Monday, October 14, 2019

The Tech Industry

I’m not sure I quite know how to put into words how I feel about the tech industry lately.  I used to always want the latest gear, and be constantly on the hunt for new hardware that would make my games run faster and look better.  Now it seems, everything has just stagnated.

In 1997, I bought a $500 scanner – considered low-cost at the time.  I bought it because my friend’s dad had one and I thought it would be cool to be able to scan documents and photos.  But I didn’t take very many pictures or have all that much to scan.  This turned out to be my first major purchase that was a total flop, and I started being much more careful about how I spent my money from then on.

I think the real change came around 2005 though.  That was the year that DirectX 9 games came out – Half-Life 2, Quake 4, etc.  Those were really the last new games that I would play until about 2012.  I spent a lot of time playing CS:Source, but a lot less time playing video games in general.

Graphics also began to stagnate, and a lot of that was because of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 being around for so long.  It wasn’t until the upgraded versions of those consoles came out that there were real improvements.  Not that it really mattered, because by 2004, it seemed like things were just “good enough.”

A lot had changed in my life by then besides gaming too.  I had gone through college and started working, so I had less time and other priorities.  It seems like I have lost a lot of my creativity too.  But now it seems like software is something that you rent.  You’ll never get to play your old games after a few years, and definitely not in their original form, before they were broken with a bunch of patches.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Kaspersky

Exclusive: How a Russian firm helped catch an alleged NSA data thief

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/09/russia-kaspersky-lab-nsa-cybersecurity-1089131

Highlights

The 2016 arrest of a former National Security Agency contractor charged with a massive theft of classified data began with an unlikely source: a tip from a Russian cybersecurity firm that the U.S. government has called a threat to the country.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab turned Harold T. Martin III in to the NSA after receiving strange Twitter messages in 2016 from an account linked to him, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. They spoke with POLITICO on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to discuss the case.
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Although Kaspersky has worked with U.S. law enforcement and security firms for years to track hackers, the company's relationship with the government began to grow tense around 2012 as it exposed a series of covert NSA spy kits and hacking operations after finding the previously unknown spy software on customers’ machines. The company has exposed more U.S. spy operations than any other cybersecurity firm in the last six years, and has in turn become a hacking target of spy agencies itself for its success in exposing not only NSA operations but those of Israel, the United Kingdom and France.
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But the collection of files helped fuel U.S. allegations that Kaspersky itself poses a security threat. That’s because, unknown to Kaspersky at the time, Israel had hacked the company’s network in 2014, and in 2015 quietly told U.S. officials that it saw Russian intelligence operatives siphon the tools from Pho's machine with Kaspersky's cooperation or knowledge, using its antivirus software. The public only learned about this allegation in 2017 when anonymous sources leaked it to reporters. But no evidence backing this claim has ever been made public, and nobody has explained how the Israelis knew the extraction was not just part of standard infection analysis and cleanup.
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[Regarding Harold Martin's Twitter account]
The Kaspersky researcher didn't respond to the Twitter sender after this. Instead, he and colleagues conducted some online sleuthing and were able to easily unmask the sender's identity.

A Google search on the Twitter handle found someone using the same Hal999999999 username on a personal ad seeking female sex partners...A different search led them to a LinkedIn profile for Hal Martin, described as a researcher in Annapolis Junction and "technical advisor and investigator on offensive cyber issues." The LinkedIn profile didn't mention the NSA, but said Martin worked as a consultant or contractor “for various cyber related initiatives” across the Defense Department and intelligence community.

The Tech Industry

I’m not sure I quite know how to put into words how I feel about the tech industry lately.   I used to always want the latest gear, and b...