American corporate espionage preparedness is unprepared

American corporate espionage preparedness, in a random sample and via anecdotes, is in bad shape. We are not prepared.

the-company-man

The video is 30 minutes but worth it for training your team. Now a question.

What is the technical difference between a Speaker (thump thump) and a Microphone (can you hear me now?)?

NOTHING. There is no difference between a speaker, headphones or microphones. No. Difference. At. All. None.

Significance:

Plug your headset into the microphone jack on the stereo and poof – you have a mic.

Why do you care? Because if your employees are relaxing after work, at the local vegan cafe. Just unwinding, spending 20 minutes at the salad bar. nearby people hypothetically might get bored. “Hackers aren’t vegans” you say, “so it can’t happen here.”

Mics vs speakers – the answer is anyone can just put their iphone down with the headphones in and record away. Especially if the marks are “extremely loud bar talkers” as these two were.

Identity? Well gosh, they left their credit card receipt detail side up so I could helpfully straighten their table and take a quick photo of their info on the way to the restroom

How does this impact you? Well these two gentlemen next to me are clearly in town for a conference. Still wearing lanyards with fortune 500 company logos? Accents. Of course, we’re either the first or second most diverse city in the USA.

Again, It’s Houston – we know what’s going on. Houston is all about the back channel. And once your dialed in? Well it’s kinda like the matrix. Seriously – why else would millions of people live in a paved over swamp with the moniker “The Bayou City”?

Back to the situation at hand. These fools spouting corporate secrets next to me because I have headphones on and my audio turned off.

I’m white hat so no, I did not record anything and will not inform their companies nor will I inform them. No I did not take a detailed photo of their receipt although it sits just to my right at the moment as it has for 10 minutes.

Honestly I have other battles to fight. And so do you. Yet make no mistake – if they had revealed some anti-American activity I would have arranged for them to meet up with some of my friends who love America as much as me and my friends know how to handle such matters delicately.

This blog post is simply an anecdote, a story that is true, of knuckle-heads who weren’t thinking before they spoke.

As for companies that employ people, what are our options? First the obvious – we can try to hire for common sense, Then you can train and test – I do drills to test our team,

Big picture? What will work best? Dunno. I do know ignoring the issue of human hacking /social engineering isn’t the solution.

To repeat, we know humans are the weak link because I’ve tested it with my own company and as a paid approved pentester at the request of some of our clients. I’ve unfortunately been 100% successful in finding security holes in my pre-approved and client authorized tests.

Even when the employees KNEW ahead of time that someone was testing the systems..I’ve yet to fail to find an opening and honestly I’m not that good at the whole pentesting thing … like I don’t have the best tools or a infinite budget or even a good lock pick set with a proper bump key.

In other words – I’m amateur at best and only to protect my own clients.

But sheesh, a little reality training would go a long way with folks like this. The humans are almost always the weak point. I was in one restaurant and they said “ya, the Internet has been spotty for days.” I said “well maybe I can help. Would you mind taking photos of the front, back, connections and the serial number on your router and I might be able to fix it.”

I still have the photos on an encrypted drive somewhere. My point is I didn’t misrepresent myself as a Comcast employee or whatever. I just said I was a customer and that I might be able to help.

Back to our main storyline. It is YOU, the management team and every employee who is handling YOUR company’s data. It should take more than sitting down next to two guys drinking IPAs for me to even have the opportunity to gather that type of intel.

And the router example where the waiter literally texted me all of the technical specs of the router? xOMG, no excuse.

In the various circumstances I fixed their internet, got their credit card processing systems working again, reset passwords with upper management’s permission. I did what I would do with my own family’s business. 

What did happen is that even with permission and weeks of advance notice, zero clients or friends have had any network my team has tested properly secured. It was not barriers already installed that blocked us. On the rare occasion we ere too impatient to power through something (which we can do), it was laziness, we simply were tired and wanted to go home. So we’d just ask a manager and say it was part of the test. Seriously.

