Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?

25 04 2012

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The users of Google’s Gmail were just forced to adopt its newest version, whether they wanted to do so or not.  They were never given a choice, although they were warned that it was coming and given temporary “opt-outs” of the impending switch—which lasted only a brief period of time.  Then boom, it happened.  All of a sudden, the time-tested, simple and elegant version was swept aside, and in its stead is the “ugliest of uglies.”

There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Simply put, this means that change for the sake of change does not make good sense.  If there is no evidence of a real problem, and fixing the “problem” would not improve the product or service, then don’t waste time and energy trying to fix it.  Microsoft changes Office to sell more products; however, only true geeks understand the changes, much less completely.

What seems clear is that Google—like Microsoft—does not care about what its customers think or want.  Indeed, it may be in the process of morphing into Microsoft or worse, inter alia, because Google does not provide customer support or any interface with its Gmail users directly.  The new version seems to be the latest example of Google’s “geeks gone mad with power.”  The company might have given its users the option of staying with the old version, but this was not to be.  Imposing the new version was a crude exercise of raw power, which is not a good omen for long-time supporters and lovers of Google.

Many of us have been with the company and supported its products almost from Day One, when it began with a simple search engine that has not changed—at least from the perspective of its loyal, non-geek users—which undergirds its astonishing success.  This rather inauspicious and humble beginning has resulted in its owners becoming rich beyond their wildest earthy dreams, because of customer loyalty.  I advertised with Google, and was given advanced access to Gmail many months before it was available publicly; and I loved it, and sent “invitations” to others who began using it as well.

Sadly, Gmail is no longer what it was.  Google may be headed in the direction of Microsoft, a company that stopped caring about its users many years ago, and instead has shoved products down their throats that were hopelessly flawed, like its Vista operating system.  Rather than change Gmail completely, Google might have tweaked it with changes that constituted “incremental refinements.”

Even Microsoft does not kill off earlier versions of Word for the Mac, which I have been using for about 20 years.  Granted one cannot open documents created with them unless the older versions of the software have been retained, but anything is possible.  After using Office (and Word) 2008 for the Mac successfully, I became a member of a Microsoft advisory group relating to the next version, Office 2011—called the “Office for Mac Advisory Panel”—and I was given a copy when it was first released.  To my great surprise, its Word software would not open documents created with the previous version, Word 2008.  I brought this to the attention of Microsoft’s Mac team, and never heard from them again.

Customer support like this drives the “faithful” away, who feel cheated and “used.”  However, Google has gone a step farther and mandated the use of Gmail’s newest incarnation.  One might think that the company would have learned from the fact that its time-tested search engine’s customer interface has not changed, while ill-fated Google products such as Chromebooks and Knols have never gained much of a consumer following and are disappearing.  Also, Google does not address problems with its Chrome browser.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of customer service and satisfaction, are WordPress, FedEx, Costco and Canon—which go out of their way to keep things simple and help their customers, who inevitably become dyed-in-the-wool, enthusiastic advocates for the businesses, and spread the “gospel” about them far and wide.  While Google has not succumbed to the level of disdain enjoyed by Microsoft yet, its heavy-handed changes with respect to Gmail and other similar actions may take the company in that direction and beyond.

Ultimately, customers might spurn its products; however, like Microsoft, Google’s owners and management may not truly care.  IBM followed that arrogant path years ago, and suffered greatly because of it.  Other companies have come and gone completely.  Will this be Google’s fate?

© 2012, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele


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22 responses

6 06 2012
Let's Learn Finance

Arguable. It’s just adaptation and a shear act of “keeping things interesting.”

Another giant that does this regularly, much more regularly than Google is Facebook. Majority of the reactions complain and hate pretty much every major GUI update Facebook has brought out since the beginning but this keeps it interesting and innovating and everyone eventually gets used to it.

