Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Global strategic war declared on governments against Internet Liberty

Published by calhoun on June 21st, 2011 - in Internet, Politics, Technology

Dilbert Data SecurityRecently I wrote about the UK Government’s refusal to upgrade the ancient obsolete browser known as Internet Explorer 6 and how they were citing Security reasons for remaining on the ancient browser. With the British government yielding the current Internet Villian of the Year, then they must be confident in their security.

Lulzsec and Anonymous however may be about to put that security confidence to the test, the two hacking groups have joined forces in a joint operation that they are referring to as Operation Anti-Security. They have openly declared war against organizations, with a particular emphasis on Government and Banks (although I am not sure why they want to focus on banks) which are known to have dubious reputations in the internet liberties front.

Taking into account the governments highly controversial digital piracy laws which would see users and companies struck from the Internet for downloading unauthorized files I expect Lulzsec’s glare may shift towards the insecurity of the British Government. Who knows, perhaps they may in co-ordinating strategic attacks against the government awaken a sleeping generation of non voters prompting them to stand up and be counted at the next general election.

Suggestions that it may be a plot to give governments an excuse to take more control of the internet seem to be unfounded. The two groups have been increasingly becoming more high profile with recent attacks. The two groups if they play wisely, should stay away from attacking banks, despite the world distrust of the banking sector, people are still financially motivated. Removing access to financial information by striking down banks will lead to the general public siding with the banks and government instead. Keep it strategic and go after governments and a good population will not be unsympathetic to the cause.

References:
The Inquirer |  PCMag | iGyaan

Europe Launches Investigation into Google

Published by calhoun on November 30th, 2010 - in Internet, News, Technology

Google MonopolyThe European Anti-Trust regulator has launched an investigation into Google over complaints by two rivals that Google demoted their sites on the grounds of being a competitor. Not surprisingly Microsoft filed a complaint with the commission against Google as well. Since when did it become standard business practice to assume your competitor is acting without genuine practices. If that were the case the regulators would have more cases than they know what to do with.

Google smugly responded with: “There is always going to be room for improvement, so we will be working with the Commission to address any concerns”

The commission has severe powers-  they can fine 10% of what the companies global turn over was if they find Google guilty of anti competition. Of course, if they act anything like Microsoft, the appeals process will take decades before any fines are ever paid. The commission will also investigate if the company acted maliciously over partner advertising – I think they are referring to ad-words for website revenue generation here.

References
Yahoo

Science acuses Dogs of being more inteligent than Cats

Published by calhoun on November 24th, 2010 - in News, Technology

Cat and DogThe people at Oxford have spent their time in some quacking mad study that claims that Dogs are a more intelligent animal than Cats. The news is surely set to cause a rift between Cat and Dog Owners world wide. Albeit no useful science has came out of the study.

The research summarizes that living in a social environment and group takes more cognitive processing than living an isolated solitary life which seems to suggest that animals which have larger brains tend to be more social.

Like in humans however, having more brains does not necessarily indicate usage of said brain. So whilst a Dog may indeed have a physically larger brain than cats, based on the behaviour of the dogs i have seen it seems highly unlikely they are using their brain capacity to any useful extent.

References
DailyMail

Free Security: Four tips to protect your computer.

Published by calhoun on November 19th, 2010 - in Technology

Today I got a call from a friend in distress over a call he had received about his computer “letting in viruses” he wanted to know If it sounded like a genuine call. To be honest, any one calling out of the blue about the security of your computer unless your in a security management contract of some kind is most likely cheap tactics to scare you into buying expensive products. With them suggesting a 1 to 8 year license it sounds like this one definitely fell into the category.

Lets take a look at the key products to secure your PC with.

avast Anti VirusLets start with your anti virus software. These days the definition of virus and spy-ware or malware has became very vague indeed. Many programs that would traditionally be considered an anti virus program can detect more than just Viruses. Software designed to do serious harm to your computer. This is where avast comes in. This is one of the best free anti virus programs on the market.

