Social Media and the Threat of Mis or is it Dis Information

A long time ago, while installing Voice, Video, and Digital services on Trading Rooms in London and on Wall Street, stories of dis-information and the ability to manipulate the market were often told around the Bar at Harry’s on Hanover Square. Today we see manipulation in the political and economic spheres capable of alternating world order and drives nations into Civil war.

We must find a way of removing the risk of misinformation and restore truth and fair play into everything we hear and do.

Gamestop_mess

What is happening to this country

It is Monday, January 11, 2021. Last week we watched the riots. We saw people breaking into the US Capital and gleefully waving their Trump and Confederate flags as they stormed this house of the people.

This nation is divided. Be they conservatives, or liberals. People who believe in social justice or white supremacy. Or, individuals who align themselves to the left or the right. We are a nation divided!

One can pontificate as the media does.  They fill countless hours as they work to brainwash their followers into believing one story or another. Where is the truth? It lies someplace dormant in the minds of all. To find it we must explore the reaches of the left and the depths of the right. We must understand and contemplate how white supremacy and religious intolerance drives people to hatred.

Christians speak of their Savior Jesus Christ and we read the red words in the Bible. Jesus was the ultimate socialist he believed in a world that cared for each other. He spoke of how we must tolerate, accept, and embrace our enemies. He reminded us of the golden rule – love thy neighbor as you wish to be loved.

Instead, men and women seek to be superior to others. Tribalism and intolerance greed contempt and animosity.

https://andreae.com/Bible/CENTER_OF_THE_BIBLE.pps

Where is our salvation? How do we restore sanity?

Reflecting on the year 2020

This morning I am drawn by the press to reflect on who and what we are.

I was glad to read this editorial from one of the various pro-Trump papers. https://nypost.com/2020/12/27/give-it-up-mr-president-for-your-sake-and-the-nations/

It causes me to believe that this nation would be great if “we the people” found common ground and work together to build upon our ancestors’ creation.

We have issues with race and wealth https://www.minneapolisfed.org/events/2021/racism-and-the-economy-focus-on-education.

This discussion of race then leads us to reflect on our history and how the south effectively established segregation as a means of voter suppression. https://www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2020/12/19/reconstruction-reshaped-america-along-lines-contested-today

We distort the truth to satisfy the minds of those in power. Greed and pride are two sins we each must own and work to remove from our evil character.

We must remember, we construct history to serve those who seek to control and influence our young and impressionable children https://twitter.com/pandreae/status/1343923775998455810.

The courts, multiple states Attorney Generals, and those who ran the elections in over 9,000 jurisdictions all agree we worked tirelessly in the face of a pandemic to enable the American citizens’ right to vote. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/election-lessons-2020

We must respect the people’s decision and stop attempting to claim fraud when no one can convince a court of law and the republican judges appointed by Donald Trump that there was massive voter fraud.

We then must also recognize there was an active attempt to intimate people. https://www.propublica.org/article/pistols-a-hearse-and-trucks-playing-chicken-why-some-voters-felt-harassed-and-intimidated-at-the-polls White men banishing guns carrying Trump flags is the typical image we saw throughout this nation.

And, Today, our President shares his anger with the general public https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump.

It is time we restore order, accept the will of the people, and work together for the future we all crave.

The question we must ask is why

Why do we allow lobbyists to have so much influence?

Why do members of Congress forget the people they represent and focus on themselves and the will of the vocal minorities?

Why are people so willing to embrace conspiracy theories and follow such charismatic leaders as Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler?

Why can’t the media simply provide a neutral report of the news and not taint the news with opinion?

Why has this country become so divided?

Where are we in this age of dis-information

It is 11 AM December 6 and I wonder about the past and future of the United States of America.  The news is divided.  There are those that focus on the Trump-centric right-wing media.  There are then those that focus on the Biden-centric left-wing media. The challenge where is the truth. For those capable and willing to watch both sides of the story we may be able to fathom reality.  For those fixated on one side or the other, they are no longer are capable of appreciating where the middle of this country lies.

November 3 we had an election and over the next several weeks it became clear that Joe Biden would be our new president. Unfortunately, the current president Donald Trump could not nor would not accept the fact he lost.

In 2016 the popular vote said he lost. Based on how our Constitution is written, the electoral college decided he won. We had to accept this truth and we had to get on with life.

The challenge, since then we have had to live with the lies, the untruths, and the constant cry “fake news”.  We had to deal with the constant barrage of POTUS reminding us he is a narcissist, he is the president of the United States, and recognize he was allowed to lie to the public.  Is he sane one might ask.  Are we?

