Dropped Ball. Are Regulators in the Game?

March 10, 2020

Several stories appeared in the DarkCyber Overflight news feed this morning. None was directly related to the others, but they formed what some Yalies might call a leitmotif. Let’s look at each news item briefly and then try to figure out if there is a recurrent theme associated with a person, concept, or entity. Sounds fun on a Covid 19 infused day, right?

First, navigate to “Popular VPN And Ad-Blocking Apps Are Secretly Harvesting User Data.” The story published by the real news outfit Buzzfeed states:

Sensor Tower, a popular analytics platform for tech developers and investors, has been secretly collecting data from millions of people who have installed popular VPN and ad-blocking apps for Android and iOS, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Let’s assume the information is accurate. The write up discloses what might be called covert data collection. Others might use different terminology. What’s interesting is the VPNs or virtual private networks are supposed to be secure. Maybe not then?

Next, take a look at “Ransomware: These Sophisticated Attacks Are Delivering Devastating Payloads, Warns Microsoft.” The main idea is that “Ransomware attackers are using common tools to take down big enterprise with human operated attacks.”

Let’s again take the statement at face value. The smart attacks of which some cyber defense firms speak are being supplemented by human attacks. Spoofs allow the humans to enter a system. Once inside, humans take advantage of “servers that have antivirus software and other security intentionally disabled which admins may have done to improve performance.” So humans attack, and humans create vulnerabilities. Interesting.

Finally, consider “How Smart Tech Masks an Emerging Era of Corporate Control.” This write up reports:

smart” means a thing is embedded with digital technology for data collection, network connectivity, and enhanced control.

What connects these separate stories? Here are some thought starters:

  1. Deception seems prevalent, based on these three stories
  2. Oversight or control seems non existent
  3. The digital environment cultivates behaviors which may be characterized as clever, deceptive, or dishonest.

I don’t know about leitmotifs, but I do know that the light of ethical behavior seems quite dim if these stories accurately reflect the “now” digital reality.

Stephen E Arnold, March 10, 2020


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