My Escape From Instagram Extortion

So, I signed up to Instagram to follow people. I gave them my real name, my real email address and no phone number. They seemed perfectly happy with this. I followed a few people (and one furby). I didn’t post anything. It seemed innocuous. Then it started trying to blackmail me with an utterly unacceptable demand to extort my phone number out of me.

(Content warning: Lots of angry swearing below the fold. Proceed at your own discretion.)


November 20, 2019. Daniel, IT, Security, Sensible, Social Media. 1 comment.

Is Huawei Safe?

The Huawei story is infuriating to me because there is no way to tell whether their equipment really is compromised. As far as I know, nobody has actually found any suspicious devices or malicious code hidden in their products. It is just that they seem like they might be corruptible. Trouble is, so do a lot of other companies.

The real issue is to work out how we can trust anything when technology is insanely complicated and we are just stupid, ignorant apes with an inflated sense of our own abilities?


April 27, 2019. IT, Politics, Security, Sensible. Leave a comment.

Do we really do good in IT?

In the IT industry it is common, and very much encouraged, for us to assume that we are doing good for the world. Even we lowly systems administrators, who have to reinstall everything an average of 3.7 times for reasons far to sordid to enter into, imagine ourselves the heroic inheritors of the legacy of Alan Turing. Like we personally won WWII or something. We assume that we are building a brave new world. We don’t spend much time wondering if we actually do good. We certainly don’t spend any time wondering if we do any harm. That’s just those nasty blackhat guys with their hacking and viruses, right? Right? I mean, we are not like those old time doctors who believed the theories of Galen, who never washed their hands and who killed more patients than they cured? Right? Right?

I have my doubts. And so does James Mickens. He worked for Microsoft for 6 years and  is now an associate professor at Harvard. He knows of what he speaks! If you still believe in the transformative power of IT to protect and empower the human race (or if you just want a good laugh at our industry’s expense) then you need to watch this video:

Q: Why Do Keynote Speakers Keep Suggesting That Improving Security Is Possible?
A: Because Keynote Speakers Make Bad Life Decisions and Are Poor Role Models

September 18, 2018. IT, Security, Sensible. Leave a comment.

Correct Horse Battery Staple

BBC reports: Password guru regrets past advice.

“For example, the more often you ask someone to change their password, the weaker the passwords they typically choose.”

And I have only been screaming this for the last 20 years! Nice to see that these shibboleths are finally getting re-evaluated.


August 9, 2017. IT, Security, Sensible. Leave a comment.

Oh noes. I has a Facebook!

Remember only a few days ago how I was saying how I was avoiding Facebook and running down its denizens? Well now I am one.

Some University friends persuaded me to join and I am sort of glad I did because now I can see exactly how identities get stolen. (more…)

June 4, 2010. Administrivia, Daniel, IT, Security, Sensible, Silly, Social Media. 1 comment.

IT Security: Why Do We Bother?

IT Security is hard work. You need to be careful, diligent and just a little paranoid. Then along comes something that makes you wonder why you bother.


May 21, 2003. IT, Migrated, Security, Silly. 1 comment.