Why Did Facebook Go Down?

Facebook and its sister properties Instagram and WhatsApp are suffering from ongoing, global outages. We don’t yet know why this happened, but the how is clear: Earlier this morning, something inside Facebook caused the company to revoke key digital records that tell computers and other Internet-enabled devices how to find these destinations online.Kentik’s view of the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage.

Doug Madory is director of internet analysis at Kentik, a San Francisco-based network monitoring company. Madory said at approximately 11:39 a.m. ET today (15:39 UTC), someone at Facebook caused an update to be made to the company’s Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) records. BGP is a mechanism by which Internet service providers of the world share information about which providers are responsible for routing Internet traffic to which specific groups of Internet addresses.

In simpler terms, sometime this morning Facebook took away the map telling the world’s computers how to find its various online properties. As a result, when one types Facebook.com into a web browser, the browser has no idea where to find Facebook.com, and so returns an error page.

More at Krebs on Security.

As Don Surber said, I made $7 billion more than Zuckerberg did yesterday.

Life is better without this site, especially for teenage girls it is reported. I hope others see that and help to eliminate insincere social media from their lives, but I doubt it. If they did, they’d stop trying to be like others (especially celebtards and sportstards) and be themselves

For me, it is an introvert thing. I eliminated it because I didn’t want to see what others had to say, or be connected to groups I have consciously left behind because of Mauerbaurtraurigheit.

The Actual Covid Cure – Hint, It’s not the VAX

The Big Pharma are greedy for money from new medicines. Big Government is using Covid for the Re-Set with socialism and to take power and Bill Gates and the WHO want depopulation. Big Tech is covering simple and cheap solutions like this from everyone they can.

India said eff-you and gave everyone this and Ivermectin and have killed Covid off where it is used.

Wake up and stop the madness.

Facebook Still Sucks

To get a full understanding of how bad it is, the WSJ ran a series on the Facebook files recently. Link here but it might require a subscription. It points out the obvious, but also that it’s such a screwed up company now that it can’t get out of it’s own way.

It talked about how it ruins the lives of people, especially teen aged girls. Zuckerberg then said how it enhances peoples lives in a washing machine spin of doublespeak.

They block who they don’t like and let who they do like post anything, even against their own policies.

Now the Facebook fact checkers just censored peer reviewed science because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

And this about Zuck:

Facebook Investor: Company Paid $5 Billion to FTC as ‘Quid Pro Quo’ to Shield Zuckerberg

Fortunately, I don’t care as I cancelled them. It along with Twitter are helping to ruin the country and people’s lives around the world. It has taken a political position on things. I don’t care which side it picks, but it should have been a neutral platform.

Instead, it is now a high school place where you are a part of the in crowd or not. Those with a triple digit IQ should move to a better and more productive place, like going outside and enjoying life.

It was too childish for me and I didn’t want to open it anymore to see the spew that comes from it.

I still talk to those who really are my friends. Most of them were never on Facebook.

For Introverts, not being on it also lets you escape from a lot of noise that sucks your personal energy and time.

A Roundup Of Covid “Vaccine” Problems, Lies and Dangers – Documentation Around The World

I’ve been pointing out problems with the make up of the vaccines and how they are poisonous to humans.

Graphene Oxide

Pseudouridylyl

I am a pattern person and it is becoming a lot clearer as to what is going on. There is too much information that says the jab has problems and I wonder why it’s being pushed on us. I’m just researching facts and trying to put it together and decided to share what I found.

All of these sources below are written far better than mine. They are clear, concise and point out the problems. They also point out that the obvious cure, which is being lied about and is being smothered. I ask myself why?

Here goes. Good luck with it. I’m going to speculate some other time why they are doing it when I weave it all together. There is enough evidence below for you to draw your own conclusion.

A simple cure that works universally and is proven – works without a jab and actually cures Covid

A breakdown of how the CDC is lying and manipulates the data (almost no one is really at risk of dying from Covid, only a small percentage and who they are)

A round up of all the diseases that the jab causes I was shocked to see this list and how bad they are. It goes into what each flavor of vaccine does to you. This is the one source in the media I can trust to be independent and factual, not editorializing.

