Step one: take out all the transportation. Step two: the financial base and telecoms. Step three: You get rid of all the utilities. Gas, water, electric, nuclear. that's why they call it a fire sale, because everything must go.
That's Justin Long, lecturing an audience that includes Bruce Willis about the magnificent scale of a cyber attack threatening the United States. In the fictional universe of Live Free and Die Hard, and most other movies that deal with cybersecurity, a skilled hacker can bring national infrastructures to their knees with a minute or two of harried typing. Maybe from his parents' basement. Definitely on a black-and-green-screened computer that beeps every time a key is pressed. In other words? Not real. Not at all.
Let's try this again: The ongoing cyber attack brings down SecureTrade-a computer-based, electricity trading platform for the Eastern Interconnection. Coupled with several other factors already stressing the power grid, this causes blackouts across the East Coast, sparks public panic, shuts down financial markets, and complicates ongoing recovery efforts. Advisers ultimately decide that the President might have to use his Article II Constitutional powers to nationalize utilities and call out the National Guard.
Lo-Jack schmojack. You don't need some spendy GPS unit and to keep tabs on that new Escalade. Uplinking your wheels to the great eye in the sky without breaking the bank is easier than you think.
Standalone GPS units can cost hundreds. And that's not counting the installation and (frequently hefty) activation and monthly fees associated with whatever service you do choose. For most of us, it's overkill. The good news is that if you happen to have a GPS-equipped phone lying around, you can rig your own vehicle tracking system for virtually nothing. Here's how it's done...
Before we charge too far ahead here, let's run over the basics. Your house or apartment, or the coffee shop you're sitting in now, is saturated with radio waves. Inconceivable numbers of them, in fact, vibrating forth from radio stations, TV stations, cellular towers, and the universe itself, into the space you inhabit. You're being bombarded, constantly, with electromagnetic waves of all kind of frequencies, many of which have been encoded with specific information, whether it be a voice, a tone, or digital data. Hell, maybe even these very words.
On top of that, you're surrounded by waves of your own creation. Inside your home are a dozen tiny little radio stations: your router, your cordless phone, your garage door opener. Anything you own that's wireless, more or less. Friggin' radio waves: they're everywhere.
Your eyes are absorbing this webpage. They're passing over this, this, then this word, right now. That's how reading works, online: you take this for granted. But what if you couldn't?
We grant our gaze to electronic screens for most of the day, and in return, they give us anything we want. We stare; they glow. We rarely speak, and neither do they.
And this makes sense! The internet is a boundless collection of text, images and video, channeled to flat pieces of glass and plastic, beamed through lens, retina, and nerve, all the way into our brains. It can show us anything, and for most web users, that's exactly what it does.
But for millions of others—those who are unable to see—the web is a wildly different place. Characters become sounds. Layouts are meaningless. Images are, at best, words, and at worst, blank spaces. And yet the blind browse the same internet as everyone else, every day. They use the same gadgets the sighted do, and happily. But how?
Back before we had ever heard of the iPhone 4, Gizmodo got their hands on a prototype. You've probably heard about that. The resulting criminal investigation resulted in GIzmodo editor Jason Chen having his home searched by the authorities. In the process, they confiscated all his electronic devices. Now the San Mateo County District Attorney has had the warrant withdrawn. Mr. Chen will be getting his stuff back, for now at least.
The EFF has long claimed the warrant was issued illegally, and points to California’s Penal Code section 1524(g), which disallows the use of warrants to obtain "unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing information for communication to the public.” This is part of what is often called the shield law. The EFF goes on to point out that another warrant could be issued at any time to obtain the items again. Is this the end of it, or will the investigation continue?
Gizmodo's exclusive coverage of a certain lost/stolen iPhone prototype has made it an anathema to Apple. Those expecting a thaw any time soon can pat themselves on the back for being optimistic because reconciliation is not currently on Apple's agenda. The company that pioneered the art of selling essentially the same device in different form factors has effectively banned Gizmodo from its Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote on Monday.
“It's no surprise: Apple has not responded to our requests to attend the WWDC keynote on Monday at 10am PST,” Gizmodo Editor Brian Lam wrote in a blog post. Left high and dry by Apple, the tech blog is now beseeching those planning to attend the event to contribute “live video, audio, instant messages and high-end photographs instantly.”
Any hope that Gizmodo editor Jason Chen had of getting his computers back unmolested has evaporated today. The San Mateo district attorney announced the devices were finally being searched by authorities. He further stated the "special master" of the investigation had been instructed only to collect information pertaining to the purchase of the iPhone prototype lost in a bar several months ago.
The police raided Chens home in April and seized all electronic equipment including laptops, mobile phones, iPads, and servers. Gizmodo initially objected citing California's journalist shield laws. Apparently, the police considered those claims, but decided they did not agree. The process of gathering evidence could take up to two months, at which time Chen's legal counsel can object to any piece of evidence. A judge will ultimately decide what to pass along to prosecutors.
No one has been charged with a crime as of yet, but the increasing scrutiny of Chen, and dismissal of the shield law, could be trouble. Journalist shield laws would not apply if Gizmodo employees themselves were under investigation for wrongdoing. Do you think Jason Chen should be held personally responsible for the purchase of the iPhone?
A lawyer for Gizmodo said today that his clients may choose to file a lawsuit against the San Mateo County Sheriff for the raid on editor Jason Chen's home. The search was part of the investigation revolving around Gizmodo's acquisition of a prototype next-gen iPhone. The warrant was served to Chen on Friday, and authorized police to take Chen's computers and hard drives. Gizmodo has held that the warrant was improperly issued because California's shield law should protect Chen from seizure of property.
Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney in San Mateo County claims the issue was examined before the search was conducted. The sticking point is that if Gizmodo is the target of the investigation for the purchase of the phone, the shield law would probably not apply. The distinction is that in cases of direct wrong doing, journalists aren't protected from searches.
Civil rights groups, including the EFF, have come down firmly on the side of Gizmodo here. It would set a disturbing standard if the shield law were ignored simply because Chen works from home, and not in a traditional newsroom. Where do you come down? Should Gizmodo file the suit? More importantly, what does this mean for online journalism?