Blake Dowling, Author at Florida Politics

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: How (and when) to do social in 2017

Social media accounts are rocking and rolling; you have lots of followers.

But do you have a strategy for your messaging?

Or are you barreling down the Twitter Highway, Eastbound and Down, Smokey and the Bandit-style or do you have a plan? As with all things, taking a strategic approach couldn’t hurt.

For today’s purposes, I speak to professional posting.

However, for some of us, it is a blurry line, where personal and professional seem to blend together; am I right?

Writers, Bloggers, Business owners, Politicos, Hackers, Bowlers, etc.

Sometimes our craft and personal interests are closely linked.

So … A) This means we have chosen our career path very well and are yin-and-yang-ing through the cosmos all balanced and what not. Or … B) We are pathologically obsessed with our work and concurrently are mild egomaniacs that need to get a grasp on human existence.

Or a balance of the two, perhaps?

Pam Bondi and most politicians have it down, with personal and professional accounts for all things tweeting, but methinks that separation requires a team of staffers and assistants. Anyway, let’s look at some cool examples from a couple of guys named Steve.

Steve Israel is a former congressman from New York (just retired) who manages to balance facts, humility, and randomness in perfect harmony. You should follow this down-to-earth chap.

Steve Martin made “The Jerk.” He helped set up “Saturday Night Live.”

It should come as no surprise that the 71-year-old Martin is a master at Twitter. Have you seen him play live with his bluegrass band? They rock.

Back to the chart on Facebook posting. You want to maximize those SLCs (share, likes, comments) — take a look at windows of opportunity and get to branding, or sharing pictures of your cat (Mr. Snickers) going to war with a couch.

Whatever floats your boat.

It appears Thursday and Friday (afternoons) are the money days for post effectiveness; on the other hand, Mondays and Tuesdays are the no-go zones.

Back to Twitter, the below chart is wise.

I can’t tell you how many times during basketball season when I “DVR’d” (now a word) a game only to glance at Twitter and have my self-imposed media blackout destroyed in a nanosecond.

I follow way too many sports “experts.”

Studies show that noon-1 p.m. are the most popular times to tweet; those same studies show that during those times, 3 out of 4 people are more likely to glance at Twitter.

So, you may have a tougher chance of your message getting through the masses around lunch.

That said, utilize the 3-4 p.m. window for your messaging.

That’s about it, as you run amok through the social media world, don’t forget to think strategically, keep it lively, use hashtags, keep content fresh, don’t be a cyberbully and — most importantly — have fun.

See you out there in Insta-Face-Twitter land.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and he loves gladiator movies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Disruption and artificial intelligence

Uber, Netflix, Amazon Go, Legal Robot, Watson, Einstein, Starship … all examples of disruption and the artificial intelligence that is changing the legal, medical and business world every day.

Maybe you have heard of some (or all) of them; they all have an interesting story.

Whether it’s a smart grocery store, robot doctor or automated delivery service, these entities — along with many other — bring to the table constant innovation, as well as disruption.

I will focus on two, so I will not bore you with a novel.

No. 1 on the list is Einstein. Do you run staff meetings? Work with campaign volunteers, lobbyists, sales people or agency directors? Regardless of which world you find yourself in, some of those around you may be too grim, too optimistic, or will just tell you what you want to hear.

Each week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff holds a Monday morning staff meeting with his top execs. After hearing reports, Benioff turns to his advisers and asks them what they think.

This is pretty normal behavior, except that adviser is a robot named Einstein.

For a CEO, typically the way it works is, of course, you have various people, mostly politicians and bureaucrats, in your staff meeting who are telling you what they want to tell you to kind of get you to believe what they want you to believe. Einstein comes without bias. So, because it’s just based on the data, it’s a very exciting next-generation tool” Benioff says (quoted in Business Insider).

Does this mean the days of assistants is gone? Political Advisers? Police? Would you rather have an unbiased fact machine or a human who might be biased, racist, drunk, call in sick, moan and groan, take vacations and embellish. Or an automated 24/7 powerhouse of truth, which sees all as-is?