 

 

Digital Identity and Authentic Relationships

When we think of investing in various businesses the goal, of course, is revenue. One of the keys to such success is loyalty. Loyalty is all about the relationship companies create with their customers and the revenue these relationships assure.

If the buyer has something the seller wants, in exchange for the good or service they desire, then a transaction occurs. The challenge is simple, each party defines the value of what they are providing or exchanging and presto the trade occurs.

When society grows and the complexity of what each of us produces and when our needs are not aligned to this process called barter, a means of monetization is established. Society creates a trusted means of exchange – pebbles, coins, money, a promissory note or now even, some would argue, cryptocurrencies.

In other words, society created an answer to enable the exchange of goods and services between parties, who do not have the goods and services the other party seeks.

With cash, coins or other tangible representations of value, commerce is easy. When society does not develop a secure and trusted means of facilitating the exchange of things commerce, innovation and a good life cannot be achieved. To this end, paper money is imbued with ‘value’ based on the integrity of the party issuing the physical or now electronic ‘money’. The addition of the word ‘electronic’ brings technology, computers, and networks into the conversation. One network, typically referred to as the Automated Clearing House ‘ACH’ allows banks to electronic instruct the movement of ‘money from an account at one bank to an account at another.

The addition of the word ‘electronic’ brings technology, computers, and networks into the conversation. One network, typically referred to as the Automated Clearing House ‘ACH’ allows banks to electronic instruct the movement of ‘money from an account at one bank to an account at another.
In the 1958 Bank of America created Visa Inc., in 1964 the Wallenberg family created Eurocard, and then in 1966 a collection of banks banded together to create the Interbank Card Association, Mastercharge and now MasterCard.

These payment networks, by necessity, add complexity. They create the need to establish a two sided market. On one side the relationship with the buyer, consumer, or cardholder. On the other side if this market the seller, merchant, or retailer.

Issuance and Acceptance. Two words to describe the two sides of a network. It’s only when the two sides of the market have sufficient participants. Only at the tipping point, when critical mass exists, can one claim to have created a self-sustaining network. A network of people promoting use to buyers and a network of merchants willing to accept payment based on the terms and conditions defined by the network. Beginning at this tipping point, the network and it’s Brand blossoms. If either side of the market does not achieve critical mass, the network collapses.

Relationships – The oil of commerce

Any two entities familiar and trusting in the Brand, or each other, can easily establish a temporary relationship with entities associated with the brand. If one or more of the entities require anonymity increases the level of trust and recognition the Brand must establish with these participants.

In a digital environment, we are in need of mechanisms to share and establish trust across trillions of electrons. The two sides of a relationship, in other words, the market, will not take the time to understand or appreciate the need for network and endpoint security; until the risk exceeds a threshold understood by the participants.

The Artifact of Trust

When a mutually trusted set of parties gives the citizen, consumer, employee or courtier a letter, card, device or any uniquely registered object, and provides every acceptor with a reader capable of recognizing the trusted thing. Then the two parties are in a position to establish “trust”. The consumer has a thing which is recognized and trusted by the acceptor. This is often referred to as “What You Have”.

Once the thing is recognized by the acceptor, then, the process of identification and authorizations (the transaction) can take place. The object – the artifact – carries an identifier. It possesses unique characteristics. The object also possesses a means of assuring the acceptor the presentation of that identifier represents a unique representation of that identifier.

The simplest artifact of establishing “trust” is a handheld thing, be it a key, fob, card, watch, pendant, phone, earpiece. It does not matter what it is, all that counts is that the merchant recognizes it and that the consumer is willing to carry and present it.

Trust, for the merchant, means they can, according to defined procedures, recognize and authenticate the thing. They are then in a position to pursue a temporary and trusted relationship. What can be achieved during the time the relationship of trusted is bounded, is constrained by an additional layer. In this layer the consumer, the acceptor and any third parties address which the rights and privileges are to be granted or pursued. This is when the exchange, sale, conversation, tranaction, event or access is granted.

Am I or am I not

While walking the beach at the moment of the low tide the idea of the digital native emerge.  A boy maybe 5 years of age, clearly born to this age.  Am I simply a digital immigrant born as computer emerged as massive tabulating machines.  Paper tape and punch cards I remember loading into computers as I fit learned how easy it was to cause a computer to go into an endless loop.

