Archive For The “Internet” Category

Internet Apocalypse?

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Internet Apocalypse?

With frequent high-profile reports of sites, or even entire networks (Amazon AWS 2017) being shut down by hackers, it does beg the question: Can a hacker shut down the entire Internet? After all, if you can shut down Amazon, the CIA, or Twitter, could not a more wide scale, total blackout of the Internet be a reality?

Answer: Not really, and here’s why.

The Internet was designed to be resilient. In fact, the first vestiges of the Internet go back to the 1960s and the ARPANET and later DARPANET projects commissioned by the U.S. Defense Department. The initial objective was to develop a network of computers that could survive a nuclear attack. As such, redundancy was no afterthought. It was aforethought. Today this interconnectivity exists as the TCP-IP (Transmission Control Protocol – Internet Protocol), commonly known to today as simply the IP protocol.

All said, there are three areas where the Internet is vulnerable. The first one is rather recent, about ten years old. The Cloud. When Amazon AWS was shut down for nearly a day back in 2017, all its customers, primarily small businesses, but not all so small, who decided to put all their web services on AWS, went down too.

Tier-One ISP Backbone is where we are most vulnerable.

There are tens of thousands of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) out there but only a handful provide the backbone of Internet connectivity. In fact, most of the smaller ones are reselling services they purchase and rebrand as their own, typically from a bigger fish that makes their money from volume. Nothing new here.

But the big boys like AT&T, Comcast, Level 3 and Verizon are so vast in the amount of traffic that goes through them that if just one of them went down, 20 to 40 percent of the Internet would go down with them. And nobody really knows if the stress on the other backbone providers would provide a domino effect. So at least theoretically, the Internet could go down for a brief period. But theoretically only. These backbone providers invest billions each year to maintain and upgrade their resilience and redundancy. Actually, these backbone are probably the most redundant systems the world has ever seen. Arguably, not even the Space Shuttle had as much redundancy. So while theoretically possible, the bigger concern is hackers actually hacking their way inside the backbone. No one has ever succeeded in doing that. You’d probably have a better chance of hacking the CIA’s site than you would one of these backbones. The reason is that these companies all preceded the Internet as telecommunications backbones back when telephony was our most treasured and sophisticated communications network. In other words, our backbone providers have decades of experience in providing the most robust security standards, some of which will likely never be made public.

DNS Disruption.

Aside from site hacking whereby one website is compromised due to a deliberate hack of that site, systemic outages either originate from cloud hacking or DNS (domain name service) hacking. DNS providers are basically the folks who manage where your domain points to. In other words, if you own, you must tell the DNS where that domain is hosted via IP. So the DNS not only knows your domain name but also tells all other computers the IP (or computer address) where it can actually be found. For fun, you can actually find a website by typing in its IP address only without the actual domain name. What this means is that if a hacker can mess with the IP address it can become a major nuisance, in effect, making your site unreachable while at the same time it is technically functioning. A bizarre state where your Internet browser cannot resolve the multiple redirects that the hacker assigned to say a cloud, like what happened when Amazon AWS went down.

Okay. So a complete shutdown of the Internet is not likely, just like a complete shutdown of our entire power grid. But put that into perspective. Remember when New York City lost power for several days back in the late 70s? Such a moment is a cautionary tale of how we need not a global shutdown of the Internet to be catastrophically impacted. Just imagine if New York City’s Internet went down even for a day. Everything would come to a screeching halt, not just electrical power. Everything. Banking, Gas stations, grocery stores. And if you don’t have a full tank of gas you wouldn’t be driving anywhere either. So despite the Internet’s truly global reach, a localized complete outage would all-encompassing. As a civilization, we have never been so dependable on technology as we are right now. All previous “blackouts” are not adequate comparisons for this very reason. As such, it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra food and water around at the very least.

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Netanyahu Stuns Audience With Internet Apocalyptic Warning

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Netanyahu Stuns Audience With Internet Apocalyptic Warning

My recent article, “Internet Apocalypse?” lays out the three most vulnerable points of attack that could potentially shut down the entire Internet, and how any such catastrophe would likely not be global but rather localized to a city or region, which is not to say that such a containment would not still be a total failure. What follows is an excerpt from a recent story published by with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu setting the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the robotic voice said, “this conference has just been hacked. Ironic, isn’t it? A conference dedicated to cybersecurity being hacked.”

“We are based in a country not far from Israel. That’s all you need to know for now. The bank accounts of everyone sitting in this hall have just been frozen. The intellectual property of your companies is in our hands, so are your private conversations. This information is being sent to your competition and your enemies,” it went on.

It was the fourth day of the 8th annual 2018 Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University, a global event gathering leading cybersecurity researchers, entrepreneurs, and insiders, began with a threat.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a main speaker at the five-day event, took to the stage on Wednesday and aired an audio clip announcing a large-scale hack to an audience of some 8,000 attendees from 85 countries.

