Sneak remembers his first cigarette, a rather clichéd affair involving bike sheds, peer pressure and no shortage of coughing. He decided that putting tubes of burning paper and dried leaves into his mouth was not for him.
Ever since then Sneak has been the one who looks after people's coats at the pub. But apparently, smoking can be quite moreish.
For Sir Walter Raleigh fans who aren't in denial about the warnings liberally plastered over tobacco packaging, electronic cigarettes offer a nicotine vapour-fuelled alternative to a tar-filled respiratory system.
Having originally thought that e-cigarettes were simply smoking apparatus from Yorkshire, Sneak decided to do a little more research into the subject.
To his surprise, while e-cigarettes are better for a smoker's health, it turns out they are not so good for the faithful PC or laptop that has the duty of charging the contemporary cigarettes.
According to a report on Reddit, some e-cigarettes appear to contain malware that can be inhaled by PCs and laptops when plugged into a USB port to charge.
One user who claims to be "an IT guy" detailed a data breach story at a "large corporation" where a seemingly secured computer was infected with malware from an unknown source.
The IT team went into Sherlock mode and eventually deduced that the malware came from a Chinese e-cigarette. Apparently the malware had been hard-coded into the charger, making like E.T. and phoning home to infect the system once it was plugged into a USB port.
While fellow Reddit users piled in with opinions, the consensus was to avoid charging e-cigarettes via USB and to stick to wall chargers.
Sneak would have suggested that smokers try the cold turkey route instead, but thought this might prompt some confusion with Christmas just round the corner.
E-cigarettes are not the first seemingly mundane items to contain hidden malware; digital photo-frames, MP3 players and other USB-enabled devices have been known to harbour viruses that can exploit poorly protected networks.
Ever the conspiracy theorist, Sneak believes this may be the first stage of a Chinese invasion, where every e-cigarette smoker is an unwitting sleeper agent swathed in malware and nicotine vapour.
He's even taken to keeping an weather eye on Mrs Sneak's cat, Chairman Meow, who has been acting strangely ever since Mrs Sneak started Mandarin language classes.
22 Jul 2014
Sneak is working on a novel. It's a labour of love that is so complex, clever and cunning that it makes Game of Thrones look like Spot the Dog. When it's ready, and yes Mum it will be, the world will proclaim the greatness that is Sneak.
So good is this work that Sneak has always been concerned that writing it in the traditional method – on Microsoft Word on a laptop – posed the risk that if someone got wind of it and hacked into his machine, they could steal the idea and make gazillions.
To avoid this fate, Sneak has for many years used an ancient, bashed-around typewriter left to him by his great grandfather (the dapper chap pictured above).
Yes his friends mock him when they come round (OK, see it over his shoulder on the webcam) but it’s a trusty machine and no-one’s going to hack into it, that’s for sure. In fact, he often wondered why other security-conscious organisations don't have the odd typewriter kicking around for important intel.
Well it appears the Germans are catching on after Sneak read that the German government is considering using the old-fashioned machines to help stop spies, such as those from the US, from accessing, intercepting and reading the country's most secret data.
The Guardian reported that Christian Democrat politician Patrick Sensburg, after being asked, as a litte joke, if the country was considering typewriters to avoid spying that, "As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either."
"Really?" came the response (in German though, no doubt). "Yes, no joke," Sensburg said back. He never jokes.
Good for you Germany! Let’s see you crack a unnetworked, decades-old, ink and ribbon typewriter, NSA. As for Sneak, he's off to write chapter 247 of his novel. It's an exciting bit, as the Orc King Gringarlos battles the Dragon Wizard Zilarbeth in the Moon Palace of Zingador. Excited? You should be.
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
Sneak finally has some decent people to talk to on his social networking accounts, the venerable chaps, and ladies, at the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA to close friends.
Sneak is often found to be on the receiving end of a mute or blocking order, he hopes that the new social CIA will embrace him and his own brand of unclassified disclosure.
Certainly it looks like the CIA is open to the social experience and it has promised to share outwards. Sneak hopes that it will be equally open to responses.
While looking at the CIA account Sneak realised that other people have the same hope, and he noticed that a chap called @Wikileaks has promised to respond to official disclosures with some of its own. Sneak is looking forward to that.
However, while he is hoping for messages that are juicy like so many peaches, the truth is probably - and this is often the case - that things will be very boring indeed.
Take the CIA on Facebook. Sneak was expecting to see a video of a monkey sniffing something, a picture of some lunch, or hell, even a selfie, but none of that is in place. Instead there is a message that promises no fun at all.
"CIA welcomes your comments, however we wish to maintain the decorum appropriate to a taxpayer-funded organisation, we will moderate, and delete as necessary, comments deemed inappropriate. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the author(s) being blocked from this page without notice," it says in a cat-free early post.
"Do not post graphic, obscene, sexually explicit or racially offensive comments or content. We also will not tolerate comments that are abusive, hateful, slanderous or that are intended to defame anyone or any organisation. All content must be unclassified. Do not post any content that may be considered classified, sensitive, or that would cause immediate and undue harm to a person or organisation."
22 May 2014
Sneak was reasonably excited this week. He heard that the FBI would possibly be interested in hiring ‘stoner' hackers and immediately recognised an opportunity to clear out some rooms in his bedsit.
Yesterday, having walked through a fug of smoke to his ‘home office' Sneak read on the BBC that the FBI was facing up to a skills shortage that could possibly only be filled by the tie-dye munchie brigade. Reasonably confused, thanks to the local atmosphere, we was consoled to see that it was the FBI's director, James Comey who proposed the far-out motion.
