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Thursday, December 18, 2014

North Korea Hacks SONY

My first thought when I saw this photo was that this crew is just about to start a big Broadway style song and dance number.
My first thought when I heard that North Korea was suspected of hacking SONY was, 'yeah, right', those guys can't even tie their own shoes. But then I realized that, just like every group of people everywhere, they do have some smart cookies. They may be impoverished, foolish and the government may be tyrannical, but they have nuclear power, biggish missiles and nuclear weapons.
    Computers can give a person tremendous leverage in tackling certain kinds of problems, so the idea of North Korea hacking SONY is at least plausible.
    The problem with computer security is that few people in the PC side of the business gave it very much thought. Everyone was too busy building more and faster computers with more capacity. It's kind of like big residential developments. Here's your house. Oh, you want a lock? OK, here's a skeleton key, that will keep out the riff-raff, mostly because the riff-raff doesn't know what a house is, much less what a lock is, and the idea of a key is completely unfathomable.
    That worked for awhile, but eventually the riff-raff caught on and started figuring out that those skeleton key locks that came with those early computers were easy to pick. The problem is that there are whole bunch of computers out there with skeleton key locks, and more are pouring off the assembly lines every day, so any security detail is going to be faced with trying to protect a whole Levittown of houses with minimal security from a sophisticated gang of thieves with stealth capabilities.
     You will note that I specified PC (Personal Computers) when I talked about weak security. IBM had a pretty elaborate security system for their mainframes. Of course, an IBM mainframe wasn't something you bought on a whim at Best Buy. It was more like a massive capital outlay, on the order of building a new automobile factory, so they could afford to spend a little more on locks.
    The security protocol on IBM mainframes had like seventeen different levels, from repair technicians to operators to programmers, and no one had access to the whole system. Mostly they were compartmentalized, but there was some overlap. For instance, operators could start or stop programs, but they couldn't modify them. Programmers could change their programs, but couldn't choose which data files to operate on. The whole scheme kind of reminds me of North Korea.

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