Why getting vaxxed is a bad idea because US now has more than four times as many cases of COVID and twice as many in hospital as this time last year with deaths up 80% – despite 62% of population with one shot amid Delta surge: Mu is now in LA – Yes, it isn’t working

Non-Human Gene sequences are the property of the patent holder – in other words mRNA changed your DNA and how they could own you

The vaccine program is designed for pharmaceutical dependence and depopulation – A former Pfizer executive says it is about mass murder and why we have new variants

Dr. David Martin drops bombshell: The FDA has only approved a COVID-19 vaccine that does NOT exist in the U.S. marketplace – “Comirnaty does not exist,” Martin said, referring to the brand name of the Pfizer vaccine granted full approval by the federal agency. “The approval is for future production of COVID vaccine.”

Former Pfizer scientist warns that governments and pharmaceutical companies will continue to deceive and enslave people before killing them off

Covid RNA based vaccines and the risk of Prion disease

FDA Admits the vaccine is worse than Covid-19

Former Pfizer VP: ‘Your government is lying to you in a way that could lead to your death.’ – See point 6 for the reason we are where we are

Fake news hit piece on Ivermectin OD cases in hospitals completely debunked – Rolling Stone put out a huge lie after Joe Rogan was cured using Ivermectin. They had to issue a “correction” that everything they reported was horse shit they made up

Who’s being hospitalized – how they are faking the numbers

Doctor says there is a concerted effort to quiet those trying to treat Covid vs the Jab– one of the most respected cardiologist is being censored for telling the truth

How Social Media Works Against You

I’ve written extensively about this, especially in Internet Road Rage. Go read it to see who these cowards are.

No matter what you do, someone has a beef (vegans will get me here, just another example) with whatever you say.

It used to be don’t talk politics, religion or something else at Thanksgiving or you’ll piss off someone in your family. Now, just like someone and you are one of Hillary’s deplorables (She gave the the best example, why I’m using politics here hoping to draw some ire from a commenter to prove my point. I could care less about her or her opinions other than it works).

Now, you can’t say anything on social media without someone being offended. I think it’s funny if they fall for it though because it just shows how shallow people are. Just go to Quora, hater (twitter) or Fakebook to find a large group of the clueless. That they are trying to censor people who don’t agree with them just shows bias and ignorance.

So, you can either be smart and blow off the idiots looking to be offended or trying to prove their point to the world, or just fall in line with the masses and get into it.

Just Another Reason Why I Love That I Fired Facebook

“Free speech is not an absolute human right,” says Helle Thorning Schmidt, member of Facebook’s Oversight Board and former PM of Denmark. “It has to be balanced with other human rights.”

How does that translate to content moderation? It must strike a balance, find a middle. pic.twitter.com/E5reaQ2bnk— POLITICOEurope (@POLITICOEurope) July 15, 2021

The Facebook Oversight Board, which consists of 20 members from around the world, was created last year to help corporate executives to distance themselves from decisions considered to be politically.

———————————–

Seriously?

We’re told we have to use certain words to describe certain people (pronouns). I can’t keep them straight.

Anything that some people say is wrong and others are always right, based on arbitrary rules that benefit only the elite.

Who told them that they are the arbiters of what we can say? (They can’t for me as I deleted them).

Most of all, why are they trying to stop free speech? Usually it is because they have something to hide.

Why are people standing for this? Those that do are dumbasses.

I can say that my life is much better without it. I have a lot more time and most of the content is BS anyway. Now, if only certain things are allowed, you have a one sided discussion. Count me out.

It is funny that the Whitehouse is fighting with fake book over Covid content in a game of finger pointing. They always eat their own.

What is humorous to me is that I have Danish relatives. Live by Jante’s Law, die by the sword.

What Was The Most Popular Item Sold On Prime Day?

It was of course this, a way for Amazon to further invade homes and privacy to sell you more stuff we are too lazy to go out and get on our own or learn to use a remote for searching.

According to the WSJ:

But what was the most popular item Amazon sold around the world?  That would be the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, a streaming media stick with access to 4K Ultra HD, a voice remote that lets you search and launch shows with your voice, and access to more than half a million movies and TV episodes, Amazon reports.

It’s eerily like the viewscreen in the book 1984 watching Winston inside of his own house and everywhere he went.

If people want this so much then why were there so many voting to not let Bezos back to earth when he takes off on his own rocket we paid for?