Communications and the protocols designed to assure the delivery of binary data.  Keyboards, printers and screenc capable of inputting and outputting letters and number we these living creates could comprehend.  Cable and sound waves allowed us to transfer these streams of commands and information across what was to become to information highway we now call the Internet.  Our imagination was limited by speed of the technology until we harnessed light and shot it down a fiber cable capable of traversing great oceans and deep under our city streets.  Far off lands and ships floating on the ocean surface could be reached with radio waves bounced off of satellite high above our heads.

People who came before us struggle to appreciate what how technology has reshaped the world.  They knew of telegraph and the telephone and probably remember speaking to an operator to make a connection.  For them to grasp the ability to actually use a watch similar to what Dick Tracy used is science fiction made real.  Their children, my generation, grew up with the television and as a teenager watch Neal Armstrong walk on the moon.  We grew up worrying about termo nuclear disaster whereas our parents grew up being told of the great war when men spent years hunker down in trenches and dieing on battle field in the tens of thousands. They came age as we learned how to harness the atom and decimate cities with a single bomb blast.

Voting in the age of technology

Voter suppression, voter apathy and voter regret are what we feel, hear and must tolerate.

COVID-19 the corona virus and the ranting of the American President set the stage of an interesting lead up to the November election.

How will we assure the success of the election.  We worry about polling places not being open creating very long lines at those polling places we are able to open. We think about Vote by Mail and wonder if some states will even allow those seeking to maintain social distance to request and absentee ballot.  Worse still he whose name should not be spoken will accept the results of an election where a significant segment of the population will have taken advantage of the healthier Vote Remote option.

All this said there is another way to enabling the people to express their opinion.  We could take advantage of technology. We should ignore those who live in the past and argue technology can never be secured and call this “settled science”. We could bring together the practitioners who are securing technology and ask them to work together to make sure those solutions already pilot tested are as secure as is possible.

Voatz has created a Remote Ballot Marking solution built on the secure foundation of current generation mobile devices. A platform built to mutually authenticate the verified voter is eligible to vote, the device they are using is secure and not infected with malicious software, the communications is encrypted to assure no one can see who the voter decided to vote for, the secure cannot be hacked and each vote is immutable.

All of these security precautions then enhanced with sophisticate detection techniques designed to monitor and make sure those who attempt to attack the system are identified and prosecuted.

Security is inherent in Voatz’s design as is the simplicity of the user interface. A user interface designed to assure everyone, no matter their situation or disability to ability to vote.

Voatz began by focusing on serving our military. People who do not have access to printers, the post office or any other means of casting their ballot. What they do have is a mobile phone and access to the internet. Voatz makes sure they could vote. Voatz then saw an opportunity to serve those with disabilities. With these two constituent solved for Voatz is ready to help each and every America election authority protect your right to vote.

The next step is for you the people to demand the ability to vote. Ask the secretary of state or lieutenant governor to work with Voatz to offer Vote by a Phone as an option this year.

Sunday June 7th 2020

Since early February, we here in the United States have had to live with the coronavirus and its economic implications. Over the last two weeks, we have confronted with the reality of our racist tendencies. Over the last 20+ years, this country has fractured into the left the Democrats and the right the Republicans; groups like the tea party have driven these tribal tendencies who wish to engender their thoughts on everyone.

The sense of discomfort that lives within my soul creates tensions and a sense of despair. If only we could see the light.  If only we could believe the truth.  If only we could come together as one people each of us would be much happier and able to live a more productive and satisfying life

What can I do? What can you do to change the way we think to change the way we act to change the way we embrace each other? Some would remind us of the works of great religious leaders such as Jesus Christ, Lao-Tzu, Confucius Siddhartha Gautama. Men and I am sure women who have spoken of peace and tranquility.  They talked about friendship and the bonds of togetherness? It is these bonds of friendship we have to find again.  It is the ability to accept and embrace each other we need to remember. We need to stop arguing with each other. We need to start embracing each other. We need to remember that debate is a good thing, while arguments are not.

When I was a young man, I believed it would take three generations for us to address are the racial tensions in this country. I think my problem then was from which age do we begin; it was not the generation that I came from the baby boomers. Maybe not even Gen X. It needs to have a fresh start. It needs to be built on the beliefs of togetherness. Yesterday evening we watched a documentary about Thurgood Marshall. I had no idea how complexed the arguments and the legal battles have been to reach where we are today. The Jim Crow laws so divisive created the division in the South. Separate but equal established a baseline to segregate those of color from those who believed they had the power.

