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Web Warts

A web wart is a type of Modal, Popup, Drop-down, Slide-in, Banner, Useless widget or other Annoying element that comes to greet you on your visit to a web page; there are many shapes and sizes. First time visitors are particularly susceptible to wart attacks. Many such warts can be removed by striking their weak spot, often a small [x]. If you do not pay attention to them, they persist, eat page space and proliferate. Web warts tend to reappear after a few days and can be hard to fully get rid of. Some you cannot remove, and some of those even tag along as you scroll the page.

A very common type of web wart is the Cookie Monster Modal that begs of you to Accept all. Such warts offer several options for you to annihilate them, but if you do not choose their own preferred way of dying, they will often come back the next day or next week or next month.

Every day the warts of the web increase in numbers. Landing on a new web site is like encountering an impenetrable wall of weeds. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to whack it all away, equipped with a sharp pointy weapon. More often than not, your best bet is to just leave. There are many sources of truth these days.

I hate Web Warts.

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Hardware Other

EU puts pressure on smartphone manufacturers

In August of 2020, I wrote a post about how smartphone manufacturers fail to provide a long enough period of security updates to the devices they sell. Leaving the market to itself has obviously lead to planned obsolescence being the norm for Android-based devices, where it is necessary to buy a new phone every 2–3 years to stay secure. But things might change for the better. The European Commission is planning to extend [1] its Ecodesign and Energy labelling directive to also apply to smartphone (and similar) products, and with it comes requirements to reparability and minimum security update support period. Currently proposed is a 5 year period for such products, which is great news. Going further, Germany is lobbying [2] to get a 7 year support period for updates and spare parts. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this.

On a personal note, I ended up buying a new Samsung S21 phone, after Sony stopped updates for my two year old Xperia compact. The Samsung phone is too big, but I could not find a better alternative. And I will likely get at least 4 years of updates. I have no need to replace my smartphone every 2 years and contribute to such ridiculous resource waste.

References

  1. Heise online article (translated to English):
    https://www-heise-de.translate.goog/news/EU-plant-Energielabel-und-strenge-Umweltregeln-fuer-Smartphones-und-Tablets-6171979.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en
  2. Heise online article (translated to English):
    https://www-heise-de.translate.goog/news/Bundesregierung-Smartphones-sollen-sieben-Jahre-lang-Updates-erhalten-6179995.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en
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About trust and the Norwegian contact tracking app

The Norwegian government is doing their best to combat the pandemic. Well, mostly. The digital contact tracing initiative, in the form of an app called “Smittestopp”, from the institute of public health is a clear exception. Dear government, a question arises: how do you expect to gain trust when at each important turn your decisions, actions and elusiveness only creates distance, suspicion and speculation ?

You keep the source code closed. And defend this decision with arguments to the likes of security by obscurity, commerical interest, “we are not used to open sourcing” and an unsubstantiated fear of tech leakage to other not so nice governments. Weak at best !

Be open, honest, collaborative and willing to share, gain trust.

You pollute what should be the maximally important purpose: contact tracing. By use of centralized (and foreign) storage of detailed GPS tracking data for research purposes. (Then also failing to describe how exactly the anonymization process will work.)

Keep it to the point, do privacy by design, gain trust.

You release the app with permanent user identifier broadcasting. Leading to real world security issues in production.

Respect privacy, listen to expert advice, gain trust.

The CEO of Simula Aslak Tveito calls for shame in a public letter. On those who elect not to install a voluntary and heavily criticised application.

https://www.simula.no/news/thank-you-simulas-ceo, April 21 2020

Be humble, understanding and generous, gain trust.


I can only hope there will be a new simpler version of the app made solely for the purpose of contact tracing. Open source and with privacy by design.