The threat was not real; Netanyahu was simply trying to drive home a point. “This is not far-fetched,” he said, warning that hackers and state-backed actors “can do everything that you heard here and much more.”

Hackers can cripple our most sensitive systems. They can even take over, literally take over, some of those vital systems. And it is not something that is theoretical in the future. It’s already happening in the present, as you well know. You wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t have companies. There wouldn’t be this thriving business if there wasn’t this amazing threat to our banks, our airplanes, even our weapons,” Netanyahu said.

“This is a supreme test for our civilization. It is going to be tested not only by criminal organizations, by terrorists, but by other states,” he said. “This is why we’re holding this cyber conference here. It is to protect the present and ensure the future, no less than that.”

Netanyahu also praised the cybersecurity ecosystem in Israel, saying the country is “punching at 200 times above our weight here.”


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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 6

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From ‘Content is King’ to GODLIKE, Part 6

In part 5 of “From ‘Content is King’ to Godlike,” we looked at methods and metric used today to predict future outcomes based on contextual control of the environment. In this segment, we look at how Behavioral Economics is impacting rtificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, machine learning, and inferential logic.

What is Behavioral Economics?

Behavioral Economics is the study of human choice and decision-making. Unlike its classical economics predecessor, Behavioral Economics has two key divergences:

  • Whereas classical economic theory assumes that both markets and consumers are rational actors, Behavioral Economics does not. In fact, BE practitioners demonstrate the irony of predictability in human’s behaving badly, or irrationally. 
  • Building from that point, BE has developed a series of scientific methods to test, measure, and yes, predict human irrationality.
  • As the name somewhat suggests, BE bridges the academic disciplines of economics and psychology as well as other social sciences, neuroscience and even mathematics. That’s quite a lot.
  • Incorporates Heuristics, i.e., humans make 95% of their decisions using mental shortcuts or rules of thumb.
  • Incorporates Framing: The collection of anecdotes and stereotypes that make up the mental filters individuals rely on to understand and respond to events.
  • Addresses market inefficiencies that classical economics does not, including mis-pricing and non-rational decision making.

Behavioral Economics is a relatively new academic discipline whose roots go back to the 1960s largely from cognitive psychology. To many, Richard Thaler (Nobel Prize: 2017) is considered the father of BE. The University of Chicago professor has written six books on the subject.

Behavioral Economics Applications

While still considered a fledgling discipline, BE is growing rapidly, and arguably the most consequential new study area in academia. BE has already has been put to practical use in Marketing, Public Policy, and of course, AI, although its presence is rather opaque.

    Principle: Hot-Hand Fallacy—the belief that a person who experiences success with a random event has a greater probability of further success in additional attempts.

Example: In basketball, when players are making shot after shot and feel like they have a “hot hand” and can’t miss.

Relation to BE: Human perception and judgment can be clouded by false signals. There is no “hot hand”—it’s just randomness and luck.

Principle: Self-handicapping—a cognitive strategy where people avoid effort to prevent damage to self-esteem.

Example: In case she does poorly, a student tells her friends she barely reviewed for an exam even though she studied a lot.

Relation to BE: People put obstacles in their own paths (and make it harder for themselves) in order to manage future explanations for why they succeed or fail.

Learn more about Diane Israel. Also, see Diane Israel on LinkedIn.

Principle: Anchoring—the process of planting a thought in a person’s mind that will later influence this person’s actions.

Example: Starbucks differentiated itself from Dunkin’ Donuts through their unique store ambiance and product names. This allowed the company to break the anchor of Dunkin’ prices and charge more.

Relation to BE: You can always expect a grande Starbucks hot coffee ($2.10) to cost more than a medium one from Dunkin ($1.89). Loyal Starbucks consumers are conditioned, and willing, to pay more even though the coffee is more or less the same

Principle: Gambler’s Conceit—an erroneous belief that someone can stop a risky action while still engaging in it.

Example: When a gambler says “I can stop the game when I win” or “I can quit when I want to” at the roulette table or slot machine but doesn’t stop.

Relation to BE: Players are incentivized to keep playing while winning to continue their streak, and to keep playing while losing so they can win back money. The gambler continues to perform risky behavior against what is in this person’s best interest.

Principle: Rationalized Cheating—when individuals rationalize cheating so they do not think of themselves as cheaters or as bad people.

Example: A person is more likely to take pencils or a stapler home from work than the equivalent amount of money in cash.

Relation to BE: People rationalize their behavior by framing it as doing something (in this case, taking) rather than stealing. The willingness to cheat increases as people gain psychological distance from their actions.

These behavioral economics principles have major consequences on how we live our lives. By understanding the impact they have on our behavior, we can actively work to shape our own realities. As such, it’s becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to decouple BE from AI, et al.

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What’s ‘Real’ In The Fake News Era?

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What’s ‘Real’ In The Fake News Era?