I suppose the changes to a social media site is more prevalent and “acceptable” than perhaps a *professional* service provider like Microsoft and Google but regardless, we all eventually grow into accepting these things and move on.

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15 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Facebook is losing its audience

See, e.g., http://business.time.com/2014/01/15/more-than-11-million-young-people-have-fled-facebook-since-2011/ (“More Than 11 Million Young People Have Fled Facebook Since 2011“)

Does anyone really care whether Facebook sinks or swims? After all, before Facebook there was MySpace; and after both of them, there will be other Web sites to take their place.

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16 06 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Why Help Google Deal With Fraud Or Anything Else?

Fraud is massive and prevalent all over the Web today; and millions of people globally are being affected by it, and they will lose billions of dollars because of it.

See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/ (“Lawyers And Internet Scams”)

I have dealt with it for many years, beginning well before the Internet became a worldwide “information highway,” and I know what to spot, so others are warned. Indeed, before its latest “revolting” and totally-unnecessary changes, Gmail had a way for its loyal users to flag phishing messages with a red banner, which would warn others.

Users cannot do this anymore. Thus, instead of checking my spam folder methodically every day, and flagging such messages, I don’t bother. If Google does not take fraud seriously, why should I waste my time?

It is clear that Google does not care, so why should anyone care about Google? Microsoft’s loyal customers abandoned it years ago. This seems to be the future of Google.

See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/ (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?”)

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17 06 2012
Terri Tompkins

When you said ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ –
you said all that needed saying.

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17 06 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Terri, for your thoughts. Yes, I agree.

Because Google has virtually no customer support, sadly it seems to be another entity—be it part of government or business—which does not care. Perhaps I simply deluded myself into believing otherwise.

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6 08 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Why Apple?

The Wall Street Journal‘s SmartMoney has an article entitled, “10 Things Apple Won’t Tell You,” which is worth reading.

See http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/technology/10-things-apple-wont-tell-you-1344031439347/?link=SM_hp_ls4e

My responses are as follows:

I have been an Apple customer for about 20 years now. My first Mac was a PowerBook 160; and I have been with Apple through the good times and the bad, all of them. I have a MacBookPro today.

Apple is not perfect; it never has been, even when Steve Jobs was at the helm. However, it runs circles around Microsoft, and Google; and my guess is that it will continue to stay ahead of the curve and the competition.

See, e.g., http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?”)

This [SmartMoney] article is correct in many respects. I bought a Samsung Galaxy rather than an iPhone because my son had badmouthed his iPhone; the screen was too small for me; and the monthly costs were cheaper with the Samsung.

Also, the “backward compatible” issue with respect to new products and software is most egregious with Microsoft. Those of us who created documents with MS Word years ago cannot open them anymore; and this problem with get worse with the passage of time. Indeed, the question arises: how can we store any documents for posterity? God only knows.

What is very pleasing is to see how many students have switched to Apples. When I used to go into college libraries, it would be a rare treat to see an Apple user. Now, Apple computers seem to outnumber non-Apple products, which is refreshing.

Next, Steve Wozniak—who co-founded Apple with Jobs—has predicted “horrible problems” in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold. See http://ca.news.yahoo.com/apple-co-founder-wozniak-sees-trouble-cloud-115222245.html

I agree with him. For example, what about music that you own and paid for by buying CDs over many years. You might lose it, or have to pay twice or more when you upgrade to new computers. Also, what about Word documents that have been created over many years as well, and other sensitive documents such as .pdf files. Imagine losing them and/or having others tap into them.

This [SmartMoney] article is correct too about the use of “smart phones” in church. This morning some ostensibly-religious woman sat down next to me; and no sooner had the minister started with the sermon than she started checking her phone for e-mail messages and reading a long one. I thought she was very rude, and was tempted to ask her why she bothered coming to church, but refrained from doing so—even though I found it to be very annoying and obnoxious. Indeed, hearing a cell phone go off nearby in a movie theater is one reason I stopped going ages ago.

