AS HEARD ON: WGAN – Electronic Voting Problems – Chinese Technology Dangerous – Two Years That Changed Facebook: AS HEARD ON – The WGAN Morning News [02-21-18]

On This Episode…

What happens after you leave the voting booth? Matt Gagnon and Craig launched today’s discussion on the Technology of Elections following the Maine Secretary of State’s review about the safety of Maine’s voting machines.

What’s up with Facebook? You’ve got to read the article about Facebook in the March Issue of Wired Magazine. Craig and Matt discussed some of the varied activities of Facebook and its effects.

Should we be using Chinese Components? John Richardson, a guest host this morning, asked Craig about Chinese Influence and Manufacturing and whether we should be concerned about using Chinese components.


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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.


Airing date: 02/21/2018


Electronic Voting Problems – Chinese Technology Dangerous – Two Years That Changed Facebook



Craig Peterson: [00:00:00] Hey I doubt you heard this this morning. Craig Peterson here, but the secretary of state was on for the state of Maine before I came on the air. And he was talking about how safe their elections are, how safe their machines are, that they’re not connected to a network, and et cetera. So I went into a little bit I guess I was opinionated this morning right. What’s new? I went into a little bit about hey listen there’s more than just air gap in a network. Kind of explain what that is. The security involved not just in our elections but things we should seriously do and consider for businesses. You know this doesn’t always, it’s not always the best fit here frankly. So we talked quite a bit about that and then we went into Facebook a little bit more about what Facebook is doing. The great article that came out here in Wired magazine in March 2018 issue inside the two years that shook Facebook. A must read by the way for everybody. So we talked a little bit about that. And we also had one more topic today and that is the guest host today John Richardson brought it up. I’ve talked about it on the show before and we went into some detail this morning but we’re talking about Chinese influence. Chinese manufacturers. Should we be using Chinese equipment and software? Thank goodness for the sneeze button. Wow where did that come from anyways. Here we go this morning talking throughout the state of Maine and parts of New Hampshire and even Quebec and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Anyway. Here we go.


Matt Gagnon: [00:01:47] And we’re back. It is 7:38 on the WGAN Morning News. We’ve got John Richardson in for Ken today and it’s time to talk to Craig Peterson our tech guru. He joins us every Wednesday at this time to give us an eye on technology across the world. Craig how are you.


Craig: [00:02:02] Hey, gentleman doing well. Interesting segment on our voting machines here in Maine.


Matt: [00:02:08] Yeah. Any feedback on that? Are they secretly hacking in and he just doesn’t know?


Craig: [00:02:13] Here’s the problem right. There is hacking which typically is considered to be remote. And having what’s called an air gapped system like we have in Maine where these computers that are doing a lot of the voting in you know processing those computers are not connected to the Internet or any network frankly, that’s called an air gap. In other words there is no way to get there except through the air. Right. That’s a good thing. There’s no question about it. But there’s other things that really bother me about these machines as well. Now, he talked a little bit about well our central server we back it up daily. We make sure that it’s not being attacked. And he also talked about the report that we mentioned here on the show some months back where the federal government investigated and said well, there were a couple of dozen states that had been probed. Maine was not one of them as I recall.


So you’ve got hacking but you also have the guys and gals that write computer code. You also have the guys and gals that set up all of the information saying if someone fills in this circle that means a vote for X. If you fill in that circle it means a vote for Y. And then you have, you know, putting all of this together you have the very real possibility that there are bugs in the system that no one is really aware of or edge conditions is what we call them where it usually works and works great in testing. But because this particular parameter changed somewhat due to usage or placement eccentric cetera all of a sudden it’s not working properly even though it tested perfectly. So there’s a lot more to the electronic voting machines and their vulnerability than just the vulnerability to hacking.


John Richardson: [00:04:08] That’s amazing. Craig let me let me ask this question I just want to switch gears just for a minute because we’re you know we want to be careful of our time and you’ve got such amazing information that we’d like to get to our listeners. The heads of six major U.S. intelligence agencies have warned about American citizens and using products and services made by certain Chinese tech giants. And that concerns me. And we talked about it off air just before and on air before taking your call here. Can you help inform our viewers as to what that what these six major intelligence agencies are saying about the Chinese tech giants?


