Hackers versus Humans

September 21, 2012

I had a desktop with an online anti-virus subscription and up to date mal-ware software. I am conscious of where I surf, what I fill out, and who I clear thru my spam folder.  Despite all that I got the SVC host virus and nearly 150 other “gifts”.  I had no choice and was forced to retire that desktop.

I replaced it with a laptop, got another online-refreshed anti-virus subscription, and installed more mal-ware software. I kept it up to date and paid for the subscriptions. That lasted nearly 18 months until I got the dreaded File Recovery virus and at least 7 other “gifts”.  Despite a system restore to a previous point, additional software, various tricks, all manner of safe modes, and the efforts of the Geek Squad, the recurring blue-screen-of-death won. The laptop drive couldn’t be wiped, it had to be replaced. Due to that the system couldn’t be fully restored without purchasing a CD from the manufacturer, who empathized with my sense of urgency by offering to ship it to me via UPS ground for free.

Each day thousands suffer a similar fate, with many worse off due to phishing and all manner of other intrusions brought upon by the new spate of aggressive cyber-crime perpetrators who don’t even have to leave their home. Conservative estimates run into the billions of dollars annually, notwithstanding the tremendous waste of time, and the ruination of one’s business or personal life. It’s as if you’re being run over by your own PC without an airbag.

Enough is enough. It’s time we sent a message that everyone can understand and show first-hand the ramifications for their actions. Despite any misgivings I may have had in the past due to the foibles of the modern legal system and the potential for wrongly accused, I am now formally promoting the adoption of the death penalty for these crimes against humanity. That’s right, open up the docket at The Hague, and let’s begin the process of defending ourselves where all-the-world can see.

To date if you get caught performing computer crimes you more than likely ended up with a fine (that you paid from what you stole) and a high paying job at a security company. That’s like hiring a murderer to become a police officer or an arsonist to become a fireman. What a great deterrent.

Instead, hang the Hackers from the rafters by their fingers using USB cables and Velcro and beat them with the keyboard they used to code the Virus. Line up sufferers and hurl some mice. Make it a reality TV experience and let the audience vote for the punisher who wrecks the perpetrators credit. Watch together as their balance goes to zero thru reimbursements to victims while their name gets red-flagged at TRW. Forward every e-mail and publish every photo. Name their names. Destroy all electronic records except for the conviction notice and death certificate as their legacy. Then pull the switch. Using an app from someone’s smart phone they cracked.  And let them hear that noise a drive makes during its last spin.

Lest you think an eye-for-an-eye prehistoric and uncivilized go check your ATM transaction log, credit card bills, and your hidden system files to confirm you are amongst the minority who has yet to discover they’ve been hacked. If you can’t find it then you didn’t look hard enough (Hint: HKEY_LOCAL _MACHINE.SYSTEM=IS_HOSED). And just because you have a Mac doesn’t mean you’re safe, just complacent. Unless you’re brave enough to raise your hand because you’re already one of us.

How Cellular Pay As You Go Should Work

September 7, 2012

The Wired Conservation Society has declared the pay phone an endangered species. Poachers have been selling their parts to the video terminal manufacturers, handsets to Co-Los for tile lifters, and keys are quickly becoming popular as piercings. Unlike other nearly extinct technologies such as cassette tapes, typewriters, and the white Rhino, a pay phone is a means for instant and reliable communication.

You dropped a coin in the slot and you made a phone call. Change your mind, get your change. No answer, no problem, no charge, unless you got their answering machine (projected extinction 2037). You knew how much it cost, you paid for it, once you connected, it worked. Imagine that. Need more time, add some coins, and the call keeps going. Until you’re finished!

So why don’t we hold the cell phone companies to the same standard? Why pay for something which works maybe half the time? Did a weatherman design this? “That’s cellphone service” is something we just accept. If I rear-end the CEO of Sprint’s limo do I get out and say “that’s brake pads”?

Hey, hook me right up on a cellphone call, let me have a “conversation” (a verbal exchange of non-acronymic words between parties with patience the only limit), and I’ll gladly pay the bill. If I gotta make four cutoff callbacks, leave two half false voice mails, or there’s any mention of the words “hear me”, “bars”, or “dead spot” before staring down in disbelief at my cellphone, and I’ll let you know how much I thought it was worth.

No more plans or half-pages of non-sensical tariff explanations like the farmers landline non-use subsidy and 9-1-1 without ads. No more rolling over on your friends or family. No more waiting until 7 to start your weekend.

Keep it simple.

Just add a coin slot on the side of my cellphone, and I’ll pay, as you go. That’s right, be the Mabel of the new millennium, and you can keep the change.