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Comms

In which I solve all of the country’s cybersecurity problems in a single blog post

By | Comms | One Comment

Some of you know that I work in law enforcement in a cyber-related role. As such, I get particularly het up over issues of information security, which resulted in my rather candid indictment of Federal network defenders during the OPM breach. I try to cleave to William Golding’s brilliant essay on how to be a responsible thinker, the bottom-line of which can be expressed as “Don’t bitch about a problem unless you have a solution.” In that spririt, allow me to solve the United States’ cybersecurity problems in a single blog post. This will be more technical/procedural and less visceral than the last post I did on this topic, but after reading Weir’s The Martian, I’m starting to think that readers may have a tolerance for this level of unabashed geekery. The problem here is one of OODA loops. “OODA,” is a military acronym coined by Air Force Colonel “Genghis John” Boyd, and if you’re in the military, you certainly…

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We are the stories we tell ourselves

By | Comms | No Comments

Met up with my friend Daniel Polansky the other day. Our meetings usually involve a.) drinking and b.) bitching about one thing or another, but I guess I must have tipped the gripe scale even by our standards, because he turned a tipsy eye my way and said: “Spin in the other direction, Myke. We are the stories we tell ourselves.” We laughed and drank, and to be honest, I forgot what the hell we did after that, most likely because of the drinking. But the thought stuck with me. Because the truth is the story that I tell myself most of the time is one of uncertainty, and loss, and defeat. When friends call me on this, I’ll trot out the Defensive Pessimism (it’s a real cognitive strategy, folks) flag, or cover up with “Ah, it’s just griping, it doesn’t actually effect anything.” Except, you know, when it does. Writing is the dream of my heart. It’s the only…

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An open letter to my niece

By | Comms | One Comment

Sweetheart, I’m reading this book about Joan of Arc and it made me think of you, not least because Joan was born and grew up in Domrémy-la-Pucelle, a little town that’s about a four hour drive from Paris, where you are while I write this. France is pretty cool when you’re a girl in 2015, but Joan grew up over 500 years ago, when being a little girl in France, or pretty much anywhere, was a lot more restrictive. To hear Harrison (the lady who wrote this book I’m reading) tell it, women in the 15th century were consigned to three gender roles: virgin, wife or widow. You’ll notice that all of those roles are defined by their relationship to men. All people in 15th century France lived under Feudalism, which you’ll learn about in high school. What you need to know now is that social mobility (the ability to change your lot in life) was super limited. You usually…

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Why Chinese Intelligence has my records

By | Comms | 4 Comments

The other day, I got an email from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) letting me know that my SF-86, the form I filled out in order to obtain a security clearance, had been stolen. While OPM never came out and said it, the general conclusion is that this was performed electronically by hackers in league with or directly employed by the Chinese government. Let me tell you what’s typically on an SF-86: Everywhere I’ve lived, everyone I know, everything I’ve done, for the last decade. This includes criminal history (I have none), detailed medical information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about friends and family, where I’ve traveled, my foreign contacts, my business interests and financial information. It’s incredibly comprehensive. And now in the hands of folks I don’t know, who have no allegiance to me, who may well be committed to my undoing. I have read solemn speech after solemn speech from OPM’s leadership, from officials at USCYBERCOM, from all…

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An Open Letter to TheBoyInTheClock

By | Comms | 5 Comments

Dear TheBoyInTheClock, My friend Sam Sykes, an author of no mean repute, turned me on to your story, The Spire in the Woods. I finished it yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m not a huge horror fan. I read it once in a while, and mostly consider it another variant of fantasy. So you know my tastes, my favorite horror novel is probably Joe Hill’s N0S4A2, which is the only work of fiction I’ve ever read that actually frightened me badly enough to impact my sleep. That was before I read your story. The Spire in the Woods is fantastic. It’s a nod to both campfire ghost stories and the Lovecraftian sub-genre. It has a consistent magic system, its protagonist is flawed without being irredeemable, its supporting characters are believable and compelling. The stakes are high and you keep ratcheting them up. You extrapolate history and locality with a resonance that really transports. The reveal at the…

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