If you thought that your WiFi router was secure, you will be in for a rude awakening after reading the CNET article below. Most home and small business routers have vulnerabilities that continue to go unpatched by their vendors. Even if the exploits were patched, routers generally do not offer automatic updates like Windows so the patch may never get applied. Brendan Spaar asks when was the last time you logged into your router and applied an upgraded firmware? If you answered never then it is time that you wake up and protect yourself.
Do you remember the old Wendy's commercial where the little old lady inquired "where's the beef?" The answer could soon be "in the lab." A few British scientists have successfully produced beef grown from stem cells in a lab in an effort to prove that meat can be produced without slaughtering animals. The beef patties were cooked and eaten by two volunteers at a London media event. Brendan Spaar wonders if this will convince some vegans to eat meat once again. The burgers were not cheap, coming in at around $375,000. Once scientists get the cost down, we may have another problem on our hands. What to do with all of those cows that we aren't slaughtering?
Edward Snowden has already warned us that this was coming but now CNET is reporting that the FBI is putting pressure on telecommunications providors such as Verizon, T-Mobile, Comcast, and Sprint to install surveillance mechinisms within their networks to spy on American citizens. Brendan Spaar from GA assumes that everything he does online is monitored and has been since 2008 if not before. The FBI is using the Patriot Act to justify the need to spy on more citizens. There is apparently a port reader program that harvests Internet metadata including source and destination IP addresses for all transactions done on the internet. That means the government knows where you are going at all times. For most of us this means the FBI knows how many cat videos we have watched on YouTube. I Can Has Privacy?
Michele Catalano, a recently fired employee of a Bay Shore computer company, discovered recently that everything that you search for online is monitored by someone. In his case, his searches were being monitored by his employer. After he was discharged from the company, his employer sent his list of searches, which included pressure cooker bombs and backpacks, to the Suffolk County Police Department for investigation. Officers responded by questioning Michele about these searches and later determined that they were not criminal in nature so he was not arrested for any crimes. Brendan Spaar wonders if this could happen in Forsyth County GA. Even though Georgia is a good distance from the Boston bombing, where suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suffered multiple serious injuries before his capture, there is no escape from the long arm of Google.
Social security numbers, previous addresses, and in some cases credit reports have been leaked in what appears to be the largest celebrity hack of all time. Those impacted include Kim Kardashian, Joe Biden, Robert Mueller (FBI Director), Hillary Clinton, Eric
Holder (U.S. Attorney General), Charlie Beck (LAPD Chief), Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, Jay Z, Beyonce, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Hulk Hogan, and Donald Trump. All of them have their social security numbers and previous addresses exposed to the world. Some, like Britney Spears and Ashton Kutcher and even Attorney General Holder have their latest credit report posted for everyone to see. Brendan Spaar thinks companies should do more to safeguard customer data. No one is safe from being hacked so we should all do whatever we can to protect ourselves. Check your credit report often and do not save your social security number on any website, even tax preparing services. It is not known how the hacker got this information but it seems rather odd that this comes out right during tax season. You may see a tax website admit to a security breach in the next few days.
Aaron Swartz did not have to die. Most of us on the internet have used technology that he had a hand in creating. He helped devlop RSS, a technology that powers this very blog. Swartz also helped to create a popular website called Reddit. It was his Internet activism that got him into trouble. Swartz released for free a lot of documents that people would normally have to pay for. These academic journals were not secret or private, they were just behind a pay firewall that Swartz breached. You see, Aaron Swartz believed that information should be free. Sure he was misguided and should have faced consequences for his actions but would you believe that he was facing 13 felony counts for his actions? It would seem that federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz wanted to make an example of Swartz and was planning to throw the book at him. Swartz's lawyer could have successfully argued that the 13 felony counts were outrageous and may have been able to clear his name. Brendan Spaar believes that Aaron Swartz was a troubled person who was trying to come to terms with society but did not need to die.
Imagine this if you will. You are a Computer Science major working on a mobile app that would help students at your college access their accounts using their mobile phones. During the development process you discover a major vulnerability that would allow anyone to access virtually all data that the college has collected on its 250,000+ students (including their social security numbers). You would want to alert the IT department right away wouldn't you? Well this scenario happened to Ahmed Al-Khabaz at Dawson College in Canada. Khabaz brought the vulnerability to the attention of François Paradis, the Director of Information Services and Technology who said that he would work with the vendor to patch the issue. A few days later, Khabaz ran a program to test whether or not the vulnerability had been patched. The vendor, having been alerted to the issue, was watching and alerted the University. The University decided to expell Khabaz for running the program without permission.
Brendan Spaar thinks that Mr. Khabaz should have just kept his mouth shut about the vulnerability. The University was looking for a reason to kick him out and found it. Things aren't all that bad for Khabaz though. He has several job offers including one from Skytech Technologies, the vendor responsible for the security vulnerability.
If you are in the IT industry, you may have noticed that there was a mini bubble burst over the last few years. A lot of good IT people found themselves out of work. Well the good news, according to Dice.com, is that the industry has recovered from the 2009 recession faster than it did in 2001. Brendan Spaar believes this is because there are more diverse IT jobs out there. Back in 2001 everything was centered around the Dot Com and today computers are everywhere from hospitals to grocery stores. You can find a good IT job at more companies now than you could 10 years ago.
Here's a story right out of the "why didn't I think of that" file. Have you ever wanted to spend all day checking out cat videos and surfing Facebook and LinkedIn? Well one US developer found a way to do it that went undetected for several years.
This clever developer found someone in China that was qualified to do his job. He then mailed his SecureID token to the outsourced employee and paid the person 1/5 of his 6 figure salary to do his job. Then the guy sat back and surfed cat videos on Reddit all day and watched the money roll in.
Well the company that he worked for recently hired Verizon to perform a security audit. Verizon immediately spotted the unauthorized access from China and busted the employee. It turns out this same guy had been pulling in multiple jobs simultaneously all in the 6 figure range.
Brendan Spaar thinks this guy was pretty smart but he could have been a little more tech savy by having the outsourced employee traverse the VPN through a US based proxy. How did he ever come up with enough info for a management report at the end of the day? He surely didn't put down that he had been surfing cat videos all day.
The European Union is drafting legislation that would allow its citizens to have their data erased from the internet on demand. While this sounds like a good idea, Facebook is warning that they would have to implement more user tracking in order to accomidate this. Right now most of your activity online will not personally identify you. If you want your data removed from the site, then the website will have to track all of your activity so that it can properly remove all traces of it upon request. Brendan Spaar suggests that users of the internet not live under the false sense that they are not being monitored and tracked at all times. If you watch what you post online then you shouldn't have to worry about having it deleted at a later date. Think twice before posting an embarassing photo or long winded rant against an ex-lover. Those posts may come back to bite you later and will be nearly impossible to remove.
Brendan Spaar is a technology blogger from Forsyth County, GA. Since 2008 he has had a major presence on the web from Alpharetta to Georgia you can find many of his posts all over the internet. This is the technology blog where you will not find arrest or mugshot photos of people but instead you will find