My kids have these devices in their house and when I get there I say show me all the fashion only in camouflage color.

For those who know, how many fingers am I holding up?

What Is Amazon Prime Day Really Like?

I know they have free shipping, but there is always something else you want, not need and they put it in your face.

I’ve bought zilch this year. I realized that Amazon is discounting a lot of stuff to put their version of the products in your house.

Really, I don’t need more stuff and the deals aren’t that great anymore. There is also 2 million deals to sort through, most of which you could get for the same price by waiting and watching.

The Scientific Method, Why Science is Never Settled

Only Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity remains unchallenged. It’s the way it should be. If it weren’t, we’d have the science from 100’s of years ago.

Everything going on today should be challenged in thought as to whether it stacks up to actual science or political science.

I’m kind of looking at Fauci, the CDC, WHO and politicians here.

If they don’t agree, just follow the scientific method above and show why it is provable. The tactic now is censorship instead.

The WikiLeaks Dump, Come and Get It

Here is a link to the files below. I looked at some and there is a lot of incriminating information. I’m sure if due diligence were actually done, some crimes could be solved.

There is other informational and odd things such as I didn’t know that Steve Jobs was HIV positive according to the records here. He had a tough life that wasn’t worth the fame and money. There are a lot of other people doing a lot of other things if you care.

Someone mentioned that the Las Vegas shooter was an FBI sniper, but I never found that file.

It has the secret rituals of some of the College Greek institutions. I guess if you are a rival fraternity, it would be interesting to look at.

The filenames are descriptive enough to see what’s in it. Have fun.

I hope it was worth it to all of those who got the information together and those who leaked it.

Here is the link.

Social Media, Ruining Your Life Part 2

I recently posted how Social Media is probably making your life worse, especially those who have to look anything up to know everything.  Even more, those whose lives and feelings are governed by their online image and how many likes they got vs. others are losing out on life to a device.

The other issue is having your face buried in your phone while walking.  You are clueless to the world around you.  See the video above.

UPDATE: Getting Cosmetic Surgery for Snapchat Dysmorphia

This is by far the most narcissistic thing I’ve read.  People (tide pod eaters) are getting surgery to look like the filters they use on their Snapchat because they don’t look good enough in life because it is wreaking havoc on their self-esteem.  The report in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery claims that these filters can sometimes trigger body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness that can lead to compulsive tendencies and unnecessary beauty procedures, among other negative outcomes.

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who were regular users of social media were twice as likely to feel lonely than those that were light users.

Another study released found that social media, especially Instagram, deepened feelings of anxiety and inadequacy for 15 to 24 year olds.

Go play outside and leave your phone in your pocket.  Also, don’t live your life on social media and you won’t be so self-obsessed.

UPDATE: A study came out stating that good social media don’t out weigh the bad:

(Reuters Health) – For young adults, the adverse effect of negative social media experiences on mental health outweigh any potential benefits of positive experiences, a study of university students suggests.

Each 10 percent increase in a student’s negative experiences on social media was associated with a 20 percent increase in the odds of depressive symptoms, researchers found.

But positive experiences on social media were only weakly linked to lower depressive symptoms. Each 10 percent increase in positive social media interaction was associated with only a four percent drop in depressive symptoms – a difference so small that it might have been due to chance.

“This is not inconsistent with the way we see things in the offline world . . . The negative things we encounter in the world count more than positive ones,” said study leader Brian A. Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

“If you have four different classes in college, the fourth class that you did poorly in probably took up all your mental energy,” he told Reuters Health by phone.

Primack said he believes social media lends itself to negativity bias because it is saturated with positive experiences that leave people jaded.

YOU ARE BEING WATCHED

I talked with friends at the gym who are or were in law enforcement  In cop terms they are always made by others because they are constantly looking around.  They are aware of their environment, potential danger, potentially dangerous people and escape routes.  As you can see in the video of fails, these people are vulnerable to all of the above.

Guess how else you are vulnerable with your head buried in a screen?  It doesn’t take a genius to know that Facebook, Google, Amazon and every other site is not only tracking your clicks, but are tracking where you go and what you do.

