Classic Bond villain, Elon Musk, has a new plan to create a website dedicated to measuring the credibility and adherence to “core truth” of journalists. He is, without any sense of irony, going to call this “Pravda”. This is not simply wrong but evil.
Musk has a point. Journalists do suck, and many suck consistently. I see this in my own industry, cybersecurity, and I frequently criticize them for their suckage.
But what he’s doing here is not correcting them when they make mistakes (or what Musk sees as mistakes), but questioning their legitimacy. This legitimacy isn’t measured by whether they follow established journalism ethics, but whether their “core truths” agree with Musk’s “core truths”.
An example of the problem is how the press fixates on Tesla car crashes due to its “autopilot” feature. Pretty much every autopilot crash makes national headlines, while the press ignores the other 40,000 car crashes that happen in the United States each year. Musk spies on Tesla drivers (hello, classic Bond villain everyone) so he can see the dip in autopilot usage every time such a news story breaks. He’s got good reason to be concerned about this.
He argues that autopilot is safer than humans driving, and he’s got the statistics and government studies to back this up. Therefore, the press’s fixation on Tesla crashes is illegitimate “fake news”, titillating the audience with distorted truth.
But here’s the thing: that’s still only Musk’s version of the truth. Yes, on a mile-per-mile basis, autopilot is safer, but there’s nuance here. Autopilot is used primarily on freeways, which already have a low mile-per-mile accident rate. People choose autopilot only when conditions are incredibly safe and drivers are unlikely to have an accident anyway. Musk is therefore being intentionally deceptive comparing apples to oranges. Autopilot may still be safer, it’s just that the numbers Musk uses don’t demonstrate this.
And then there is the truth calling it “autopilot” to begin with, because it isn’t. The public is overrating the capabilities of the feature. It’s little different than “lane keeping” and “adaptive cruise control” you can now find in other cars. In many ways, the technology is behind — my Tesla doesn’t beep at me when a pedestrian walks behind my car while backing up, but virtually every new car on the market does.
Yes, the press unduly covers Tesla autopilot crashes, but Musk has only himself to blame by unduly exaggerating his car’s capabilities by calling it “autopilot”.
What’s “core truth” is thus rather difficult to obtain. What the press satisfies itself with instead is smaller truths, what they can document. The facts are in such cases that the accident happened, and they try to get Tesla or Musk to comment on it.
What you can criticize a journalist for is therefore not “core truth” but whether they did journalism correctly. When such stories criticize “autopilot”, but don’t do their diligence in getting Tesla’s side of the story, then that’s a violation of journalistic practice. When I criticize journalists for their poor handling of stories in my industry, I try to focus on which journalistic principles they get wrong. For example, the NYTimes reporters do a lot of stories quoting anonymous government sources in clear violation of journalistic principles.
If “credibility” is the concern, then it’s the classic Bond villain here that’s the problem: Musk himself. His track record on business statements is abysmal. For example, when he announced the Model 3 he claimed production targets that every Wall Street analyst claimed were absurd. He didn’t make those targets, he didn’t come close. Model 3 production is still lagging behind Musk’s twice adjusted targets.
So who has a credibility gap here, the press, or Musk himself?
Not only is Musk’s credibility problem ironic, so is the name he chose, “Pravada”, the Russian word for truth that was the name of the Soviet Union Communist Party’s official newspaper. This is so absurd this has to be a joke, yet Musk claims to be serious about all this.
Yes, the press has a lot of problems, and if Musk were some journalism professor concerned about journalists meeting the objective standards of their industry (e.g. abusing anonymous sources), then this would be a fine thing. But it’s not. It’s Musk who is upset the press’s version of “core truth” does not agree with his version — a version that he’s proven time and time again differs from “real truth”.
Just in case Musk is serious, I’ve already registered “www.antipravda.com” to start measuring the credibility of statements by billionaire playboy CEOs. Let’s see who blinks first.
I stole the title, with permission, from this tweet:
Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) е инициатива за саморегулиране на медиите, предназначена да насърчава качествената журналистика в новата информационна екосистема. Това е идея на Репортери без граници съвместно с партньори като Агенция Франс Прес (АФП) и Европейския съюз за радио и телевизия (EBU).
В рамките на инициативата ще бъдат създадени система от стандарти, след което ще може да се провежда сертифициране.
Очакваното значение на стандартите – според първоначалните текстове, свързани с инициативата:
ново средство за борба с дезинформацията и защита на надеждната и качествена информация;
ползи за доставчици на съдържание, които се присъединят към инициативата и прилагат стандартите;
повече прозрачност по отношение на доставчиците на съдържание;
по-добра видимост онлайн за качественото съдържание;
повече рекламни приходи, тъй като рекламодателите ще могат да разпознават качествени медии;
обществена подкрепа за качествените медии;
основа за знак за качество и доверие.
Стандартите ще бъдат разработени за период 12-18 месеца със сътрудничество на френския орган по стандартизация AFNOR и германския орган за стандартизация Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN).
Компанията Google е информирала Репортери без граници, че е взела решение да участва в инициативата.
We made sure that this year’s re:Invent is chock-full of containers: there are over 40 sessions! New to containers? No problem, we have several introductory sessions for you to dip your toes. Been using containers for years and know the ins and outs? Don’t miss our technical deep-dives and interactive chalk talks led by container experts.
If you can’t make it to Las Vegas, you can catch the keynotes and session recaps from our livestream and on Twitch.
Not everyone learns the same way, so we have multiple types of breakout content:
Birds of a Feather An interactive discussion with industry leaders about containers on AWS.
Breakout sessions 60-minute presentations about building on AWS. Sessions are delivered by both AWS experts and customers and span all content levels.
Workshops 2.5-hour, hands-on sessions that teach how to build on AWS. AWS credits are provided. Bring a laptop, and have an active AWS account.
Chalk Talks 1-hour, highly interactive sessions with a smaller audience. They begin with a short lecture delivered by an AWS expert, followed by a discussion with the audience.
Whether you’re new to containers or you’ve been using them for years, you’ll find useful information at every level.
Introductory Sessions are focused on providing an overview of AWS services and features, with the assumption that attendees are new to the topic.
Advanced Sessions dive deeper into the selected topic. Presenters assume that the audience has some familiarity with the topic, but may or may not have direct experience implementing a similar solution.
Expert Sessions are for attendees who are deeply familiar with the topic, have implemented a solution on their own already, and are comfortable with how the technology works across multiple services, architectures, and implementations.
All container sessions are located in the Aria Resort.
Level 200 (Introductory)
CON202 – Getting Started with Docker and Amazon ECS By packaging software into standardized units, Docker gives code everything it needs to run, ensuring consistency from your laptop all the way into production. But once you have your code ready to ship, how do you run and scale it in the cloud? In this session, you become comfortable running containerized services in production using Amazon ECS. We cover container deployment, cluster management, service auto-scaling, service discovery, secrets management, logging, monitoring, security, and other core concepts. We also cover integrated AWS services and supplementary services that you can take advantage of to run and scale container-based services in the cloud.
Level 200 (Introductory)
CON211 – Reducing your Compute Footprint with Containers and Amazon ECS Tomas Riha, platform architect for Volvo, shows how Volvo transitioned its WirelessCar platform from using Amazon EC2 virtual machines to containers running on Amazon ECS, significantly reducing cost. Tomas dives deep into the architecture that Volvo used to achieve the migration in under four months, including Amazon ECS, Amazon ECR, Elastic Load Balancing, and AWS CloudFormation.