Grok that. Leaders at a company who were specifically told who we were, that we were there to test network security, that it was serious and they were to block us in every way possible. Those managers would give u the keys to the kingdom if i asked the right way. (the “right way” is vague on purpose. I’ll do another post on that one later.)

Perhaps the scariest part is that I personally was never impeded by even the most basic security training for these employees or their own intellectual “well duh I shouldn’t do that” factor. In every instance if I hit a roadblock they helped me bypass any remaining obstacles.

  1. Train. Train. Train your people.
  2. Know, don’t expect but know they will get in. So shrink the attack vectors and restore from a known clean backup regularly.
  3. Try not to get anyone fired. The business owner would have been just as clueless.

—————–

PS – for the curious, the fastest network break in I’ve ever done? 5 minutes. The owner asked us to test his network security. I agreed and we agreed on a  price (remember this guy didn’t know me from Adam). Then I said “of course we’ll need your login to monitor how the red team is doing. He then just blurted out his username/password for the network and for his email. And assured us it wouldn’t be a problem with anything else because he always “used the same password.” Gosh. We printed nice reports and pounded sand for a few days, but it was the fastest… whatever you want to call it.

PPS – I bet if you owned stock in that corporation and liked the CEO you’d call it a hack. Similarly if a black hat, you’d call it like it was.

Falling Behind?

Hey I'm Jamie

From: Falling behind? by Jamie Varon

But, honestly, here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and

goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords that have come into popularity: you are as you are until you’re not.

You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.

falling behind
Jamie Varon on falling behind in life

And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.

You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.

and

There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it. We have to just let it be, to take a fucking step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and to let the cogs turn as they will. One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.

Give yourself permission to trust that.

Full post on Medium by Jamie Varon is here:

Jamie Varon is a writer based out of Los Angeles. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and at her Facebook page. Because we all need candid smart and fearless thinkers in our lives. This one impresses me.

Sci-Hub.io – the Pirate Bay of Academic Research. Theft or not?

Sci-Hub.io free academic papers

I recently posted a link on facebook to Sci-Hub.io. Known as the Pirate Bay of the science world created 2011 by neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan. jstor-intrinic-motivationAfter posting the article link to FB there was one single response. A response that seemed to imply the pirate site was childish theft. That it was an “I want everything for free” attitude. It’s hard to argue otherwise.  Us and our first world problems.

  1. Theft? Yes. – Yes I agree that the current economic structure in academics does in fact technically make this theft. So hey, Professor Elbakyan is having an American Tea Party in St. Petersberg.
  2. Further I believe it is our current economic structure that is broken. Oh, and that JSTOR is run by boneheads who couldn’t solve a problem creatively if their lives depended on it. As we say in programming – “garbage in, garbage out.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 6.43.31 PM

Taken from a behavioral perspective, if you recall, before the itunes store made buying songs easy, everyone downloaded them for free. Before the kindle made downloading books electronically cheap and convenient, everyone downloaded them for free. Make it convenient or someone else will make it really convenient!

First, what is sci-hub.io ? From the article “Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge” by FIONA MACDONALD:

A researcher in Russia has made more than 48 million journal articles – almost every single peer-reviewed paper every published – freely available online. And she’s now refusing to shut the site down, despite a court injunction and a lawsuit from Elsevier, one of the world’s biggest publishers.

For those of you who aren’t already using it, the site in question is Sci-Hub, and it’s sort of like a Pirate Bay of the science world. It was established in 2011 by neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, who was frustrated that she couldn’t afford to access the articles needed for her research…

Maybe I had a knee jerk reaction of vindication seeing this research become freely available after the tragedy of Aaron Schwartz’ suicide in 2013 from overzealous persecution for accessing JSTOR documents from the MIT network.  I’m seriously wondering if JSTOR is trying to make sure Martin Shkreli quits dominating the “evil capitalist stories” the media likes to write.