Despite rave reviews from friends about their iPads, I refuse to get one. With a smartphone and a MacBookPro, what on earth would an iPad do for me? I do not need toys.

Also, Apple outsources its consumer calls to India and elsewhere; and I for one want to speak with Americans, here in the States.

Lastly, I am still with Apple for the most part, and probably always will be, because its operating system is superior to the Windows software; and I prefer Apple’s laptops and its other computer hardware. And some of us have been around long enough to exchange e-mail messages with Steve Jobs in the past.

Long live Apple! :-)

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19 10 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Could Disappear in Five Years

For all of the reasons set forth in my article and comments above, Google is not user friendly except for its search engine. Thus, how long can it carry Google? Yahoo! found out the hard way, and Google may be following a similar path.

My sentiments are echoed in a CNBC.com article, which states:

Google may be on its way out as the dominant player in search, according to one analyst—and could even “disappear” in as little as five to eight years if the competitive pressures that ultimately claimed other search giants start to take root.

. . .

The reason? Consumers are searching more and more on mobile devices, yet advertisers aren’t as willing to buy advertisements formatted for mobile devices, because these ads are not as prominently displayed.

Also, mobile ads tend to run more cheaply than ads made for desktop computers.

. . .

The rise of mobile will lead consumers to want to search in new ways, which may open the door for others to enter the search space. The number one contender may just be Apple—one of Google’s fiercest competitors

See http://www.cnbc.com/id/49477730

My loyalty to Google has been disappearing, and the same thing may be true of many others.

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13 02 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Is “Pimping” For Obama!

Google pimps for Obama

What appears directly above is a “screenshot” of a Google search page today—replete with an “ad” for Barack Obama; an American flag, just as he is trying to “gut” our military; and a link to another Web page touting him.

See https://plus.google.com/events/ck7p5i47e2pfqlq4bkk6lo8sml8 (“State of the Union: Fireside Hangout with President Obama”)

It is crystal clear that Google is “pimping” for Obama, which is outrageous and a travesty. Republicans, Independents, members of the Tea Party movement, and other political factions in the United States deserve and must demand equal time . . . and/or boycott Google+.

More and more Americans are tuning out Obama. Most of them refused to watch his State of the Union speech to Congress last night; and they change to another channel when his image comes on the TV screen, or that of Moochie aka Michelle “Marie Antoinette” Obama.

See http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/02/obamas-state-of-the-union-lowestrated-since-156993.html (“Obama’s State of the Union lowest-rated since [Bill Clinton's final State of the Union address in] 2000“) and http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/barack-obama-is-a-lame-duck-president-who-will-not-be-reelected/#comment-1172 (Michelle Obama: “Let Them Eat Cake!”)

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22 02 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Chromebooks: Will They Gain Any Traction?

Google is in the process of introducing its Chromebook Pixel laptop.

See https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromebook_pixel_wifi; see also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9886158/Chromebook-Pixel-Google-takes-on-Apple.html

I have been with Apple for more than 20 years. I have been with Google since shortly after its search engine was launched. I have used Google’s AdWords for advertising; and I use Google’s Gmail and its Chrome browser now.

Why on earth would anyone buy a Chromebook Pixel (or any other Chromebook for that matter) when (1) it costs as much as a Mac, and does not allow one to use standard business and personal applications (e.g., MS Word, iTunes); (2) Google provides zero customer support; (3) “they only function fully with a web connection,” as the author notes; (4) it only offers “[u]p to 5 hours” of battery life; and (5) there is no built-in CD/DVD SuperDrive?

Also, Google launches products and services, and then they disappear (e.g., Knol), as mentioned in the article above. The Chromebook Pixel represents a lot of money for a product that may or may not be supported by Google. It is a bet that most of us are unwilling to make, especially when the alternative is a proven and dependable MacBook Pro. Also, depending on the cloud is not something that I wish to do, nor do I want to rely on an Internet connection for my work.

