Stories by Ira Winkler

Mobile payment systems: A disaster waiting to happen

When I saw the Computerworld article about Square touting how it is going to replace cash registers with iPads, I was dismayed that there was no discussion of security. And Square's app isn't the only payment app that makes me anxious. While I admit that I would find applications such as Square Register and Google Wallet useful, turning mobile devices into credit cards or credit processing systems is foolish at this time.

The real problems with cloud computing

The recent Twitter hack, where a French hacker compromised internal Twitter documents by accessing the account of administrative assistant, among others, was essentially an attack on Google Docs. The reason is that Twitter outsourced their infrastructure by contracting with Google, and the accounts in question were on Google's infrastructure.

ISS is dead -- long live ISS

When I heard that Internet Security Systems was bought by IBM, I thought, "Finally." I was, ironically, talking to an analyst friend (yes a do have a few of them) a few days before that about what I thought would happen to ISS. It was no secret that ISS had lost its way, for lack of a better term. It was a true pioneer in the industry and was responsible for making some of the staples of security programs available to the masses. But things had changed.

End lusers are only part of the problem

The response to last week's column about introverts had me thinking about some of the experiences I've had with technical professionals. Last year, I wrote an article titled "Dumb and Dumber" that discussed security problems that resulted from "stupid users." My book, Spies Among Us, also presents case studies of some of my penetration tests, where the behavior of users resulted in billions of dollars of potential loss.

Ethical, educated or neither?

I recently read about the "Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures" degree being offered by a Scottish university. At first, I thought this was for a master's degree, and then I was really dismayed to see that this was a bachelor's-equivalent program. There are so many things wrong with that prospect, it's hard to know where to begin, but the story does raise some good questions about where degree programs fit into computer-related professions.

Who are your experts?

I noticed an ad recently for a diet book by Peter Greenberg. Greenberg is a travel journalist, and he is dieting. Apparently that qualifies him to be a travel diet expert -- or at least enough of an expert for his book publisher's purposes.