And to be clear, I walk the talk. Our company’s product is Tendenci – the Open Source Membership Management Software (on github too) and most of my photography is creative commons attribution

Creative Commons Capital Photo by eschipul
Creative Commons Capital Photo by eschipul

as seen used in this publication below fully within copyright laws with attribution. We can play nicely together.

CC by Ca

JSTOR’s purpose after all is to;

JSTOR was founded to be a shared digital archive serving the scholarly community. We understand the value of the scholarship and other material on the platform and that the future accessibility of this content is essential. Libraries around the world rely on us and contribute Archive Capital Fees to JSTOR for preservation activities.

To understand a Russian academics perspective, this data I found on the Internet for free, says that the overall average monthly income in Russia in 2005 was a NET total of $263 per month. Now that $25 JSTOR article for which the author was paid nothing by JSTOR is 10% of that Russian student’s monthly income.

That kind of changes your perspective a bit, huh?

I can and do understand why people would immediately view sci-hub.io as theft. Except for academics this just isn’t a black and white issue. There are a few differences.

I can’t afford to pay $45 for every research paper I want to read knowing the research was funded by federal grants, underwritten by the University and the authors were not compensated.

Why not bring the economics down to the level of the app store?

How does JSTOR add value if they don’t pay the authors and didn’t write the content? Their answer is “peer review and legitimacy,” but those can now be conveyed on the internet. Aren’t there other solutions?

Why can’t we sign a peer review article with a blockchain?  It’s not just jstor but modern academics that haven’t kept up. Being a non-profit doesn’t mean you get to ignore everything that is going on with economics via externalities.

I’ll leave those thoughts for y’all to ponder. As for me I discovered a fully legal work around for when I wanted an academic article years ago. And here it is:

JSTOR pricing for an article free in other places on the net.
JSTOR pricing for an article free in other places on the net.

How to get 95% of the academic articles you want on the Internet for free with google.

Problem: writing a research paper for a national PR Magazine on “Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives”. Solution:

  1. Search google scholar. https://scholar.google.com/ – Yes google scholar and NOT google. This will lead you to academic research on the subject for sale at some relatively high price on a site like jstor. This was my search Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives http://bit.ly/1Od1fRR
  2. COPY a large amount of text from the abstract or the preview they show you on overview page on JSTOR (or any of the academic pay-or-no-knowledge-for-you sites,) Highlight it.  Copy it verbatim.
  3. Now go back to www.google.com (not google scholar, but regular google this time.)
  4. Paste that monster block of text into google.com and odds are you will find a link to a PDF version of the article on someone’s server available for free.
  5. That led me to about 5 links to academic servers with the full pdf available for download at no cost. Example:
    http://www3.grips.ac.jp/~esp/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2015.-1.-28-Sawada_on_Rice_Planting_14_11_27.pdf

And the bottom line is the TOPIC I was interested in in a peer reviewed science journal as recent at 2014 was downloaded within 5 minutes. It takes me longer to print it than find it. Not that sci-hub.io probably couldn’t do it even faster. And that is a good thing for the globe. Now back to reading….

… In our study area, despite the potential of infestation of opportunistic behaviors by workers, a fixed wage (FW) contract has been dominant for rice planting since the 1960s. To account for this puzzle of a seemingly-inefficient contractual arrangement, we adopt a hybrid experimental method of framed field experiments by randomly assigning three distinct labor contracts, i.e., FW, individual piece rate (IPR), and group piece rate (GPR) contracts and artefactual filed experiments to elicit social preference parameters. Through the analyses of individual workers’ performance data from framed field experiments and data on social preferences elicited by artefactual field experiments, Three main empirical findings emerge. First……

Life can be complex. But I got what I wanted, I didn’t use it because after scanning it it wasn’t the article I was looking for. It sent unused, I didn’t pay for it, but I also threw it away, but mainly I acquired it and came to that decision faster than I could have typed in my credit card number to buy it from JSTOR.

Incentives and Social Preference
Incentives and Social Preference

In this case the economics didn’t match the need. I solved it for myself, and sci-hub is apparently solving it for millions. Open our minds and find a better optimum solution. We can and should do this.