I so much want to walk forward into a world where peace is the norm where cooperation is how we work together.  But, the tension, the tribal tendency, seems to be deeply ingrained in our human psyche. It is the human psyche we need to address. We need to transform our thinking from that of fight and right to that of compassion, cooperation, and solidarity.

What more can I say? I can only pray that ‘we the people’ will find the way forward. That ‘we the people,’ will work together to find a more peaceful union. That we, the people, will finally achieve what the founders envisioned. What some would say God offered us in the Garden of Eden before we fit into the fruit of knowledge. We should harness understanding for good.

Settled science

In March 2020, I moved from the payments industry into the election industry. This movement caused me to wonder about democracy, politics, academia, and the world of technology. What amazed me is how computer science academics could rail at the idea, technology could be used to innovate on the election process. Years ago I imagined participating in a national referendum simply by opening a browser searching for the government website and voting on the measures and contests currently under consideration.

Unfortunately what I’ve learned troubles me.  Certain clusters of intelligent individuals believe that they know best.  They stigmatize technology and argue that a human being, who writes software, could leave unintended bugs which might lead to unintended consequences.  They forget software is an evolutionary science.  Through piloting, continuous improvement, testing, and rigorous testing we can eliminate bugs and create stable and secure critically important applications serving our financial, health, national security, and public interests.

Recently in a letter written by verified voting, a nonprofit organization, the word settled science appeared. An intriguing word, an intriguing phrase.  I was driven to wonder what did it mean. From my high school years, science was an evolutionary process.  A hypothesis was put forward. it was tested.  If it was found to be false a new hypothesis was offered, it was tested and on the scientific community went.  In one article when googling “Settled Science” I was intrigued to read the word oxymoron followed by an explanation of how if Sir Isaac Newton’s beliefs had been settled science Albert Einstein would never have been able to put forward the concepts of general relativity.

This whole conversation feels very much like a religion, a church, who has a dogmatic belief in the written word of the Bible being the written and only word of God.  We forget how man inserts himself into every dialogue.  Too often we insert our beliefs on others.  Maybe “Settled Science” is the dogmatic belief that we are right and everyone else is wrong.

If this is the case then how do we move forward? If scientists – academics force there will on society than society has lost its objectivity.

The Means of Payment And the Method of Payment

The method of payment should be related to how we execute and not from where the money comes.  The means of payment should relate to the source of funds.

Too often, we allow these terms to get lost.  Is tapping a payment card at the point of sale or typing in the 16 digits printed or embossed on the card a means of payment?  I would argue not! This is the method we use to inform the merchant how they will be paid for the goods and services we seek to procure.

When we talk about the means of payment, we should focus on the source of funds.  Are these funds held on deposit, funds in the wallet, or a loan of funds?

Our vocabulary is rich in confusion.  These two words in the complex space of payments need to have independents reason.

As an example, I use Apple Pay to pay does not mean Apple is involved in managing the funds.  It is simply the method used to share the payment card details with the merchant, enabling the merchant to request funds from the account selected by the user through the Apple Pay user interface.

The Card Was and Is Only a Credential Carrier

Cash is here to stay – cards are the true dinosaurs

This question of the extinction of the payment card is misleading. 

What is a payment card?  It is the carrier of a set of credentials, A means of Identification offering financial Attributes capable of being authenticated by a party seeking to sell something to the individual or entity presenting the credential as a mechanism to assure payment.

Back when credit cards were designed, the goal was to offer merchants a guarantee of payment and anonymous consumers a means of paying.  Behind this means of payment, a financial institution, the issuer, provides the consumer with a “Line of Credit”.

On the merchant side, another financial institution buys these guaranteed receivables from the merchant and charges the merchant a “merchant discount”.  Later that day the Issuing Institution advances payment to the Acquiring Institution based on an agreed set of terms and operating rules. Terms and conditions the involved financial institutions collectively agreed upon.

For this method of payment to be effective, a large number of consumers and merchants had to agree to participate; hence the financial institutions came together and formed what we now know as MasterCard and Visa.

Given the state of technology at the time it was essential this new mechanism work without the burden and expense associated with the merchant, supported by the acquirer, contacting the issuer to receive approval, or, in stronger terms be assured of a guarantee of payment.  To achieve this result, the merchant needed something to acquire the necessary information to submit a request for payment.  For both the merchants and financial institutions,, there had to be a means of authentication. Designed to assure the responsible parties of the authenticity of the person or entity to present their payment credentials.