We used to have instructions, a map and intuition to get where we were going and for the most part, we got there.  millennial’s can’t get to the 7-11 without Google Maps now.  It’s also funny how they can know everything, but have knowledge of very little.  Take away their phone and not only would they not run into things, they’d have to actually learn about how things really work and how to navigate (I’m not discriminating here, I know directionally challenged relatives my age who fall into this category).  Looking up something on your phone doesn’t make you smart.

YOU ARE GIVING THE PERV’S A FREE TICKET

I’m not in law enforcement, but I put my phone away and watch others, especially those watching girls.  It’s almost a sport.   It used to be if a guy was looking in the wrong part of a girl, they got busted immediately.  It was like watching a tennis match seeing the heads turn when a cute girl walked by.  They had to use mirrored sunglasses and just glance when they could and not let their wives/girlfriends catch them.   Now, instead of having to glance behind sunglasses, the perv’s just look down or up (or up and down) anyone they want and modesty just goes out the window.  It’s truly tasteless, but if you had your head out of the phone, you wouldn’t be getting eyeballed so lasciviously.

GET A LIFE

It’s amazing to watch people now escape to their phone in what used to be a social situation.  So stop running into things and get a life.

FACEBOOK IS DESIGNED TO EXPLOIT HUMAN VULNERABILITIES

Recently, former Facebook president Sean Parker pointed out how Facebook is hurting people.

When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be. And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.’

Parker discussed the possible psychological effects of social media and Facebook in particular, especially for children who are now growing up in a digitally connected age:

I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

The former Facebook President discussed the company’s initial aim, which was mainly centered around drawing in and building their audience:

The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.

Parker described Facebook’s appeal as a “social-validation feedback loop” which exploits human psychology to keep users coming back to the app:

It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.

Parker also briefly discussed how his vast wealth is likely to allow him to live longer than the average person due to advances in medical science

Doing a Joint Announcement With The Competition, How to Cooperate

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, here is the link to the cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As an aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.  They were helpful in this instance.  Many times, they are the fly in the ointment.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s) and because of the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly created product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow-up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal among the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the joint effort.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

Senior Moments or What happens in my brain when I can’t recall something I know?

An interesting subject, sometimes called a brain fart.  These are not my answers, but I thought it would be interesting until you can’t recall it.

While it is not known for sure what is happening, this is how current models of memory recall would explain it:

Memory recall in the brain is not like retrieving a file from disk on a computer. In the brain, memories are reconstructed rather than retrieved. The brain is constantly augmenting what is in “working memory” with related information from the past. This is why stream of consciousness and memory recall often work by free association: The information association process is already there and we just make use of it.

When attempting to recall something specific, like a name, we “trick” the name into appearing in working memory by thinking about concepts related to it: the person’s identity, when we saw them last, what they look like. Normally this process automatically brings the information into working memory as a side-effect of filling in related facts.

When a word is missing but you “think you know it,” what is probably happening is that a lot of information about that word has been reconstructed in working memory, but not enough to trigger the production of the word itself. The presence of related information signals that you’ve “almost recalled it,” but the failure to produce the word shows that the recall is incomplete.

Often when people can’t recall a word, someone else can fill it in for them. But sometimes the “tip of the tongue” word does not actually exist. Related words may come to mind and it may seem like there “should be a word” for whatever it is. Thus the tip of the tongue feeling is not infallible.

Or: you can use this one….

A Neural Network (computer software) is just a simple model of the brain – not sure if the brain has something to do with it, but NN is composed of interconnected neurons with synapses (software model artifacts.)

Each neuron is an adder with a threshold, and each synapse has a weight. Both the threshold and the weight holds a small unit of information (could be digital or analog.) The entire NN has a certain information capacity, and used wisely (as in VOT (voice to text) or OCR (optical character recognition)) they do quite a job!

However, NN theory (and practice) shows (if I recall well) that when this capacity has been used/filled more than 11% (or something like that) while ‘learning‘,  the network starts ‘ forgetting!’

I want to stress again that I’m not aware of any evidence that the real brain works like a computer neural network – even more a computer NN would be to a brain like a dog house to New York city – but here there is something to think about…

For more information, go here.

Kiss Your Password Security Goodbye

You may think that you have good password security.  More likely, you are like most people who re-use the same password for many accounts, don’t change it often enough and use your pet’s name or some other easy to find information that makes break in easy.

