Insecurity Are Us: Why the NSA Breach Has Harmed Everyone

The NSA, presumably the most stalwart of the United States’ cybersecurity organizations, was infiltrated by a group know as the Shadow Brokers over a year ago. The group stole the NSA’s hacking tools, and provided them to everyone for money. State-sponsored hacking never had it so easy.

These hacking tools are causing miilions, if not billions, of dollars of harm all over the world, including small businesses and individuals. The recent cryptoware WannaCry was spread worldwide by use of the NSA’s lost tools:

Millions of people saw their computers shut down by ransomware, with demands for payments in digital currency to have their access restored. Tens of thousands of employees at Mondelez International, the maker of Oreo cookies, had their data completely wiped. FedEx reported that an attack on a European subsidiary had halted deliveries and cost $300 million. Hospitals in Pennsylvania, Britain and Indonesia had to turn away patients. The attacks disrupted production at a car plant in France, an oil company in Brazil and a chocolate factory in Tasmania, among thousands of enterprises affected worldwide.

New York Times, Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core. By SCOTT SHANE, NICOLE PERLROTH and DAVID E. SANGER NOV. 12, 2017 

It gets worse:

…they have a new suite of tools and vulnerabilities in newer software. The possible targets include Microsoft’s Windows 10, which was unaffected by the initial attack and is on at least 500m devices around the world.

The Guardian, Shadow Brokers threaten to unleash more hacking tools – Samuel Gibbs, May 17, 2017 07.56 EDT

And they don’t have a clue who they are:

Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the agency’s counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the F.B.I., officials still do not know whether the N.S.A. is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider’s leak, or both.

Imagine if Apple provides a “back-door” to law enforcement agencies in response to isolated incidents of terror. The NSA can’t even keep their tools safe. Do you think the FBI, New York State Police or Sherriff Andy Taylor would be able to keep these vulnerabilities out of everyone’s hands?

Vulnerabilities exist. They always have, and they likely always will. The way to privacy and security for all is to guard against any attempt to weaken security endeavors.

Apple’s business model does not include selling their customer’s personal information. Nor does most open-source software companies (like Firefox). Facebook, Google, and others harvesting data and building extensive dossiers on every single user of their services. The data is shared with their clients for highly targeted advertising and other uses. Think that data is safe? Think it already hasn’t been used against your best interests?

The Reports of Mac’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Seen reports from others – many of whom I greatly respect – about the demise of MacOS and Mac hardware.

Admittedly, a Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Pro are on my top 3 laptop list alongside a MacBook Pro. Windows has improved that much, and some of the hardware is very nice, especially these two pieces from Dell and Microsoft.

But, here we are 4 years on without an upgrade for the “tall boy” Mac Pro, and the new MacBook Pros with their Touch Bar (meh) aren’t exactly thrilling. It does appear that Apple might have spent far more time and care on iOS devices.

Who could blame them? iPhone is what has made Apple the largest company in the world.

However, how would Apple look if all they made were consumer devices? Would they still have that Apple cult following? I think so, but the Apple “experience” would not be as deep and rich. The power users and pros that use Apple products are what adds to the mystique.

Well, here we are with a mea culpa from nonother than Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. From this excellent TechCrunch article by Matthew Panzarino:

Apple is acknowledging that the Mac Pro they introduced in 2013 has run aground on the cleverness of its own design, and they’re re-thinking the entire machine. In addition, they’ll be releasing a new external display — something it had previously opted out of.

Always surprised that Apple somehow thought that users would want something so non-Apple so prominent on their desktop. Hell, I hate to see anything other than a Dell monitor with a Dell PC.

The narrative is that Apple has not put the resources needed into making the Mac work for pros, has neglected updates and could even be working toward a future where there are no Macs, just iOS devices. That’s the picture you’d get from the think pieces, anyway.

Can’t argue with that…

Schiller goes on to say that the Mac user base is almost 100 million users; it’s nearing a $25 billion run rate; Apple now ships computers at a ratio of 80 percent notebooks to 20 percent desktop computers.

And so that leads to this…

We want to be as transparent as we can, for our pro users, and help them as they make their buying decisions. They invest so much in the Mac, we want to support them, and we care deeply about them. So that’s why we’re here.”

But this is more about hardware than it is software. And so, the Quadrant is invoked.

Please read the entire article, but this comes up:

And then Schiller calmly drops the hammer. “We are in the process of what we call ‘completely rethinking’ the Mac Pro,” he says.

Not this year, but next.

Expect something great.

Apple Moves Into TV and Movies

From Business Insider, from a Wall Street Journal report (paywall):

Apple is preparing for a major push into original video content, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal — a move that could ultimately set it on a collision course with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

What a terrific strategic move by Apple. With their enormous cash reserves, Apple can easily have a few misses and be very profitable in this niche. Apple’s unique culture should lend itself very well to entertainment production.

Add in improvements to Siri, Apple TV, and the rumored Echo/Alexa competitor, and Apple will be able to catch-up and challenge Amazon in the space.

This has me more excited about Apple than anything else in the rumor mill.