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29 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

More Bullshit From Google

As indicated in my article above, Google may be in the process of becoming far worse than Microsoft, which is quite an accomplishment. Not only does Google have no customer support, but they keep dreaming up new ways to make Gmail more complicated and unworkable.

Their latest foray is something called: “Gmail’s new compose and reply experience.”

See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/2645922?p=newcompose&rd=1#

As my article states:

There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Yet, the techies at Google must sit around devising new ways to make our lives more difficult.

I am a lawyer, and I started using Gmail before it was available to the public, because I was advertising with Google and was given advance access to it. The original version of Gmail worked just fine; however, the latest version as well as the changes to the “compose and reply experience” are unnecessary, burdensome, and frankly idiotic.

Surely Google employees’ time can be better spent doing other things, which are actually productive and help people!

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31 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Is Far Worse Than Microsoft: It Is Godless!

On Easter, Google is honoring farm organizer and Leftist hero Cesar Chavez. How sacrilegious and utterly absurd!

Among other things—to their credit—most Hispanics are Catholics, and devoutly so.

As Patrick Howley has reported in The Daily Caller:

On Easter Sunday, Google is honoring the birthday of the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez by placing a Chavez portrait within the middle “o” of the Google logo that appears on the homepage of the popular search engine.

While Google frequently decorates its logo to celebrate various holidays and special events, it is unclear why the company chose specifically to honor Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.

. . .

President Barack Obama released a statement in 2011 proclaiming March 31 “Cesar Chavez Day,” declaring, “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an informal adviser to both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns, a member of the Obama White House transition team in 2009 and a onetime prospect for an Obama Cabinet post during the president’s second term.

As The Daily Caller has reported, Schmidt is also a steadfast climate-change activist, and has advocated for the complete termination of the oil, natural gas, and coal industries, and predicted that Washington, D.C. will soon be completely underwater due to climate change.

See http://dailycaller.com/2013/03/31/google-honors-cesar-chavez-on-easter/; see also http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-2517 (“The Great Green Con—’Global Warming’ Is A Myth“)

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31 03 2013
Brad Stevens

What do you expect from a company created by someone named “Sergei” Brin that has a 666 as its Google Chrome logo?

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31 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Brad, for your comment.

I did not realize that Google “has a 666 as its Google Chrome logo.”

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11 04 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Computer Sales in Free Fall

This is the title of a Wall Street Journal article, which is subtitled “Quarterly Shipments Drop 14% as Windows 8 Fails to Stem Advance of iPads,” and mirrors other similar reports:

The personal computer is in crisis, and getting little help from Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8 software once seen as a possible savior.

Research firm IDC issued an alarming report Wednesday for PC makers such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., saying world-wide shipments of laptops and desktops fell 14% in the first quarter from a year earlier. That is the sharpest drop since IDC began tracking this data in 1994 and marks the fourth straight quarter of declines.

Gartner Inc., a rival research firm, estimated global shipments sank 11.2%, which it called the worst drop since the first quarter of 2001. Gartner blamed the rise of tablets and smartphones, which are sapping demand for personal computers.

Microsoft, whose software is on a majority of the world’s PCs, last fall introduced Windows 8, a completely overhauled operating system with touch-screen capabilities.

But there is little sign that buyers are responding. In a surprisingly harsh assessment, IDC said Windows 8 hasn’t only failed to spur more PC demand but has actually exacerbated the slowdown—confusing consumers with features that don’t excel in a tablet mode and compromise the traditional PC experience.

“The reaction to Windows 8 is real,” said Jay Chou, an IDC analyst, about the negative sentiment.

. . .

Mr. Chou said not only has Windows 8 failed to attract consumers, but businesses are keeping their distance as well.

. . .

H-P, the world’s largest PC maker, showed the steepest drop in global shipments in the quarter with a 24% decline, according to IDC. Dell, ranked fourth in world-wide shipments, posted a 11% drop as it makes headlines for grim financial troubles and efforts to take the company private.