Let the debate begin.

Moving on to the grocery store.

No long ago, I wrote about the Amazon Go concept store, where the grocery game will soon change again thanks to Simbre, an outfit out of Cali with a product called Tally.

Tally is a supply chain efficiency guru, roaming the aisles, stocking items, confirming prices, yanking out-of-stock items; tasks that a human does now.

Is this a concept you may be thinking? Negative, it is a reality. A small chain in the Midwest called Schnuks Groceries is right now rolling out a six-week demo right now.

Results of this demo could have a profound effect on the entire industry, with cost savings plus a surge in efficiency that will put Schnuks on the worldwide map in a big way.

Publix and Kroger execs will be baffled by the beat down by these innovative upstarts. Or they will claim they came up with the idea. Hopefully, Schnuks doesn’t get snookered.

As Picasso once said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

That’s it for today, campers. I hope all this talk of disruption and innovation hasn’t spooked you too much. If you happen to be in St. Louis, go to 6600 Clayton Road in Richmond Heights and check out Tally cruising the aisles. I wonder if you can hack Tally?

Sounds like a column for next time; I can see the headline now: “Robot destroys Twinkies and stores reputation.” Clean up on aisle 4, indeed.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com. Dowling is a firm supporter of Showtime broadcasting college football games with comedians Adam Sandler and Katt Williams providing commentary. The end.

Blake Dowling: Embarrassing moments of 2017

For those in the spotlight, the internet is not so fun. Not a moment can go by when the world isn’t critiquing politicians, athletes, celebrities and various other public figures.

I joke with my fraternity brothers (with whom I hold football season tickets) about how it was such a blessing to have attended college right before smartphones, social media, etc.

I remember Friday afternoons and calling my girlfriend; if she didn’t answer (or if I didn’t see her at Po Boys/Brick City/Purple Porpoise/Salty Dog Saloon), I would not hear from her until the next day. Amazing.

Going out on a limb here; I seem to remember there might have been a rowdy night was on the calendar. Guess what? No one posted about it, no one saw it, it only lives where it should, in our memories.

But these days, to get a glimpse of what college kids are up to today — via sites like Total Frat Move or Total Sorority Move — is almost unbelievable. Do these kids realize they will need jobs someday?

A digital reputation follows you everywhere. Anyway, returning to my point before I started thinking about “college” … elected officials and scandals. The web really puts it out there.

Let’s take a look:

Who can forget Chris Christie and working together for bongs, deleted fast, but not fast enough; the internet is unforgiving.

The former first lady and the turnip:

While this is the least embarrassing of today’s examples, it still is so not funny that it makes you cringe. But I guess she and someone else thought it was funny. If you haven’t seen the revamp of the Gong Show, check it out. I bring this up because this clip is obviously gong-worthy.

Moving on to more recent events … the current resident of the White House posted:

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump said in a commencement speech Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

“No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. “No politician in history. None eh?

(Hmmmmm … and yes, surety is a word I just looked it up.)

And, of course, the “basket of deplorables,” while not an actual post on the internet through memes and constant press it might as well have been. Thanks to the relentless online commentary it was blasted out to the masses, again and again, and again and again …

What is one to do?

As I tell people if you want ultimate security from online threats and a zero percent chance of digital embarrassment? There is a solution. It’s free too.

It’s called “stay off the internet.”

Practice those speeches boy and girls, double-check those posts and — if you are in a highly visible position — have someone else approve them also.

There is also the don’t post/text after 10 p.m. That is a good rule, it should block any post motivated by a cocktail (or two). I occasionally appear on local TV here in Florida, so I know all about saying stupid things on TV.

Keep it simple, and your audience will appreciate it.

Social media is an excellent tool for broadcasting news and other tidbits that offer an opinion. The rapid-fire delivery will continue to catch us by surprise, and mistakes will happen.

Use common sense and have another set of eyes on things, with luck, you will need to ultimately minimize your risk somehow — since staying off the internet is simply not going to happen.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at Dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com, and his favorite beer is Harpoon IPA.