CON212 – Anomaly Detection Using Amazon ECS, AWS Lambda, and Amazon EMR Learn about the architecture that Cisco CloudLock uses to enable automated security and compliance checks throughout the entire development lifecycle, from the first line of code through runtime. It includes integration with IAM roles, Amazon VPC, and AWS KMS.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON410 – Advanced CICD with Amazon ECS Control Plane Mohit Gupta, product and engineering lead for Clever, demonstrates how to extend the Amazon ECS control plane to optimize management of container deployments and how the control plane can be broadly applied to take advantage of new AWS services. This includes ark—an AWS CLI-based deployment to Amazon ECS, Dapple—a slack-based automation system for deployments and notifications, and Kayvee—log and event routing libraries based on Amazon Kinesis.
Level 200 (Introductory)
CON209 – Interstella 8888: Learn How to Use Docker on AWS Interstella 8888 is an intergalactic trading company that deals in rare resources, but their antiquated monolithic logistics systems are causing the business to lose money. Join this workshop to get hands-on experience with Docker as you containerize Interstella 8888’s aging monolithic application and deploy it using Amazon ECS.
CON213 – Hands-on Deployment of Kubernetes on AWS In this workshop, attendees get hands-on experience using Kubernetes and Kops (Kubernetes Operations), as described in our recent blog post. Attendees learn how to provision a cluster, assign role-based permissions and security, and launch a container. If you’re interested in learning best practices for running Kubernetes on AWS, don’t miss this workshop.
Level 200 (Introductory)
CON206 – Docker on AWS In this session, Docker Technical Staff Member Patrick Chanezon discusses how Finnish Rail, the national train system for Finland, is using Docker on Amazon Web Services to modernize their customer facing applications, from ticket sales to reservations. Patrick also shares the state of Docker development and adoption on AWS, including explaining the opportunities and implications of efforts such as Project Moby, Docker EE, and how developers can use and contribute to Docker projects.
CON208 – Building Microservices on AWS Increasingly, organizations are turning to microservices to help them empower autonomous teams, letting them innovate and ship software faster than ever before. But implementing a microservices architecture comes with a number of new challenges that need to be dealt with. Chief among these finding an appropriate platform to help manage a growing number of independently deployable services. In this session, Sam Newman, author of Building Microservices and a renowned expert in microservices strategy, discusses strategies for building scalable and robust microservices architectures. He also tells you how to choose the right platform for building microservices, and about common challenges and mistakes organizations make when they move to microservices architectures.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON302 – Building a CICD Pipeline for Containers on AWS Containers can make it easier to scale applications in the cloud, but how do you set up your CICD workflow to automatically test and deploy code to containerized apps? In this session, we explore how developers can build effective CICD workflows to manage their containerized code deployments on AWS.
Ajit Zadgaonkar, Director of Engineering and Operations at Edmunds walks through best practices for CICD architectures used by his team to deploy containers. We also deep dive into topics such as how to create an accessible CICD platform and architect for safe blue/green deployments.
CON307 – Building Effective Container Images Sick of getting paged at 2am and wondering “where did all my disk space go?” New Docker users often start with a stock image in order to get up and running quickly, but this can cause problems as your application matures and scales. Creating efficient container images is important to maximize resources, and deliver critical security benefits.
In this session, AWS Sr. Technical Evangelist Abby Fuller covers how to create effective images to run containers in production. This includes an in-depth discussion of how Docker image layers work, things you should think about when creating your images, working with Amazon ECR, and mise-en-place for install dependencies. Prakash Janakiraman, Co-Founder and Chief Architect at Nextdoor discuss high-level and language-specific best practices for with building images and how Nextdoor uses these practices to successfully scale their containerized services with a small team.
CON309 – Containerized Machine Learning on AWS Image recognition is a field of deep learning that uses neural networks to recognize the subject and traits for a given image. In Japan, Cookpad uses Amazon ECS to run an image recognition platform on clusters of GPU-enabled EC2 instances. In this session, hear from Cookpad about the challenges they faced building and scaling this advanced, user-friendly service to ensure high-availability and low-latency for tens of millions of users.
CON320 – Monitoring, Logging, and Debugging for Containerized Services As containers become more embedded in the platform tools, debug tools, traces, and logs become increasingly important. Nare Hayrapetyan, Senior Software Engineer and Calvin French-Owen, Senior Technical Officer for Segment discuss the principals of monitoring and debugging containers and the tools Segment has implemented and built for logging, alerting, metric collection, and debugging of containerized services running on Amazon ECS.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON314 – Automating Zero-Downtime Production Cluster Upgrades for Amazon ECS Containers make it easy to deploy new code into production to update the functionality of a service, but what happens when you need to update the Amazon EC2 compute instances that your containers are running on? In this talk, we’ll deep dive into how to upgrade the Amazon EC2 infrastructure underlying a live production Amazon ECS cluster without affecting service availability. Matt Callanan, Engineering Manager at Expedia walk through Expedia’s “PRISM” project that safely relocates hundreds of tasks onto new Amazon EC2 instances with zero-downtime to applications.
CON322 – Maximizing Amazon ECS for Large-Scale Workloads Head of Mobfox DevOps, David Spitzer, shows how Mobfox used Docker and Amazon ECS to scale the Mobfox services and development teams to achieve low-latency networking and automatic scaling. This session covers Mobfox’s ecosystem architecture. It compares 2015 and today, the challenges Mobfox faced in growing their platform, and how they overcame them.
CON323 – Microservices Architectures for the Enterprise Salva Jung, Principle Engineer for Samsung Mobile shares how Samsung Connect is architected as microservices running on Amazon ECS to securely, stably, and efficiently handle requests from millions of mobile and IoT devices around the world.
CON324 – Windows Containers on Amazon ECS Docker containers are commonly regarded as powerful and portable runtime environments for Linux code, but Docker also offers API and toolchain support for running Windows Servers in containers. In this talk, we discuss the various options for running windows-based applications in containers on AWS.
CON326 – Remote Sensing and Image Processing on AWS Learn how Encirca services by DuPont Pioneer uses Amazon ECS powered by GPU-instances and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances to run proprietary image-processing algorithms against satellite imagery. Mark Lanning and Ethan Harstad, engineers at DuPont Pioneer show how this architecture has allowed them to process satellite imagery multiple times a day for each agricultural field in the United States in order to identify crop health changes.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON317 – Advanced Container Management at Catsndogs.lol Catsndogs.lol is a (fictional) company that needs help deploying and scaling its container-based application. During this workshop, attendees join the new DevOps team at CatsnDogs.lol, and help the company to manage their applications using Amazon ECS, and help release new features to make our customers happier than ever.Attendees get hands-on with service and container-instance auto-scaling, spot-fleet integration, container placement strategies, service discovery, secrets management with AWS Systems Manager Parameter Store, time-based and event-based scheduling, and automated deployment pipelines. If you are a developer interested in learning more about how Amazon ECS can accelerate your application development and deployment workflows, or if you are a systems administrator or DevOps person interested in understanding how Amazon ECS can simplify the operational model associated with running containers at scale, then this workshop is for you. You should have basic familiarity with Amazon ECS, Amazon EC2, and IAM.
The AWS CLI or AWS Tools for PowerShell installed
An AWS account with administrative permissions (including the ability to create IAM roles and policies) created at least 24 hours in advance.
Birds of a Feather (BoF)
CON01 – Birds of a Feather: Containers and Open Source at AWS Cloud native architectures take advantage of on-demand delivery, global deployment, elasticity, and higher-level services to enable developer productivity and business agility. Open source is a core part of making cloud native possible for everyone. In this session, we welcome thought leaders from the CNCF, Docker, and AWS to discuss the cloud’s direction for growth and enablement of the open source community. We also discuss how AWS is integrating open source code into its container services and its contributions to open source projects.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON308 – Mastering Kubernetes on AWS Much progress has been made on how to bootstrap a cluster since Kubernetes’ first commit and is now only a matter of minutes to go from zero to a running cluster on Amazon Web Services. However, evolving a simple Kubernetes architecture to be ready for production in a large enterprise can quickly become overwhelming with options for configuration and customization.
