The Un-[blank]-able Thing

In information security and hacker culture, companies and individuals will sometimes throw around the idea they’ve create an “unhackable” thing. This sort of phrasing is always intended as a sort of marketing ploy to tout their product’s security. Ultimately, any product with this descriptor gains the extra attention of hackers, who laugh at this idea of a “perfectly secure” product.

This phenomenon is nothing new. Another related example we still hear about today is the unpickable lock. A quick Google Books search finds Supplement to Encyclopædia Britannica (ninth edition) from 1889[1]. Despite many of the “unpickable” locks being bypassed or picked in some way, we still see this phrase today.

We’ve heard the phrase unbreakable encryption thrown around in recent years when government entities have attacked the encryption methods used on electronic devices. Ironically, the items they claim are unbreakable are really, “Not broken yet.” People who understand cryptography know that the only mathematically proven unbreakable cipher is the one-time pad[2].

Despite all this historical background to support the lack of an un-[blank]-able device, we still see this technological perpetual motion machine[3] being pushed. This week John McAfee offered $100k to break his unhackable crypto-wallet.

Like many products that claim to be unhackable, the details around the technology are vague at best. Everyone always claims some ‘proprietary technology’ that makes their solution unique to every one in the past. Reading the vague concepts behind the product, you can see how the claim tries to stand up, but there isn’t enough detail to make such a definitive statement.

This is where I think the problem with the un-[blank]-able thing ultimately lies. The item may be un-[blank]-able now, because the idea is something new or different from what people have seen before. This has historically been the case with the unpickable lock. Sure, the device that John’s team created may be “unhackable” now, but there is no guarantee it will stay that way and using the unhackable phrase puts a target on the device.

If you are interested in crypto-currencies, hardware, or security, I’d recommend going and checking out the challenge. The device is $120 and assuming you don’t brick-it in your attempts to hack it, you’ll at least have a nifty new hardware crypto-wallet for your Bitcoin or Monero. If you just like to watch the world burn, take the $120 and send one to someone you think will enjoy breaking it.

Chopper reacts to the unhackable claims

So It Begins

Multiple times over the years, I have thought about writing a blog. The reasons have usually varied for why, but ultimately, I’ve always managed to find some way to talk myself out of ever producing any content.

There was always a different reason each time I failed to start anything, but the true reason always came down to some form of self-sabotage. My excuses piled up, and any attempts at trying to do something ultimately ended in futility or frustration. If I could remember half of the blog attempts and alternative Twitter accounts, the list would be enough to fill this post.

When I set out to start this again, I made the conscious effort to get out of my own way. This was not an easy tasks, as I nearly never got the web page created. I fought over what publishing method I wanted to use, how I wanted to host the site, and started on my typical path of another incomplete idea never quite executed.

I eventually decided to just do things as simple as possible. Stop getting bogged down in decisions about software and themes and focus on the writing. This got me pretty far but then some lingering thoughts came back. I started to hear some of the same self-doubt as before creeping in and saying some of the same things I had heard before:

  1. I don’t have anything interesting or new to share, what am I going to write about?
  2. There is so much time involved and work, why do I want to do this?
  3. There is too much work and unfinished projects, when are you going to do this?
  4. No one is going to read this, do you really think anyone cares about your opinions?

Finding something to write about shouldn’t be hard for me to do. Sure, I can easily focus on topics around information security, but I am not going to restrict myself to one topic. I will write about what has my attention and what feels important to me. There will probably be plenty of “off-topic” posts that will just be a way for me to clear my head.  This really started to address the self-doubting voice asking “Why?”.

It was clear that writing was a way for me to be expressive in ways that are sometimes harder for me to do verbally. I can take my thoughts, put them down, and share information and ideas with people in a way that allows me to focus my message on what I want to say.

Always that pesky voice (and the pile of junk from hobbies of years past) comes back asking me when I will do this. From my experience writing a weekly column for the student newspaper (15 years ago), I am aware of my need to capture thoughts when they occur. This may mean some weeks there will be five posts covering important topics and then there may be a week where there is no new post. My goal is to have one post per week, but I will not let that doubting voice creep in when I miss a week.

Doubt keeps yelling at me that no one cares about what I have to say, so what is the point in writing this. I decided that I was writing this for me. If other people read it, great! Even better, if the information I share winds up being useful to others. I am not going to worry about page views; I will feel better knowing I’ve said my peace on whatever topic it is I write about.

I’ve done the one thing my doubt never let me do before. I’ve made my first post. Get of out here, self-doubt.