. . .

The first quarter’s declines come after a particularly troubling run up to last year’s holiday quarter, during which industry researchers began sounding alarm bells that the PC market would post its first annual contraction in more than a decade. Meanwhile, tablets like Apple’s iPad flew off the shelves.

. . .

Roughly 350 million personal computers are sold each year, but combined sales of smartphones and tablets are dwarfing those PC figures.

People are expected to buy about 919 million smartphones this year, and IDC expects nearly 200 million tablets will be sold this year.

In another blow to Microsoft particularly, sales of tablets powered Windows 8 also haven’t been strong. Windows 8 accounted for only 1% of global tablet shipments in 2012, with its share expected to rise to 7.4% by 2017, IDC says.

Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group, said the future for Windows-based machines is looking increasingly bleak. “In a PC form factor you won’t see Windows 8 with touch have any impact,” he said.

Meanwhile, few businesses are buying many more PCs, and when they are, they aren’t buying them with Windows 8—at least not yet.

Some corporate chief information officers say they don’t see a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324695104578414973888155516.html

Some of us are long-time Apple users—more than 20 years in my case—and we were not surprised at all when Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system failed so completely. Now Windows 8 seems to be doing something similar, which will drive PC sales down even farther.

In libraries (especially law school libraries) where few Apple laptops were seen years ago, Apples are becoming the computer of choice.

Microsoft keeps adding “bells and whistles” to its software (e.g., MS Office), which most of us never use, much less understand. Google has been doing the same thing, with respect to “refinements” of its e-mail system, Gmail.

Because Google has no customer support, users are apt to abandon the company’s products, sooner rather than later. Indeed, it is arguable that Google is becoming Microsoft, or far far worse.

Companies like Google and Microsoft seem to forget what made them great. To the consumer, Google’s search engine has not changed; however, its techies seem to be bent on destroying everything else. Perhaps both companies are “run” by techies who have too much time on their hands, so they design most software for total geeks like themselves, and forget that there is a “real world” outside.

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14 08 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Gmail’s New Compose And Reply Experience: Worse Than Microsoft!

Not satisfied with changing Gmail in ways that are NOT user-friendly—certainly for lawyers and others in business—Google has FORCED its Gmail users to adopt a new compose and reply system, which is atrocious!

See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/2645922?p=newcompose&hl=en&rd=1#survey=true

Google has not changed its time-tested search engine, but its GEEKS must have too much time on their hands, so they are screwing up Gmail. Instead, they should be fired!

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22 09 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google’s Chrome Is The Worst Browser And Unusable!

Page(s) Unresponsive

Aside from its non-existent customer support and other problems discussed above, Google’s Chrome browser is terrible.

Without any warning, and with few tabs open, the browser stops working and a message similar to the one shown above appears. Normally, more tabs are affected adversely; and all of them are frozen—along with the browser itself—and will not work.

I was just writing a comment at a Web site and the curser and Chrome browser froze, as a message similar to the one above appeared!

One can consult Google’s fact sheets and forums, but nothing makes any difference. Like so many Google products, this is another one that is flawed.

GOOGLE’S CHROME BROWSER S-U-C-K-S!

Like its other products that have been scrapped, will this browser be the next product that Google ceases to support, rather than fixes?

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17 12 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

The Latest From Google’s Chrome Browser: Aw Snap!

Aw Snap!

When this happens, the tabs that are open—relating to Web pages that you have been using, including your favorites—become inoperable completely!

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16 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Scraps Its Notifier Too

Google Notifier

Google has announced:

We are writing to let you know about an important change to Google Notifier Beta. Starting on January 31, 2014, Google Notifier Beta will no longer be supported, meaning the app will no longer show recent emails and calendar events.

