Tech Friday

  • Recent US Navy collisions raise cybersecurity fears:
    • When the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore that was fourth incident involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year, and it left 1 sailor dead and 9 missing
    • Military and cybersecurity experts are warning that the Navy’s decades old electronic guidance systems might be under attack
    • Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs said "When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can’t tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn’t have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar"
    • The Strait of Malacca is a heavily traveled 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Nearly 25% of global shipping passes through this waterway 
    • Stutzman, who was also an information warfare specialist in the Navy said "There’s something more than just human error going on because there would have been a lot of humans to be checks and balances"
    • Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, did not rule out a cyberattack or sabotage. He tweeted "No indications right now ... but review will consider all possibilities"
    • The other recent incidents include the USS Antietam which ran aground off the coast of Japan, the USS Lake Champlain which was struck by a South Korean fishing vessel and USS Fitzgerald, a modern destroyer chock full of electronics, which collided with a container ship killing 7 sailors
    • Instead of commercial GPS, the Navy uses encrypted signals for GPS. So far, there is no indication that faulty or hacked satellite communications caused the accident
    • Similar issues have plagued commercial shipping too, on June 22, someone manipulated GPS signals in the eastern part of the Black Sea
    • Shipboard navigation equipment appeared to be working properly but reported that the ships were 20 miles inland
    • That was the first known instance of GPS "spoofing" or misdirection which reports incorrect locations despite the fact that the equipment seems to be operating correctly
    • This type of attack used to require expensive equipment and advanced coding skills, but experts say it can now be done with off-the-shelf gear and easily attainable software
    • Massive amounts of global trade occur at sea, with the number of these vessels quadrupling in the past 25 years
    • Additionally, these ships are getting bigger, with the largest able to carry over 21,000 20-foot containers!
    • These vessels can make a powerful weapon against military ships if either or both can be hacked
  • Disturbing messages sent to a 7-year old prompt dad to warn about
    • is a Chinese social networking app for video creation, messaging, and live broadcasting
    • It allows users, known as "musers", to create 15-second to 1 minute videos, choose sound tracks to accompany them as well alter speeds, apply filters, etc.
    • The app also allows users to find trending content, trending songs and hashtags
    • Launched in 2014, by May of 2017 the app had over 200 million users
    • Like most social media apps today, has a messaging feature
    •'s terms and conditions prohibit users under 13, but there is nothing to stop children from fudging the registration
    • Illinois father Brad Summer posted screenshots of a chat that his 7-year old daughter had with a stranger who claimed to be 9
    • The stranger sent messages including one that said "Make some pics without T-shirt, I like to see your body without T-shirt."
    • Thankfully, his daughter knew better and said that she wasn't allowed to do that, to which the stranger replied "It’s secret between us only"
    • When he saw the messages to his daughter, Summer sent a message saying he’s a police officer and that he was reporting the IP address
    • Summer said "She used this app to connect with her cousins and make goofy duets of songs together"  and that his daughter used the app on his phone and only when he and his wife were in the room
    • Summer said "We have accepted friends of theirs and our daughter believed this was another one. I never thought of someone pretending to be 9 to gain access to my child."
    • has posted resources for parents and gives users the ability to flag offensive material but that may not be enough
    • This not the first time that the app has created controversy, in November of 2016 an online petition was started to remove all pornographic and adult content from the app
    • This is yet another example of predators on the Internet, you need to closely supervise your children's usage of apps, web sites, etc.
    • You can get more information about how to report content and block users on here:
    • You can view Summer's Facebook posting about the incident here:
  • Data is now the world's most valuable resource:
    • 100 years ago, oil was the world's most valuable commodity
    • In 2017, data has replaced oil and the titans that deal in it are raking in massive profits
    • Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are the five most valuable publicly traded firms in the world and they collectively made more than $25 billion in net profits in the first quarter of 2017! 
    • Amazon controls roughly half of American online purchases
    • Nearly all revenue growth in digital advertising last year was controlled by Facebook and Google 
    • The increasing dominance of these companies has raised anti-trust concerns and calls to break them up 
    • When standard antitrust tests are applied, these firms pass, in fact, rather than gouge consumers, many if not most of their services are "free"
    • You're not paying with money, you're paying with more frequent and more granular data
    • The massive amounts of data captured via "smart" devices gives these organizations enormous power
    • While these titans benefit from a powerful network effect, by collecting more data, they can fine tune products to attract more users which generates more data, which attracts more users... 
    • If governments want to avoid a knowledge economy dominated by a few giants that will be increasingly difficult to unseat, action will be required on the antitrust front soon which may include forcing these giants to give more control over consumer data back to consumers
Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a conservative point of view. Read more


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