CyberSecurity Tips For Both Political Parties

The American people want to believe that both political parties and our journalists will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.  Instead they found out that:

  • Glenn Thrush is actually a political hack masquerading as a journalist.
  • From time to time Donna Brazile gets debates questions in advance and had no ethical problems passing it on to the Clinton campaign.
  • The supposedly neutral DNC was actively trying to undermine the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign despite telling everyone they were not doing that.

This loss of innocence was one of the major reasons behind the success of Mr. Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” theme. Although the intelligence community is trying to divert attention from the gross incompetence and ethical shortcomings of the DNC, Mr. Podesta, and those journalists, I feel it is my responsibility as an old IT guy to remind both political parties and journalists that you are the first line of defense in cybersecurity.  Gross stupidity can easily defeat the best cybersecurity plan. So here are my tips:

Stop Doing Ethically Stupid Stuff And Writing About It In Emails

It is better to be thought a cheater than to write an email that removes all doubt! As an example the Donna Brazile “From time to time” email could have been written a  thousand different ways that would obscure the source while preparing Ms. Clinton for the subject matter. A simple rephrasing of the question would have at least given Ms. Brazile plausible deniability as a cheater. Ms. Clinton’s worst debate answers are far better than the stigma from being caught cheating. Of course, a more ethical person would not have divulged the question to Ms. Clinton. Most of the journalists mentioned in the Wikileaks releases doing ethically stupid stuff probably regret writing about it in an email. The lesson that should have been learned is that embarrassing emails in the wrong hands are very valuable. You have just provided the reason for even more hacking attempts!

Treat All Communication Devices As Non-Secure

Whether you are in the privacy of your home or at Starbucks you should assume that someone is trying to intercept your communications. It could be the NSA, Russian intelligence, or just some script kiddie having fun.   If only a small portion of your emails are about yoga and wedding preparations, you really should not have a private email server. Who were the adults in the room advising Ms. Clinton about the security risks associated with the Secretary of State having a private email server? Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity sums it up best.

There are some fairly simple, immutable truths that each of us should keep in mind, truths that apply equally to political parties, organizations and corporations alike:

  • If you connect it to the Internet, someone will try to hack it.
  • If what you put on the Internet has value, someone will invest time and effort to steal it.
  • Even if what is stolen does not have immediate value to the thief, he can easily find buyers for it.
  • The price he secures for it will almost certainly be a tiny slice of its true worth to the victim.
  • Organizations and individuals unwilling to spend a small fraction of what those assets are worth to secure them against cybercrooks can expect to eventually be relieved of said assets.

Senator Sessions And The Black Belt Voter Fraud Case

Once again I find myself fact checking the main stream media. When I read the USA Today article, Black Belt voter fraud case in Alabama shaped Senator Jeff Sessions’ career, I was surprised to find out that the prosecutors alleged that three people altered ballots for a 1984 primary election. One group of Democrats were defrauding another group of Democrats. This reminds me of the tactics used by Clinton supporters against Mr. Sanders. There was merit to the case since the defendants admitted that they altered the ballots but only under directions of the voter. Despite this admission the Democrats allege that this case was brought primarily to suppress black voter turnout. Allegations of voter fraud continue to dog at least one of the counties in the Black Belt, Perry county. In 2008 the New York Times reported new allegations of voter fraud. In 2012 tuscaloosanews.com reported a scandal involving a town in Perry county. According to the 2010 census this town had approximately 1,140 people older than 18 and yet it had 2,587 registered voters. If we admit that there were questionable voting practices in the Black Belt, what does this say about Mr. Sessions record as attorney general?

What Does Voter Suppression Mean In A Safe Democratic District?

In the most recent House election for Alabama’s 7th district which encompasses most of the Black Belt, Terri Sewell, won the election with 98.4% of the vote. You have to go all the way back to  1967 to find a Republican winning this district. None of the general elections were close. Obviously Mr. Sessions and the Republicans had nothing to gain from voter suppression. Republicans had almost no chance of winning any political office in the Black Belt. The Black Belt was and still is a safe Democratic district. The real political battle is over who would win the Democratic primary. So the only person who had a motive to report voter fraud was the person who lost the Democratic primary. In an ironic twist the Democrats are mad at Mr. Sessions because he respected the right of that person to have a fair election.

The Shame Game

There was a kerfuffle at the University of Virginia when President  Teresa Sullivan sent an email urging students to “remember their own responsibility in the world” following President-elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

“By coincidence, on this exact day 191 years ago — November 9, 1825, in the first year of classes at U.Va. — Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,’” she wrote. “I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”

Instead of embracing this noble challenge 469 faculty and students chose to complain about Thomas Jefferson. They argued that the author of the Declaration of Independence, former President, and founder of the university was a bad choice for a “moral compass” because he “owned hundreds of slaves”. Instead they chose to bite the hand of someone trying to help them. Although the history surrounding Thomas Jefferson and slavery is interesting, it was not relevant to Ms. Sullivan’s point. When the words, slavery, racism, and Hitler, pop up in a discussion, the intelligent part of the discussion is over. Unfortunately the faculty and students resorted to using the same shame game strategy Ms. Clinton used unsuccessfully against Trump supporters. If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The shame game is a trap for those who are unwilling to engage in intelligent discourse.