Since the Google Notifier Beta launched in 2005, a lot has changed. Smart phones can now notify us of new messages wherever we are, and improvements to web technology enable similar features to be built right into the browser.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ImportantAnnouncementonGoogleNotifier.pdf

Notifier is an excellent and very useful product, which performs regardless of the browser that we choose. However, Google’s “techies” have decided to scrap it!

When will management ever learn that the company is morphing into Microsoft . . . or IBM? Once Google’s customers abandon the company, they are unlikely to come back. Facebook is learning this the hard way.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-3285 (“Facebook is losing its audience”)


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7 02 2014
Falafel Faliful Falafol

For those like me who one day found Gmail notifier didn’t work anymore and can’t live without it:

Forget about the options google offers as replacement. Search “Gmail Notifier Pro” and install it. It’s free, it does the same as our old notifier and does it better.

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25 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Imagine If The Internet Went Down: Court System Hit With Cyberattack

Internet

POLITICO has reported:

Unidentified hackers took aim at the federal court system Friday, blocking access to its public website while preventing lawyers and litigants from filing legal documents online.

The incident affected uscourts.gov, the federal court’s public hub, as well as most if not all federal court sites—not to mention the federal court system’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Friday.

The aide described the incident only as a denial-of-service attack, and that the court system, which manages its own cybersecurity, is still investigating the exact nature of the incident and who’s responsible.

Earlier Friday, a federal court clerk from Arkansas indicated in an email obtained by POLITICO that it appeared to be a “new national cyberattack on the judiciary,” but he did not provide any additional information about the type of attack or who might be behind it.

The Justice Department, for its part, did not comment for this story. The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a key role monitoring federal networks and disseminating information about cyber threats, could not be reached for comment.

See http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/cyberattack-federal-courts-102594.html

I can personally confirm that certain courts could not be accessed yesterday.

A bigger question involves: could any documents be changed or deleted as a result of a Cyberattack?

Anything is possible. However, the federal court system maintains hard copies of recent filings, which are also available online. Thus, it is unlikely that hacking would make a difference in that regard.

Because America’s court system is already burdened by budget cuts (e.g., shorter hours, layoffs), hacking’s immediate effect is to create chaos in the system.

It seems that this hacking episode was relatively short lived. A sustained and effective hacking effort could bring the legal system to a screeching halt. So many filings are made online these days.

Yet, one must realize that the federal system is way ahead of State systems. Docket sheets and individual filings are not available online in many if not most States. However, as the States transition to fully online systems, they will become vulnerable too.

Obviously, all of this raises the larger question about efforts to bring down the Internet itself. Imagine if someday we went online and there was nothing except a blank screen. Worldwide terrorism is growing, not receding; and anything is possible.

Clearly, an EMP Attack would bring this country to a screeching halt . . . killing millions of Americans in the process..

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ (“EMP Attack: Only 30 Million Americans Survive“)

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2 04 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

RUSSIA AND CHINA PUSH FOR CONTROL OF INTERNET

Russia and China control of Internet

Our two major adversaries and/or enemies are trying to step into the breach of American weakness, created by Barack Obama, and control the Internet.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ and http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/china-is-americas-enemy-make-no-mistake-about-that/ (see also the comments beneath both articles)

Both countries have demonstrated their willingness and ability to manipulate the Internet in their own countries for political and strategic advantages. Imagine the damage they will do to the United States and the West if they control the Internet in any way.

Brendan Sasso has written for the National Journal:

The United States is planning to give up its last remaining authority over the technical management of the Internet.

The Commerce Department announced Friday that it will give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international nonprofit group, control over the database of names and addresses that allows computers around the world to connect to each other.

Administration officials say U.S. authority over the Internet address system was always intended to be temporary and that ultimate power should rest with the “global Internet community.”

But some fear that the Obama administration is opening the door to an Internet takeover by Russia, China, or other countries that are eager to censor speech and limit the flow of ideas.