Craig: [00:04:47] Yeah, this is an interesting thing because it all ties in right? You have the hacking but then you also have vulnerable devices. And we’ve seen already cases where in university setting, for instance, some of these electronic voting machines have been slightly modified so that they could use vulnerabilities that they had placed into the machines. And that, John is what you’ve got the FBI, CIA, NSA etc.. That’s what has them very, very worried.


John: [00:05:23] Aren’t they also worried too. And I think you make a great point. Aren’t they also worried about the fact that these companies are beholden obviously to the foreign governments like China and that they’re worried about the ability of these companies and of course there are countries getting in and stealing information or maliciously modifying it?


Craig: [00:05:49] Yeah well that’s the bottom line right. We know already that Kaspersky, which is a Russian company who makes antivirus software, is no longer used by the federal government. In fact most major retailers have pulled Kaspersky antivirus off the shelves. Why? Well because it’s sitting there in Russia and the Russian government has influence over it. Now let’s move to the Chinese. We’re talking about a communist government. We’re talking about the People’s Liberation Army owning most of the businesses. So there’s companies out there that like Lenovo that is made in China, owned by a Chinese company. It used to be IBM. Was sold to China. And Lenovo came to China with a list of here’s all of the users. So now all of a sudden China has a list of every user throughout the United States government including military, et cetera. Who they are. Where they are. What kind of computers they have. Now that was enough of a problem. Now we’ve got companies like Huawei, which is spelled as H-U-A-W-E-I. Huawei, who is also owned by the People’s Liberation Army. Who is absolutely 100 percent controlled by the Chinese military and Chinese communist government. And those pieces of hardware coming into the U.S. not just as a phone o, a smartphone and android device, but they are also shipping components. And we’ve seen historical problems. For instance our F16s. We’ve seen chips from China, processors, CPUs that have had their firmware modified so that they could track our jet fighters. It’s absolutely nuts here people. China cannot be trusted. They’ve shown again and again how they can’t be trusted. We’re using these Huawei phones and many other devices. So now we’ve got the FBI director Chris Ray saying you know we’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company, any entity who is beholden to foreign governments just like you were saying, John, that don’t share our values and giving them control and access to our telecommunications networks. You know the ability for them to maliciously modify or steal information or track things. It’s crazy. And when we tie this right back around into our voting machines, many of these devices are made in China. The components that are inside of them. Maybe a U.S. corporation, but using Chinese components. And it is not difficult for them to figure out that they’re running inside a voting machine and start messing around with things. This is really dangerous guys.


Matt: [00:08:41] We are talking to Craig Peterson, our tech guru who is joining us as he does every Wednesday for an eye on all things technology. Craig, we only have time for probably one more question for you and I got to get to this Facebook thing so that if you haven’t read it there is an article in Wired magazine and it’s fantastic. I had actually pulled up here a second ago. It’s called Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook and the World. And it is sort of it is a long form journalism at its finest. It’s the cover story for Wired. It is a really interesting story all around. What was in this and basically what is so bad about being in Facebook right now in the last couple of years?


Craig: [00:09:22] Well this is, boy.


Matt: [00:09:23] Great article. You got to read it if you haven’t.


Craig [00:09:25] I have no opinion about this either. Ok?


Matt: [00:09:28] Of course not. Of course not.