In this session, Arun Gupta, Open Source Strategist for AWS and Raffaele Di Fazio, software engineer at leading European fashion platform Zalando, show the common practices for running Kubernetes on AWS and share insights from experience in operating tens of Kubernetes clusters in production on AWS. We cover options and recommendations on how to install and manage clusters, configure high availability, perform rolling upgrades and handle disaster recovery, as well as continuous integration and deployment of applications, logging, and security.
CON310 – Moving to Containers: Building with Docker and Amazon ECS If you’ve ever considered moving part of your application stack to containers, don’t miss this session. We cover best practices for containerizing your code, implementing automated service scaling and monitoring, and setting up automated CI/CD pipelines with fail-safe deployments. Manjeeva Silva and Thilina Gunasinghe show how McDonalds implemented their home delivery platform in four months using Docker containers and Amazon ECS to serve tens of thousands of customers.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON402 – Advanced Patterns in Microservices Implementation with Amazon ECS Scaling a microservice-based infrastructure can be challenging in terms of both technical implementation and developer workflow. In this talk, AWS Solutions Architect Pierre Steckmeyer is joined by Will McCutchen, Architect at BuzzFeed, to discuss Amazon ECS as a platform for building a robust infrastructure for microservices. We look at the key attributes of microservice architectures and how Amazon ECS supports these requirements in production, from configuration to sophisticated workload scheduling to networking capabilities to resource optimization. We also examine what it takes to build an end-to-end platform on top of the wider AWS ecosystem, and what it’s like to migrate a large engineering organization from a monolithic approach to microservices.
CON404 – Deep Dive into Container Scheduling with Amazon ECS As your application’s infrastructure grows and scales, well-managed container scheduling is critical to ensuring high availability and resource optimization. In this session, we deep dive into the challenges and opportunities around container scheduling, as well as the different tools available within Amazon ECS and AWS to carry out efficient container scheduling. We discuss patterns for container scheduling available with Amazon ECS, the Blox scheduling framework, and how you can customize and integrate third-party scheduler frameworks to manage container scheduling on Amazon ECS.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON312 – Building a Selenium Fleet on the Cheap with Amazon ECS with Spot Fleet Roberto Rivera and Matthew Wedgwood, engineers at RetailMeNot, give a practical overview of setting up a fleet of Selenium nodes running on Amazon ECS with Spot Fleet. Discuss the challenges of running Selenium with high availability at minimum cost using Amazon ECS container introspection to connect the Selenium Hub with its nodes.
CON315 – Virtually There: Building a Render Farm with Amazon ECS Learn how 8i Corp scales its multi-tenanted, volumetric render farm up to thousands of instances using AWS, Docker, and an API-driven infrastructure. This render farm enables them to turn the video footage from an array of synchronized cameras into a photo-realistic hologram capable of playback on a range of devices, from mobile phones to high-end head mounted displays. Join Owen Evans, VP of Engineering for 8i, as they dive deep into how 8i’s rendering infrastructure is built and maintained by just a handful of people and powered by Amazon ECS.
CON325 – Developing Microservices – from Your Laptop to the Cloud Wesley Chow, Staff Engineer at Adroll, shows how his team extends Amazon ECS by enabling local development capabilities. Hologram, Adroll’s local development program, brings the capabilities of the Amazon EC2 instance metadata service to non-EC2 hosts, so that developers can run the same software on local machines with the same credentials source as in production.
CON327 – Patterns and Considerations for Service Discovery Roven Drabo, head of cloud operations at Kaplan Test Prep, illustrates Kaplan’s complete container automation solution using Amazon ECS along with how his team uses NGINX and HashiCorp Consul to provide an automated approach to service discovery and container provisioning.
CON328 – Building a Development Platform on Amazon ECS Quinton Anderson, Head of Engineering for Commonwealth Bank of Australia, walks through how they migrated their internal development and deployment platform from Mesos/Marathon to Amazon ECS. The platform uses a custom DSL to abstract a layered application architecture, in a way that makes it easy to plug or replace new implementations into each layer in the stack.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON318 – Interstella 8888: Monolith to Microservices with Amazon ECS Interstella 8888 is an intergalactic trading company that deals in rare resources, but their antiquated monolithic logistics systems are causing the business to lose money. Join this workshop to get hands-on experience deploying Docker containers as you break Interstella 8888’s aging monolithic application into containerized microservices. Using Amazon ECS and an Application Load Balancer, you create API-based microservices and deploy them leveraging integrations with other AWS services.
CON332 – Build a Java Spring Application on Amazon ECS This workshop teaches you how to lift and shift existing Spring and Spring Cloud applications onto the AWS platform. Learn how to build a Spring application container, understand bootstrap secrets, push container images to Amazon ECR, and deploy the application to Amazon ECS. Then, learn how to configure the deployment for production.
Level 200 (Introductory)
CON201 – Containers on AWS – State of the Union Just over four years after the first public release of Docker, and three years to the day after the launch of Amazon ECS, the use of containers has surged to run a significant percentage of production workloads at startups and enterprise organizations. Join Deepak Singh, General Manager of Amazon Container Services, as he covers the state of containerized application development and deployment trends, new container capabilities on AWS that are available now, options for running containerized applications on AWS, and how AWS customers successfully run container workloads in production.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON304 – Batch Processing with Containers on AWS Batch processing is useful to analyze large amounts of data. But configuring and scaling a cluster of virtual machines to process complex batch jobs can be difficult. In this talk, we show how to use containers on AWS for batch processing jobs that can scale quickly and cost-effectively. We also discuss AWS Batch, our fully managed batch-processing service. You also hear from GoPro and Here about how they use AWS to run batch processing jobs at scale including best practices for ensuring efficient scheduling, fine-grained monitoring, compute resource automatic scaling, and security for your batch jobs.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON406 – Architecting Container Infrastructure for Security and Compliance While organizations gain agility and scalability when they migrate to containers and microservices, they also benefit from compliance and security, advantages that are often overlooked. In this session, Kelvin Zhu, lead software engineer at Okta, joins Mitch Beaumont, enterprise solutions architect at AWS, to discuss security best practices for containerized infrastructure. Learn how Okta built their development workflow with an emphasis on security through testing and automation. Dive deep into how containers enable automated security and compliance checks throughout the development lifecycle. Also understand best practices for implementing AWS security and secrets management services for any containerized service architecture.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON329 – Full Software Lifecycle Management for Containers Running on Amazon ECS Learn how The Washington Post uses Amazon ECS to run Arc Publishing, a digital journalism platform that powers The Washington Post and a growing number of major media websites. Amazon ECS enabled The Washington Post to containerize their existing microservices architecture, avoiding a complete rewrite that would have delayed the platform’s launch by several years. In this session, Jason Bartz, Technical Architect at The Washington Post, discusses the platform’s architecture. He addresses the challenges of optimizing Arc Publishing’s workload, and managing the application lifecycle to support 2,000 containers running on more than 50 Amazon ECS clusters.