 

Blake Dowling: The almighty email

Ray Tomlinson invented email in 1972. Tomlinson was an ARPANET contractor and picked the @ symbol to reference digital communications between computers.

Since then, things have changed — just a wee bit.

In a perfect world, organizations use email to share quick bursts of info with clients, colleagues, constituents, etc.

But, in the real world, people send massive files, keep enormous inboxes, all while sending the most confidential voter, medical and financial info. Designed as a communicative tool for nonsensitive info, people are now using email as the send-all-be-all of their organizations.

If you don’t archive your emails and use a file structure (outside of your inbox) think about giving that some time. Digital organization is greatness.

Over the years, I’ve come across a few situations where people have emailed me some very sensitive info by mistake.

So, as a best practices rule-of-thumb, if you can’t say it aloud, don’t email it.

One client was considering an alternative to our company and sent our proposal to a competitor, asking the other company to break down our proposal and beat our price. They accidentally cc’ed me.

In my eyes, their brand is forever tarnished. An hour later, when I received a request to ignore the previous email, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was like a court order to “strike that comment from the record” — the cat is already out of the bag, and said cat holds a major grudge.

Recently, my wife was trying to get her air conditioning fixed at a local car shop; they were refusing to honor the warranty.

They then sent this gem to 6 internal staff, cc’ing me by mistake. There was nothing up, no one even looked at the car beside them. Now, whenever I think of auto repair, I see them as the clowns of the business. I always will.

Had they not sent this email, I would have been none the wiser. One person ruined their national brand. (I bet they got an A in clown school.)

We will not name names here, but here is part of the message:

“Paul Harvey version was the washer bottle is broken! How does a washer bottle get broken, and AC system over charged ???? We were asking questions since vehicle has not ever been in our stores for repairs or service. Car fax was clean so we are fixing the vehicle under warranty since we cannot prove anything and the Dowling’s are giving us any information other than being very defensive which usually in my book means something up.”

The Democratic National Committee learned the power of email — the wrong way.

Jobs were lost, trust destroyed. In the aftermath of the Nevada Democratic convention, Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote about Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager: “Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.”

In another email, Wasserman Schultz said of Sanders: “He isn’t going to be president.”

Other emails had her stating that Sanders doesn’t understand the Democratic Party. Bernie got hosed. Email pain is not just for Democrats, Republicans past and present have had their fair share of problems.

Email woes have no party affiliation.

There should be an email protocol — in writing — for all your staffers, including interns, volunteers, and all the way to the top.

We don’t need to go into mail servers (or things like that); email is simply not a secure platform for communication.

Don’t talk trash, send credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or anything confidential via email. Yes, there are encryption packages available to secure email communication, if you are willing to make the investment.

Nevertheless, use email as designed, and you will have a pleasant and (most importantly) more secure computing experience.

Be safe out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Blake Dowling: This week’s threat — LeakerLocker

The technical landscape of 2017 offers a never-ending parade of innovation, as well as a full-on riot of various tech threats.

Cyber crooks and terrorists want your dollars and to cause chaos, too. To that end, they use several motivational tools, including one ransomware scheme that asks you to infect two other people before they give you your data. That one is devious beyond words.

However, the latest threat takes it one step further: Crooks look to embarrass you by revealing your most sensitive photos — unless you pay them, of course.

(Yes, that’s Tom Hanks hazing some poor bloke, taking pics with that guy’s phone while he deals with being … overserved)

That picture of Tom Hanks may still be on the G-rated side, but I am certain some of you have photos on your PC/tablet/phone that you prefer would not be made public on the internet, or sent out to your contacts.

There are many political figures I can think of, who have enough problems as it is; I (for one) wouldn’t want to see what’s on former Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais’s PC, or that on the tablet of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York. *Shudder*

Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had a smartphone while in the White House? And what if those pics had been hacked? *Double shudder*

We all have seen what the current POTUS has unleashed on the world tech-wise, shoving his tweets in your face.

