Unsupervised Learning Newsletter No. 270

News & Analysis

I spend my time reading 3-6 books a month on security, technology, and society—and thinking about what might be coming next. Every Monday I send out a list of the best content I've found in the last week to around 50,000 people. It'll save you tons of time. 

MEMBER EDITION | Ep. 270 | March 1, 2021


Microsoft has released a free tool to hunt SolarWinds malware. It looks at source code for indicators of malware. More

Crowdstrike released its 2021 Global Threat Report. It includes a number of visualizations that capture the attacker ecosystem and how the various players work with each other. More More

SolarWinds' leadership basically said, "an intern did it.", pointing to a weak password that they say lead to the largest cybersecurity breach in US history. More

Three information security whistle-blowers who used to work at Amazon are warning that Amazon is putting customer data at risk, and that nobody is listening to their concerns. More

Google has sponsored two full-time developers to work on Linux security. They say they keep finding bugs so they want to help directly. Awesome, but since Linux is kind of major, how about sponsoring 1,000 developers instead of 2? I mean it's only Linux, right? Like the most important OS on the planet? 2 developers? Are you short on money? Should we do a kickstarter? Maybe a GoFundMe? But at least Google's doing something. Where's everyone else? More

NYC is testing a robotic dog-like creature that looks straight out of Black Mirror. They say it can be sent into dangerous situations to gauge the risk to officers, but people worry about its surveillance capabilities. More

Portswigger has released its Top 10 Web Hacking Techniques for 2020. More

GCHQ says its fully embracing AI to look for patterns in global data. Sounds like a BBC version of Palantir, but with an accent. More

US intelligence says the Saudi crown prince approved the killing of Khashoggi. More


  • Researchers are warning that attackers are using social engineering to go after QuickBooks files. More

  • Attackers are scanning for recent VMware vulnerabilities. Get patched, firewalled, or both. More


  • Attackers have gone after Accellion file-sharing systems, breaking into them and then executing ransomware attacks on the companies running the systems. More

  • Far-right platform Gab has been hacked, with 70GB of private data being made available to researchers, journalists, and social scientists by a group called DDoS Secrets. More


  • SentinelOne is looking at a $10 billion dollar IPO soon. More


Elon says Starlink's satellite internet will hit 300Mbps in 2021. More

Square bought $170 million in Bitcoin. More

Spotify is launching a HiFi version of its service this year, which will compete with Tidal and Qobuz. More


  • Axonius has raised $100 million in Series D funding to do IT Asset Management. More

  • It appears Roblox will go public via direct listing on March 10th. More


Fast Food companies were already thinking about AI for improving their efficiency, but the pandemic has accelerated the trend, just like many predicted. Imagine AI that hears you perfectly every time and doesn't mess up your order. Or get sick. More

A Mt. Sinai epidemiologist Shanna Swan says total sperm count in the Western world has fallen 59% between 1973 and 2011. But wait. I grew up on overpopulation scares. Isn't this good news? More

5.6% of US adults identify as transgender, up from 3.5% in 2012, and 4.5% in 2017. More

Scientists are building a new version of an early warning system for stars going supernova in the Milky Way. More

Restaurants in LA are struggling with a new type of dine-and-dash, where people order takeout via credit card and then reverse the charge with their credit card company. Companies are losing thousands and going out of business because of it. More

Companies are emerging that help influencers connect directly to their superfans via their abstracted personal information. More


  • Newsela has raised $100 million to replace textbooks. More


The Ways We Deceive Ourselves — My recent essay on a key concept in Think Again, by Adam Grant. More

Levels of Joy (Fulfillment) — I recently finished David Brooks' book, The Second Mountain, and this essay captures my number one takeaway from it. More

It's Becoming Difficult to Discuss Interesting Topics With People Who Don't Read (2020) — My piece from 2020 on how essential I think reading is to good thinking and conversation. More

The Intern Did It — SolarWinds leadership blamed the intern, which is complete garbage in my opinion. Security culture at a company is what determines what's possible and not possible. You can see this by contrasting this with the Amazon incident where someone fat-fingered something and took down an entire region. Did Amazon blame the admin? Nope. They said this shouldn't have been possible, and that they're making changes to ensure that it won't be in the future. That's security culture, and security leadership.

What are NFTs? — If you're reading/hearing these words you have probably heard this term recently. NFT stands for Non Fungible Tokens, and they represent digital objects or rights within a particular digital world, and they're built on a blockchain like Ethereum. A good analogy would be buying a personalized concert ticket. The ticket itself only works for you (that's the non-fungible part) and it only has value at that particular concert. So you can't take your ticket stub from a Billie Eilish concert and try to get into a Tool show. They're completely different. So imagine multiple universes inside games or fictional realms in the digital world. Like Pokemon, or Harry Potter, or Lego, where each universe offers characters, or merchandise, or real estate, or whatever, within that digital world. It can have tremendous value, and can be bought and sold, but not exchanged directly for another thing exactly like it (like a dollar). The blockchain manages ownership. An example I'm imagining is like a special mount within World of Warcraft, that only you have, that has value, but that you could sell to someone else. Another example was someone buying part of a virtual race track that allowed them to charge people who race on it. So it's like an art gallery of unique and interesting things, all managed by the blockchain, that you can buy, sell, or trade, but that don't have direct monetary value as a currency themselves. More More


The Kindle reader on the web is better than the standalone application, which is very sad.

I'm currently reading Nicole Perlroth's book, This is How the World Ends, which is about the world of cybercrime and cyberwar, through the lens of the markets around exploits. More

I'm sad that Fry's went out of business. I remember walking into the Fremont store a few years ago and feeling like I was in a haunted cemetery. Half the shelves were empty, I couldn't find an employee anywhere, and there was just a stench of death in the air. I was surprised for a second and then realized in a flash—AMAZON! Welp, creative destruction I guess. RIP. More


Malwarebytes — This is the main tool I've used for malware protection on Windows and Mac for close to a decade. Happy to have them as a show supporter! [SUP] 25% Off Link

Securibee's The Must-Watch InfoSec Talks of 2020 More

Three Things I Did to Become a Data Scientist More

Mothers All Over Are Losing It More

Using Github Issues for Blog Comments More

On Writing More More

A Vim Guide for Advanced Users More

Someone complains about the ambiguous definition of Product-Market Fit, and defines it as 1) your product has found a market, and 2) that market is buying it in a way that's exciting to the creators of the product. More
The OWASP Top 10 for API Security More


If you like TV or Movies in any way, like, at all, you need to check out this anime called Attack on Titan. I've seen the first couple of episodes and they blew me away. The difference between it and regular TV/Movies in the US is remarkable. It's true creativity. It's now in its fourth season and people are absolutely raving about it. More


“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”

~ Albert Camus