How I Spent Election Night

Most nights my wife and I go to bed early. Last Tuesday was no exception for me. On my way to the bedroom my wife said she was going to stay up a little longer. She wanted to see how Mr. Trump did in Florida. So I went to bed. At about 11 pm I woke from a deep sleep to hear the television still going. My first thought was that my wife had fallen asleep in front of the television. So I got up and stumbled out to the living room. I was surprised to find her wide awake. She turned to me and whispered, “He is winning.” I mumbled something and headed back to the bedroom. My head was not on my pillow for more than 5 seconds before my eyes snapped open and my mind went into overdrive. What did she mean he is winning? The election should have been called by now. Could the impossible be happening? I grabbed a blanket and went back to the living room. Over the next couple of hours I watched Trump victory unfold. The impossible had happened. For the first time in eight years someone who listened to the people got elected.

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Clinton Foundation Fraud

Back in September I wrote a post in which I wondered why the IRS had not pulled the 501(c)(3) non-profit classification from the Clinton Foundation. In the video Charles Ortel makes a persuasive argument that the Clinton Foundation Is The ‘Largest Unprosecuted Charity Fraud Ever’ [VIDEO]. You can follow his progress at his web site, http://charlesortel.com/.  On October 26 Wikileaks released Doug Band’s email describing “Bill Clinton Inc“.  At some point the FTC and FBI might want to distance themselves from the culture of corruption and pursue a fraud case against the Clinton Foundation.

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Charles Ortel discussing that the Clinton Foundation is largest charity fraud

Word Cloud For The Final Presidential Debate

I did not watch this debate. Using the transcript from the Washington Post and I broke it into three documents, clinton.txt, trump.txt, and wallace.txt. After cleaning up the data for text mining I came up with these word clouds. Here are the word clouds:

  • The dominant words were “clinton” and “trump”.
  • The words, “economy” and “jobs” did not appear in any cloud.
  • The words, “people” and “country”, were important words for both candidates.

Overall

Word Cloud For Clinton, Trump, and Wallace

Word Cloud For Clinton, Trump, and Wallace

Clinton

Word Cloud For Clinton

Word Cloud For Clinton

Trump

Word Cloud For Trump

Word Cloud For Trump

Word Cloud For The Second Presidential Debate

By accident I watched this debate. I was drinking a glass of wine when it started and was intrigued by the candidate’s personal attacks. Using the transcript from the Washington Post and I broke it into four documents, clinton.txt, cooper.txt, raddatz.txt, and trump.txt. After cleaning up the data for text mining I came up with these word clouds. Here are the word clouds:

  • The dominant words were “clinton” and “trump”.
  • The words, “economy” and “jobs” did not appear in any cloud.
  • The words, “people” and “country”, were important words for both candidates.

Overall

Word Cloud For Clinton, Cooper, Raddatz, and Trump

Word Cloud For Clinton, Cooper, Raddatz, and Trump

Clinton

Word Cloud For Clinton

Word Cloud For Clinton

Trump

Word Cloud For Trump

Word Cloud For Trump

Why Do I Find More Yard Signs For The County Corner Than Hillary For President?

We are three weeks away from election day and the yard signs are out for every political candidate except for Ms. Clinton. I saw signs for Trump, our local state representatives, county commissioners, and even the county corner. Conspicuously absent was even a single yard sign of support for Ms. Clinton. I have not seen a single bumper sticker for Ms. Clinton. Hmm…

Tidbits I Learned From The Latest Trump Rally

IMG_20161013_195654Last night I went to the Trump rally at the US Bank Arena with my wife. She is a passionate Trump supporter and was afraid we would not get a good seat if we did not get there a hour and a half early. I rolled my eyes and acquiesced to her request. I was surprised with some of tidbits I observed.

Tidbits

  1. At 6 pm there had to be at least 7,000 people in their seats. I hate to admit it but my wife was right.
  2. The lower half of the arena seating was full and the upper part of the arena seating was about half full. Since the arena’s capacity is 17,000 I am guessing that when you count the people on the floor of the arena that at least 17,000 people showed up for the rally.
  3. A lot of women were at the rally. The row I was seated on was entirely women except for a young boy and me. I am guessing that something like 40% of the crowd were women. Considering Mr. Trump’s comments on the video tape the number of women who showed up was pretty amazing.
  4. I messaged my son in Europe that we were at a Trump rally. He said, “Really? What do you think of the leaked recording?” I replied, “Unacceptable but not a threat to national security”.
  5. Every age group was equally represented.
  6. Very few people of color were there.
  7. The crowd was loud. At least the three women seated directly behind me were very loud. I think they accidentally bopped me on the head with their signs several times. I felt like I was at a basketball game or a rock concert.
  8. Mr. Trump gave a polished stump speech and looked like a man who is very comfortable with the role he is playing. As an example he hung around the stage for several minutes after his speech soaking up the atmosphere. When my wife and I got home that evening we compared Mr. Trump to an actor who is living the part of a Presidential candidate while Ms. Clinton appears to be an actress stiffly reading memorized lines.