To accomplish this goal, just like with money, physical security features are integrated into the payment card designed to allow the merchant to authenticate the uniqueness of the card carrying the payment credential, thus assuring the merchant of the authenticity of the card.

Overtime criminals successfully counterfeited these security features.

As these features were compromised additional features had to be added.

Today, a computer has been embedded inside the card, in order to assure the authenticity of the payment card credentials being presented to the merchant.

These computers embedded onto the front of a payment card exploit the power of cryptography.  Cryptographic certificates and digital signatures are created by and for these computers, allowing:

    • The Issuer (symmetric cryptography) to support Online Authentication
    • The merchant (asymmetric cryptography) to support Offline Data Authentication

These two mechanisms prove to the merchant and issuer that the card is unique and the data, credentials, and digital signature it contains or produces are authentic.

Once all the merchants have are capable of reading the data from the chip card, the security features of the card become redundant. 

As these features become redundant and the merchants embrace Near Field Communications, based on the ISO 14443 standard, the issuer can replace the card form factor with anything equipped with the necessary computational capabilities and ability to communicate with the terminal over the NFC interface.

This is exactly what Apple Pay and Google Pay have done.  They replaced the card with a device.  Yes, the Payment Card may become redundant.  But, the Payment Credentials they contain, remain.

What we know as card payments, is fundamentally an account-based solution. Money, through the defined settlement process, ultimately move from the line of credit or deposit account of the buyer, through a series of accounts with the participating financial institutions, to the account of the merchant.

Card-based credential payments
simply become
Device-based credential payments

 

What has this world come to

When we listen to the news, we must think first of the bias of the reporter. This unfortunate truth is troubling in a world where the United States leader speaks of fake news and uses Twitter to stir up the masses. This body of citizens struggles with truth and is easily bent to believe what the leader says.

This particular charismatic leader, like many others in the past, can cause people to believe anything. The challenge, these same people will follow both those with high morals and those without.

Jesus Christ, Siddhartha Gautama, Confucius, Laozi, and a few others spoke wisely and became spiritual leaders many continue to follow.

To name one well remembered, Hitler, like the recent President of this great country, spread lies, and fermented hatred.

How can we rise above when so many are unwilling or unable to see the truth.  We must rise above the madness these charismatic immoral individuals ferment.

That is the concern I have felt since first I looked upon the control a church exerts upon the mass.

Is hell for those who are wrong because I am right

This article offers an interesting perspective on what we believe Heaven and Hell is.  It draws one to think like much of what history is.  It is the thinking of people designed to categorize and allows one to pridefully assume they are either the best or the worst.

Hell therefore in thinking this way, it is for all those people who do not believe as you or are wrong because you are right.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/opinion/sunday/christianity-religion-hell-bible.html

Why Do People Believe in Hell?

The idea of eternal damnation is neither biblically, philosophically nor morally justified. But for many it retains a psychological allure.

By David Bentley Hart

Dr. Hart is a philosopher, scholar of religion and cultural critic.

Once the faith of his youth had faded into the serene agnosticism of his mature years, Charles Darwin found himself amazed that anyone could even wish Christianity to be true. Not, that is, the kindlier bits — “Love thy neighbor” and whatnot — but rather the notion that unbelievers (including relatives and friends) might be tormented in hell forever.

It’s a reasonable perplexity, really. And it raises a troubling question of social psychology. It’s comforting to imagine that Christians generally accept the notion of a hell of eternal misery not because they’re emotionally attached to it, but because they see it as a small, inevitable zone of darkness peripheral to a larger spiritual landscape that — viewed in its totality — they find ravishingly lovely. And this is true of many.

But not of all. For a good number of Christians, hell isn’t just a tragic shadow cast across one of an otherwise ravishing vista’s remoter corners; rather, it’s one of the landscape’s most conspicuous and delectable details.

I know whereof I speak. I’ve published many books, often willfully provocative, and have vexed my share of critics. But only recently, in releasing a book challenging the historical validity, biblical origins, philosophical cogency and moral sanity of the standard Christian teaching on the matter of eternal damnation, have I ever inspired reactions so truculent, uninhibited and (frankly) demented.

I expect, of course, that people will defend the faith they’ve been taught. What I find odd is that, in my experience, raising questions about this particular detail of their faith evinces a more indignant and hysterical reaction from many believers than would almost any other challenge to their convictions. Something unutterably precious is at stake for them. Why?

