Economic & Political Wisdom

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Steal a fish from one guy and give it to another–and keep doing that on a daily basis–and you’ll make the first guy pissed off, but you’ll make the second guy lazy and dependent on you. Then you can tell the second guy that the first guy is greedy for wanting to keep the fish he caught. Then the second guy will cheer for you to steal more fish. Then you can prohibit anyone from fishing without getting permission from you. Then you can expand the racket, stealing fish from more people and buying the loyalty of others. Then you can get the recipients of the stolen fish to act as your hired thugs. Then you can … well, you know the rest.

Larkin Rose

Jamming Remote Controls

The range of issues I get involved in always amazes me. I recently had a client ask me for solutions to garage door and gate remote jammers. Jammers are simple devices that transmit enough radio frequency noise to prevent a legitimate signal from activating the garage door or gate. These remote systems operate in the 300Mhz to 400Mhz range.

It seems an executive was car jacked when his gate remote didn’t work. He got out to unlock the gate manually and his car was stolen. The police speculated that the thief used a radio jammer to prevent the gate opening.

Research into solutions for this led me to jammers for car remotes. Most of these operate in the ranges of 433Mhz, 315Mhz, and 868Mhz.

No practical technical solution exists for this type of attack. My solution was to eliminate the gate and garage door remotes in favour of more advanced access control systems. The car remote is something else. Training people to stop using them is going to be a difficult task, but it may be necessary in some threat environments.

The car remote being jammed may expose the user to robbery, assassination, or abduction due to a delay while trying to open the car door. Worse, if the user doesn’t check if the door is locked after using the remote, then an explosive device could be planted in their vehicle and commanded to explode near a high-value target.

The best solution for this problem is a thorough understanding of the user’s threat environment.

Money Laundering on the High Seas

I never underestimate the creativity of crooks.  This ingenious scheme illustrates how crooks are always looking for a weakness to exploit.  In this case, the criminals insured a marine vessel and then they made a claim against that policy each month.  The claim was always lower than the premium, and the insurance company did not become aware of the fraud as they were making a profit.

The crooks had found a sure-fire way to launder money.

Local News on Twitter

If you provide a location in your Twitter profile settings, then following @topix_local will get you tweets about the location.  To stop getting alerts, simply stop following @topix_local.  This needs a city name in your profile settings to be effective so that it picks-up the hashtag (#city).

UPDATE: You won’t get very many Tweets using @topix_local compared to using TweetDeck and creating a column for #City.  But of course, in TweetDeck, you will get everything with the city hashtag, whether it’s news or not.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

There is a saying that “you can’t know what you don’t know”.  This might be tautological, but it is also true, as it might be impossible to identify gaps in our own knowledge.  In other words, you can’t teach yourself what you don’t know.  Without instruction and training, you’re very likely to think that you do in fact know “everything” you need to know, when in fact, you don’t have the ability to recognise your mistakes.

Typically, the unskilled rate their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities.  Confidence is no substitute for skill and knowledge, while skill and knowledge must be used with confidence to ensure a positive outcome.

Tucson Shooting

The shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford and the others is a deplorable event. However, we have heard the ensuing nonsense about political rhetoric before.

In 1995, a deranged knife-wielding man broke into 24 Sussex Dr. as then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife, Aline, were sleeping. Afterward, former Prime Minister Joe Clark said, “I think this is an increasingly dangerous time.  I think people are very frustrated and the extent of angry rhetoric in the country can lead people to extreme actions. On the other hand, that is part of the risk one runs in a democracy. You can’t cordon yourself off.”

The suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube channel makes him look like a lunatic who probably believed he was subject to mind control. At least The Catcher in the Rye didn’t appear in his list of favorite books.

Stand back or you will be run over by the stampeding conspiracy theorists and political pundits advocating everything from more gun control to the arrest of Sara Palin for inciting this, and a wide variety of fund raising on the back of this tragedy.

Nothing new happens in politics.

Fantasy Island

During the Second World War, the British Royal Navy constructed a series of sea forts for an advanced line of defense against inbound air raids and potential sea invasions from the Axis powers. The Maunsell Sea Forts still stand today, silent and abandoned a few meters above the North Sea. One, however, remains inhabited, now a nation of its own referred to as the Principality of Sealand.

This “country” was established by a pirate broadcaster in 1967. In 2007 the Principality was up for sale.

I recently encountered a very strange person who claimed to be a citizen of Sealand. He even had a passport and a noble title.

Choosing Passwords

Here are a list of articles about password security that resulted from some recent research I was conducting.