Obama and Trump each have their own style on Twitter; I don’t want to see the pics on either of their phones either.

Back to our story … the newest threat out there is called LeakerLocker, and it’s a doozy.

This program attacks your phone and threatens to start sending out your pics at random to various phone contacts (both text and email). Currently, this threat targets only Android phones, and just like other ransomware threats — pay the ransom ($50) and they say they will release the lockdown of the phone and not send out any more pics.

This threat was discovered in the Google Play Store. Security company McAfee is warning users against downloading apps called “Booster & Cleaner Pro” or “Wallpapers Blur HD” and they are embedded with the threat also. For today’s purposes, I am referring to LeakerLocker as ransomware, but Ken Spinner — VP of Engineering — is categorizing this new threat as “extortionware.”

Earlier this week, Spinner clarified that with the following statement in Security Magazine online:

“LeakerLocker is a good test case for extortionware, which still has a few hurdles to clear. Ransomware encrypts data in place without actually stealing it,” he said. “Extortionware has to bypass traditional network monitoring tools that are built to detect unusual amounts of data leaving their network or device. Of course, information could be siphoned off slowly disguised as benign web or Domain Name System traffic.” (Full article here)

So great, a whole new category of threats. Just what we need.

LeakerLocker also claims to share your browsing history on your phone with your contacts, making it the gift that keeps on giving (like the “Gin of the Month” club). This threat is only the beginning, so who knows how far it will go.

Rest easy iPhone users, you are free and clear on this threat — for now.

That’s all for today, see you out there.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He has recently been binge watching the show “THE 100” and is not embarrassed to admit watching CW shows. (Well, maybe a little.) He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

 

Blake Dowling: Wise Kim meets Leon County

The “Leon Consulate of Florida” was overthrown this week, thanks to the chumps at the Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail.

I suppose they meant Leon County, since this hacking wing of ISIS hasn’t quite mastered English.

What they refer to is the Leon County (North Florida) website; it was indeed hacked for a couple of minutes, replaced with this creepy message:

Welcome to the Leon Consulate of Florida.

County officials responded immediately that the attack was only “surface level” and all sensitive data was protected behind a firewall. Perhaps the county needed a little distraction from the FBI-fueled barrage of media coverage over the past couple of weeks. Good job Kim.

If you check out the Facebook page — although I would not recommend it, as the National Security Agency and FBI might be tapping on your door, or you might make a list you would rather not be on — you will see a warning to all that this group is going to be attacking “the most important sites in the world” over the next few days.

So look out Andrew Gillum, Chris Christie, John Morgan and Tmz.com — this means you.

Tighten up those websites. Apply patches, run updates, don’t host sites in an unsecured location etc. Although it appears this particular hack did squat in our Capital City, what happens when one actually wreaks havoc?

Get your hands off of me, you damn dirty hackers.

In last week’s Petya ransomware attack, a few firms got hit hard.

Reckitt Benckiser (Britain), the maker of Norofen tablets, Durex condoms, and other quality products, are still partially down as of this writing. They got pummeled; manufacturing, shipping, ordering, all disrupted. The global tab for this attack could reach $100 million, the company estimates.

Some firms pay ransom to try and get their data back, but the bitcoin payments were made and (poof) nada.

So, unlike similar recent attacks, this one appears to have launched just to create chaos and digital destruction in a specific area.

We will see a lot of this in the near future as nation-states wish to wage cyberwarfare with one another versus more traditional combat.

Besides Wise Man Kim, no one else seems to want WW3, but if it came down to that, here are the current Top 5 militaries most likely to come out on top.

A local CBS affiliate is about to enter my office for a quick segment about cybersecurity, so allow me to wrap this up with some ways to protect your business or organization from hackers and threats.

Step 1: Strong password.

Step 2: Antivirus and antispam solutions.

Step 3: Firewall.

Step 4: Robust backup.

Step 4: Don’t piss off CNN.

Step 5: Training.

No, don’t piss off CNN.

