2015: Guess Who Wasn’t Invited to the CIA’s Hacker Jamboree?

Apple, that’s who. Or Microsoft, or any of the other vendors whose products US government contractors have successfully exploited according to a recent report in the Intercept. While we’re not surprised that the Intelligence Community is actively attempting to develop new spycraft tools and capabilities—that’s their job—we expect them to follow the administration’s rules of engagement. Those rules require an evaluation under what’s known as the “Vulnerabilities Equities Process.” In the White House’s own words , the process should usually result in disclosing software vulnerabilities to vendors, because “in the majority of cases, responsibly disclosing a newly discovered vulnerability is clearly in the national interest.” Nevertheless, the Intercept article describes an annual CIA conference known as the Trusted Computing Base (TCB) Jamboree 1 at which members of the intelligence community present extensively on software vulnerabilities and exploits to be used in spying operations. At the 2012 TCB Jamboree, presenters […] Read More

Could Understanding Code Be Key In Avoiding Being Programmed?

Douglas Rushkoff’s” book published in 2013, Program or Be Programmed:  Ten Commands for the Digital Age may prove to be one of the most important of the 21st century. Rushkoff points out the many ways in which modern life is influenced by the new reality of software, and “algorithms” that make decisions and calculate outcomes that used to be the sole skill of other humans. The ramifications are much more far reaching than one may quickly surmise. And the access to what is going on in our machines is no longer available; when I got my first computers I had to learn that leaving out a letter in my “autoexec.bat” file would make my audio driver fail to load and I would have no sound. The inexorable logic of this was hammered home –if the syntax of code was wrong –it would not work. Programming had a logic that is unarguable. […] Read More

2014: Are We As Humans Really That Different From Computers?

Psychologically and even physiologically we tend to think of our technology in anthropomorphic terms and these days sometimes our computers seem to almost be alive. There is ample science fiction written about machines becoming conscious and taking over, along with the famous Turing Test of whether a machine’s communication could ever be mistaken completely for human. So with my own background in software training, and looking ahead to this week’s Science and Nonduality Conference in San Jose where the nature of the “Self” is a huge topic, I want to explore this more deeply: where is the “identity” in the computer actually  located (if at all) and how does it coincide with our own similar inquiry. The genesis of this is once again my own work with Michael Jeffreys who often does a similar inquiry, and comes up with the realization that the “I” is the earliest sensation that was […] Read More

2013: Adobe hacked, millions of customers’ data compromised

A security breach targeting the source code used by software giant Adobe has compromised the information of nearly three million customers, the company confirmed this week. Brad Arkin, Adobe’s chief security officer, announced in a blog post-Thursday that a sophisticated cyber-attack on the company’s network caused the source code for numerous programs to be illegally accessed by hackers, as well as the personal information of millions of Adobe users. Founded in 1982, the Silicon Valley company is known for an array of products, including the PhotoShop editing software and the PDF, SWF and FLV file formats. According to Arkin, Adobe believes the attackers pilfered customer names, encrypted credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information related to customer orders pertaining to roughly 2.9 million Adobe clients. Arkin said the company does not believe the attackers accessed decrypted information, but stopped short of confirming that plain-text data wasn’t […] Read More