The free package just gives you a basic virus scanner but upgrades to premium packages which offer you services such as anti-spam mail filtering and protection from phishing - sites and emails that are designed to fool you into thinking you are giving details to a legitimate organization such as a bank.

Website: www.avast.com

I mentioned already about Spyware and Malware and there is two nice programs that handle it quite nicely. In fact, I am running a live system scan with one right now.

Ad-Aware Anti Malware The people at Lavasoft have put together a nice program called Ad-Aware, the free edition lacks the ability to run in real time so you need to remember to manually update and scan your system with this one, or upgrade and get the automatic and real time system included. Continuing to work with the free edition might be best however, because of our next player in this market. They have problems co-existing it seems. But run them at separate times and you’ll be left with a nice clean system.
Website: www.lavasoft.com
Spybot Search and DestroyWe could not have any form of protection article and not at least mention Spybot, this fast little tool supports the ability to immunize your system to reduce the likelihood of problems in the future. This is my personal favourite. As mentioned before, this and Ad-Aware seem to dislike each other, they are both fine tools and used together increases the protection but you must only run one at a time or you’ll end up with conflicts between the two, when you start Spybot with Ad-Aware installed it will warn you of the conflict.
Website: www.safer-networking.org

Firewalls are an important aspect to the security of your computer although a software firewall can be no match to using a hardware network based firewall which is generally what I rely upon and use software firewalls more as a warning in the event of a possible breach it will flag up to say there is an intrusion. But for completeness sake under a new brand, GFI, I have used the firewall software since it was first released two owners previously. The personal firewall software as their own description says, does not slow down the computer it is indeed rather speedy and I have enjoyed the flexibility of it. Like the previous applications a free edition is available.
Website: www.sunbeltsoftware.com

How do they compare against Norton and McAfee?

In my experience both Norton and McAfee have ran extremely slowly on computers and generally cause more problems than they actually prevent.  These disturbingly come with PCs provided by a great number of major retailers , and this often fools people into thinking they have adequate security. This is often not the case, many of these users do not realise that this kind of software needs to be updated frequently, and the packages included on new pcs are often only 30 day trials so a month down the line they stop working and offer no protection at all. You should avoid using them if you want your PC to be secure.

You might also want to consider switching away from Windows whilst your at it, but that’s another story perhaps one for another time, a quick guide to switching to Linux for newbies. Look out for that one!

Android the phone for the Enterprise

Published by calhoun on November 1st, 2010 - in Technology

Mobile Phone SecurityWhen it gets to security, portable equipment has long been a major problem for the corporate world. Mobile phones in particular have been a specially problematic area. They spend most of their life’s out of the physical control of the IT Department. This means that making sure data on them does not fall into the wrong hands is a daunting challenge.

Google seems to have accepted that challenge, and have announced a new suite of administration controls for Android phones using Google Apps.

Features including:

  • Password Quality Checks – Length and Combination of Letters and Numbers Control
  • Remote Data Wiping
  • Withdraw access to corporate data
  • Lock the phone.

The security suite will become available free to premium and education users of Google Apps within the next few days. They are not the only company out there to develop security systems for mobile phone users. However for users already working with Google Apps this might prove to be a more economical patch than going to the competitors. Experts suggest that Google will soon be in a position to compete with Research in Motion, the people behind Blackberry.

References
ZDNet

Airport: For security reasons please remove your pants.

Published by calhoun on October 27th, 2010 - in News, Politics, Technology

Family GuySecurity measures at airports to prevent terrorism against planes has long been criticized as being over kill. Introduction of shoe x-ray process, extra effort taken to check laptops, restriction of what may be taken on board it all serves as a waste of time.

With a toilet sized container of flamable liquid onboard it is likely to take down the plane anyway. So it should really come as no surprise that the chairman of British Airways has gotten a little bit annoyed by checks.

