Weekly output: spotting fakes in e-mails and text messages

Spending most of this week knocked out by a cold had the predictable effects on my productivity, but at least my schedule was clear. That’s not the case this week, which features one day in which I won’t be able to do any work between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.–Tuesday, when I’ll be working as an election officer for Arlington.

2/25/2020: Here’s how hard it is to spot a fake email address or phone number, Fast Company

This post started with an interesting talk I saw at the ShmooCon security conference at the start of February. I’d meant to write up this EmailRep system for automatically rating the credibility of e-mail addresses right after, but breaking news kept intruding. That worked out in okay when a pitch from an old PR rep about did not land in my inbox–because Google thought it belonged in my spam filter, thereby providing the perfect demonstration of how hard it can be for software to decide if an e-mail is suspicious or not.

Weekly output: #DIV/0!

For the first time since two Augusts ago, I have no new bylines in a week. I did file one story, not yet posted, and get much of the reporting done for two others–after losing much of the first two days from having our schools closed after last weekend’s snowstorm–but it’s still annoying to have this post equate to a divide-by-zero error.

And that happened even though I worked for a good chunk of this weekend: I spent most of Saturday at the Shmoocon cybersecurity conference in D.C. I connected with people much better-informed than me, picked up some useful insights that I hope to turn into a post, caught up with an old friend, and enjoyed spotting the hilarious National Security Agency recruitment ad pictured at right. (No, I did not plug in my phone.)

Having this con take place at the Washington Hilton provided a bonus level of amusement. I’ve been at the venue Washingtonians call the Hinckley Hilton for many other events, but none had involved so many people with hair dyed interesting colors and on-message t-shirts (e.g,, “Crypto means cryptography”). That was an excellent change-up from this hotel’s usual overdressed look.