Steps 1 through 4 used to be enough, but people aren’t getting the message. Users are still clicking where they shouldn’t, so they must be trained, followed up by intrusion testing (try this test for your staff).

Next, more training; even then, you won’t be 100 percent protected, but you will minimize risk.

As far as best practices go, that is a good path.

In closing, I hope Wise Kim gets back to his party island and stops with the missile shenanigans, that will only end badly for him and the world.

I hope CNN gets back to broadcasting news, and that no one else gets subpoenaed in Tallahassee for CRA-Gate. We need some good news in our region (like local hero Walter, nice work sir:

That’s it for today, have an awesome weekend.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, enjoys the Allman Brothers Band, the writings of Hemingway, and any movie with Pauly Shore. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: With ads, 2017 is an all-new animal

Who remembers when beer commercials were awesome? What happened to Spuds McKenzie?

This awesome Lone Star Beer ad really shines:

Or the team of studs at Elsinore Brewery:

And — last but not least – this Schlitz Malt Liquor ads that ruled the early 80s (which might have been the pinnacle). No one does it like the bull:

For so long, TV was everything from a media buyer’s stand point — but then it all changed. When pushing a product, or running a campaign, traditional media outlets stay, but the landscape has changed and opportunities are vast.

Facebook ads, Twitter gurus pushing your product, and utilizing analytics from social engineering.

My friend Michael Sharp, managing director for Nielsen Local Agencies, says this about media buying:

“In today’s fragmented media environment, media buyers need access to dependable, actionable and accurate data that facilitates the advertising planning and buying process. Nielsen’s wide range of solutions enables agencies to effectively deliver on an advertiser’s campaign objectives while helping them uncover new audiences and consumer segments.”

A law firm in North Florida – which definitely does not consult about marketing with anyone from this century – says they still advertise on the back of the phone book.

When is the last time anyone has seen a phone book?

The other day, I heard a kid ask: “What’s a phone book?”

Disruption strikes again. We cannot even keep up with the terminology. You might say “I read something in the newspaper,” but did you really read a “newspaper?” Or are you just referring to a news website of a former newspaper?

Sounds like we need some charts …

Thirty years ago, if Ford and wanted to sell cars, they placed an ad in the auto section of a local paper. Guaranteed return on investment.

Now, there is geo-fencing, tweeting, hiring Matthew McConaughey to drive cars around.

What happened to radio? When I started my career, every morning began with a Mountain Dew, listening to the Regular Guys on 96 Rock while rolling into the downtown ATL (83 Walton Street, Capricorn Records Building).

I have not listened to the radio in 11 years.

Obviously, I am stating some pretty obvious trends here, but when thinking about marketing, you need to start thinking differently. The winner of the past two U.S. presidential elections utilized grassroots social media tools — coupled with finely tuned paid analytics — to sway the vote.

So, TV and radio are certainly not dead, and (according to some experts) local radio still can reach 90 percent of the U.S. population on a weekly basis (I’m a 10-percenter, I guess).

Nevertheless, these experts all agree … it’s a new animal in 2017.

Then, of course, there is the fun of everyone gathering personal info on the web, even as they assure us they will not use it. But, I assure you, they do.

Auto-buying pattern tools are watching and changing your online experience, suggesting and swaying your activities.

Let’s hear from this Princeton dude:

“The modern web is a mashup, which means the content that you’re looking at on the page, which just looks like one single webpage with text and graphics, is in fact assembled from multiple different sources, sometimes dozens, and these different sources can be a variety of different companies,” explains Arvind Narayanan, assistant professor of Computer Science at Princeton, “When you look at a webpage, there’s content visible to you and invisible stuff purely for the purpose of tracking what you’re doing.”

In the end, it’s all pointing to privatized content platforms (such as Netflix), social media, targeted analytics, high-profile influencers, and websites. You have to find your buyers and voters.

Available tools are endless, and (for the love of Spuds McKenzie) stop sending direct mail pieces –this means you, politicians.

