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2 Un-related thoughts.. on Echelon and the recent Skype Outage..

Reading time ~2 min

I suspect somewhere there exist cardinal rules of blogging which would state that using a single post to make 2 completely un-related posts is a no-no.. I will now promptly ignore it 2 push out 2 random thoughts that came up..

Echelon and Echelon spam..

While watching the Bourne Ultimatum the other night the usual “echelon“esque scene played out.. Guy on phone says keyword.. pan to NSA/CIA type building.. computer drone type person screams something like “we have a hot one”..

Now i admit to knowing very little about echelon and how it actually operates, but figure if i lived in the states (where i believe local calls are free) i would have my phone generate echelon spam when not in active use.. Concerns about tying up your line? use it as hold music.. Effectively a bunch of people worried about their privacy should be able to inject enough noise in the system to render it less useful.. it sounds ferpeclty feasible…

Skype and the recent Skype Outage.. skype_logo.png

So lots of people wrote about it (before and after skype’s official response).. Basically on August 16 Skype had a major outage.. this is old news.. but what is really interesting (partly because i only recently finished Talebs “fooled by randomness” is the law of un-intended consequences coming into play.. Skype by many accounts is well engineered and the skype network is built to withstand spikes in usage.. Even its peer-to-peer net has what they call self healing capability.. So what took skype down? a massive botnet? a co-ordinated attack? Windows Patch release cycle.. Turns out that skype was not able to handle the number of machines that all simultaneously re-booted with the last windows update update.. This apparently caused a chain reaction and the rest is history.. its really interesting because with any reasonably complex system, there are always matters beyond the horizon, that are near impossible to see coming..