Considering Our Future Cyber War

It’s not if a cyber war will happen, but when. Precisely what form such a war will take depends on the perpetrators and their goals. I’ve spend quite of time discussing the relative insecurity of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems out there. However, I’m only assuming that SCADA is going to be targeted at some point because it’s such low hanging fruit and no one seems to have any interest at all in securing. Plus, the attack would be of the sort that we’d have a hard time defending against (and possibly identifying at first as the hospitals fill with victims of some mysterious problem).

I recently read an article by John Dvorak entitled, “What if Facebook Is Hacked Next?” John makes some excellent points, but probably doesn’t go far enough. Why would an attacker stop with just Facebook? Why not attack all of the sources of social media out there, including places like LinkedIn and Twitter? The confusion created by the loss of all social media would be amazing. It could easily act as a smokescreen for some other activity even more devastating than the loss of data. While everyone is scrambling to fix their social media issues, someone could work in the background to do something truly horrible.

Actually, the attacker might not even have to do anything other than disrupt all online activities. Think about the number of jobs lost, the hit to online commerce, and the other problems that such an attack would cause. Perhaps these people are simply waiting until more brick and mortar stores close that people no longer have local resources to help in such an emergency. For example, think about the problems that the loss of online stores would have to IT professionals who maintain huge networks of computer systems. The potential for truly terrifying results is amazing.

A cyber war is coming. Just when it will arrive is the topic of much speculation, but my feeling is that it’ll come sometime soon. What sorts of security measures do you have in place? Have you done anything else to prepare? Let me know about your thoughts on cyber war at


Central Clearing House for Book Contacts

A reader wrote to me the other day with an idea for creating a central place where any reader could contact any author with book-related questions. It would be a social media type idea along the lines of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but with a book focus. The way this idea works is that a reader could leave a question on the central site and then the author would receive a notification through e-mail about the question. The question and its answer would remain public. That way, other readers with the same question would see the answer and not have to ask the author about it again.

This blog fulfills the idea that the reader has to a certain extent. When I receive e-mails from readers, I determine whether the question has enough interest to affect a large number of readers. When the question is better answered publicly, I put an answer up here, rather than answer it privately. Of course, there are times when a reader question needs and deserves a private answer. Using the blog approach does make it easier for me to handle some questions discretely, but nothing would keep me from including an e-mail address for that purpose in the book. The problem with this blog is that reader need to know to look here for answers. Even though I publish the URL for this blog in all of my books, readers still managed to miss it somehow and I get queries in e-mail about the availability of such a central knowledge store.

Wrox provides a centralized location for readers to exchange information of the sort that the reader mentioned, but it’s not as well known as the social media sites and I didn’t think to include the URL for it in my book (the publisher does include it as part of the Introduction). My experiences with Professional IronPython, Professional Windows 7 Development Guide, and C# Design and Development tell me that the concept is good, but reader participating is often poor. I actually get a lot more input on my blog.

I like the idea this reader has because it provides a social media type approach to a pressing need authors have to service reader requests for information. The problems are figuring out how to present the idea publicly, implement the idea in software, and then to make the site popular enough that it actually does what it’s supposed to do.

Of course, I’m always looking for input from you on making things work in a way that’s easy for you. What do you think about this concept? Is it possible to create such a site and have it become a success? Would you even frequent such a site? Let me know your thoughts on the matter at


Social Media Overload?

Because of my involvement in the computer industry, I’m always interested in social, health, monetary, and other effects of using technology. As with any other tool (and technology is a kind of tool), it’s possible to misuse computers and the software that controls them. In this case, I’m talking about any sort of device with a chip inside, including tablets and smartphones. In fact, I’m even including your television and radio here. Every electronic device you own is a kind of tool. Think about it, the main reason to listen to radio is to help you relax or to inform you in some way. When people stop viewing technology as a tool and start viewing it as a requirement for living, the technology becomes a crutch and the person becomes addicted.

I read a post the other day by someone who is obviously addicted to her technology. I found the article, “Social Media Overload” enlightening because it presents a perspective of social media from someone who is younger than me and has likely grown up with the technology. The author talks about having thousands of online friends. Of course, my question is whether it’s possible to actually know anything substantial about thousands of people. There are only around 400 people in our small town and I admit to not knowing them all; actually knowing thousands of people seems quite impossible. In fact, it’s hard to know whether some of these people even exist or they’re the figment of someone’s imagination. Using social media in this way seems to favor quantity over quality, where the quality would be incredibly low.  It makes me wonder what has happened to the quality relationship of the past.

The part of the post that I found most interesting was the fact that she recommends providing a means to link all of the social media together so that you could view and update all of your information from a central location. The obvious problem seems to elude her—recognizing that the tool has taken over the master and that the master is now the slave of the tool. When you start having to think of ways to manage all of the tools in your inventory, rather than using those tools to perform useful work, the tools have become a problem. It really is time to clear away a bit of the junk so that you can become productive again. A better solution might be to reduce the number of social media in which she participates so that the tool again becomes a tool.

I do participate in social media. I’m currently on LinkedIn because it’s a professional network and I feel it’s a good way to get my resume out in public view. Sometimes I provide updates about my current projects. Otherwise, I really don’t see a good reason to use social media when personal contact is so much better. You have to ask yourself whether you’re in charge of your social media or whether the social media is in charge of you.

Like any professional, I put my tools away on occasion and go on vacation. It’s important to rest from your labors so that you can better enjoy them when you do work. I’ve written about my philosophy toward computing in Learning to Unplug. However, it’s important to think about how other professionals use tools when thinking about social media or anything else to do with computers for that matter. Can you imagine a surgeon taking scalpels and performing impromptu surgeries while on vacation? What would you think of a carpenter who takes hammer and nails absolutely everywhere? After all, you never know when you might want to pound a nail or two. This is how I view people who are so addicted to their technology that they can never unplug from it. If you can’t put your technology aside long enough to rest, then you’re addicted and need to do something about it.

How do you view computing, especially when it comes to social media? Has your computing device (no matter what that device might be) come to rule over you? Let me know your thoughts on digital addiction at