“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever,” wrote Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Castro argued that the world “could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, called the announcement a “hostile step” against free speech.

“Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the internet looks and operates,” she said in a statement.

Critics warn that U.S. control of the domain system has been a check against the influence of authoritarian regimes over ICANN, and in turn the Internet.

But other advocacy groups, businesses, and lawmakers have praised the administration’s announcement—while also saying they plan to watch the transition closely.

The Internet was invented in the United States, and the country has always had a central role in its management. But as the Internet has grown, other countries have demanded a greater voice. Edward Snowden’s leaks about U.S. surveillance have only exacerbated that tension.

China, Russia, Iran, and dozens of other countries are already pushing for more control over the Internet through the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency.

The transition to full ICANN control of the Internet’s address system won’t happen until October 2015, and even then, there likely won’t be any sudden changes. ICANN was already managing the system under a contract from the Commerce Department.

But having the ultimate authority over the domain name system was the most important leverage the United States had in debates over the operation of the Internet. It was a trump card the U.S. could play if it wanted to veto an ICANN decision or fend off an international attack on Internet freedom.

The Obama administration is keenly aware of the potential for an authoritarian regime to seize power over the Internet. ICANN will have to submit a proposal for the new management system to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department.

“I want to make clear that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution,” Larry Strickling, the head of NTIA, said Friday.

Fadi Chehadé, the president and CEO of ICANN, said he will work with governments, businesses, and nonprofits to craft a new oversight system.

“All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners,” he said.

Verizon, AT&T, Cisco, and other business groups all issued statements applauding the administration’s move. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller argued that the transition will help ensure the Internet remains free and open.

Sen. John Thune, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, said he will watch the process carefully, but that he trusts “the innovators and entrepreneurs more than the bureaucrats—whether they’re in D.C. or Brussels.”

The transition will reassure the global community that the U.S. is not trying to manipulate the Internet for its own economic or strategic advantage, according to Cameron Kerry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former acting Commerce secretary.

Steve DelBianco, the executive director of NetChoice, a pro-business tech group, said the U.S. was bound to eventually give up its role overseeing Internet addresses. But he said lawmakers and the Obama administration will have to ensure that ICANN will still be held accountable before handing the group the keys to the address system in 2015.

DelBianco warned that without proper safeguards, Russian President Vladimir Putin or another authoritarian leader could pressure ICANN to shut down domains that host critical content.

“That kind of freedom of expression is something that the U.S. has carefully protected,” DelBianco said in an interview. “Whatever replaces the leverage, let’s design it carefully.”

See http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/when-u-s-steps-back-will-russia-and-china-control-the-internet-20140317 (emphasis added); see also http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/republicans-fear-obama-will-let-russia-seize-internet-power-20140402 (“Republicans Fear Obama Will Let Russia Seize Internet Power”)

We are on the verge of war with Russia’s dictator-for-life Putin; and China is challenging the United States and our allies in the Pacific. Is there any reason to trust either country?

At a bare minimum, freedom of speech is at stake. Equally at risk are our national security and Internet commerce.

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3 09 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Is The Cloud Safe?

The Clould Is Not Safe

This is an issue that Penny Crosman of the American Banker addresses in a new article, which is worth reading. She is Editor in Chief of Bank Technology News and Technology Editor of the American Banker. She has had senior editorial roles at Bank Systems & Technology, Wall Street & Technology, Intelligent Enterprise and Network Magazine, among other titles.

Are cloud services secure enough for corporate use? It’s a question bankers have pondered for at least a decade, and the iCloud breach illustrates both the pro and con arguments.

On the one hand, storing any kind of sensitive material anywhere on the Internet makes it a target for hackers. On the other, the password gaming that appears to have been behind the iCloud theft could happen to any server, on or off the cloud.

The incident that came to light on Sunday, in which compromising photos of celebrities were pulled from Apple’s backup service and posted all over the Web, has rekindled the long-running debate.

