call you Bob? No, then let's settle on Dip Stick, you intellectual pigmy! Not only is it going to hit the press that you came out here asking the U.S. software industry to cut our own competitive throats around the world, but just one whistle blower is all it would take to absolutely cripple us in China and Russia. The answer is not only no, it's Hell No! What…You're going to bring legal action against us under the Patriot Act? Fine, Dip Stick, bring it on! I've got a litigation department; let'em litigate. (Pause) Yeah, I pressed the button asking my security team to come in here. They're going to escort you out of the building. And guys (to the security team), it wouldn't break my heart if you accidently tasered this guy in the nuts."
Okay, this is fairly uncharacteristic of Larry who, at least when I worked with him, was remarkably adverse to face-to-face conflict. But I'll bet this was what Larry was thinking during any meeting with then-director Mueller.

Is my prediction accurate. Only time, or possibly Snowden, will tell. That second option may never come about, especially if Snowden is granted asylum in Russia. Putin seems to want to keep the lid on the PRISM gold mine (see yesterday's Computerworld story here).  As I wrote on June 14th (see it here), the only audience who DOES NOT know what PRISM is up to is the American Public. China and Russia were darn well aware what we were up to. And Putin's publicly stated reason for shutting up Snowden has nothing to do with Russian-American relations. Putin simply wants the fruits of PRISM's data gathering and is probably willing to grant Snowden asylum in exchange for a data dump.

Stay tuned, sports fans. We'll see if my assessment of Larry Ellison is spot on. After all, I drafted him as the leader of my Cyber Privateering Fantasy League for a reason.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

DADDY'S LITTLE FELONS is Dedicated to Judge Pat Brian

Just after the copyright page in Daddy's Little Felons (you can read the first four-or-so chapters at Amazon.com by clicking here), the dedication page follows:
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my friend Judge Pat Brian, after whom Judge O’Shea is modeled. Judge Brian copied the quote at the beginning of this book from the original ruling in the Ft. Smith, Arkansas courthouse presided over by the original Judge Roy Bean. And Pat subsequently used it as a model for some “creative sentencing rhetoric” in his own courtroom. Pat died of pancreatic cancer on June 28, 2010. Three months earlier, I delivered an early draft of Daddy’s Little Felons to him. His wife Sherry reported that he laughed out loud many times over the few days it took him to read it. Here’s to you, Your Honor.
And the quote mentioned above was an original he'd copied by hand during a visit to Judge Roy Bean's Fort Smith, Arkansas museum. Pat Brian subsequently used versions of the Judge Bean ruling in his own court as he handed down extremely poetic sentences. Here's the Judge Roy Bean quote:
Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, in a few short weeks
it will be spring. The snows of winter will flow away, the ice
will vanish, the air will become soft and balmy. In short,
Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, the annual miracle of
the years will awaken and come to pass. But you won’t be
here. The rivulet will run its soaring course to the sea. The
timid desert flowers will put forth their tender shoots. The
glorious valleys of this imperial domain will blossom as the
rose. Still, you will not be here to see. From every treetop,
some wild woods songster will carol his mating song.
Butterflies will sport in the sunshine. The gentle breeze will
tease the tassels of the wild grasses, and all nature, Jose
Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, will be glad. But you will
not be here to enjoy it.
Because I command the sheriff of the county to lead you
away to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from a
knotting bough of some sturdy oak, and let you hang until
dead. And then, Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, I
further command that such officer retire quickly from your
dangling corpse, that the vultures may descend from the
heavens upon your filthy body until nothing shall remain but
bare, bleached bones of a cold blooded, bloodthirsty,
throat-cutting, murdering son of a bitch. 
Judge Roy Bean, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1881The crime occurred on a Saturday night. The trial finished by Sunday noon, and the sentence was executed before 1:00 PM the same day.
 Once a year for about four years, I'd take my Explorer Scouts to sit in on hizonner's Friday "show cause" hearings. A show-cause hearing completely encapsulates the legal process. Someone is re-arrested for anything from parole violation to not following the judge's explicit instructions for self-recognizance release, and they must go before the judge to explain themselves. Believe me, this is better than television.

One of my sixteen-year-old Explorers was sitting the gallery, enjoying the proceedings along with the company of an attractive young lady. They were just about to exchange phone numbers when her case was called. For prostitution. Talk about one mortified Explorer Scout!

Pat Brian had the nation's lowest recidivism rate, and I confess that defense attorneys hated it when my scouts came to visit the judge's court, because Pat seemed really keyed up to perform for the boys. Some of his special one-liners really raised some eyebrows: "I hope you brought a toothbrush, because you're going to jail!"The ACLU also seemed extra attentive to Judge Brian's sentences, perhaps because they thought making a drunk driver wear an "I AM A DRUNK DRIVER" T-shirt in lieu of jail time constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

All I can say is that the drunk driver should thank Baby Jesus he didn't live in Singapore (see the YouTube video of a first-offense).

Of my 18 Explorer Scouts one year, 4 became attorneys, 5 became doctors, and 4 became airline pilots. Judge Brian inspired the attorneys, my internist and doctor friend Grant Hawkins was an assistant, and my Delta Airline pilot friends Bill Peterson, Jim Althaus and Don Wilkinson also worked extensively with the boys. Just goes to show how powerful a good example can be in helping a young man set some life goals. Come to think of it, a couple of my former scouts have become quite successful in advertising.

The point of this is not only did Pat Brian inspire some young men to go into the legal profession, but he inspired me to write this novel.