"I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cybercriminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," he was reported as saying at an event attended by the Wall Street Journal.
The Beeb reports that Comey was pushed on this by an attendee who asked whether a bud head 'friend' should apply for a position at the FBI. "He should go ahead and apply," he said.
The comments were surprising as the FBI usually has a no-drugs-in-the-system-for-at-least-three-years hiring policy, something of a hindrance to those who enjoy the odd doobie.
However, the headlines the comments elicited has prompted something of a turnaround from the Feds as Corney later said he was joking, a classic symptom of pot smoking. We do not know if he added, ‘Maaaaan...'.
It reported that during a Senate hearing Corney went further, adding, "I don't want young people to use marijuana. It's against the law. I did not say that I'm going to change that ban. I said I have to grapple with the change in my workforce."
It ain't easy being green.
Sneak was alarmed to read that his favourite travel blogger and security expert John McAfee is no longer of this earth.
Thank the antivirus heavens then that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Sneak knows this because he has seen the proof and read the evidence. He is looking at a picture of McAfee – and two canine friends – now, and you can take it from us, this is no Weekend at Bernie's style jape.
McAfee, who has carved out a niche as an on-the-run virus expert to watch, has tweeted the proof himself.
"I felt fine when I went to bed last night. I had such great plans. ‘RIP John McAfee'," he said.
"For those wondering if im dead the answer is... 'The Media is killing me, but somehow im still tweeting" #NotDeadYet," he posted.
The more keen-eyed among us might notice the expression on the darker dog's face. Let's assume it's all in good fun.
While he was "dead" McAfee was the subject of an online report that claimed he had died after a cocaine binge in a casino.
Sneak was stunned to hear this – since it does not sound true to form for his security hero – and almost updated a McAfee subscription in celebration after hearing he was indeed alive and well.
McAfee has added another update. Having completed his daily check he is happy to assure us that, thankfully, all is still in working order.
Like many wage slaves, Sneak has a morning routine that involves nipping off to make a cuppa while waiting for the office PC to boot up. But while this strikes Sneak as a bit of productive time management and multi-tasking, Sneak was shocked by V3 revelations of the IT woes that befall many civil servants. Apparently, Whitehall workers have time to cook and eat a full English before their computers are ready to use.
But not everybody was so shocked. Indeed, one Daily Telegraph columnist sniffed that her sources had cast doubt on the claims made by Stephen Kelly, the government's chief operating officer, that it takes him seven minutes to boot his computer.
Clearly Kelly is not one to let such slights pass without comment. So on Wednesday he got colleagues to video him logging on to his laptop and posted the results on YouTube. However, by Thursday the video had been removed, no doubt after Kelly was taken to task by his seniors for posting a video showing his PC logins, and yet again criticising public sector IT.
For those with more pressing things to do with their time than watch seven minutes 18 seconds of inactivity, Sneak can provide an abridged version: it took more than three minutes before Kelly could log in, and a further four minute pass while his personal account is loaded. Meanwhile, his iPad is timing the log on attempt.
“The iPad's losing the will to live,” he notes at one point. We feel its pain, we feel its pain.
So in many ways, it's good to see that Whitehall mandarins have a good grasp on the IT issues affecting their users. However, Sneak looks forward to the day they have similar levels of awareness over the wisdom of videoing inputting your log credentials to highly sensitive government computer systems and posting it on the internet.
It would normally take nothing short of the apocalypse to drag Sneak away from US syndicated talk show, The Steve Wilkos Show. After all, when the former head of security at The Jerry Springer Show gets his own programme, it's gotta be must-see TV.
So it's lucky that Sneak doesn't reside in Montana, where local station KRTV had its ground-breaking episode 'Teen cheaters take lie detectors' rudely interrupted by a honking siren and panic-inducing announcement that the dead were rising from their graves to attack local residents.
“Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous,” viewers were warned by a computer-like voice.
Luckily for Montana residents, the zombie apocalypse had not broken out – after all, Sneak's pretty confident that when it happens, Stoke-on-Trent is first in line. As it turns out, pranksters had hacked the station's emergency alert systems, and issued the fake zombie alert.
“Someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System and announced on KRTV and the CW that there was an emergency in several Montana counties,” the station subsequently announced on its website, pointedly making no reference to zombies, in case fears were inflamed further.
“This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency,” it added.
Unfortunately for Sneak, there's no word yet on whether the teen cheater passed the polygraph test.
Like many workers, Sneak struggles to manage his Facebook, eBay and Reddit commitments with the drudgery of his day-to-day job. But now Sneak has realised the secret to striking the perfect work-life balance.
Verizon's latest security blog posting details a great story about a worker at an unnamed firm working in US critical infrastructure. It had installed a VPN service to allow some of its staff to work from home for a couple of days a week, and all was good. Or at least it was until they started checking the logs.
It appeared they had an open and active connection to Shenyang, China. Given the VPN needed two-factor authentication, this had all the hallmarks of a sophisticated malware attack on their infrastructure – and given the nature of their work, that set the alarms bell ringing.
Having drafted in Verizon Wireless to help out, the firm soon discovered that one of its developers had been compromised. Not by a group of nefarious Chinese hackers, but by an affliction Sneak knows only too well: lazyitis.
The developer in his mid-40s had been hiring a Chinese consulting firm to do his job for him. He'd simply FedEx his security token over, and sit back and enjoy his pay cheque – as we all know, offshore workers can be much cheaper. In fact, as the investigators discovered, it looked like he'd been running the same scam with a number of firms in the area.
Still, it's not all bad news. The developer in question had quarter after quarter been rated as the best in the firm, so at least the firm was getting good coding for its money.