Most analysts earn their daily bread by focusing on a particular subject area and following that direction. However, I rebelled against that established pattern — and as a result, I tend to look between the lines more than many of my peers do. That means when major news media outlets focus on a story, I’m more likely to see what they missed.
In the case of both the Clinton email scandal and the DNC email leak — not to mention the various whistle-blower events — what interests me isn’t what’s been covered but what hasn’t been covered. I’ll shine a light on some of the huge misses from a tech perspective.
I’ll close with my product of the week: a new phone from BlackBerry, the DTEK 50. It bucks the trend that put most of you on insecure phones.
Clinton’s Email Server
All the focus has been on Clinton, because she is running for office — but the focus typically would be on how the hell a major email system that wasn’t secure remained in service for years without setting off alarms or putting big grins on internal auditors’ faces.
The implication is that U.S. security is a joke — and if that server was in use, how many other connected insecure devices are there in the U.S. government that effectively are telling any government that has discovered them every secret they can access? Security in the U.S. government must be truly awful. I used to be a security auditor, and I’ve seen CEOs asked to step down for less.
DNC Email Leak
There recently were two big political conventions in the U.S. The Democratic convention was well run, and the Democratic candidates got a decent pop in the polls as a result. The Republican convention was run horridly, and the Republican ticket performed poorly.
The Republicans really messed up. The Republicans effectively would have been far better off not having their event. Yet because of an email leak, the key players at the DNC were forced to resign, but their RNC counterparts weren’t. The email leak wasn’t the fault of any of the fired DNC folks. Typically, when you fail to do your job, you are fired. If there is a problem that you actually didn’t cause, you don’t get fired — only reprimanded.
Given what was disclosed in the DNC email, and given that people are people, what do you think a similar leak would have been like from the RNC? The DNC was unhappy about Sanders, but the RNC literally hated both of the final candidates. (Hell, apparently everyone hated Ted Cruz, and Trump became a close second — though I think he is first like a rocket at the moment.)
Can you imagine what the RNC internal emails would say about Trump? Bad-mouthing Sanders only creates DNC internal drama, but bad-mouthing Trump, who won the candidacy, could swing the election to Clinton (which would be redundant at the moment).
The DNC mail was interesting, but the RNC email would have been spectacular in a very bad way for the RNC. For us, it would have been even more entertaining. (Have I mentioned I plan to vote Libertarian this year?)
Who’s the Hacker
On the DNC side, there are two parallel stories. One is the widely publicized theory that a Democratic staffer who recently was murdered had leaked information to WikiLeaks and that his death was connected to that. The other is that a hacker who bragged about leaking the information — and claims there’s a lot more where that came from — did it on behalf of the Russian government, a claim he denied. Both stories can’t be true.
As a side note, there have been three potential whistle-blower events under Obama, who promised to be transparent. There was Manning, who was abused and sent to prison; Snowden, who fled for his life to Russia (historically someone like Snowden would flee from Russia to the U.S.); and perhaps Rich, who died.
Only in the case of the DNC leak, in which the people involved didn’t report to Obama, were people fired for doing what they shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, but their “crimes” weren’t criminal. In short, in the government, it appears far worse to point out a crime than to commit one. Excuse me while I feign shock. Sigh…
Who Has the Email?
Kaspersky — which is both massively secure and recently was hacked itself — has indicated that inadequately secured systems like the Clinton email server typically are compromised by up to three governments. Given that all of the email hasn’t been disclosed or even discovered (because much of it was deleted), how much leverage does one of these foreign entities now have?
It’s possible that only a fraction of the DNC email has been released, and given that the terminations were tied to what was in the email — not tied to the theft — how many other Democrats or DNC staffers have the threat of being fired hanging over their heads? In short, how many are now owned by whoever has this damaging email?
Oh, and given the lack of products, like Varonis, that are capable of tracking this stuff, who says hackers haven’t penetrated the RNC and might be blackmailing the RNC folks as well? Given Trump’s current popularity, you’d think the Republican servers actually would be more attractive than those of the Democrats.
Clinton vs. Trump
Clinton is a career politician who doesn’t seem to understand technology very well. Trump is a casino owner, and casinos live on massive amounts of calculated game analytics, heavy multilayered security systems, and massive customer tracking and analysis.
Trump should be far stronger with the kinds of technologies that drive an election, but Clinton is outperforming Trump massively in this regard. How the hell can Trump run a successful casino business by clearly not understanding the technology behind successful casinos?
Seriously, the typical casino runs a level of technology that a politician would die to have access to — yet there is no evidence that Trump understands this even remotely. Maybe he is secretly chivalrous? Doubtful…
One of the things I’ve noticed as society has moved to the Web is that news organizations increasingly just rehash what others report. It’s just a rare few that report original stories, and much of what we read is just a rehash of those rare original pieces. That’s kind of sad, because I think much of what I’ve related actually is more interesting than what is being discussed. That’s something to noodle on this week.
With all of the leaks of information this year, you’d think more people — particularly politicians — would get that security trumps, pretty much every time. However, the only company that remains laser-focused on security is BlackBerry, and its latest phones run Android.
The Priv was my previous favorite, but even though it has a keyboard, it also is wicked expensive. The new DTEK50 gets rid of the keyboard, some weight, and about half the price to create what is actually a decent phone.
The DTEK has three standout aspects. It puts Android on top of a secure BlackBerry platform, which makes it resist rootkits — the most dangerous of the Android malware because they are very hard to detect.
It has the best selfie camera in the market, and it has a single function button that can be used for any app you want (I use it for the camera).
Additional unique features are the DTEK security scan, which tells you if you have been compromised; the BlackBerry hub, which collects all your communications stuff — everything from social networks and email, to SMS messages and phone calls — in one place; and BBM, BlackBerry’s unique corporate messaging service.
I am seriously missing the Priv’s keyboard, but given that this phone is lighter, thinner, and far less expensive than my favorite phone, the Blackberry DTEK50 is my product of the week.