Thank you, Your Honor.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Acknowledgements Page of DADDY'S LITTLE FELONS

Following is the Acknowledgements section at the end of Daddy's Little Felons. The project was a long time coming, and these are the people without whose seminal influences it wouldn't have happened:
The dead guys come first. At the top of the list is my wife’s late uncle John Fretwell, who spent years researching the murder of his great grandmother Olive Olivia Combs at the hand of George Wood. John was a gentle, decent guy who politely but firmly knocked down one stone-walling bureaucrat after another until he could confirm the details of George Wood’s conviction, sentencing and then pardon for the murder. 
Then comes my friend, the late Frank Herbert (author of Dune), who talked me into running for congress. He said I reminded him of his character Jorj X. McKie in his short story The Tactful Saboteur (my paperback copy is worth a whopping $551.73, according to Amazon). Frank pretty accurately forecast our present day, when a lone individual with advanced technology could bring the planet to it’s knees (see my tribute to Frank here). Luckily, I lost my race for the U.S. Congress and had to go get work. Data General hired me to head up advertising and public relations, and to get tax-limitation passed in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, I was on the four-man steering committee that hired the late Tony Schwartz, master at guerrilla warfare and the man whose single commercial that ran one time on only one network destroyed Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. When I knocked on Tony’s New York City brownstone, I fully expected Satan himself to answer the door and slice my head right off my shoulders. After all, Tony had represented every Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson, and I had run for Congress as a conservative Republican. I asked him if he had a problem working on a conservative political issue, and he said, “You’re going to pay me $25,000; I’ll be what you want me to be.” That began a multi-year friendship, where he and the still-living Dick Morris taught me Guerrilla Warfare.
Dick Morris also taught me the importance of honesty in politics, a frequent topic whenever I teach a Sunday School lesson to adults. I also used Morris in a note I published to the whacky hackers at LulzSec (see my posting here). 
No acknowledgement would be complete without expressing my appreciation to Oracle’s Larry Ellison, for whom I spent a couple of afternoons a week for about six years as his one-man ad agency, creating ads that took Oracle from $15 million to over $1 billion in sales. I also made Larry the captain of my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team (see my nomination here). I’ve begged Larry for years to let me introduce him at his next speech, somewhere. Alas, he hasn’t taken me up on the offer. Click here to see how I would introduce Larry should the opportunity ever arise.
I also add my thanks to Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com, who let me do his pre-IPO guerrilla warfare attacking Siebel. I also put Marc on my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team (see Marc’s nomination here). 
My real education in the cyberwar currently taking place came from David Appelbaum and the BIGFIX management team, the endpoint security whiz kids for whom I created ads attacking Microsoft, Symantic, Altiris, and McAfee. Of course, I attacked myself right out of a job, since BIXFIX was acquired by IBM, who had no need whatsoever for a guerrilla warrior. My first ad for BIGFIX features my first cyber privateer alter ego (see the ad here).
I owe the insights used to create the 22 Principles for the Perfect Virus to ex-Oracle/ex-TenFold wizard Jeff Walker (see the 22 Principles here). I’d worked with Jeff during his time at Oracle, and again to serve on the board of directors for publicly traded TenFold. When Jeff and I re-engaged and he explained the applications technology at TenFold, he said, “Rick, you wouldn’t know a good application if it bit you in the ass.” Rather than get all huffy about it—after all, I was a mathematician who had actually written a real-time operating system in an earlier incarnation, not to mention inventing the Hagoth voice stress analyzer that had gotten me on every major television news broadcast as well as on the front page of the big national newspapers—I figured I’d better shut up and learn. It turns out, Jeff was right. He created 22 principles for the perfect application. I just modified them as they would apply to The Perfect Virus. Thanks, Jeff.
Thanks also to my friend Joseph “Yossi” Elad, a former Israeli naval commando who not only gave me a SEAL Team Six baseball cap, but whose Quantum Leap Innovations’ technology has given me “situational awareness” of currently breaking trends that shows up in my cell phone alerts long before anyone in even the tech media pick up on them, let alone the mainstream media. Full disclosure: I sit on the Quantum Leap board of directors.
I’ll leave solving real-world problems to politicians like President Obama’s former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and Obama’s first director of national intelligence Dennis Blair, who The New York Times reported on May 21st as urging ‘Counterattacks on Hackers’ (see the NYT story here). Thank you two for coming up with the right solution to, as the Tony Stark character said in Iron Man II, “…successfully privitazing world peace.”
I’ve must also thank world-class PR wizard Steve Coltrin (and his lieutenant Zachary Allen) for introducing Daddy’s Little Felons to the New York media crowd. I’ve known Steve since we served together on the TenFold board of directors. Steve actually put Mitt Romney on the map by doing his PR when then-governor Romney took over the scandalized Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. Steve, I owe you big time for your help.
And finally, thank you Rita. During the forty-seven years of our marriage, you’ve kept me grounded in what’s truly important. And you let me hang the pirate skull in my den. Hopefully, my setting the record straight about George Wood, the man who murdered your great-great-grandmother, doesn’t offend your sensibilities. 

Rick Bennett
July 4, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Daddy's Little Felons Now Available from Amazon.com

Daddy's Little Felons is live and available in eBook-only format from Amazon.com. To get your copy, click here. I decided to initially publish only electronically, so readers could access hyperlinks to pithy, relevant, and timely Internet content. If you want to see how those hyper links work, click on the preceding Amazon link and read the first four chapters. Check out the hyperlinks. And satisfy yourself that this is first and foremost a novel designed to entertain. I’ll leave solving real-world problems to politicians like President Obama’s former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and Obama’s first director of national intelligence Dennis Blair, who The New York Times reported on May 212013 as urging ‘Counterattacks on Hackers’ (see story here). 

Daddy's Little Felons is a paltry $2.99 and set up with Amazon so you can loan your copy to friends. Let me know what you think.