CON330 – Running Containerized HIPAA Workloads on AWS Nihar Pasala, Engineer at Aetion, discusses the Aetion Evidence Platform, a system for generating the real-world evidence used by healthcare decision makers to implement value-based care. This session discusses the architecture Aetion uses to run HIPAA workloads using containers on Amazon ECS, best practices, and learnings.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON408 – Building a Machine Learning Platform Using Containers on AWS DeepLearni.ng develops and implements machine learning models for complex enterprise applications. In this session, Thomas Rogers, Engineer for DeepLearni.ng discusses how they worked with Scotiabank to leverage Amazon ECS, Amazon ECR, Docker, GPU-accelerated Amazon EC2 instances, and TensorFlow to develop a retail risk model that helps manage payment collections for millions of Canadian credit card customers.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON319 – Interstella 8888: CICD for Containers on AWS Interstella 8888 is an intergalactic trading company that deals in rare resources, but their antiquated monolithic logistics systems are causing the business to lose money. Join this workshop to learn how to set up a CI/CD pipeline for containerized microservices. You get hands-on experience deploying Docker container images using Amazon ECS, AWS CloudFormation, AWS CodeBuild, and AWS CodePipeline, automating everything from code check-in to production.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON405 – Moving to Amazon ECS – the Not-So-Obvious Benefits If you ask 10 teams why they migrated to containers, you will likely get answers like ‘developer productivity’, ‘cost reduction’, and ‘faster scaling’. But teams often find there are several other ‘hidden’ benefits to using containers for their services. In this talk, Franziska Schmidt, Platform Engineer at Mapbox and Yaniv Donenfeld from AWS will discuss the obvious, and not so obvious benefits of moving to containerized architecture. These include using Docker and Amazon ECS to achieve shared libraries for dev teams, separating private infrastructure from shareable code, and making it easier for non-ops engineers to run services.
Level 300 (Advanced)
CON331 – Deploying a Regulated Payments Application on Amazon ECS Travelex discusses how they built an FCA-compliant international payments service using a microservices architecture on AWS. This chalk talk covers the challenges of designing and operating an Amazon ECS-based PaaS in a regulated environment using a DevOps model.
Level 400 (Expert)
CON407 – Interstella 8888: Advanced Microservice Operations Interstella 8888 is an intergalactic trading company that deals in rare resources, but their antiquated monolithic logistics systems are causing the business to lose money. In this workshop, you help Interstella 8888 build a modern microservices-based logistics system to save the company from financial ruin. We give you the hands-on experience you need to run microservices in the real world. This includes implementing advanced container scheduling and scaling to deal with variable service requests, implementing a service mesh, issue tracing with AWS X-Ray, container and instance-level logging with Amazon CloudWatch, and load testing.
Know before you go
Want to brush up on your container knowledge before re:Invent? Here are some helpful resources to get started:
I thought I’d write up some notes about Kaspersky, the Russian anti-virus vendor that many believe has ties to Russian intelligence.
There’s two angles to this story. One is whether the accusations are true. The second is the poor way the press has handled the story, with mainstream outlets like the New York Times more intent on pushing government propaganda than informing us what’s going on.
Before we address Kaspersky, we need to talk about how the press covers this.
The mainstream media’s stories have been pure government propaganda, like this one from the New York Times. It garbles the facts of what happened, and relies primarily on anonymous government sources that cannot be held accountable. It’s so messed up that we can’t easily challenge it because we aren’t even sure exactly what it’s claiming.
The Society of Professional Journalists have a name for this abuse of anonymous sources, the “Washington Game“. Journalists can identify this as bad journalism, but the big newspapers like The New York Times continues to do it anyway, because how dare anybody criticize them?
Our government can’t tell us everything, of course. But at the same time, they need to tell us something, to at least being clear what their accusations are. These vague insinuations through the media hurt their credibility, not help it. The obvious craptitude is making us in the cybersecurity community come to Kaspersky’s defense, which is not the government’s aim at all.
There are lots of issues involved here, but let’s consider the major one insinuated by the NYTimes story, that Kaspersky was getting “data” files along with copies of suspected malware. This is troublesome if true.
But, as Kaspersky claims today, it’s because they had detected malware within a zip file, and uploaded the entire zip — including the data files within the zip.
This is reasonable. This is indeed how anti-virus generally works. It completely defeats the NYTimes insinuations.
This isn’t to say Kaspersky is telling the truth, of course, but that’s not the point. The point is that we are getting vague propaganda from the government further garbled by the press, making Kaspersky’s clear defense the credible party in the affair.
It’s certainly possible for Kaspersky to write signatures to look for strings like “TS//SI/OC/REL TO USA” that appear in secret US documents, then upload them to Russia. If that’s what our government believes is happening, they need to come out and be explicit about it. They can easily setup honeypots, in the way described in today’s story, to confirm it. However, it seems the government’s description of honeypots is that Kaspersky only upload files that were clearly viruses, not data.
I believe Kaspersky is guilty, that the company and Eugene himself, works directly with Russian intelligence.
That’s because on a personal basis, people in government have given me specific, credible stories — the sort of thing they should be making public. And these stories are wholly unrelated to stories that have been made public so far.
You shouldn’t believe me, of course, because I won’t go into details you can challenge. I’m not trying to convince you, I’m just disclosing my point of view.
But there are some public reasons to doubt Kaspersky. For example, when trying to sell to our government, they’ve claimed they can help us against terrorists. The translation of this is that they could help our intelligence services. Well, if they are willing to help our intelligence services against customers who are terrorists, then why wouldn’t they likewise help Russian intelligence services against their adversaries?
Then there is how Russia works. It’s a violent country. Most of the people mentioned in that “Steele Dossier” have died. In the hacker community, hackers are often coerced to help the government. Many have simply gone missing.
Being rich doesn’t make Kaspersky immune from this — it makes him more of a target. Russian intelligence knows he’s getting all sorts of good intelligence, such as malware written by foreign intelligence services. It’s unbelievable they wouldn’t put the screws on him to get this sort of thing.
Russia is our adversary. It’d be foolish of our government to buy anti-virus from Russian companies. Likewise, the Russian government won’t buy such products from American companies.
I have enormous disrespect for mainstream outlets like The New York Times and the way they’ve handled the story. It makes me want to come to Kaspersky’s defense.
I have enormous respect for Kaspersky technology. They do good work.
But I hear stories. I don’t think our government should be trusting Kaspersky at all. For that matter, our government shouldn’t trust any cybersecurity products from Russia, China, Iran, etc.
This article argues that AI technologies will make image, audio, and video forgeries much easier in the future.
Combined, the trajectory of cheap, high-quality media forgeries is worrying. At the current pace of progress, it may be as little as two or three years before realistic audio forgeries are good enough to fool the untrained ear, and only five or 10 years before forgeries can fool at least some types of forensic analysis. When tools for producing fake video perform at higher quality than today’s CGI and are simultaneously available to untrained amateurs, these forgeries might comprise a large part of the information ecosystem. The growth in this technology will transform the meaning of evidence and truth in domains across journalism, government communications, testimony in criminal justice, and, of course, national security.
I am not worried about fooling the “untrained ear,” and more worried about fooling forensic analysis. But there’s an arms race here. Recording technologies will get more sophisticated, too, making their outputs harder to forge. Still, I agree that the advantage will go to the forgers and not the forgery detectors.
The First Amendment, the “freedom of speech” one, does not mention journalists. When it says “freedom of the press” it means the physical printing press. Yes, that does include newspapers, but it also includes anybody else publishing things, such as the famous agitprop pamphlets published by James Otis, John Dickinson, and Thomas Paine. There was no journalistic value to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. The pamphlet argued for abolishing the monarchy and for American independence.
Today in testimony before congress, FBI directory James Comey came out in support of journalism, pointing out that they would not prosecute journalists doing their jobs. But he then modified his statement, describing “valid” journalists as those who in possession of leaks would first check with the government, to avoid publishing anything that would damage national security. It’s a power the government has abused in the past to delay or censor leaks. It’s specifically why Edward Snowden contacted Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — he wanted journalists who would not kowtow the government on publishing the leaks.