They go straight to the trash and don’t even make it through the door.

My advice? Put aside $5M for a Super Bowl ad (as Mike from Nielsen told me offline — TV ads are still very effective) and your message will still get through.

If that’s not in the budget, start with about $200 a month in paid Facebook ads and see what happens.

Good luck out there; let’s close with a classic beer slogan: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer.

Miller Beer. Perfect.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and his favorite TV show is The Fall Guy.

 

Blake Dowling: 2018 is coming, time to tighten up voter tech

Only in the world of politics can an election take place with both sides claiming they got the W.

In college football, it’s simple; you win or you lose — unless you are a Tennessee fan, then you get to be a “champion of life.”

I am sure Tennessee Coach Butch Jones meant well when he muttered those words last year, but come on man.

Back to politics. The special election (Karen Handel versus Jon Ossoff) in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District this week had everyone chattering.

Democrats say it was a close race in the heart of a deep-red district, meaning great things for 2018.

Republicans say they won even though they were outspent 5-1.

Regardless of your position, the Republican Party did “Handel” the competition. (Nice name, Karen; campaign slogans are endless.)

If I were her campaign manager, we would fire up crowds with the Black Crowes’ “Hard to Handle” blasted before every event.

However, one thing unheard (for once) is technology interfering with the election. Apparently, Russia doesn’t care about what goes on in Georgia.

A ZDNet headline this week said this: “198 million Americans hit by ‘largest ever’ voter records leak.”

Which is interesting because the potential exposure was discovered by a security expert and locked down before the information was leaked or stolen.

Was this a fake news headline, pure clickbait?

Here’s what went down. A company named Deep Root Analytics tracks voter information — not just names and addresses, but how the voter feels about issues — compiled using specific social engineering software (see my next column in INFLUENCE Magazine for a trip down that rabbit hole).

Deep Root had a terabyte of data sitting on an Amazon server that was potentially easy to breach. That was bad. On the bright side, it was good that the breach was discovered by a white-hat hacker before that info spilled.

Keep in mind, however, in states like Ohio you can already access every voter (names, addresses, etc.) in the state without needing to hack anything. So, another massive leak was avoided (maybe).

Our voter tech is behind, as is everything else we are plugging into the internet without giving it much thought.

This is called the “Internet of Things.”

For example, on the homefront: “Good news, Mrs. Wife! I can control our air conditioning through my iPhone!”

Is it password protected? No? FAIL.

You just created another vulnerability making both you and your data a big target. We, as Americans, regardless of political opinion or party affiliation, must band together to put a massive defensive strategy in place to keep the really bad guys out when 2018 rolls around.

Old voting machines … exposed servers in the cloud … external hard drives with unencrypted data … using free Wi-Fi without passwords … ransomware … threats are everywhere and we must “Handel” this situation with care.

HAHAHA!

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His heroes are Bill Murray and Megan Fox and can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: WikiLeaks, Cherry Blossoms and Pandemics

WikiLeaks is at it again.

They are dropping new information (unverified) on the web about the Engineering Development Group.

Who are they? They are the CIA, specifically its elite hacking unit.

Not too cool for national security potentially but good to know if you care about your digital privacy, or if you are an enemy of the state with something to hide.

If you have never checked out the site, it is very interesting.

The part that grabbed me was the tools called Cherry Blossom. This tool allows the agency to monitor internet traffic by hijacking wireless routers; this has been going on for years.

To put it simply, the described the tool takes over the firmware of the router and turn it into a monitoring device. So, not only can you be tracked where you go online, but also (even worse) what you are doing, banking info, passwords, or reroute you to a malicious website and infect or steal from you.

Stay off public Wi-Fi setups for this and many other reasons. Only use secure and password protected networks. Your data is up for grabs as it is, you might as well not make it easy for folks to get at it.

Also, this month WikiStinks published info on another CIA project called Pandemic. Basically, this project deals with infecting a computer with malicious code and then spreading it to take over more and more machines. In high-tech lingo, Pandemic is a tool that runs as kernel shellcode that installs a file system filter driver. The driver is used to replace a file with a payload when a user on the local network accesses the file over SMB.