Face it, we are lazy, lax and don’t understand security and privacy. Nor do we understand the nature of identity theft until you are a victim.

So, unless your are fastidious about changing with complete randomness and creativeness, fugetaboutit, you’re toast…..here’s why.

THE BACKGROUND

From Wired:

It’s not a well-kept secret, either. Just a simple string of characters—maybe six of them if you’re careless, 16 if you’re cautious—that can reveal everything about you.

2012 bug

Your email. Your bank account. Your address and credit card number. Photos of your kids or, worse, of yourself, naked. The precise location where you’re sitting right now as you read these words. Since the dawn of the information age, we’ve bought into the idea that a password, so long as it’s elaborate enough, is an adequate means of protecting all this precious data. But in 2012 that’s a fallacy, a fantasy, an outdated sales pitch. And anyone who still mouths it is a sucker—or someone who takes you for one.

No matter how complex, no matter how unique, your passwords can no longer protect you.

Look around. Leaks and dumps—hackers breaking into computer systems and releasing lists of usernames and passwords on the open web—are now regular occurrences. The way we daisy-chain accounts, with our email address doubling as a universal username, creates a single point of failure that can be exploited with devastating results. Thanks to an explosion of personal information being stored in the cloud, tricking customer service agents into resetting passwords has never been easier. All a hacker has to do is use personal information that’s publicly available on one service to gain entry into another.

This summer, hackers destroyed my entire digital life in the span of an hour. My Apple, Twitter, and Gmail passwords were all robust—seven, 10, and 19 characters, respectively, all alphanumeric, some with symbols thrown in as well—but the three accounts were linked, so once the hackers had conned their way into one, they had them all. They really just wanted my Twitter handle: @mat. As a three-letter username, it’s considered prestigious. And to delay me from getting it back, they used my Apple account to wipe every one of my devices, my iPhone and iPad and MacBook, deleting all my messages and documents and every picture I’d ever taken of my 18-month-old daughter.

The age of the password is over. We just haven’t realized it yet.

Since that awful day, I’ve devoted myself to researching the world of online security. And what I have found is utterly terrifying. Our digital lives are simply too easy to crack. Imagine that I want to get into your email. Let’s say you’re on AOL. All I need to do is go to the website and supply your name plus maybe the city you were born in, info that’s easy to find in the age of Google. With that, AOL gives me a password reset, and I can log in as you.

First thing I do? Search for the word “bank” to figure out where you do your online banking. I go there and click on the Forgot Password? link. I get the password reset and log in to your account, which I control. Now I own your checking account as well as your email.

This summer I learned how to get into, well, everything. With two minutes and $4 to spend at a sketchy foreign website, I could report back with your credit card, phone, and Social Security numbers and your home address. Allow me five minutes more and I could be inside your accounts for, say, Amazon, Best Buy, Hulu, Microsoft, and Netflix. With yet 10 more, I could take over your AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. Give me 20—total—and I own your PayPal. Some of those security holes are plugged now. But not all, and new ones are discovered every day.

The common weakness in these hacks is the password. It’s an artifact from a time when our computers were not hyper-connected. Today, nothing you do, no precaution you take, no long or random string of characters can stop a truly dedicated and devious individual from cracking your account. The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet.

Passwords are as old as civilization. And for as long as they’ve existed, people have been breaking them.

In 413 BC, at the height of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian general Demosthenes landed in Sicily with 5,000 soldiers to assist in the attack on Syracusae. Things were looking good for the Greeks. Syracusae, a key ally of Sparta, seemed sure to fall.

But during a chaotic nighttime battle at Epipole, Demosthenes’ forces were scattered, and while attempting to regroup they began calling out their watchword, a prearranged term that would identify soldiers as friendly. The Syracusans picked up on the code and passed it quietly through their ranks. At times when the Greeks looked too formidable, the watchword allowed their opponents to pose as allies. Employing this ruse, the undermatched Syracusans decimated the invaders, and when the sun rose, their cavalry mopped up the rest. It was a turning point in the war.

The first computers to use passwords were likely those in MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System, developed in 1961. To limit the time any one user could spend on the system, CTSS used a login to ration access. It only took until 1962 when a PhD student named Allan Scherr, wanting more than his four-hour allotment, defeated the login with a simple hack: He located the file containing the passwords and printed out all of them. After that, he got as much time as he wanted.

