Links for 2015-11-11

  • Dynalite

    Awesome new mock DynamoDB implementation:

    An implementation of Amazon’s DynamoDB, focussed on correctness and performance, and built on LevelDB (well, @rvagg’s awesome LevelUP to be precise). This project aims to match the live DynamoDB instances as closely as possible (and is tested against them in various regions), including all limits and error messages. Why not Amazon’s DynamoDB Local? Because it’s too buggy! And it differs too much from the live instances in a number of key areas.
    We use DynamoDBLocal in our tests — the availability of that tool is one of the key reasons we have adopted Dynamo so heavily, since we can safely test our code properly with it. This looks even better.

    (tags: dynamodb testing unit-tests integration-testing tests ops dynalite aws leveldb)

  • Alarm design: From nuclear power to WebOps

    Imagine you are an operator in a nuclear power control room. An accident has started to unfold. During the first few minutes, more than 100 alarms go off, and there is no system for suppressing the unimportant signals so that you can concentrate on the significant alarms. Information is not presented clearly; for example, although the pressure and temperature within the reactor coolant system are shown, there is no direct indication that the combination of pressure and temperature mean that the cooling water is turning into steam. There are over 50 alarms lit in the control room, and the computer printer registering alarms is running more than 2 hours behind the events. This was the basic scenario facing the control room operators during the Three Mile Island (TMI) partial nuclear meltdown in 1979. The Report of the President’s Commission stated that, “Overall, little attention had been paid to the interaction between human beings and machines under the rapidly changing and confusing circumstances of an accident” (p. 11). The TMI control room operator on the day, Craig Faust, recalled for the Commission his reaction to the incessant alarms: “I would have liked to have thrown away the alarm panel. It wasn’t giving us any useful information”. It was the first major illustration of the alarm problem, and the accident triggered a flurry of human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) activity.
    A familiar topic for this ex-member of the Amazon network monitoring team…

    (tags: ergonomics human-factors ui ux alarms alerts alerting three-mile-island nuclear-power safety outages ops)

  • An Analysis of Reshipping Mule Scams

    We observed that the vast majority of the re-shipped packages end up in the Moscow, Russia area, and that the goods purchased with stolen credit cards span multiple categories, from expensive electronics such as Apple products, to designer clothes, to DSLR cameras and even weapon accessories. Given the amount of goods shipped by the reshipping mule sites that we analysed, the annual revenue generated from such operations can span between 1.8 and 7.3 million US dollars. The overall losses are much higher though: the online merchant loses an expensive item from its inventory and typically has to refund the owner of the stolen credit card. In addition, the rogue goods typically travel labeled as “second hand goods” and therefore custom taxes are also evaded. Once the items purchased with stolen credit cards reach their destination they will be sold on the black market by cybercriminals. […] When applying for the job, people are usually required to send the operator copies of their ID cards and passport. After they are hired, mules are promised to be paid at the end of their first month of employment. However, from our data it is clear that mules are usually never paid. After their first month expires, they are never contacted back by the operator, who just moves on and hires new mules. In other words, the mules become victims of this scam themselves, by never seeing a penny. Moreover, because they sent copies of their documents to the criminals, mules can potentially become victims of identity theft.

    (tags: crime law cybercrime mules shipping-scams identity-theft russia moscow scams papers)

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