The illusion of security is not being enforced by ridiculous “security” checks. He accuses the airport industry of doing what big brother (America) tells us to do regardless of weather or not it is a useful policy. Demanding that we should run our own country and airports the way we want seems a very sensible policy. The fact that in the United States the Americans do not even do many of the security checks they demand that we do should be a reminder that we are our own nation. We should stand up to the neighbourhood bully.

Many of the new checks are a direct result of someone plotting or thinking of using them to commit acts of terror. Which raises the question given a Nigerian man plotted to detonate a device hidden in his pants last year, when will the Americans insist that people on board flights are pant-less – surely that would help with security? Or maybe not.

References
The Telegraph

Sony Walkman has died

Published by calhoun on October 26th, 2010 - in Technology

WalkmanThe classic music player, Sony’s Walkman has reached its end of life. Sony is officially retiring the product line in Japan. With strong competition in digital music such as iPods and MP3 players, it really was no surprise that this day was coming.

They say that in less developed countries the device will still continue (the United Kingdom and the United States) although I am certain that it will soon reach end of life globally and the last of the Sony Walkmans shall leave the production line for eternity.

References
TGDaily
Mashable

Most UK companies are involved in Spam Mail.

Published by calhoun on October 24th, 2010 - in Internet, Technology

SpamUnsolicited email has been around for a while and isnt showing any sign of stopping anytime soon. Its a spin off from old fashioned unsolicited junk mail through the letter box and often no less exciting. Occasionally, there is some spam that comes into my inbox that is hilarious to make fun of the guys sending it, actually that’s the entire purpose behind my new site being setup , www.mockthespammer.com people are encouraged to join up, and discuss spam they have received – whilst removing links of course!

Spam Rating company has done some research and it seems that the majority of the companies sending email in the UK are not sending it in a way that complies with good mail practice. The survey reveals that its not talking about the corner shops, big brand chain companies such as B&Q, JD Sports and perhaps the worst offender, PC World. They of all people should know better.

References
TopNews

National Security should be secondary to Personal Security

Published by calhoun on October 21st, 2010 - in Internet, Politics, Technology

Spy SatelliteEchelon has for a long time been reportedly able to intercept communications in essentially any form, e-mail, telephone, fax you name it they are meant to be able to in real time intercept it, and “secure” the state against terrorist attacks. Or whatever they happen to be trying to find out. Such a system especially in the hands of the United States would with a high likelihood be abused to political purpose.

Then the FBI walks in.

They have been putting pressure on getting even more power of interception over communications. The latest achievement that they are looking for is to regulate the encryption industry.

Regulating a security industry in the sense that the FBI wants is a dangerous idea. Security should be between two communicating parties and, if the security worked, no one else will be able to intercept what happened. The very definition of what the FBI is seeking to do, mandatory back doors to encryption protocols is the complete opposite of security. Instead of having to work out what the private key is, you just need to find the government master key in a very One Ring to Rule them all approach to security.

Creating a security protocol to protect two parties from intercepti0n, whilst allowing a government agency the ability to intercept is something that cannot be allowed. A protocol which allows this would be notoriously difficult to design and maintain, and this will open up even more potential security risks well beyond just the government snooping capability.

Without enabling this back door , it is obvious from the number of security breaches involving large companies that should know better that security is a difficult task as it is. Google was breached by China, Cisco already has built a network that allows tapping by law enforcement, and this is vulnerable to a number of breaches to.

The arguments put forward against the use of regulation in the encryption market are very strong, and even take into account constitutional issues and freedom in general.

References
Black Hat
CNN
Electronic Foundation Frontier

Tom Tom and HTC partner for better navigation

Published by calhoun on October 21st, 2010 - in Technology

Tom Tom and HTC have came to an agreement to utilize the Tom Tom navigation system to power HTC Locations, which will give the HTC a distinctive advantage over competitors using Google Maps or their own software. The Tom Tom enhanced mobile navigation will initially be trialed on the Desire and Desire Z phones, and will be available in the European and Asian zones.

The turn by turn navigation functionality however will not be included out of the box, but will be availiable for download.

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