After all, the idea comes to us in such a ghastly gallery of images: late Augustinianism’s unbaptized babes descending in their thrashing billions to a perpetual and condign combustion; Dante’s exquisitely psychotic dreamscapes of twisted, mutilated, broiling souls; St. Francis Xavier morosely informing his weeping Japanese converts that their deceased parents must suffer an eternity of agony; your poor old palpitant Aunt Maude on her knees each night in a frenzy of worry over her reprobate boys; and so on.

Surely it would be welcome news if it turned out that, on the matter of hell, something got garbled in transmission. And there really is room for doubt.

No truly accomplished New Testament scholar, for instance, believes that later Christianity’s opulent mythology of God’s eternal torture chamber is clearly present in the scriptural texts. It’s entirely absent from St. Paul’s writings; the only eschatological fire he ever mentions brings salvation to those whom it tries (1 Corinthians 3:15). Neither is it found in the other New Testament epistles, or in any extant documents (like the Didache) from the earliest post-apostolic period. There are a few terrible, surreal, allegorical images of judgment in the Book of Revelation, but nothing that, properly read, yields a clear doctrine of eternal torment. Even the frightening language used by Jesus in the Gospels, when read in the original Greek, fails to deliver the infernal dogmas we casually assume to be there.

On the other hand, many New Testament passages seem — and not metaphorically — to promise the eventual salvation of everyone. For example: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18) Or: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) Or: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) (Or: John 13:32; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; and others.)

Admittedly, much theological ink has been spilled over the years explaining away the plain meaning of those verses. But it’s instructive that during the first half millennium of Christianity — especially in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic and Semitic East — believers in universal salvation apparently enjoyed their largest presence as a relative ratio of the faithful. Late in the fourth century, in fact, the theologian Basil the Great reported that the dominant view of hell among the believers he knew was of a limited, “purgatorial” suffering. Those were also the centuries that gave us many of the greatest Christian “universalists”: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus the Blind, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsus and others.

Of course, once the Christian Church became part of the Roman Empire’s political apparatus, the grimmest view naturally triumphed. As the company of the baptized became more or less the whole imperial population, rather than only those people personally drawn to the faith, spiritual terror became an ever more indispensable instrument of social stability. And, even today, institutional power remains one potent inducement to conformity on this issue.

Still, none of that accounts for the deep emotional need many modern Christians seem to have for an eternal hell. And I don’t mean those who ruefully accept the idea out of religious allegiance, or whose sense of justice demands that Hitler and Pol Pot get their proper comeuppance, or who think they need the prospect of hell to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Those aren’t the ones who scream and foam in rage at the thought that hell might be only a stage along the way to a final universal reconciliation. In those who do, something else is at work.

Theological history can boast few ideas more chilling than the claim (of, among others, Thomas Aquinas) that the beatitude of the saved in heaven will be increased by their direct vision of the torments of the damned (as this will allow them to savor their own immunity from sin’s consequences). But as awful as that sounds, it may be more honest in its sheer cold impersonality than is the secret pleasure that many of us, at one time or another, hope to derive not from seeing but from being seen by those we leave behind.

How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?

Not to sound too cynical. But it’s hard not to suspect that what many of us find intolerable is a concept of God that gives inadequate license to the cruelty of which our own imaginations are capable.

An old monk on Mount Athos in Greece once told me that people rejoice in the thought of hell to the precise degree that they harbor hell within themselves. By which he meant, I believe, that heaven and hell alike are both within us all, in varying degrees, and that, for some, the idea of hell is the treasury of their most secret, most cherished hopes — the hope of being proved right when so many were wrong, of being admired when so many are despised, of being envied when so many have been scorned.

And as Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

David Bentley Hart is the author, most recently, of “That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation.”

Cryptocurrency – built on the hopes and dreams of the masses

As is my habit each morning I run through a serious of Google Alerts scanning and reading those that tweak my interest.  One of these alerts helps me to stay abreast of what is happening in the crypto market.  Most often times the articles present the hype and expectation of those enamored with Bitcoin and the excitement the last ten years of cryptocurrency excitement has wrought.

One article’s conclusion deserves a bit more thought.

5 Costly Tech Mistakes Crypto Beginners Make

There’s a lot of money to be made in cryptocurrency, but it belongs to those who can avoid making ruinous mistakes.

Whether you’re trading or mining, it is important to treat your endeavor with the utmost care and diligence.

As a crypto newcomer, you will go much farther and enjoy success if you note these tech-mistakes and steer clear of them.

  This middle sentence once again reinforces my skepticism.

What is behind these immaterial assets?

Is the price of a bitcoin simply the result of the actions of crypto believers, speculators, and gamblers?