Comey’s testimony today was in regards to prosecuting Assange and Wikileaks. Under the FBI’s official “journalist” classification scheme, Wikileaks are not real journalists, but instead publish “intelligence porn” and are hostile to America’s interests.
To be fair, there may be good reasons to prosecute Assange. Publishing leaks is one thing, but the suspicion with Wikileaks is that they do more, that they actively help getting the leaks in the first place. The original leaks that started Wikileaks may have come from hacks by Assange himself. Assange may have helped Manning grab the diplomatic cables. Wikileaks may have been involved in hacking the DNC and Podesta emails, more than simply receiving and publishing the information.
If that’s the case, then the US government would have good reason to prosecute Wikileaks.
But that’s not what Comey said today. Instead, Comey referred only to Wikileaks constitutionally protected publishing activities, and how since they didn’t fit his definition of “journalism”, they were open to prosecution. This is fundamentally wrong, and a violation of the both the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment. The FBI should not have a definition of “journalism” it thinks is valid. Yes, Assange is an anti-American douchebag. Being an apologist for Putin’s Russia disproves his claim of being a neutral journalist targeting the corrupt and powerful. But these activities are specifically protected by the Constitution.
If this were 1776, Comey would of course be going after Thomas Paine, for publishing “revolution porn”, and not being a real journalist.
The NSA/CIA will only buy an 0day if they can use it. They can’t use it if they disclose the bug.
I point this out, yet again, because of this WaPo article [*] built on the premise that the NSA/CIA spend millions of dollars on 0day they don’t use, while unilaterally disarming tiself. Since that premise is false, the entire article is false. It’s the sort of article you get when all you interview are Washington D.C. lobbyists and Washington D.C. politicians — and no outside experts.
It quotes former cyberczar (under Obama) Michael Daniel explaining that the “default assumption” is to disclose 0days that the NSA/CIA get. This is a Sean Spicer style lie. He’s paid to say this, but it’s not true. The NSA/CIA only buy 0day if they can use it. They won’t buy 0day if the default assumption is that they will disclose it. QED: the default assumption of such 0day is they won’t disclose them.
The story quotes Ben Wizner of the ACLU saying that we should patch 0days instead of using them. Patching isn’t an option. If we aren’t using them, then we aren’t buying them, and hence, there are no 0days to patch. The two options are to not buy 0days at all (and not patch) or buy to use them (and not patch). Either way, patching doesn’t happen.
Wizner didn’t actually say “use them”. He said “stockpiling” them, a word that means “hold in reserve for use in the future”. That’s not what the NSA/CIA does. They buy 0days to use, now. They’ve got budgets and efficiency ratings. They don’t buy 0days which they can’t use in the near future. In other words, Wizner paints the choice between an 0day that has no particular value to the government, and one would have value being patched.
The opposite picture is true. Almost all the 0days possessed by the NSA/CIA have value, being actively used against our adversaries right now. Conversely, patching an 0day provides little value for defense. Nobody else knew about the 0day anyway (that’s what 0day means), so nobody was in danger, so nobody was made safer by patching it.
Wizner and Snowden are quoted in the article that somehow the NSA/CIA is “maintaining vulnerabilities” and “keeping the holes open”. This phrasing is deliberately misleading. The NSA/CIA didn’t create the holes. They aren’t working to keep them open. If somebody else finds the same 0day hole and tells the vendor (like Apple), then the NSA/CIA will do nothing to stop them. They just won’t work to close the holes.
Activists like Wizner and Snowden deliberate mislead on the issue because they can’t possibly win a rational debate. The government is not going to continue to spend millions of dollars on buying 0days just to close them, because everyone agrees the value proposition is crap, that the value of fixing yet another iPhone hole is not worth the $1 million it’ll cost, and do little to stop Russians from finding an unrelated hole. Likewise, while the peacenicks (rightfully, in many respects) hate the militarization of cyberspace, they aren’t going to win the argument that the NSA/CIA should unilaterally disarm themselves. So instead they’ve tried to morph the debate into some crazy argument that makes no sense.
This is the problem with Washington D.C. journalism. It presumes the only people who matter are those in Washington, either the lobbyists of one position, or government defenders of another position. At no point did they go out and talk to technical experts, such as somebody who has discovered, weaponized, used an 0day exploit. So they write articles premised on the fact that the NSA/CIA, out of their offensive weapons budget, will continue to buy 0days that are immediately patched and fixed without ever being useful.
When I write my definitive guide for journalists covering hacking, I’m going to point out how easy it is for journalists to misunderstand the details of a story — especially when they change the details to fit the story they want to tell.
For example, there is the notorious “CIA hacked Senate computers” scandal. In fact, the computers in question were owned by the CIA, located in a CIA facility, and managed/operated by CIA employees. You can’t “hack” computers you own. Yes, the CIA overstepped the bounds of an informal agreement with the Senate committee overseeing them, but in no way did anything remotely like “hacking” occur.
This detail matter. If the CIA had truly hacked the Senate committee, that would be a constitutional crisis. A small misstep breaking an informal agreement is not.
A more recent example is this story, which mentions that AlfaBank-Trump connection, claiming the server was in Trump Tower [*]:
What about the computer server at Trump Tower? Several news media outlets have reported that investigators last year were puzzled by data transmissions between a computer server at Trump Tower and a computer server associated with a Russian bank. Although Mr. Trump on Twitter talked about his “phones,” in theory a judge might determine that the computer address of the server in the tower was a facility being used by a foreign power, Russia, to communicate, and authorize surveillance of it.
No, the server was not located in Trump Tower. It was located outside Philadelphia. It’s owned and operated by a company called Listrak. There’s no evidence anybody in the Trump Organization even knew about the server. It was some other company named Cendyn who decided to associate Trump’s name with the server. There’s no evidence of communication between the server and Alfa — only evidence of communication about the server from Alfa.
The details are important to the story, because it’s trying to show how a judge “might determine that the computer … in the tower was a facility being used by a foreign power”. If it’s not anywhere near or related to the Trump Tower, no such determination could be made.
Then there was that disastrous story from the Washington Post about Russia hacking into a Vermont power plant [*], which still hasn’t been retracted despite widespread condemnation. No such hacking occurred. Instead, the details of what happened is that an employee checked Yahoo mail from his laptop. The night before, the DHS had incorrectly configured its “Einstein” intrusion detection system to trigger on innocent traffic with Yahoo as an indicator of compromise from Russian hackers.
You can see how journalists make these mistakes. If CIA is spying on computers used by Senate staffers, then the natural assumption is that the CIA hacked those computers. If there was a server associated with the Trump Organization, however tenuous, it’s easy to assume a more concrete relationship, such as the server being located in Trump’s offices. You can see how once the DHS claims there was a hack, and you’ve filled your stories with quotes from senators pontificating about the meaning of such hacks, it’s very difficult to retract the story when the details emerge there was nothing remotely resembling a hack.
I’m not trying to claim that journalists need to be smarter about hacking. I’m instead claiming that journalists need to be smarter about journalism. The flaws here all go one way — toward the sensational. Instead of paying attention to the details and questioning whether such sensationalism was warranted, journalists did the reverse.
Also, I’m trying to point out how journalists seem to collude on this. They all piled on with misunderstandings about the “CIA hacking”, such that it became impossible for a journalist not to agree that this is what happened. The original reporting on the Alfa connection was crap, though it becomes real when other reporters repeat the claims. The Vermont hacking story is too juicy for reporters not to repeat, even when they know it’s completely bogus.
