Ideas That Become Obvious In Hindsight

Interview: Authentic8 Co-founder and CEO Scott Petry on Leo Laporte's TWiT.tv

Were you excited when Apple presented the Newton mobile device to the world, a glimpse into a future starring the iPhone? Or perhaps relieved when the email Spam Wars were won by Postini, a Silicon Valley startup later bought by Google, where it became the core of Gmail?

The ideas and concepts that drove both breakthrough innovations initially faced ridicule (in the case of Newton) and skepticism. What they have in common is that today, they are obvious in hindsight.

What they also share is a name: Scott Petry. His career took him from Apple's Newton team to founding and later selling Postini - which solved the email spam problem - to Google and from there to his current role as Co-founder and CEO of Authentic8, which pioneered remote browser isolation in the cloud.

Do we have a theme here? Leo Laporte thinks so. The award-winning tech journalist and founder

How to Detect Browser Extensions

Working on new methods and tools to identify browser exploits, I recently came across a common question again in a forum: "Is it possible to detect what browser extensions I have installed?"

That information would be of value to various people for several reasons. Online attackers and snoops stand to gain most from it. Examples:

  • Browser extension details can help fingerprint the client from others, as in: "This client uses a Google Translate browser extension. This other client does not."
  • Plugin information can also aid in targeted client exploitation, as in: "This this client has version 2.0.6 of the [bleep] password manager installed, with working exploits A, B, and C."
  • Addon identification can also be leveraged to hijack the local browser, as in: "This developer's Gmail account has been pwned; let's use it to push a malicious update."


Sounds far-fetched? I wish it were. Check out our blog posts with real-life examples: JavaScript Template Attacks, Password Manager Extension Exploit, and

DoD's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification: Are Smaller Companies Prepared?

New requirements mean contractors will have to pay to play. What does this mean for small businesses in the defense industry?

The cybersecurity posture of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) supply chain is only as strong as its weakest contractor. When considering the DIB supply chain includes 300,000 contractors with sensitive government data, and around 290,000 of them are not subject to strict cybersecurity requirements or oversight, something needs to change.

Leading that change is the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment - OUSD(A&S) - which has developed the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), an agile set of unified cybersecurity standards to ensure the security of government data on DIB networks.

Illustration for Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification blog post: CMMS Seal

Illustration: CMMC Seal

CMMC will enable the government to verify contractors have adequate security protocols in place to protect non-public Federal Contract Information and more sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information.

How CMMC Aims to Unify Cybersecurity  

The most recent draft version of

How to REALLY Browse Anonymously

When anonymous web access becomes business-critical, the web's favorite home remedies won't help. Worse, they can harm you and our organization.

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A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a regional bank in the Southwestern United States, where the lack of anonymity online had jeopardized a recent investigation. The bank was doing online research necessary for them to comply with Bank Secrecy Act and Anti Money Laundering (BSA/AML) regulations.

A financial fraud analyst found incriminating evidence on the web page of a business she was investigating. Imagine her frustration when she went back the next day to collect that evidence, only to find it had been removed in the meantime. What happened?

The bank suspects that the subject of its investigation was tipped off to the analyst's research because web traffic from the bank was hitting the website of the investigated business.

This happens more often than one would think, as I've learned in conversations with other financial services firms before.

To TOR or Not to TOR?

Recent mass shootings in Christchurch, Poway, and El Paso, as well as the lesser-known attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany all have something in common other than being acts of violence. The perpetrators all had an online presence on a forum known as "8chan".

After the El Paso attack, 8chan was dropped by service providers and went offline. The shooter in Halle couldn't announce the attack on the forum; however, it was still live-streamed, similar to the attack in Christchurch. The attacker also used the name "anon", short for anonymous, a typical username used for privacy in forums such as 8chan.

8Chan has since rebranded as "8kun" and is back online as of November 3rd, 2019. The screenshot below shows 8kun's landing page in TOR.

Screenshot: 8kun Landing Page in TOR (Authentic8 Blog)

Forums such as 8kun are not only a gathering place for users to gain inspiration to commit attacks.  They also serve as dissemination points for manifestos furthering the spread of this type of terrorism.

The Christchurch