walls.corpus

By Nathan L. Walls

  • Sunset, Jan. 2, 2021/Williams Township
  • On Bougher Hill/Williams Township
  • Sunrise, Dec. 19, 2020/Williams Township
  • Sunset, Dec. 27, 2020

🔗 Links for Dec. 30, 2020

Cryptocurrency Start-Up Underpaid Women and Black Employees, Data Shows

Nathaniel Popper reporting for The New York Times:

The fast-growing cryptocurrency start-up Coinbase has been rattled in recent months by tensions between executives and employees who said they were being treated unfairly because of their race or gender.

While management at the company has argued that the complaints were limited to a handful of employees, Coinbase’s own compensation data suggests that inequitable treatment of women and Black workers went far beyond a few disgruntled workers.

The Coinbase figures arrived at by Ms. Marr took account of the job level of all employees, as well as their status as an engineer and manager. It is possible that if the analysis took account of more factors, the pay disparity would shrink.

In the 14 job categories at Coinbase with at least three women, the average woman earned less than the average man in all but two job categories.

Black employees earned less, on average, than white employees in all but one of the eight job categories that had any Black staff members, the analysis by Ms. Marr shows.

The wage disparities are compounded by the fact that women and Black employees were concentrated in the lower-paying jobs at the company.

It does not surprise me in any way to read this about a company whose CEO made loud noises about staff being “mission-focused” and apolitical at work.

It’s Peak Season for Tamales in Los Angeles

Tejal Rao, reporting for The New York Times:

The Mesoamerican dumpling, made with nixtamalized corn dough and a variety of fillings, has been around for thousands of years. Called tamalli in Nahuatl, a language spoken by Indigenous peoples in Mexico and Central America, it’s still referred to in its singular as a tamal, or tamale.

It can be a source of deliciousness, comfort, cultural connection or income, but the tamal is not a monolith, and there’s no single, correct way to make it.

Dr. Jeremy Littau: “I miss Christmas tamale season in California.”

Maybe You Don’t Need Kubernetes

Matthias Endler:

Kubernetes is the 800-pound gorilla of container orchestration.

It powers some of the biggest deployments worldwide, but it comes with a price tag.

Especially for smaller teams, it can be time-consuming to maintain and has a steep learning curve. For what our team of four wanted to achieve at trivago, it added too much overhead. So we looked into alternatives — and fell in love with Nomad.

We use Kubernetes at work. We’re a decently-sized engineering organization with several teams each supporting two or more applications. The complexities are worthwhile for us since our infrastructure team has a common framework for supporting applications deployed with Kubernetes.

For side projects, or a small shop, I would not start with Kubernetes.

The Frightening State of Security Around NPM Package Management

David Bryant Copeland:

I take GitHub’s new security vulnerability notifications seriously, and try to patch my apps whenever something comes up. I recently had trouble doing so for a JavaScript dependency, and uncovered just how utterly complex management of NPM modules is, and how difficult it must be to manage vulnerable packages. And I’m left wanting. I’m also left more concerned than ever that the excessive use of the NPM ecosystem is risky and dangerous.

The problem stems from three issues, each compounding the other:

  • NPM’s management of transitive dependencies that allows many versions of the same module to be active in one app.
  • Core tooling lacking support to identify and remediate the inclusion if insecure modules.
  • Common use of the same package.json for client and server side bundles.

This is an article from 2019, focused on NPM and JavaScript. More broadly, it’s a reminder to truly own your software dependencies. GitHub’s Dependabot is really helpful for getting automated updates, where they’re possible. It is insufficient to rely on it alone and so, the responsibility remains with project maintainers to stay aware and on top of security updates. Choose the your dependencies conservatively and wisely.

Russia’s SolarWinds Attack

Bruce Schneier:

The US prioritizes and spends many times more on offense than on defensive cybersecurity. In recent years, the NSA has adopted a strategy of “persistent engagement,” sometimes called “defending forward.” The idea is that instead of passively waiting for the enemy to attack our networks and infrastructure, we go on the offensive and disrupt attacks before they get to us. This strategy was credited with foiling a plot by the Russian Internet Research Agency to disrupt the 2018 elections.

But if persistent engagement is so effective, how could it have missed this massive SVR operation? It seems that pretty much the entire US government was unknowingly sending information back to Moscow. If we had been watching everything the Russians were doing, we would have seen some evidence of this. The Russians’ success under the watchful eye of the NSA and US Cyber Command shows that this is a failed approach.

And how did US defensive capability miss this? The only reason we know about this breach is because, earlier this month, the security company FireEye discovered that it had been hacked. During its own audit of its network, it uncovered the Orion vulnerability and alerted the US government. Why don’t organizations like the Departments of State, Treasury and Homeland Wecurity regularly conduct that level of audit on their own systems? The government’s intrusion detection system, Einstein 3, failed here because it doesn’t detect new sophisticated attacks — a deficiency pointed out in 2018 but never fixed. We shouldn’t have to rely on a private cybersecurity company to alert us of a major nation-state attack.

Schneier has the most level-headed, thorough, and considered write-up of the SolarWinds incident that I’ve seen so far.