Affordable Care Act Implementation Woes

I have not written on this up until now and this article is rather old but realize that they are just now getting the front end, that is the easy part stable. I haven’t seen in my lifetime a IT debacle this big this expensive.  Here are some quotes from the NY Times I found unsuprising.

“Cut corners, make date,” said one specialist, who like most of the people interviewed for this article would not allow his name to be used because the Obama administration has requested that all government officials and contractors involved keep their work confidential.

Another

As a result, the president’s signature initiative was effectively left under the day-to-day management of Henry Chao, a 19-year veteran of the Medicare agency with little clout and little formal background in computer science.

Medicare chose to use a NoSQL approach (a fad), which means the back end system may never function with any assurance of accuracy.  The whole NoSQL fad is costing IT a fortune because of fundamental ignorance in computer science.  These approaches were tried and mostly abandoned back in the ’70’s.

 

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Tin Foil Hat – Part I “Nothing to Hide”

I’m picking up where I left off here. In the introduction I discussed online privacy and technology.  What I didn’t mention in that initial post was an insight from Bruce Schneier.  Large corporate institutions and the government (at least in the US) cooperate in order to evade the law.  Public institutions are restricted from collecting some kinds of information whereas corporations are not. So you have a situation whereby cooperating they can both avoid the spirit of the law and keep to the letter, clever and despicable.

Moving onto our main topic.  Where you do fit with respect to your privacy concerns?  Pick one of the descriptions below that matches your world view then you will know which part will address your concerns.

I.  I just love social media and telling all my friends where I am and what I’m doing.  I think it is really cool that we can track each other on weekends with mobile apps because it makes it easier to hook up at clubs.   I like getting free stuff so I fill out all the surveys for things I am interested in.  I have nothing to hide.  My life is an open book.

II.  I live in a mostly free country.  I am not too concerned about privacy.  My life is pretty normal and perhaps boring to others.  I don’t particularly like all the snooping and profiling by corporations just to try and sell me junk I don’t want or need.  If I want something I will find it;  you don’t need to find me.

III.  I live in country with some censorship and constraints or I live in a mostly free country and despise the idea of surveillance.  I consider myself free and I would like to access what I deem appropriate not the state.  I realize that I will always leave some digital footprint but would like reduce my digital signature as much as possible.

IV.  I am currently engaged in an activity which if discovered could land me in jail for a long period of time or possibly be executed.  I’m a target of a state actor.

In this post I will take up the first case, the one in which a person sees themselves as open book, “I have nothing to hide” approach.  Even if you have a relaxed attitude toward privacy, I assure you have something to hide.  If you truly believe that you have nothing to hide then email me the following so I can add them as an update to this post:

  • Current address
  • Annual income
  • Social Security Number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Credit Card numbers with expiration and the CVV/CVC code off the back.

It’s a fact that the more that can be known about you the more likely you are to be an easy mark for exploitation.  What minimal things can be done to reduce your footprint?  One empty your browser cache and clean all history from time to time.  Install a product like Abine’s DoNotTrackMe. There are similar tools also;  find one you like and stick with it.  You can also enable “do not track me” in the browser but few companies will respect it.  Let’s face it, most corporations are run by a self-serving, crass, and rapacious to the limits of the law executives.  I have no hard proof but I would guess it works about as well as opt-out does for email.  If you want to avoid marketing email you can set up an account exclusively for that or purchase a service from a company like Network Solutions.

With your mobile devices you should be very selective about which applications have access to your location.  In general the “free” applications are most likely to abuse your privacy.  Facebook and Google being the devil’s unholy twins.  The information and profile these companies have on you is not as high a risk as when the data is stolen or lost due to incompetence.  The more public your life, the more you need a service to protect you from identity theft.  There are many good ones seek them out and purchase the service.

Meshnets

This is a useful initiative.  What is to keep the FCC from simply writing a regulation that bans the activity once criminals start using it?  The many must be punished for the few. It would not surprise me:  Across the US, from Maryland to Seattle, work is underway to construct user-owned wireless networks that will permit secure communication without surveillance or any centralised organisation. They are known as meshnets and ultimately, if their designers get their way, they will span the country.

Using GPU’s for supercomputing

There is a new program language, Harlan that purportedly makes it easier to use graphic processing units to turn hardware into a reasonably priced supercomputer.  GPUs have been used for some time to crack password hashes and run large neural networks.

CPUs and GPUs are both important for modern computing, with each being better suited for different tasks. Most CPUs have several cores capable of running a few processing threads. It runs each thread very fast, then moves on to the next one. A GPU typically has a large number of slower processing cores (sometimes called stream processors) which can run more simultaneous threads. We would say that GPU computing is inherently more parallel than the CPU variety.

This is pretty cool too.  Steve Austin call your office, your days are numbered.

Android’s Broken Security

I avoided getting an Android phone due to the sheer volume of malware and spyware (did someone say Viber?).  At least it’s available for free.  Looks like it would be possible to backdoor the phone with minimal effort.  How many people will fail to update their firmware?

How it works:

The vulnerability involves discrepancies in how Android applications are cryptographically verified & installed, allowing for APK code modification without breaking the cryptographic signature.

All Android applications contain cryptographic signatures, which Android uses to determine if the app is legitimate and to verify that the app hasn’t been tampered with or modified. This vulnerability makes it possible to change an application’s code without affecting the cryptographic signature of the application – essentially allowing a malicious author to trick Android into believing the app is unchanged even if it has been

NSA Today IRS Tomorrow?

The Gestapo in all its horrible power could not imagine such capability.  They ruled with fear setting neighbor against neighbor but now we can spy on people by looking at their public behaviour and store it forever.  It’s not like they will use this power against their enemies.

The US government’s hunger for money appears insatiable.  What can you do?  Don’t evade your taxes is a good start.  Regardless of how high taxes are it does one no good to criminally evade them.  The other thing one can do is lower his profile.  Get out of debt, abandon social media and don’t use credit cards.  The most important thing of all is to push for reforms in the tax code so this kind of an organization is no longer necessary.