Is a cryptocurrencies price driven by the value of the reward required by miners to cover their cost for electric, space and computer resources?

Unlike the US dollar, the British pound, Swiss Franc or other stable country issued currency built on “trust” in the future of the USA, UK or Switzerland;  these new currencies are built on peoples’ belief in a speculative and trustless cryptographic universe.

In essence, these cryptocurrencies are built on
The hopes and dreams of many

Behind all of this is the cost of supporting these cryptocurrencies.  Costs measured in electric bills and the investment in racks of mining resources “computers”.  Is it the ever-increasing need for computation power that drives the ever-increasing need for higher rewards set against the process of halving, apparently designed to address inflation.

This mystery of “inflation” leaves me wondering if inflation of the price a built-in part of a scheme to assure the original and still invested success of the few?

EMVCo Good or Evil

https://www.securepaymentspartnership.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Payment_Insecurity_Final.pdf

In 1993, I was asked by the then CEO of Europay International to establish a relationship with Mastercard, and Visa focused on developing the specifications necessary to assure the interoperability of chip card-based security for credit and debit payment cards. The result published in 1996 was the “EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specifications for Payment Systems.”

From these humble beginnings, EMVCo has emerged as a key organization in managing the standards behind card payment systems.  In the white paper Payment Insecurity, commissioned by the Secure Payment Partnership, the author reminds us of the difference between standards managed by an open body and those tightly controlled by an exclusive group of competitors. One wonders if the owners of EMVCo will listen and strive to open up their membership or continue to use this entity to protect their proprietary interests.

In the introduction, the author speaks of a series of questions he intends to address.  The first question of the paper

Is EMVCo furthering the entire U.S. payments industry or simply protecting Visa and Mastercard’s market share? page 5

begs the question, why limit the discussion to the USA?

This American only focus is driven by the desires of the Unaffiliated Debit Networks and a set of merchants.  The paper ignores fundamental and, yes, anti-competitive elements of the EMV specification – the AID or the Application Identifier.  It was and is directly related to the Brand responsible for the underlining technology incorporated into the Chip.

I then read the following complaint and am driven to ask how the consumer interpreted the prior Debit versus Credit prompts.

Visa’s response to this solution was to require merchants to display to consumers a choice between “Visa Debit” and “U.S.
Debit” at checkout. – page 13

In essence, what Visa required was simple, the terminal should comply with the EMV specification for “application selection,” key and inherent in the multi-application design of EMV and the underlining ISO 7816.

Moving further into the document in Section 6.1, the author attempts to document the history leading to the creation of EMVCo.  As one of the founding members, the author’s sources were not involved and did not understand the history.

First, only France had a smart card solution designed to address Credit and Debit card fraud.  They referred to their implementation as B Zero Prime.

Second, the UK in 1995 was driven by Visa to embrace an earlier version of the Visa specifications adapted to the unique requirements of the UK market and branded UKIS.  UKIS and the unique UK requirements are responsible for changing many of the shall’s in the EMV 2.0 version of the specifications to should’s in the EMV 3.0 version.  This accommodation was the result of legacy limitation within the X25 network the United Kingdom depended on for card authorizations.

To further identify issues with his record of history, the statement on page 22

EMVCo developed standards for chip cards that could work with credit, debit and stored-value cards

It is fair to suggest EMV attempted to incorporate Stored-Value cards in the specification.  But as a result of the competitive realities of Europay’s Clip, Mastercard’s Mondex, and Visa Visa Cash stored value solutions, they agreed to exclude stored value cards from the specifications.

It then goes on to suggest EMV compromised and offered a Signature option.  There was not a compromise; it was intentional.  The goal, afford the Issuer the ability to determine, by Cardholder, which cardholder verification method they could be configured for.  One need was to address issues of the disabled, e.g., the Blind.

Debit Routing as a result of the Durbin amendment.  One might wonder why EMV did not consider this idea of multiple networks associated with a card.

EMVCo was unable and unwilling to resolve the lack of a debit AID because EMV was never designed for the U.S. market.

I sense that there is another front coming out of the Debit Networks seeking to argue the anti-competitive nature of EMV.  The paper, link below, draws me to wonder about the argumentation surrounding “Application Selection.”  Please let’s get back to basics – the “AID=Brand=Payment Scheme” drives “Routing.”

