Connect at mine free Wi-Fi! I would knew what I is do! I is cafe boss!

There's no security on holiday when you're a bellend

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Stop the digital presses, hold the home page – I have breaking news for you! An organisation somewhere in the world has NOT been hacked into today!

Of course when I say "been hacked into", I mean "allowed anyone with a computer and the slightest inclination to take an unauthorised copy of confidential customer records with the minimum of hinderance".

Feel free to add, as appropriate, "because customer security is not our highest priority". If you like, you might also wish to tag on "and is in fact a much lower priority than ensuring our IT directors receive their performance bonuses on time".

Usually after my summer vacation from Register Towers, I return to a bevy of emails referring to security breaches. This year, the bevy had swelled into a full-blown seasonal migration of entire species. No wonder everyone is in a flap (eheh). In my absence, the world turned into a live 24-hour hackathon.

I would have known about all this sooner if I had bothered to check my email from time to time between energetic bouts of striding across broken sun-parched pavements from one exotic Athenian landmark to another. My mobile phone provider seemed terribly keen for me to do this, too, having finally acknowledged that its data roaming surcharges were unwarranted and trying to spin its admission of guilt into "added value".

The hotel was equally keen for me to connect to its free Wi-Fi. So was the airport, the train stations and every cafe we stopped in for cake throughout our stay.

Mmm, cake.

"Great, they have Wi-Fi! I'm pretty sure the owner of this ramshackle corner cafe is fully competent in security basics and has implemented WPA2-PSK with AES encryption. What's that? There's no login required at all? Wow, he really must be an expert!"

Given so much opportunity for us to waggle our IT privates in public, it's no wonder mischievous self-taught coders who still live with their mums find it so irresistible to tag along to see what they might find. But is anyone policing this?

A think tank called Reform recently published a paper after speaking to a few police officers and staff in the UK with IT responsibilities. The paper calls for the establishment of a digital academy to train cyber specialists – or what I prefer to call a Cyber Police Academy.

Already I can see Steve Guttenberg enrolling and causing no end of madcap mayhem. Then they'll make him head of training, which will lead to even more hilarious antics. And seven more sequels. They could even call it the Guttenberg Project.

Youtube Video

Also sitting in my mailbox on my return was an unreasonable quantity of promotional press releases for insane crowdfunding projects.

This is baffling, given that I only ever mention such crowdfunding projects here in order to ridicule them. Idiocy sells, I suppose, in all its hellish forms. Without wishing to help promote them any further than they deserve (i.e. not at all), two items did stand out from the bunch, if only for humour value.

One is for a "smart bulb" called Heelight, a lightbulb that can "hear the environment" and switch between 16 million colours "according to your preferences".

It's not just smart, this lightbulb, oh no: it's apparently "the world's most intelligent bulb".

Hopefully it's intelligent enough to take note that my preferences for lightbulbs is that they should produce white light when switched on, and not produce light when switched off. As far as I'm concerned, the remaining 15,999,999 potential colours can be safely stored up the developer's arse.

But wait! Even lightbulbs with PhDs pale into insignificance alongside my other pick of the summer crowdfunders...

The "smart doorbell".

I only have to read those two words and already I hate it. Then I read that the startup that invented it is called Ding, and now I hate it even more.

When a visitor presses the smart doorbell on your front door, it immediately calls your smartphone. Why it should do this remains a bit of a mystery, despite repeated attempts at having it explained to me. I try to imagine what it would be like to be a smart bell end user – a "bellend" for short.

"Hello? Oh, you've rung my doorbell. Well, no-one's at home at the moment because we're abroad on holiday. Are you a delivery man? No? What's that, you're a burglar? Oh, thank you for ringing. You'll find the jewellery on top of the wardrobe, a brand new lawn mower in the shed, and if you don't mind, could you put down a few kitchen towels before you shit on the bed?"

Evidently the joke's on me because Ding raised £269,664 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs while I was away.

It only goes to show how little I understand about the benefits to human advancement brought about by investing in disruptive technology. Here's me thinking people might put their money into something to do with healthcare nanobots or deep thinking by massive AI entities.

No, it's a quarter of a million quid for a fucking doorbell.

For any bellends reading this, please put your mind at rest. Or at least you can take your mind off the man currently ransacking your home 1,000 miles way by connecting to your hotel's hokey free Wi-Fi and logging in to every system at work while every keystroke is recorded by the seasonal slave behind reception.

He also has photocopies of your passport and preferred credit card, by the way. All he needs is the name of your first pet and he'll have a full house – which is ironic given that your own is now decidedly emptier than it was before someone rang your doorbell.

See? I bet you'd already forgotten about your smart bell woes!

See you next week! Ding dong!

Youtube Video

Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He would like to make it clear right now that his birthday present wishlist will not include a smart bell, a smart bulb or a smart toilet roll. Actually, the last one could be a goer, if only to ensure that every swipe is logged (eheh) and ensures some megacorporation's big data storage system becomes – almost literally – full of shit.

Other stories you might like

  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022