Thursday, August 19, 2021

John Oliver explains ransomware

I closed Trevor Noah explains ransomware by extolling the virtues of comedy over straight news reporting for conveying information.
That was a better summary of the issues involved, energy, oil, infrastructure, technology, cybersecurity, and crime, than I put together yesterday from serious news sources. To paraphrase what I wrote two years ago and repeated the last time I embedded an If You Don't Know, Now You Know segment, I learned more from ten minutes of reporting laced with comedy than I would have from ten minutes of straight reporting.
This Sunday, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured Ransomware as its top story. It's twice as long as the clip from The Daily Show, so let's see if it conveys twice the information with twice the laughs.

John Oliver discusses ransomware attacks, why they’re on the rise, and what can be done about them.
Yes, twice the time did provide twice the information and laughs, as it included the oldest example of ransomware I've ever heard of, the 1989 extortion of AIDS researchers. That was before I was even on the Internet! Also, Oliver did a good job of listing the reasons why ransomware has become a problem: ransomware as a service, hard-to-trace means of payment in the form of cryptocurrency, and countries providing safe havens. I expounded on the last in JBS paid $11 million while the FBI recovered much of the Colonial Pipeline ransom.
Putin's hackers and agents have graduated from being trolls who weaponize social media, spread disinformation, and hack into political campaigns. As 21st Century criminal gangs, they are now engaging in industrial sabotage, a threat to the nation's infrastructure and a national security issue.
While I'm calling these criminal gangs an outgrowth of Putin's hackers and agents, they are really independent organized crime groups acting with the Russian government's tacit approval. In addition, Russia isn't the only country hosting these criminal gangs; China is as well...
It pays to be an environmentalist and recycle. Speaking of which, I wrote "follow the advice given by Dan Patterson to keep your data secure." In this case, follow the advice in the commercial parody narrated by J.K. Simmons at the end.

I conclude by recycling the footnote to John Oliver and Washington Post examine coronavirus misinformation in response to Oliver razzing AT&T and HBO.
Oliver's public feud with AT&T reminds me of David Letterman's feud with General Electric when he was on NBC. Letterman later left for CBS. I'll let my readers decide if that was bad or good for Letterman.
Letterman did not outlast General Electric's ownership of NBC. On the other hand, Oliver will almost certainly outlast AT&T's ownership of Warner Media, the parent company of HBO, as AT&T sold off WarnerMedia to Discovery earlier this year after acquiring it in 2018. That won't have lasted even as long as the AOL-Time Warner merger! Oliver was right to snipe at AT&T.

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