Irony, Outrage, Speculation: Amazon Rings the PR Gong

January 23, 2020

Remember the Gong Show? The host was an alleged government asset. The content of the show was humans performing. The focus was on humans who sang, dance, and cavorted in weird, sometimes incredible ways. The result? The host rang a gong. The performer, hooked by a big old person cane, found himself or herself dragged from the camera’s eye.

The elements of the program:

  • Alleged government connections
  • A ranking system for wild and crazy performances
  • The big humiliation with the old person’s cane.

I thought of the Gong Show as I worked my way through dozens and dozens of write ups about the hacking of a mobile phone used by Jeff Bezos, the motive force of Amazon. You know Amazon: The online bookstore, the operator of the S3 leaking buckets, and policeware vendor.

The most interesting reports swirl around what Vice encapsulates in the article “Here Is the Technical Report Suggesting Saudi Arabia’s Prince Hacked Jeff Bezos’ Phone.” The report reveals

that forensic investigators found a suspicious file but no evidence of any malware on the phone.

Interesting, but not as fascinating as the assertions about who allegedly compromised Mr. Bezos’ mobile, when the alleged data sucking took place, and when the content was spirited away, how the compromise actually was implemented, and where those data went.

DarkCyber finds it interesting that fingers are pointed at countries, some government officials, Facebook’s always-interesting WhatsApp software, and at NSO Group, a company certain media outlets frequently reference. (NSO Group may be one of the specialized software vendors getting more publicity than Star Wars’ films.)

In our DarkCyber video news program, we devote almost two full minutes to the problems information technology managers face when implementing cyber security.

The Bezos Affair presents an opportunity to confront an unpleasant reality: Security is difficult.

The real time monitoring, the smart cyber defenses, the companies creating policeware, and the methods available to actors—each of these underscore how vulnerable individuals and organizations are.

The speculation, however, does little to make clear how protections can be achieved. In fact, the coverage of the Bezos Affair has reduced the coverage of what may be an even more egregious security lapse explained in “Microsoft Blames Itself for Customer Support Data Leak.” The “misconfiguration” error exposed 250 million customer records.

One gets the coverage, a world leader is implicated, an Israeli company is cast in a negative light. These are real time “real news” factoids. But the loss of 250 million customer records by Microsoft, the possible vendor for the US Department of Defense, is ignored.

Why are these problems commonplace? The answer, which we provide in our January 28, 2020, video, is provided. That answer is going to be a surprise. You can view the video program on the Beyond Search / DarkCyber blog by clicking the video promo image. No ads, no sponsors, no outside influencers, and no odd ball “You may also like.”

Stephen E Arnold, January 23, 2020

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