During the formative years of the web, as we all went online, passwords worked pretty well. This was due largely to how little data they actually needed to protect. Our passwords were limited to a handful of applications: an ISP for email and maybe an ecommerce site or two. Because almost no personal information was in the cloud—the cloud was barely a wisp at that point—there was little payoff for breaking into an individual’s accounts; the serious hackers were still going after big corporate systems.

So we were lulled into complacency. Email addresses morphed into a sort of universal login, serving as our username just about everywhere. This practice persisted even as the number of accounts—the number of failure points—grew exponentially. Web-based email was the gateway to a new slate of cloud apps. We began banking in the cloud, tracking our finances in the cloud, and doing our taxes in the cloud. We stashed our photos, our documents, our data in the cloud.

Eventually, as the number of epic hacks increased, we started to lean on a curious psychological crutch: the notion of the “strong” password. It’s the compromise that growing web companies came up with to keep people signing up and entrusting data to their sites. It’s the Band-Aid that’s now being washed away in a river of blood.

WHERE AND WHEN IT BEGAN (SORT OF)

No one can be sure except that since passwords were first used, there were bad guys trying to hack into them.  Here is an exposition of how it became an epidemic:

In 2009, a minor gaming website called Rockyou.com was hacked; although you’ve probably never heard of the site, the hack has probably affected you or someone you know. Almost every genuine hack over the last three years can be traced back to the Rockyou leak.

The reason it was so significant is it totally changed the way hackers do business. Before Rockyou, hackers had to build word lists of potential passwords using traditional dictionaries; the 14 million or so Rockyou passwords provided an instant database showing how people actually construct their passwords.

We’re all familiar with the hoops passwords make us jump through – requiring both letters and numbers, the use of upper-case and lower-case letters, a minimum number of characters, and the use of punctuation. Of course,we’re all human, so we want passwords to be easy to remember while fulfilling these arcane rules.

The list leaked from RockYou confirmed our grammatical bias: upper case letters tend to start words, while special characters or numbers come at the end. One of the most common ways to combine letters and numbers memorably was to add names & dates together – so Patton1945 or Napoleon1815 were common, for example.

Publicly available data makes this even easier; for example, databases are available containing the name of every Facebook user. These, when combined with every 4-digit number combination and a dictionary list of common words will break as many as 40 per cent of internet users’ accounts within minutes. This creates an even greater problem, as many people reuse passwords, meaning one crack can compromise multiple accounts.

Most people have multiple different internet accounts; collecting data and monitoring user activity through these accounts is at the core of many websites’ business models. The temptation to reuse important passwords for trivial sites that require a sign-in, like price comparison sites, restaurant bookers, dating sites or online shops, is almost irresistible. Of course, many of these sites are far from secure.

The Rockyou leak started a chain reaction; a huge number of sites have been hacked since, releasing even more password data. Equally, technology has advanced enormously. The sort of PC you can buy in Currys can attempt 8.2 million password combinations per second. Cryptographic feats that were the stuff of legend in the Second World War could be done on your iPhone; the sort of 16-digit passcodes thought uncrackable during the Cold War are now within the reach of cracking by skilled hackers with low budgets. Goodness only knows what state-sponsored outfits in the US or China can do.

If you look in the lists of passwords and usernames leaked online, it’s fairly easy to find yourself; with the huge amount of websites we sign up to these days, it’s almost inevitable that at least one of the sites where you have an accounts has been hacked in the last two years. I was able to find my own cracked username and password (taken from a hacked wargaming forum) with a little diligent searching. The biggest damage that could be done to me from that leak is losing control of my forum account; if I’d reused that password elsewhere, it could have been catastrophic.

Of course, each character you add to your password ramps up the time it takes to crack; adding even one letter can take crack time from hours to days, putting you into the category of not “unbreakable” – I doubt such a thing exists – but simply not worth the hassle.

The current best advice is to have passwords composed of 20 characters, with no real words, and your gobbledegook has to include upper and lower case letters, symbols, numbers and punctuation, all randomly scattered through the word. On top of that, you need to have a different password for every site you use and change your password for all of them every three months.