Craig: [00:09:30] Yeah. We’re talking about a long form article as you pointed out Matt. This is really, really great because it goes through talking about everything that Zuckerberg and Facebook has been doing. We know about, because of what happened last Friday, the Russians’ involvement here in trying to manipulate our election. And of course Facebook was right in the middle of all of this showing ads and we talked about that before and you know probably didn’t have really any particular effect on it. But we now have Black Lives Matter who’s come to the surface, who’s also using some of the Facebook stuff. We have Facebook saying hey we’ve got to stop the fake news. And so in order to do that they put together a panel. But the panel is composed almost entirely of hard core hard left people. How is that going to provide a fair filter to find out about fake news? It just doesn’t. It just can’t happen. So Zuckerberg has been in there sending out some memos. He’s been changing the way things work. You have to get this. You’re right Matt. It’s March 2018, Wired magazine. It’s got a picture of Zuckerberg kind of beat up like he’s been punched a few times too many. It has a picture of him on the cover. I really think people should read it. It’s fantastic. It goes into a lot of detail. Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein wrote this particular article. It’s going from the time when Hillary was running to today. It’s the algorithms. It’s the software that’s behind Facebook. How it determines what you’re going to see that makes all the difference in the world.


Matt: [00:11:17] What I found fascinating about Craig was, you know, if you flashback to 2016 I’m thinking back like maybe the summer-ish you know in that year there was a lot of consternation from the conservative circles about Facebook basically like pushing away news that you know sort of was a big story that would involve like a Donald Trump or somebody like that and sort of like gaming the trending topic system. And the entire article basically breaks down how that happened and how some of the consultants that had a problem with it basically were like unceremoniously dismissed. It’s a really, really good piece. Basically the nuts thing about it and obviously I’m sympathetic to that being a right winger myself but like it more or less confirms all of the consternation that I referred to earlier about what Facebook was actually up to in 2016 and how they were trying to sort of game the system in a specific ideological way.


John: [00:12:10] But doesn’t the Zuckerberg and also Facebook, I mean they are, they’ve got to be careful. I mean these are platforms that are incredibly popular. But as we have learned popularity.


Matt: [00:12:23] MySpace was popular.


John: [00:12:25] MySpace was very popular and they could go the way of MySpace.


Matt: [00:12:27] And that’s actually why this is so dangerous for them because if they’re perceived as actually picking sides like that which they were in 2016.


John: [00:12:35] I think their platform will develop and he will lose out on billions and billions of dollars that he is worth. So that, he has a lot to lose here and I think that if that article and the picture shows a troubled and worried Zuckerberg.


Matt: [00:12:52] Well here’s the thing, if you even want to be like less cynical about it like you know it’s not some sort of evil conspiracy by lefties to take over the news or whatever. I think what it does really betray though is that like Silicon Valley is a uniform a one party state in terms of the ideology of the people that run these companies and the people who work for them. It is a very, very left leaning place. So even if you have the best of intentions and you work in that environment, you aren’t really exposed to anyone who thinks differently from you. So there’s not like the dissenting voice in the meeting that there needs to be. You know to say maybe we should do it this way instead, you know.


John: [00:13:22] Not like here, right? I mean of course.


Craig: [00:13:33] If you are, right? That’s the bottom line. And they have fire people and I’ve got to finish by quoting a New York Times op ed and it said, talking about Facebook the company. Facebook will not protect us by itself and nothing else less than our democracy is at stake.


Matt: [00:13:44] Totally agree. Totally, totally agree Craig. Thanks so much. I appreciate the update Craig. We will of course talk to you again next week.


Craig: [00:13:54] All right take care. Little word here from the middle of the road.


Matt: [00:13:55] Indeed. Indeed. Thanks a lot Craig.


Craig: [00:14:03] Hey if you guys have a minute I’d really appreciate this. I’m trying to find out what your biggest challenge is. So if you could take a couple of minutes I’ve got a special gift for you at the end. We’ve revamped all of our Dark Web personal intelligence reports and we will give you a free one if you complete this survey here. So here’s how it works. Go to challenge. It will take you no more than about two minutes. I put many hours into this show. In fact we added it up the other day. You know I’ve interviewed more than 8000 CEOs. We’re talking about tens of thousands of hours. And I don’t get paid for any of this and I want to help, right? I want to provide security and services and knowledge and information that’s going to help you stay secure. And the only way I can know that really is if you tell me what your biggest challenges are. So challenge. I hate to harp on this but I really do need your help and I would really appreciate it. Thanks. Talk to you next week actually. Take care. Bye.


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