My sister, whose political slant is irrelevant, has a common lament. “Who can you believe these days?” Indeed, those days where 90 percent of news consumption was provided by the Big 3 (ABC, NBC, and CBS) evening news programs are so far in the past that the younger generations have no reference to objective reporting in that tradition. Back in those days, a reporter had an honorable and now bygone standard.

If your reporting showed your political bias then you are not doing your job.

My how things have changed. Today, those days of Walter Kronkite (and anchors like him) where the principal message was the facts has almost completely eroded into advocacy journalism. On the extreme side of this, which ironically has gone mainstream (it’s very confusing), an entire network — FoxNews — no longer even pretends to be objective. Yet, at the same time, its audience still thinks they are getting objective journalism. In fact, so overt is FoxNew’s alignment to the Trump administration that the likes of Sean Hannity act as a shadow “chief of staff” to the president, meeting and advising him sometimes daily while, at the same time, reporting on matters in which he is directly involved and clearly influencing. How anyone can call this journalism is beyond me. But this is the era we live in.

Featured article: Artificial Intelligence.

On the other side of the mainstream spectrum, the legacy of Kronkite survives (albeit as an endangered species) through the dry and unemotional delivery of the Mr. Spock-like Wolf Blitzer. How do we know this? As yourself the same question journalists used to ask themselves. Can you identify Blitzer’s politics by the way he reports? Not really.

Between Hannity and Blitzer is filled-in with right-leaning advocacy journalism, although CNN is still considered centrist (only slightly to the left of center) whereas MSNBC is clearly left-of-center and undeniably advocating for the left.

But political slant is one thing. Getting to the truth, however, is often transcendant of political bias. After all, like my sister, honest seekers of the truth are still out there searching for the facts. Fortunately, has provided a helpful guide (video) for bringing skepticism to your news consumption, and how to avoid spreading it.

The bottom line is this. Make sure you are getting news that is actually real. From there, choose your poison.

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Israeli Operations Key To Intel’s ‘All-In’ 5G Strategy

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Israeli Operations Key To Intel’s ‘All-In’ 5G Strategy

The history of computing has been largely a tale of developing amazing applications for which processing speeds were insufficient to make these innovations practical. In other words, the adage that “content is King” is only the case because of speed bottlenecks. But with 5G (fifth generation wireless technology) on the horizon, we may be on the verge of a new Monarchy. The Speed King.

Segments from the following were originally published by

What is 5G?

Fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, is the latest iteration of cellular technology, engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. With 5G, data transmitted over wireless broadband connections could travel at rates as high as 20 Gbps by some estimates — exceeding wireline network speeds — as well as offer latency of 1 ms or lower for uses that require real-time feedback. 5G will also enable a sharp increase in the amount of data transmitted over wireless systems due to more available bandwidth and advanced antenna technology. Thirty to fifty times fast than 4G. The impact will be revolutionary, making home appliances smart, surgical robots even smarter and more precise, drones ubiquitous and artificial intelligence downright scary!

Intel’s history

American PCU processing giant Intel dominates the PC and server processor market, netting about 80 percent of the market worldwide. But as far as the mobile revolution is concerned, Intel missed the boat. Previous attempts to enter the smartphone market have been mediocre at best. But it has had considerable success in entering the mobile market. And with 5G it plans to go from player to dominator. The company is in a transition, adopting a data-centric model that is all about 5G.

And Intel’s Israel operations are playing a key role in the overhaul. This means that its innovative products, already ubiquitous, will be even more so. “New hardware will basically be in all aspects: data collection by new sensors (e.g. Mobileye), communication (e.g 5G), computing (e.g artificial intelligence),” Ben Sinai says. An ambitious move into the mobile phone market is also in the offing, as it is “certainly an ingredient” in Intel’s wider vision.

And Intel Israel, he says, is a “very important design center of Intel Corporation, leading some of its strategic developments in the area of computing, communication, security and more.”

Automotive and cybersecurity

Intel also has another edge. Last year, the company acquired the Jerusalem-based Mobileye, a developer of cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies, for a whopping $15.3 billion. Mobileye is considered a leader in advanced driver assistance systems – including pedestrian detection, collision warning – aimed to prevent road collisions. The acquisition marked Intel’s entry into the vibrant automotive market, and the industry plays a central role in Intel’s vision for the future.

“Autonomous cars will need constant, fast communications, they will move in sync on their own network,” Ben Sinai says, envisioning a future with zero accidents, a better environment due to expected reduced car ownership, and a transformed transportation industry which he says will have to adjust to accommodate self-driving cars.

As for the potential dangers posed by mass connectivity, Intel, he says, “is always thinking about security, and established a division at the Intel management level dedicated to looking for breaches and vulnerabilities.”

The bottom line is this. Intel now sees how IoT (Internet of Things) is redefining what the end device looks like. It’s no longer just a computer or a smartphone, and intends to have its technology in all these things, pun intended.

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