Five Links: Amazon Broke the World Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

In the most cruelest of cuts, Amazon killed the internet for several hours on Tuesday. The one upside is that it was more real-life evidence that some IT intern would probably fat-finger a Skynet password and stop Judgment Day before it ever begins. In honor of those lost, dark hours, this week’s post is about the times that the internet and technology have let us down. Nightmare fuel, it is.


Amazon took down parts of the internet because an employee fat-fingered the wrong command (Business Insider, Tech Insider)

That really says it all. It’s a breakdown of the causes and responses to Amazon’s outage earlier this week. #NeverForget


Charitable donations made via PayPal may be going astray (

This one is really sobering if it turns out to be true. A new class-action lawsuit alleges that PayPal accepts donations for charities through its site, even listed supported charities. But many of those supported charities are not properly registered with PayPal, so PayPal doesn’t actually send them their donations. PayPal sits on the funds for six month and then sends it to some other charity of PayPal’s choosing. That is a huge violation of trust, if that is the case.


The Year of Data Breaches: Why Encryption and Reformatting SSD’s is Not Enough (Developer’s Blog, Red Hat)

While a little terrifying in the statistics department, this post starts with a look at data breaches, with 2016 being the most-breached year to date. What follow is has an excellent look at potential data security measures, weaknesses in common security config, and potential issues with emerging tech like connected devices. Very much worth a read.


Leaked emails put spotlight on Snapchat sales tactics (TechCrunch)

Another creepy-if-true story, in another set of leaked emails, it turns out SnapChat was running a Live Story in conjunction with gun control lobby group Everytown for Gun Safety. That’s fine. What’s less than fine is that SnapChat contacted Everytown to say that there would be three ads running in line with content and was going to offer them to the NRA if Everytown didn’t bid on them. There is always a blurred line between reporting and editorial with any journalistic operation (even online ones) but strong-arming ad space is unseemly and, ultimately, very much counter to a free press.


Hack Brief: A Slack Bug Could Have Been Everyone’s Worst Office Nightmare (Wired)

The good news is, Slack patched the bug within hours of it being reported and an audit didn’t reveal any kind of breach. (Spoilers.) But it is sobering that another widely-used, and trusted, platform had a potentially crippling vulnerability. Like leaked emails, a malicious attacker with access to chat has access to confidential data, both commercial and private. It’s a good reminder that no matter how secure you think a platform is today, being cautious in what you say (and how you say it) is still an important part of data management.

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