Thursday, December 24, 2020
In the last few articles about the week we touched about how FireEye and and SolarWinds were hacked. These were not script kiddies but very likely big nation states that may have been criminal networks that set up advance persistent threats to monitor networks and build specialized packages that targeted within sensitive networks. An article about various blogging platforms and data security we came across talked about how it was likely that there may have been several insider threats that worked together as a group to develop the packages necessary to deploy the malware that cloaked itself as normal security software that periodically pushed software packages. But the genius was that it delayed immediate gratification of wrecking a network and paused and disguised itself as normal network executables and packages that only deployed after many hours, days, weeks within the network.
As most people that have seen hacker movies or what they do on the news, they are in it to:
- Deface property or break a site or endpoint
- Earn a reputation or get some self satisfaction
- Get information or such as financial or other data
- Spy on someone
The targets in this latest breach was not chopped liver. They were highly sophisticated and highly protected sensitive networks, which is why it raised several alarm bells and why it’s ironically ludicrous that it doesn’t get as much coverage in the news.
And this is where we make commentary that too much information is now available for anyone to just access it over the internet and interconnected when it does not need to be.
- People are connecting everything to the Internet. It’s internet this and that and Internet of Things, and Internet driving cars, and Internet connected fridges and vaccuum cleaners. Does your sensitive gov / health / photo album etc, really need to be there where everyone can access it? Because we can assure you eventually given enough time, someone probably will.
- People are voluntarily giving away too much information. Back in our day we had to earn the right to information and didn’t give out our numbers and unclothed bits in texts and Snaps till the 5th or 6th date even. And now we have picture hubs and e-coupons and giveaways and discounts and saver members clubs that ask for our phone numbers and addresses and personal emails so they can spam us with coupons, ads and lingerie ads and restaurant coupons to get us to keep going back to eat and then we need to hit the gym and eat vitamins and it’s all tied together in a cycle. Stop giving out emails and phones and the like to people. Stop posting on media so much and giving all your rights away. If it wasn’t for all this staying at home, most of us probably also wouldn’t even be on here Zooming and purchasing online and entering stuff into computers. Protect your data privacy.
In a related subject, there’s an article out there entitled Why ‘Accidental Americans’ Are Desperate to Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship by Vivienne Walt in the publication Time. The article goes on to describe how America is listed as “the only country in the world with citizenship tax rules” other than possibly one other country. This has caused problems with other countries where preposterous annual reporting rules mandated by the country has made it a headache to other countries trying to comply with the overreaching red tape. It has caused many countries to avoid and in essence black-ball or have bias against taking on these clients for customers to prevent having to do all the extra burden of paperwork. One person was originally American but had left the country as a child and no longer has ties to the country but has to continue to report annual financial information simply because she was born there. Can you imagine being judged on something you had no control over, like the color of your skin or race? What if you the roles were reversed and you were born in some Eastern country but made it to this new land and had to continue to report back to the mother land? Sounds like something that people back in 1776 tried to get away from. The perfect quote in the article is: “Under cover of fighting tax fraud, the U.S. has created a monster,” says Fabien Lehagre, founder and president of the Paris-based Association of Accidental Americans. Fundamental human rights of those living abroad are being abused and ignored every day. And that is a shame.
Fortunately people are starting to see the inequity and the unfairness of the situation and have started litigation on both sides of the ocean. Some of this is based on the concept of data privacy laws, especially those in Europe which has very strong protections. GDPR laws also came into play recently when data harvesting from social media created a large backlash and brought privacy into the forefront of consciousness of its citizens. With several American surveillance programs that came to light that were embarassing for both sides of governing bodies, savvy and smart countries realize that even the land of opportunity can be too good to be true. The cracks in the armor of the nation known for championing freedom and the free market has also been known for exerting control over citizens in order to “protect them” for their own good. For a country with such power military-wise it sure is ultra-paranoid enough to wiretap cellphones and foreign diplomats and dignitaries. What started as a safety program to protect against terrorist threat turned to knowing your customer to an extreme and invasive extent.
The article goes on to state that complaints are the start of something that could possibly head to court. It is not the first time that bogeymen have been created to fight a common enemy that may not have existed. The country of stripes has gone on to pull together with Lee Greenwood as a uniting anthem in the search for weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be nonexistent and with the population in continuous orange high alert for decades. Here the bogeyman is: so the country doesn’t miss out on any single cent of its revenue it can squeeze from its citizens. People that have left the country long ago lament that politicians “all think that we are rich Americans” with money to hide and “that is not the case”. What if you were a retiring American that wanted to revoke citizenship and move overseas and travel the world and live in peace? A lot of people have since often jokingly and sometimes seriously talked about going to Canada if someone is voted into office. But as the article states, perhaps by making expats continue to report information to a country that they have desire no further connection with they are basically being held hostage against their will and that could in essence violate the Constitution. The argument is that FACTA is violating the the sovereignty and data protection laws of the European Union and their built-in protection of individual’s rights are much stronger than that of the U.S.
Think of it as trying to divorce from an ex and but never being able to finalize the details for the rest of your life. The hope now is to get people to realize how preposterous the arrangement is and this data sharing of one single country with other countries is causing people to jump through loops, get identification numbers and also continuously report assets. With people’s data and privacy currently in jeopardy every day, data breaches every month, and governments unable to secure its own citizen’s biometric data, it only makes sense that oversharing of data can be disasterous and trying to minimize the footprint would be the way to go. Unfortunately most people don’t realize how entrenched they are in a system that keeps track of you by id’s, phone numbers, biometrics, and fingerprints as soon as you are born. The system is already rigged and many regulations have unintended consequences.
It’s true the country while big and financially well off has had many successful innovations, but has also has periods of isolationism, turmoil, and encroachment and civil unrest. Each country has to realize that no one country is perfect nor has the perfect model of governing that others need to duplicate exactly. Just recently the country has been falling behind as many other countries getting into the digital payments realm, while in the States uncertainty due to upcoming regulation has stifled progress and innovation. If the country cannot get past civil, racial, and political turmoil it will soon fall behind as others thrive in the financial segment. Historians continue to wonder how the world power balance would have turned out had the various wars and struggle for land territory, financial control, and resources produced a differ outcome. Would we still be viewed as global cops and the land of capitalistic opportunity. Or might we still be pushing imperialistic agendas?
Remember, your personal information is your most important asset. Once you put it out there, you better prepare for the consequences of it being lost.