In recent weeks, the New York Times has written many stories on Russia’s hacking of the Trump election. This front page piece [*] alone takes up 9,000 words. Combined, the NYTimes coverage on this topic exceeds the length of a novel. Yet, for all this text, the number of verifiable facts also equals that of a novel, namely zero. There’s no evidence this was anything other than an undirected, Anonymous-style op based on a phishing campaign.
The question that drives us It’s not that Russia isn’t involved, it’s that the exact nature of their involvement is complicated. Just because the hackers live in Russia doesn’t automatically mean their attacks are directed by the government.
It’s like the recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe and America. Despite ISIS claiming credit, and the perpetrators crediting ISIS, we are loathe to actually blame the attacks directly on ISIS. Overwhelmingly, it’s individuals who finance and plan their attacks, with no ISIS organizational involvement other than inspiration.
The same goes for Russian hacks. The Russian hacker community is complicated. There are lots of actors with various affiliations with the government. They are almost always nationalistic, almost always pro-Putin. There are many individuals and groups who act to the benefit of Putin/Russia with no direct affiliation with the government. Others do have ties with the government, but these are often informal relationships, sustained by patronage and corruption.
Evidence tying Russian attacks to the Russian government is thus the most important question of all — and it’s one that the New York Times is failing to answer. The fewer facts they have, the more they fill the void with vast amounts of verbiage.
Sustaining the narrative Here’s a trick when reading New York Times articles: when they switch to passive voice, they are covering up a lie. An example is this paragraph from the above story [*]:
The Russians were also quicker to turn their attacks to political purposes. A 2007 cyberattack on Estonia, a former Soviet republic that had joined NATO, sent a message that Russia could paralyze the country without invading it. The next year cyberattacks were used during Russia’s war with Georgia.
Normally, editors would switch this to the active voice, or:
The next year, Russia used cyberattacks in their war against Georgia.
But that would be factually wrong. Yes, cyberattacks happened during the conflicts with Estonia and Georgia, but the evidence in both cases points to targets and tools going viral on social media and web forums. It was the people who conducted the attacks, not the government. Whether it was the government who encouraged the people is the big question — to which we have no answer. Since the NYTimes has no evidence pointing to the Russian government, they switch to the passive voice, hoping you’ll assume they meant the government was to blame.
It’s a clear demonstration that the NYTimes is pushing a narrative, rather than reporting just the facts allowing you to decide for yourself.
Tropes and cliches The NYTimes story is dominated by cliches or “tropes”.
One such trope is how hackers are always “sophisticated”, which leads to the conclusion they must be state-sponsored, not simple like the Anonymous collective. Amusingly, the New York Times tries to give two conflicting “sophisticated” narratives at once. Their article [*] has a section titled “Honing Stealthy Tactics”, which ends with describing the attacks as “brazen”, full of “boldness”. In other words, sophisticated Russian hackers are marked by “brazen stealthiness”, a contradiction in terms. In reality, the DNC/DCCC/Podesta attacks were no more sophisticated than any other Anonymous attack, such as the one against Stratfor.
A related trope is the sophistication of defense. For example, the NYTimes describes [*] how the DNC is a non-profit that could not afford “the most advanced systems in place” to stop phishing emails. After the hacks, they installed the “robust set of monitoring tools”. This trope imagines there’s a magic pill that victims can use to defend themselves against hackers. Experts know this isn’t how cybersecurity works — the amount of money spent, or the advancement of technology, has little impact on an organization’s ability to defend itself.
Another trope is the word “target” that imagines that every effect from a hacker was the original intention. In other words, it’s the trope that tornados target trailer parks. As part of the NYTimes “narrative” is this story that “House candidates were also targets of Russian hacking” [*]. This is post-factual fake-news. Guccifer2.0 targeted the DCCC, not individual House candidates. Sure, at the request of some bloggers, Guccifer2.0 release part of their treasure trove for some specific races, but the key here is the information withheld, not the information released. Guccifer2.0 made bloggers beg for it, dribbling out bits at a time, keeping themselves in the news, wrapped in an aura of mysteriousness. If their aim was to influence House races, they’d’ve dumped info on all the races.
In other words, the behavior is that of an Anonymous-style hacker which the NYTimes twists into behavior of Russian intelligence.
The word “trope” is normally applied to fiction. When the NYTimes devolves into hacking tropes, like the “targets” of “sophisticated” hackers, you know their news story is fiction, too.
Anonymous government officials In the end, the foundation of the NYTimes narrative relies upon leaked secret government documents and quotes by anonymous government officials [*]. This is otherwise known as “propaganda”.
The senior government officials are probably the Democrat senators who were briefed by the CIA. These senators leak their version of the CIA briefing, cherry picking the bits that support their story, removing the nuanced claims that were undoubtedly part of the original document.
It’s what the Society of Professional Journalists call the “Washington Game“. Everyone knows how this game is played. That’s why Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel) [*] and Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) [*] dissected that NYTimes piece. They are both as anti-Trump/anti-Russia as they come, so it’s not their political biases that lead them to challenge that piece. Instead, it’s their knowledge of what bad journalism looks like that motivated their criticisms.
If the above leaks weren’t authorized by Obama, the administration would be announcing an investigation into who is leaking major secrets. Thus, we know the leaks were “authorized”. Obama’s willingness to release the information unofficially, but not officially, means there are holes in it somewhere. There’s something he’s hiding, covering up. Otherwise, he’d have a press conference and field questions from reporters on the topic.
Conclusion The issue of Russia’s involvement in the election is so important that we should demand real facts, real statements from the government that we can question and challenge. It’s too important to leave up to propaganda. If Putin is involved, we deserve to understand it, and not simply get the “made for TV” version given us by the NYTimes.
Propaganda is what we have here. The NYTimes has written a novel that delivers the message while protecting the government from being questioned. Facts are replaced with distorted narrative, worn tropes, and quotes from anonymous government officials.
The facts we actually see is an attack no more sophisticated than those conducted by LulzSec and Anonymous. We see an attack that is disorganized and opportunistic, exactly what we’d expect from an Anonymous-style attack. Putin’s regime may be involved, and they may have a plan, but the current evidence looks like casual hackers, not professional hackers working for an intelligence service.
This artsy stock photo of FSB headquarters is not evidence.
Note: many ideas in this piece come from a discussion with a friend who doesn’t care to be credited
Until recently, journalism in America prided itself on objectivity — to report the truth, without taking sides. That’s because big debates are always complexed and nuanced, and that both sides are equally reasonable. Therefore, when writing an article, reporters attempt to achieve balance by quoting people/experts/proponents on both sides of an issue.
But what about those times when one side is clearly unreasonable? You’d never try to achieve balance by citing those who believe in aliens and big-foot, for example.Thus, journalists have come up with the theory of false-balance to justify being partisan and one-sided on certain issues.
Typical examples where journalists cite false-balance is reporting on anti-vaxxers, climate-change denialists, and Creationists. More recently, false-balance has become an issue in the 2016 Trump election.
But this concept of false-balance is wrong. It’s not that anti-vaxxers, denialists, Creationists, and white supremacists are reasonable. Instead, the issue is that the left-wing has reframed the debate. They’ve simplified it into something black-and-white, removing nuance, in a way that shows their opponents as being unreasonable. The media then adopts the reframed debate.
Let’s talk anti-vaxxers. One of the policy debates is whether the government has the power to force vaccinations on people (or on people’s children). Reasonable people say the government doesn’t have this power. Many (if not most) people hold this opinion while agreeing that vaccines are both safe and effective (that they don’t cause autism).
Consider this February 2015 interview with Chris Christy. He’s one of the few politicians who have taken the position that government can override personal choice, such as in the case of an outbreak. Yet, when he said “parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide“, he was broadly reviled as an anti-vaxxer throughout the media. The press reviled other Republican candidates the same way, even while ignoring almost identical statements made at the same time by the Obama administration. They also ignored clearly anti-vax comments from both Hillary and Obama during the 2008 election.
