April 24, 2010 – Episode 131

Interview: Evan Ratliff joins us to discuss his attempt to vanish for a month, with Wired Magazine challenging readers to find him, and a $5,000 reward for anyone who snapped his photo and said the word “fluke.”  An online posse developed, Evan ducked discovery for 25 days, and was caught in New Orleans, a few days shy of his goal.  The interview is about 14 minutes long, and it starts about 57 minutes into Episode 131. You may stream the program here:

You may download Episode 131 here. Or visit the Listening Options page for more ways to hear the program.

Discussion: The texting case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  We discuss with ACLU Attorney Lee Rowland Fourth Amendment protections as they apply (or don’t apply — that’s what the court is considering)  to text messages, and under what circumstances.  Our discussion with Lee is about 20 minutes long, and starts about 22  minutes into Episode 131

Our Take on This Week’s News

Amazon is fighting off a demand from the North Carolina Department of Revenue (the state tax collectors). The state wants a record of all Amazon purchases made by its residents, and it wants names, so it can collect the sales tax.  Amazon says “privacy violation.”  And remember Amazon’s original business was books, which have a special place in the law when it comes to protecting their owners from government intrusion.

Here’s the story as reported by c|net, and here’s Amazon’s complaint.

Cyberattack on Google Said to Hit Password System.  More has been revealed about the extent of the Aurora attack on Google.  This story was apparently leaked to the New York Times by someone familiar with the investigation.  It suggests huge implications for the security of all Google applications.

Facebook is becoming quite brazen about exposing user profile information. This opinion piece at EFF explains the latest piece of information to be taken out of the user’s control.

Related:  The Facebook “like it” button, coming soon to websites everywhere.

About the most straightforward information-sharing scheme we’ve seen yet:  Blippy mines your email and credit card statements (with  your permission) and posts every purchase you make.  Blippy is the VC flavor of the month, having just received $11 million.  Too bad some credit card numbers belonging to Blippy users turned up when some curious surfers hit Google with search strings containing the words “Blippy.com” and “from card”.  Will Blippy survive?  Probably, even in the face of a less-than-apologetic stance from the company (Co-founded by the infamous Pud, of the infamous FuckedCompany.com site from the “dot-bomb” period.)  Why anyone would want to be part of Blippy, especially now,  is a separate discussion.

Highly-paid SEC lawyers and accountants spent their days surfing porn sites while Bernie Madoff was making off with a whole lotta other people’s money. We ask why, in an entity whose mission revolves around audits and controls, were there no audit trails and controls to call attention to an employee with 16,000 attempts to access porn?  Shouldn’t this have been nipped in the bud before it spiraled out of control?

You probably read about some of the chaos that ensued from McAfee’s latest update.  But this story by a SANS incident handler takes the prize.

Malware mules:  We all know about drug mules and money mules.  But the black market for email credentials is creating some new opportunities.

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