Earth Day: Making a Big Impact

Posted on April 22nd, 2016

On Earth Day, you are probably going to be overwhelmed with advice on how to save the planet. You’ll hear things like: Plant a tree Recycle your plastic, cardboard, and aluminum Use reusable grocery bags Take shorter showers These are fine suggestions. They help to limit our negative impact, and perhaps more importantly, they help us train ourselves to be mindful of our choices. Now, some more adventurous sources will have suggestions like: Downsize you...

Food for Thought: 2016-04-18

Posted on April 18th, 2016

The New Inquiry ponders the “viral virus" and whether society benefits "from a world in which everyone is anxious about having anxiety". Your first SMBC of this post: In TV and movies, it is a common trope to track someone to an exact location using only their IP address, often even to a specific spot in a specific room! Naturally, you are skeptical of that, as you should be. This excellent story shows some of the really interesting things that happen with IP-to-physical-address mapping at...

On Not Being a Terrible Fan

Posted on April 13th, 2016

“I can’t believe the next movie isn’t ready, yet. They need to get off their asses and get it done." “Is she ever going to finish the next book? What is she doing working on other stuff instead of publishing the next book?" “Uhhh, I helped fund this game, why isn’t it ready, yet? I demand a refund!" I am pretty sure you have heard a lot of statements like this. They come from a good place: we are excited about something that is being made! But they can also turn shortsighted, selfish, and ot...

Impromptu Music Report

Posted on April 11th, 2016

I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently, but I still get in some tunes. Here’s what has had the most attention over the last year. Countries represented this time include: Sweden, USA, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Italy. Artists: Albums:

#AdFree2016: What is the Reverse of Malvertising?

Posted on April 8th, 2016

I’ve talked about malvertising, before. Here’s a recap: In malvertising, the adtech ecosystem is used to distribute security intrusions and malware to users. This is not the intent of the adtechnologists or advertisers, but the very design of the adtech ecosystem is useful to and aligns with the malvertiser’s goal: get this content spread as far and wide as possible, achieve great penetration in the target market, and be as underhanded as necessary in order to make users see it and interact...

#AdFree2016: Dropping Medium

Posted on April 7th, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. Medium is making two changes to earn revenue. One of them is great: "We are launching with a limited number of publications on Medium who will offer members-only content and other perks to readers, in exchange for a monthly membership fee paid directly to the publication." Excellent! This is an honest model for earning money and for serving customers. However, they h...

Food for Thought: 2016-04-01

Posted on April 1st, 2016

No Funnies Edition Another winner from The Baffler. It hits so many sweet spots for me, such as quoting Jacques Ellul and criticizing advertising, propaganda, and this terrible upcoming US presidential election. The ethical thing to do when you have a security vulnerability is to help the people responsible for the vulnerability to fix it. Often, it is instead hidden and weaponized, commoditized, and used against specific targets. However, during that period, non-targets with the same softwa...

Two-Factor Authentication in the News

Posted on March 31st, 2016

The IBJ has another article that discusses the Anthem breach. Like many articles from many sources before, it does a poor job of being clear about the uses and types of two-factor authentication. If you are not aware, two-factor authentication requires that you use two ways to prove who you are. This is often implemented by using something you know (account name and password) and something you have (a special token or certificate). It is becoming common to use two-factor authentication for ...

#AdFree2016: Hot Takes

Posted on March 30th, 2016

I mentioned in my “Why?" post that one of the consequences of a ad-fueled Internet is that it affects our attention and the quality and nuance of our discourse. This is most evident in things in various types of clickbait, like listicles and hot takes. There is an essay on the problems of hot takes over at Quartz. While I think they hit on the advertising-fueled modeled of publishing, I (naturally) don’t think they spent enough time there, and instead went on to diagnose the trend as a gro...

#AdFree2016: More Malvertising

Posted on March 21st, 2016

I have spoken about the problems of malvertising before, both here and here. Ars Techinca has recently reported on a spate of malvertising: Mainstream websites, including those published by The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, are falling victim to a new rash of malicious ads that attempt to surreptitiously install crypto ransomware and other malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors, security firms warned.

Todd Grotenhuis

Professionally an Information Security Specialist, Politically an Abolitionist, Theologically an Anabaptist