Yes, we can all agree that anti-vaxxers are a bunch of crazy nutjobs. In calling for objectivity, we aren’t saying that you should take them seriously. Instead, we are pointing out the obvious bias in the way the media attacked Republican candidates as being anti-vaxxers, and then hiding behind “false-balance”.
Now let’s talk evolution. The issue is this: Darwinism has been set up as some sort of competing religion against belief in God(s). High-schools teach children to believe in Darwinism, but not to understand Darwinism. Few kids graduate understanding Darwinism, which is why it’s invariably misrepresented in mass-media (X-Men, Planet of the Apes, Waterworld, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, etc.). The only movie I can recall getting evolution correct is Idiocracy.
Also, evolution has holes in it. This isn’t a bad thing in science, every scientific theory has holes. Science isn’t a religion. We don’t care about the holes. That some things remain unexplained by a theory doesn’t bother us. Science has no problem with gaps in knowledge, where we admit “I don’t know”. It’s religion that has “God of the gaps”, where ignorance isn’t tolerated, and everything unexplained is explained by a deity.
The hole in evolution is how the cell evolved. The fossil record teaches us a lot about multi-cellular organisms over the last 400-million years, but not much about how the cell evolved in the 4-billion years on planet Earth before that. I can point to radio isotope dating and fossil finds to prove dinosaurs existed 250,000 million to 60 million years ago, thus disproving your crazy theory of a 10,000 year-old Earth. But I can’t point to anything that disagrees with your view that a deity created the original cellular organisms. I don’t agree with that theory, but I can’t disprove it, either.
The point is that Christians have a good point that Darwinism is taught as a competing religion. You see this in the way books that deny holes in knowledge, insisting that Darwinism explains even how cells evolved, and that doubting Darwin is blasphemy.
The Creationist solution is wrong, we can’t teach religion in schools. But they have a reasonable concern about religious Darwinism. The solution there is to do a better job teaching it as a science. If kids want to believe that one of the deities created the first cells, then that’s okay, as long as they understand the fossil record and radioisotope dating.
Now let’s talk Climate Change. This is a tough one, because you people have lost your collective minds. The debate is over how much change? how much danger? how much costs?. The debate is not over Is it true?. We all agree it’s true, even most Republicans. By keeping the debate between the black-and-white “Is global warming true?”, the left-wing can avoid the debate “How much warming?”.
RUBIO: Because we’re not going to destroy our economy …
Moderator: Governor Christie, … what do you make of skeptics of climate change such as Senator Rubio?
CHRISTIE: I don’t think Senator Rubio is a skeptic of climate change.
RUBIO: I’m not a denier/skeptic of climate change.
The media (in this case CNN) is so convinced that Republican deny climate change that they can’t hear any other statement. Rubio clearly didn’t deny Climate Change, but the moderator was convinced that he did. Every statement is seen as outright denial, or code words for denial. Thus, convinced of the falseness of false-balance, the media never sees the fact that most Republicans are reasonable.
Similar proof of Republican non-denial is this page full of denialism quotes. If you actually look at the quotes, you’ll see that when taken in context, virtually none of the statements deny climate change. For example, when Senator Dan Sulliven says “no concrete scientific consensus on the extent to which humans contribute to climate change“, he is absolutely right. There is 97% consensus that mankind contributes to climate change, but there is widespread disagreement on how much.
That “97% consensus” is incredibly misleading. Whenever it’s quoted, the speaker immediately moves the bar, claiming that scientists also agree with whatever crazy thing the speaker wants, like hurricanes getting worse (they haven’t — at least, not yet).
There’s no inherent reason why Republicans would disagree with addressing Climate Change. For example, Washington State recently voted on a bill to impose a revenue neutral carbon tax. The important part is “revenue neutral”: Republicans hate expanding government, but they don’t oppose policies that keep government the same side. Democrats opposed this bill, precisely because it didn’t expand the size of government. That proves that Democrats are less concerned with a bipartisan approach to addressing climate change, but instead simply use it as a wedge issue to promote their agenda of increased regulation and increased spending.
If you are serious about address Climate Change, then agree that Republicans aren’t deniers, and then look for bipartisan solutions.
The point here is not to try to convince you of any political opinion. The point here is to describe how the press has lost objectivity by adopting the left-wing’s reframing of the debate. Instead of seeing balanced debate between two reasonable sides, they see a warped debate between a reasonable (left-wing) side and an unreasonable (right-wing) side. That the opposing side is unreasonable is so incredible seductive they can never give it up.
That Christie had to correct the moderator in the debate should teach you that something is rotten in journalism. Christie understood Rubio’s remarks, but the debate moderator could not. Journalists cannot even see the climate debate because they are wedded to the left-wing’s corrupt view of the debate.
The issue of false-balance is wrong. In debates that evenly divide the population, the issues are complex and nuanced, both sides are reasonable. That’s the law. It doesn’t matter what the debate is. If you see the debate simplified to the point where one side is obviously unreasonable, then it’s you who has a problem.
Dinner with Rajneeshees
One evening I answered the doorbell to find a burgundy clad couple on the doorstep. They were followers of the Bagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose cult had recently purchased a large ranch in the eastern part of the state. No, they weren’t there to convert us. They had come for dinner. My father had invited them.
My father was a journalist, who had been covering the controversies with the cult’s neighbors. Yes, they were a crazy cult which later would breakup after committing acts of domestic terrorism. But this couple was a pair of young professionals (lawyers) who, except for their clothing, looked and behaved like normal people. They would go on to live normal lives after the cult.
Growing up, I lived in two worlds. One was the normal world, which encourages you to demonize those who disagree with you. On the political issues that concern you most, you divide the world into the righteous and the villains. It’s not enough to believe the other side wrong, you most also believe them to be evil.
The other world was that of my father, teaching me to see the other side of the argument. I guess I grew up with my own Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird), who set an ideal. In much the same way that Atticus told his children that they couldn’t hate even Hitler, I was told I couldn’t hate even the crazy Rajneeshees.
This is nonsense. The evidence available on the Internet is that Trump neither (directly) controls the domain “trump-email.com“, nor has access to the server. Instead, the domain was setup and controlled by Cendyn, a company that does marketing/promotions for hotels, including many of Trump’s hotels. Cendyn outsources the email portions of its campaigns to a company called Listrak, which actually owns/operates the physical server in a data center in Philidelphia.
In other words, Trump’s response is (minus the political bits) likely true, supported by the evidence. It’s the conclusion I came to even before seeing the response.
When you view this “secret” server in context, surrounded by the other email servers operated by Listrak on behalf of Cendyn, it becomes more obvious what’s going on. In the same Internet address range of Trump’s servers you see a bunch of similar servers, many named [client]-email.com. In other words, trump-email.com is not intended as a normal email server you and I are familiar with, but as a server used for marketing/promotional campaigns.
It’s Cendyn that registered and who controls the trump-email.com domain, as seen in the WHOIS information. That the Trump Organization is the registrant, but not the admin, demonstrates that Trump doesn’t have direct control over it.
When the domain information was changed last September 23, it was Cendyn who did the change, not the Trump Organization. This link lists a bunch of other hotel-related domains that Cendyn likewise controls, some Trump related, some related to Trump’s hotel competitors, like Hyatt and Sheraton.
Cendyn’s claim they are reusing the server for some other purpose is likely true. If you are an enterprising journalist with $399 in your budget, you can find this out. Use the website http://reversewhois.domaintools.com/ to get a complete list of the 641 other domains controlled by Cendyn, then do an MX query for each one to find out which of them is using mail1.trump-email.com as their email server.
