Thus far, the current economic cold war between the United States and China is like a children’s’ snowball fight. If it were adults fighting, one would think they would have learned from the previous cold war. At least the U.S., with a relatively recent history of gunfighting, should know how to avoid shooting itself in the foot, as it seems to be doing these days with President Trump’s threat of banning the WeChat app, which is likely to hurt sales in China by companies such as Apple, Ford, and Walt Disney. And Trump’s forcing Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges to comply with American accounting rules could trigger hacking of the November 3 presidential election. And last, but not least, is the continuing hijinks of Huawei and corralling of it by the USA.
Anyone who has opened an account has run the gantlet of questions that are used in the event of entering its password incorrectly. (We deplore the use of passwords so when we are forced to create them we use some variation of “dumb idea” or “dongle” (a dongle is a small device able to be connected to and used with a computer, especially to allow access to wireless broadband or use of protected software).) In our case, we have had to provide the answers to such questions as “Who was your favorite elementary school teacher?”, “What was the model of your first car?”, or “What was your mother’s maiden name?” Most recently we had to provide several answers to such arcane questions that we laughed. Fortunately, this is such a widespread nuisance that it has resulted in some humorous suggestions.
The founder, CEO, and president of online retail company Amazon, Jeff Bezos has been the world’s richest person since 2017 and was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018. He may not be personally responsible for using data about third-party sellers on the Amazon platform to develop competing products. But people he has hired are responsible for such actions.
We have used a Philips Norelco electric shaver that we had bought at Costco off and on for years. (When we didn’t use it, we shaved with various one/two/three/four-blade models, which gave closer shaves. But the convenience and absence of cuts of an electric razor, especially when traveling, makes it practical.) Like any cutting tool, it needs to be sharpened or have its cutting surfaces replaced. Philips Norelco recommends that the shaving heads be replaced every year at the cost of $30. If you search Amazon with a “Norelco-replacement-heads” phrase, you get a plethora of products with a wide range of prices ($14-70), many of them without packaging. The same situation exists for a wide range of products sold by Amazon. Fortunately, there are some companies that are fighting back.
Most people likely ignore the “Http” or “Https” prefix to a website’s name. But if the information they are entering or working with is confidential, they want to avoid websites with the “Http” prefix. In 2017 Google started pressuring website owners to encrypt communication between the user and the website. The Chrome browser is making it increasingly obvious whether or not a site is secure.
In our earlier days we wrote the software. We, or one or more colleagues, tested it in a variety of ways to make sure that it did what we thought it should do. As time passed the software became more complicated, and the penalties of mistakes increased, so the testing had to become more complicated. In addition, an increasing number of malevolent hackers emerged, necessitating increasingly draconian measures to key them at bay. Even then, the size and complexity of code these days make it very difficult to cover all the possibilities. Fortunately there is a government body, the US National Security Agency, that was doing its mission appropriately.