Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sony and Best Korea: Do You Need to Worry?

America is no stranger to defending against and using various forms of security exploitation. The Air Force created Air Force Cyber Command in 2006 to specifically keep the country safe against external threats, but trust me when I say your government has been fighting this fight since the first networked computers came online.

Since the recent Sony security breech, many questions have been asked about our nation's security and if we should worry about further attacks. I've been sifting through a lot of security blogs and can give you a couple points that may help you understand.

1: Sony isn't the American government. While lots of emails have been stolen from a private company, our government's systems remain firmly intact so far.

2: This isn't the first time Sony has been taken down. In 2011, the Playstation Network was offline for over a month, and the login data of 77 million customers was stolen. It also took them a week to tell anyone.

3: Sony was breached by simple software purchased online. Breaking into a network doesn't require hundreds of brilliant coders sitting in a room frantically beating on a keyboard to get in. It takes a few security flaws, a little social engineering and time. Two people on one keyboard is even worse.

The American government claims the software used is similar to malware previously used by NK in other attacks in South Korea, but that's not conclusive evidence. Of course, the FBI isn't releasing all the information they have on the attacks, but that's to be expected. It's an ongoing investigation and you can't lay all your cards on the table the first day.

4: Lots of security experts are skeptical that North Korea had anything to do with this, and to be honest, Americans will believe any silly thing about N. Korea because we view them as a joke of a country. Of course, forgetting they have the 4th largest military in the world

See also, all the weird things we say about Japan panty vending machines 

There is no smoking gun here with a tendril of smoke in the shape of Kim Jong-Un. In reality, tracing something like this will take a lot of time and we may never actually know who did it. Lord knows there are lots of online pranksters who love to cause trouble for their own entertainment. North Korea of course denies any culpability and then threatens America, but we're pretty familiar with that. From our shores, we're pretty safe.

But the question of should you worry about the uprising of C Y B E R W A R and Skynet? Doubtful. If you keep on on your own security and do your yearly free credit checks, you don't have as much to worry about. When it comes to security, worry about you and yours before you worry about the international company.

One thing you will see me constantly say on this blog is you are never 100% safe. But you probably aren't a major entertainment conglomerate who will always be under attack. If you are, stop reading dopey security blogs and give your IT staff more money.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Without saying anything too incriminating, I managed to get some great photos of the late Bob Cassilly's Cementland in North City. Bob died while working on the project in 2011, and since then very little has been done to continue the work.

I won't make any comment on the state of his estate (though plenty of local news sources have no problems doing it themselves) I'm just here to give you a little history and a lot of photos.

If you're a St. Louis resident, I imagine you've found time to get to the City Museum. If you aren't familiar, it's a place you can take your kids to climb around and burn off energy while you have a drink. They also have a great aquarium, something St. Louis has been lacking for a long time.

Cementland was to be a brand new playground, and after climbing around it I can understand how. It's gloriously dangerous if you aren't paying attention. There is also a great amount of loose debris around which is great to chuck down holes. I mention this because in a 2000 article with the Riverfront Times, Cassilly specifically talked about how people love throwing rocks off things.

"There's a huge pent up demand for throwing stuff off these things. We climbed up on top of the chimney, and there was all these loose rocks up there. We threw them all off." Cassilly said.

That article is great because it shows an idea in its infancy. I wish he had a chance to finish, but I'm glad people are getting photos of the place. Officially, I don't recommend doing any of this and deny any admittance to being in area.

Off the record though, this place would have been amazing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sugar Loaf Mound

My morning run took me to a place I've been meaning to get to since I moved into my neighborhood. About two miles from my house is Sugar Loaf Mound, the last remaining Cahokian-era mound on the St. Louis side of the Mississippi River.

If you haven't been to the Cahokia Mounds yet, do yourself a favor and go learn about the people who lived here before us. Cahokia was a thriving metropolis of Native Americans from all over. Some archaeologists even call it America's first city.

Of course, we progressive people of the modern era weren't so keen on keeping things archaeologically sound back in the day, and currently Sugar Loaf is the last remaining mound of roughly forty from the western side of the river.

Currently there is a boarded up house sitting on top of the mound. That, coupled with the construction of highway I-55 (Which also closed up the last access to the St. Louis Caves outside of the Lemp and Cherokee entrances) has degraded the mound quite a bit. However, the Osage nation bought the property in 2009 and have been sitting on plans to rebuild the mound and a cultural center in the area. 

Until then, this house stands on Ohio right at South Broadway and I-55 overlooking the river. The poet in me likes to imagine relaxing on that hill and watching a sprawling city of Native Americans across the river pulse and thrive. 

And the city dweller in me really hates to see derelict houses where a visitor center and cultural hub could exist.