This is why we can’t have nice things on the Internet. Investigative journalism is dead. The Internet is full of clues like this if only somebody puts a few resources into figuring things out. For example, organizations that track spam will have information on exactly which promotions this server has been used for in the recent past. Those who operate public DNS resolvers, like Google’s 126.96.36.199, OpenDNS, or Dyn, may have knowledge which domain was related to mail1.trump-email.com.
Indeed, one journalist did call one of the public resolvers, and found other people queried this domain than the two listed in the Slate story — debunking it. I’ve heard from other DNS malware researchers (names remain anonymous) who confirm they’ve seen lookups for “mail1.trump-email.com” from all over the world, especially from tools like FireEye that process lots of spam email. One person claimed that lookups started failing for them back in late June — and thus the claim of successful responses until September are false. In other words, the “change” after the NYTimes queried Alfa Bank may not be because Cendyn (or Trump) changed anything, but because that was the first they checked and noticed that lookup errors were happening.
Since I wrote this blog post at midnight, so I haven’t confirmed this with anybody yet, but there’s a good chance that the IP address 188.8.131.52 has continued to spew spam for Trump hotels during this entire time. This would, of course would generate lookups (both reverse and forward). It seems like everyone who works for IT for a large company should be able to check their incoming email logs and see if they’ve been getting emails from that address over the last few months. If you work in IT, please check your logs for the last few months and Tweet me at @erratarob with the results, either positive or negative.
And finally, somebody associated with Alfa Bank IT operations confirms that executives like to stay at Trump hotels all the time (like in Vegas and New York), and there was a company function one of Trump’s golf courses. In other words, there’s good reason for the company to get spam from, and need to communicate with, Trump hotels to coordinate events.
And so on and so forth — there’s a lot of information out there if we just start digging.
Conclusion That this is just normal marketing business from Cendyn and Listrak is the overwhelming logical explanation for all this. People are tempted to pull nefarious explanations out of their imaginations for things they don’t understand. But for those of us with experience in this sort of thing, what we see here is a normal messed up marketing (aka. spam) system that the Trump Organization doesn’t have control over. Knowing who owns and controls these servers, it’s unreasonable to believe that Trump is using them for secret emails. Far from “secret” or “private” servers as Hillary claims, these servers are wide open and obvious.
This post provides a logic explanation, but we can’t count on this being provably debunked until those like Dyn come forward, on the record, and show us lookups that don’t come from Alfa Bank. Or, those who work in big companies can pull records from their incoming email servers, to show that they’ve been receiving spam from that IP address over the last few months. Either of these would conclusively debunk the story.
But experts say…
But the article quotes several experts confirming the story, so how does that jibe with this blog post. The answer is that none of the experts confirmed the story.
Read more carefully. None of the identified experts confirmed the story. Instead, the experts looked at pieces, and confirmed part of the story. Vixie rightly confirmed that the pattern of DNS requests came from humans, and not automated systems. Chris Davis rightly confirmed the server doesn’t look like a normal email server.
Neither of them, however, confirmed that Trump has a secret server for communicating with the Russians. Both of their statements are consistent with what I describe above — that’s it’s a Cendyn operated server for marketing campaigns independent of the Trump Organization.
Those researchers violated their principles The big story isn’t the conspiracy theory about Trump, but that these malware researchers exploited their privileged access for some purpose other than malware research.
Malware research consists of a lot of informal relationships. Researchers get DNS information from ISPs, from root servers, from services like Google’s 184.108.40.206 public DNS. It’s a huge privacy violation — justified on the principle that it’s for the general good. Sometimes the fact that DNS information is shared is explicit, like with Google’s service. Sometimes people don’t realize how their ISP shares information, or how many of the root DNS servers are monitored.
People should be angrily calling their ISPs and ask them if they share DNS information with untrustworthy researchers. People should be angrily asking ICANN, which is no longer controlled by the US government (sic), whether it’s their policy to share DNS lookup information with those who would attempt to change US elections.
There’s not many sources for this specific DNS information. Alfa Bank’s servers do their own resolution, direction from the root on down. It’s unlikely they were monitoring Alfa Bank’s servers directly, or monitoring Cendyn’s authoritative servers. That means some sort of passive DNS on some link in between, which is unlikley. Conversely, they could be monitoring one of the root domain servers — but this monitoring wouldn’t tell them the difference between a successful or failed lookup, which they claim to have. In short, of all the sources of “DNS malware information” I’ve heard about, none of it would deliver the information these researchers claim to have (well, except the NSA with their transatlantic undersea taps, of course).
Update: this tweet points out original post mentions getting data from “ams-ix23” node, which hints at AMS-IX, Amsterdam InterXchange, where many root server nodes are located.
Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails
The second paragraph says this:
The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts
Well? Which is it? Did they “search incoming emails” or did they “scan mail accounts”? Whether we are dealing with emails in transmit, or stored on the servers, is a BFD (Big Fucking Detail) that you can’t gloss over and confuse in a story like this. Whether searches are done indiscriminately across all emails, or only for specific accounts, is another BFD.
The third paragraph seems to resolve this, but it doesn’t:
Some surveillance experts said this represents the first case to surface of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency’s request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.
Who are these “some surveillance experts”? Why is the story keeping their identities secret? Are they some whistleblowers afraid for their jobs? If so, then that should be mentioned. In reality, they are unlikely to be real surveillance experts, but just some random person that knows slightly more about the subject than Joseph Menn, and their identities are being kept secret in order to prevent us from challenging these experts — which is a violation of journalistic ethics.
And, are they analyzing the raw information the author sent them? Or are they opining on the garbled version of events that we see in the first two paragraphs.
The confusion continues:
It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters. That could mean a phrase in an emailor an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.
What the fuck is a “set of characters”??? Is this an exact quote for somewhere? Or something the author of the story made up? The clarification of what this “could mean” doesn’t clear this up, because if that’s what it “actually means”, then why not say this to begin with?
It’s not just technical terms, but also legal ones:
The request to search Yahoo Mail accounts came in the form of a classified edict sent to the company’s legal team, according to the three people familiar with the matter.
What the fuck is a “classified edict”? An NSL? A FISA court order? What? This is also a BFD.
We outsiders already know about the NSA/FBI’s ability to ask for strong selectors (email addresses). What what we don’t know about is their ability to search all emails, regardless of account, for arbitrary keywords/phases. If that’s what’s going on, then this would be a huge story. But the story doesn’t make it clear that this is actually what’s going on — just strongly implies it.
There are many other ways to interpret this story. For example, the government may simply be demanding that when Yahoo satisfies demands for emails (based on email addresses), that it does so from the raw incoming stream, before it hits spam/malware filters. Or, they may be demanding that Yahoo satisfies their demands with more secrecy, so that the entire company doesn’t learn of the email addresses that a FISA order demands. Or, the government may be demanding that the normal collection happen in real time, in the seconds that emails arrive, instead of minutes later.
Or maybe this isn’t an NSA/FISA story at all. Maybe the DHS has a cybersecurity information sharing program that distributes IoCs (indicators of compromise) to companies under NDA. Because it’s a separate program under NDA, Yahoo would need to setup a email malware scanning system separate from their existing malware system in order to use those IoCs. (@declanm‘s stream has further variations on this scenario).
My point is this: the story is full of mangled details that really tell us nothing. I can come up with multiple, unrelated scenarios that are consistent with the content in the story. The story certainly doesn’t say that Yahoo did anything wrong, or that the government is doing anything wrong (at least, wronger than we already know).
I’m convinced the government is up to no good, strong arming companies like Yahoo into compliance. The thing that’s stopping us from discovering malfeasance is poor reporting like this.
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