“The cloud is a mistake. No one’s data is safe,” banking attorney Timothy Naegele wrote in an online comment posted to American Banker’s Tuesday story about the breach. “It is vulnerable to hackers, terrorists and others. Anyone who tells you differently is mistaken.”

In addition to financially motivated cybercriminals, Naegele, a former counsel to the Senate Banking Committee, points to the threat of hackers from other countries.

“China has hacked us and a lot of phishing comes straight out of Russia,” he said in a later interview. Russian hacking attempts are believed to be retaliation for U.S. economic sanctions against the country over its military presence in Ukraine.

Cloud services are the easiest target for all these adversaries, Naegele said. “My concern is they’re going to infiltrate major systems in the U.S. and attempt to take them down.”

Still, Naegele acknowledged that he blogs on the cloud and that his company’s website is hosted by Yahoo. “You’re never going to get away from the cloud,” he said.

Indeed, defenders of the technology argue that the cloud is ubiquitous and almost impossible to avoid on a personal or business level. And any computing device that is linked to the Internet is subject to attack.

“How safe is a motor car?” said Rajiv Gupta, CEO of Skyhigh Networks, a company that assesses the security of cloud services. “The answer is ‘it depends how you drive it.’ Were we safer before there were motor cars? Probably. There were fewer accidents but we couldn’t get to the hospital as fast.”

Safer use of the cloud would involve using security mechanisms such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and activity monitoring (to find anomalous behavior that would indicate an impostor). On Wednesday, Skyhigh introduced a set of security controls for Box’s cloud file-sharing service.

Gupta argues that cloud services aren’t inherently less safe than a company’s internal servers.

“Look at the iCloud breach: the problem isn’t that iCloud is any less safe, the problem is that someone’s account credentials were stolen,” he said.

Apple has said its servers were not breached, and many have speculated that iCloud fell victim to a “brute force” attack in which software tries to guess users’ passwords, trying thousands of possibilities until it stumbles on the right one. Many websites automatically block login attempts after three tries, which would thwart such an attack.

“The question should be, should we have sites that require passwords? Should people use ecommerce at all? Should we do mobile banking?” Gupta said. “We accept that it’s a fallacy to even think that’s a possibility, to not do mobile banking.” Similarly, companies need the cloud; in this day and age it’s impossible to create a hermetically sealed environment, he argues.

MIDDLE GROUND

James Gordon, the chief information officer at Needham Bank in Massachusetts, takes a middle-of-the-road attitude toward cloud computing.

“Anyone that says anything is 100% secure is telling a lie; look no further than the breach of security provider RSA or the issue with the NSA and Snowden,” he said.

Financial institutions should conduct risk assessments of cloud services and make sure they adhere to their policies and procedures.

“Banks should determine the value of the data, then make sure appropriate controls are in place, both physical and virtual controls,” Gordon said. These would include requiring users to create strong passwords and making sure an account locks out after several invalid login attempts.

“I believe the cloud can be safe, but users of the cloud must know their data and how it’s protected and stored both at rest and in transit,” Gordon said.

See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/179_170/are-cloud-services-safe-icloud-breach-revives-debate-1069736-1.html

“Password gaming” is the least of the problems. Those who are bent on hurting and/or destroying the United States will try to take down entire clouds (e.g., using “Denial-Of-Service Attacks”).

Rajiv Gupta is quoted as asking: “How safe is a motor car?” With all due respect to him, our adversaries (including State adversaries and terrorists) are not bent on destroying the motor car, but there are with respect to America’s business and national security operations.

Indeed, our adversaries want to take down whole systems, not merely penetrate them.

James Gordon is correct in citing Snowden, who is in Russia presently, where they have granted him asylum; and who knows what secrets he has provided to the Russians.

However, I respectfully disagree with Gordon: the cloud cannot be made safe, especially when individual clouds can be taken down on a wholesale basis by America’s adversaries.

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