Issue #113

Sent to members on March 30, 2018

The new fog of war (5 of 11)

There’s one last trend I want to mention here. One that affects the stage we play on, but it’s rather different than the things I’ve discussed so far.

That’s cyber warfare.

Yeah, I know. What a great way to bring on Friday and the weekend, huh?! 😉

But, see… our blogs and our online businesses are like little boats on the sea of the internet. Some of us have bigger boats than others. But, all of us are affected by storms, tide, etc.

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If you follow current events much, then you know that cyber warfare is alive and well. Growing, in fact. More and more, “war” today isn’t one of guns and bombs, but in bits and bytes. And I’ve even heard some smart people say that World War 3 wouldn’t be fought with bombs, but with bytes.

I’m not here to get into the geopolitical analysis. It isn’t my field. But, all this stuff WILL affect the internet we operate on.

For one, one of the tools of cyber warfare is misinformation. And, misinformation is rampant today. The whole “fake news” thing isn’t just about politics. It is real and it comes from all angles. But, with the centralization of information, that becomes a real issue.

What will the “corrections” look like that Google and Facebook take? I mean, obviously, if you’re going to conduct a misinformation campaign, you’re going to go to the points of centralization, right?

I believe we’re already seeing concerning signs that some of the corrections for this real issue are going to harm free speech.

But, that’s one angle of how this could affect you. The other is simply infrastructure.

The current structure of the internet is centralized. It is a client/server relationship where all the websites we visit are housed in physical locations on servers. And the traffic to and from these things goes through big pipelines.

This kind of structure is vulnerable. If you attack one of the hubs, it cuts off whole chunks of the internet. Those attacks usually come as denial of service attacks and it can take out whole chunks of the internet at once.

Even server resources are centralizing today. So many companies, for instance, utilize Amazon Web Services. Major, MAJOR brands all use processing and storage provided by Amazon. This centralization makes sites vulnerable. If a DDOS attack targets Amazon, you see sites that you think are completely unrelated suddenly disappear off the internet.

I remember not along ago seeing several web apps I use have major downtime issues, all at the same time. The cause was a problem with Amazon’s services.

I think this is something we’ll all be affected by in the coming years. Geopolitical events, fought out over the internet, and our blogs, online businesses and web apps getting caught in the crossfire.

So, again… this isn’t something that should make you run for the hills.

There’s actually some cool things afoot that will solve much of this. I can get into it next week.

But, there are some things I think you should do today. Simple things.

  1. Actually do backups of your site periodically. Don’t depend on your web host to do it. You do it – and download those backups.
  2. You can store files (and maybe site backups) on Amazon S3. Amazon isn’t immune to this, but their cloud is distributed everywhere.
  3. Likewise, back up important assets such as your email list. You can export your list and keep it as a backup.
  4. Find and record your site’s IP address. This way you can access your site if the DNS goes down and your domain won’t work.
  5. Where possible, err on the side of using proven companies for the various services your blog or business requires. They will have generally put more effort into matters of security and resources. Many times, they just outsource to Amazon. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

That’s about it. Just something to be aware of.

This way, if the seas become stormy, you can ride it out and come back afterward. See, the issue isn’t that YOUR site will be targeted. It’s that, your site could be using resources (like Amazon) that could be caught in the cross-fire.

Anywayz! 🙂

Weird talk from Dave today. But, this week has been about the big picture and things I think can have an impact.

Next week, we’ll move into solutions. Things we can do in the present and some positive things I see coming up in the future.

Because… I’ve seen a lot of change in my 20 years online. But, I think we’re going to see just that amount (if not more) further change in the years ahead.

– David

Tech Talk

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