On page 13, it argues consumer confusion.   I would argue it ignores the past.  The EMV default user prompts of “Visa Debit” and “US Debit” are no more confusing than the historic “Credit,” and “Debit” prompts.  I would argue consumer confusion already existed.  The EMV specification for Application Selection simply afforded the Issuer the ability to provide more descriptive prompts by employing the “Application Preferred Name” instead of the default “Application Label.”

This whole fight surrounding EMV and Payment Security is really a fight about the future of Card Payments.  On one face, they argue the Payment Networks did not assure the security of the card payments to protect revenue. On the other hand, they argue EMVCo is a closed standards organization designed to protect and assure the interests of its shareholders, without consideration for the other stakeholders in the payment, e.g., the merchant.

In the end, the argument comes down to the role, definition, and control.   How we structure the underlining payment transaction is what we need to talk about.  Who provides the mechanism, guarantee, and support for a particular mechanism decides the rules.

In the Digital world certificates replace so many things

What is a certificate? A certificate as defined by Merriam Webster

certificate noun

1: a document containing a certified statement especially as to the truth of something
specifically: a document certifying that one has fulfilled the requirements of and may practice in a field

2: something serving the same end as a certificate

3: a document evidencing ownership or debt

certificate verb

: to testify to or authorize by a certificate

When we designed the EMV specification we employed a cryptographic mechanism to assure the merchant and ultimately the issuer of the presence of a uniquely issued payment card.  The goal, address the weakness of the security features then present on a physical payment card.

For the merchant – a local mechanism capable of allowing the device – the point of sale to attest to the membership of that card to the family of cards issued under one of the Payment Network brands.

For the Issuer – a mechanism where the card signed transaction details the merchant would forward a digital certificate – the cryptogram – to the issuer for authentication.  This cryptogram included in the message sent to the issuer assured the issuer, the card they issued; was presented to the merchant as a means of payment, for the transaction.

What is a payment card? – It is a certificate, issued by a financial institution, designed to guarantee the merchant will be paid – if they follow the agreed payment brand rules.

What is a ticket? – It is a certificate, issued by the movie theater, or a designated vendor, granting access to some venue or event.

What is a license? – It is a certificate, issued by some authority identifying your right to be or the ability to do something.

In the digital world, certificates are strings of characters, such as 2FG%4T678&b23, created, using some mechanism, by an Authority.  The readers, of these characters, use the certificate to Authenticate the uniqueness and Authority associated with the presentation of this certificate by someone or thing to something or someone.

 

A morning to reflect

The Sunday after Christmas and one wonders if people are here thinking of family, food, fun. Or, if they are reflecting on the wonder of words Jesus spoke, the majesty of his message and the wholeness of the teaching of love, peace, mercy, and friendship.

Instead, one is drawn to reflect on reality. A world divided along religious, racial and cultural lines. Be it right from left, liberal from conservative or male from female.

I was once told to never ask the WHY question.  Yet, it is this one question we each must consider when we think of the divisions surrounding us.

A new year is around the corner. The ability to change is inherent in all of us. the challenge is to put friendship and love first. Then we can think of bounty and the goodness of this earth.

First, we must put our mind to preserving the majesty of what the creator enabled.

To Identify or to Authenticate what is the difference?

Today I read an article on LinkedIn

 ‘Identification’ is to give an answer to the question of ‘Who is he/she?’, while ‘Authentication’ is to answer ‘Is he/she the person who he/she claims to be?’

This distinction for me is clear.  Yet, based on this article, and personal observation, people do not appreciate the unique difference between these two words.

For those who remember the film War Games, the two young adults were able to access the game simply by learning tidbits about the author of the program.  “Joshua” is the critical fact our young hackers unveiled.  This single word was both the identifier and the password.  A simplistic form of Identification which some may confuse with Authentication.

Our driver’s license number, credit card numbers, passport number, social security number, employee number, email address or other aliases; are identifiers.  These values are and should have remained, simple means of linking someone to the person who initially registered on a web site.

We then link these identifiers to a means of Authentication, an Authenticator.  We then use the authenticator combined with the identifier to assure Identification.  The recent NIST  800-63 standard defines the strength of an Authenticator.  The simple reality the authenticator can be a combination of things you know, things you have, and things you are.  Combining these factors create different strengths of Authentication.

Back in the day, a password, if properly constructed, was a very strong means of authentication.  Unfortunately remembering numerous and unique passwords is unmanageable.

One of the issues we face is how so many entities, companies, and other enterprises have taken the identifier and allowed it to also become a means of Identification, a secret.

As soon as a simple number or string of letters designed as public information, to be shared with others; became a means of Identification we created an untenable situation.