So, the cyber wars rage on with Russia, China, the US and even those wankers in North Korea on the battlefield. As a nation, we try and stay on the forefront to defend our weapons systems, power grids and everything else, but it’s tough.

As you can see, there are those that wish to expose this clandestine work to the world. It’s also a very gray space with a lot of room for interpretation.

The current administration in D.C. — as well as the last one — were all about the CIA, NSA and keeping the U.S. ahead of the cyber arms race. If we fall behind in this race, we may not know until it’s too late.

In the meantime, tune into Oliver Stone’s interview with Vladimir Putin, that is the face of the enemy, and we must remember it.

Keep your passwords complex, stay off the dark web, have a dedicated credit card for online purchases, use a firewall wall with geo-blocking capabilities (block all IP addresses from punk nations), keep your security software current (and your beer cold) and we will see what happens.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, and he can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

P.S.: If the CIA reads this, I am on your side. Don’t tase me, bro. I did say “unverified.” 🙂

Blake Dowling: Apples to Apples

How many of us use Apple products in our day to day business, political and personal lives?

When I switched from a Treo to an iPhone 3GS in 2009, it was a game changer for workplace mobility; a truly wonderful device (which I still have as a paperweight).

I read Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs last year; it was tremendous.

Me and the Woz – my blue button says “Woz Up” HA.

The chapter describing the creation of the 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad and the launch of the iPhone years later were certainly highlights.

Jobs and Steve Wozniak, lighting the world on fire with innovation. The us-against-the-world mentality of the Super Bowl ad, the Apple Board said in ‘84 “do not run this ad.” They did it anyway. It is now considered one of the best commercials of all time.

Ten years ago, the launch of the iPhone was even more epic. Combining functionality in a single device that I use (and could not live without, methinks) every day.

Is Apple still capable of the kind of innovation that took them from irrelevance to dominance? The stock price sure says so, and they are doing some volume at $155.00 a share.

But is there innovation along with volume?

I purchased a new iPad to replace my iPad 2 from six years ago. Years later, it’s still called iPad. Granted it was cool when Led Zepplin, in the middle of their heyday, had a self-titled album. But I was expecting some sort of awesome name from Apple, like maybe “iPad4?”

The features seem the same overall. Granted, I uncover slivers of brilliance as I dive in; while watching the WatchESPN app, I can switch over to email and have a small screen of the app still running in the corner. That’s cool.

On to the annual Apple event; they hosted the Apple World Wide Developers Conference this week. It’s time to compare Apples to Apples, or Apple to Apple actually, and see what those brainiacs are up to for 2017. T

he HomePod is one of the new offerings getting the closing spot, to compete against the Amazon Echo. So, to go along with the earlier theme, it appears Apple is playing catch-up. It’s Siri versus Alexa for real.

Also out is the biggest, baddest iMac Pro – which can be yours starting at $5K. Don’t you love how car salespeople say, “starting at a certain price,” instead of how much it is the way I would want it?

In that case, it would be $7K. Ouch.

Does that come with a toaster? How about a timeshare in Branson? Because nothing says “seven large” for hardware like Elvis impersonators in Missouri. (Although this fella looks more like Andrew Dice Clay than Elvis.)

So, in other news from the Apple event, Amazon Prime is coming to Apple TV.

This does nothing for me until College Football (as a whole) gets in line with a unified streaming service. Until then, I will continue to drink from the Comcast fountain.

Also, a red iPhone is coming out, yay. Just kidding. I don’t care about that either.

New Apple Watch OS? Nope; not interested.

It all comes down to the HomePod. Will this rocket Apple even further into the world of innovation, or will it sit second (or third) behind the products already dominating the market share?

I’m an Apple fan (as mentioned earlier). I love my iPad and iPhone, just not without all the fluff. I simply want to see them being the best-in-class innovators as they once were.

As Mr. Jobs once said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies; he can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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