- Steven J. Vaughan Nichols. “Ubuntu 13.04 Review: Linux for the Average Joe or Jane.” ZDNet.
- Whitson Gordon. “What’s New in Ubuntu Linux 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail.” Lifehacker.
- Adam Dachis. “REC10 Wireless Range Extender Fixes Your Crappy Wi-Fi Signal.” Lifehacker.
- Christian Farr. “Bill.com Wants to Help Businesses Cut Out the Checkbooks.” VentureBeat.
- Kevin Fitchard. “Belly Lands Big National Chains As Loyalty Platform Customers, Including MacDonalds.” GigaOm.
- I recently signed up for one of these cards at Chick-fil-a.
- Dan Goodin. “Potent DDoS Attacks on Mt. Gox Delay Rollout of New Virtual Currency.” Ars Technica.
- First, who is behind these attacks? Why are they interested in taking down Bitcoin? This doesn’t seem like an anarchist inspired plot…and criminals would be kind of silly to attack a currency that can be appropriated (though is not designed for) illegal purposes.
- Secondly, I wonder if Mt. Gox is using CloudFlare…and if not, why not?
- Rachel King. “LinkedIn Intros Mobile App Specifically for Professional ‘Contacts.’” ZDNet.
- John Koetsier. “Why Developers Choose the Amazon App Store: Fewer Apps, Ease of Porting, and Pending Global Expansion.” VentureBeat.
- Ricardo Bilton. “Cell Phone Service Comes to 30 More NYC Subway Stations – But the MTA Dodges the Terrorism Question.” VentureBeat.
- Frederic Lardinois. “Google Adds Google+ Profile Pictures, One-Click Chat and Anonymous Animals to Drive.” TechCrunch.
- Stacey Higginbotham. “Time Warner Cable Sees the Google Fiber Threat and Offers Austin Free Wi-Fi.” GigaOm.
- Michael Carney. “Younity Makes Its Limitless Personal Cloud Service Social, Unshackling the Files Stored On All Your Devices.” PandoDaily.
- David Gewirtz. “Why an Internet Sales Tax is Such an Incomprehensibly Bad Idea.” ZDNet.
- Rachel King. “Box Touts It’s Now HIPAA-Compliant for Hosting Personal Health Records.” ZDNet.
- Lauren Indvik. “Charles Schwab Besieged by DDoS Attacks.” Mashable.
- Stan Schroeder. “The Pirate Bay Finds New Home in Iceland.” Mashable.
- Lauren Orsini. “How Software Developers Really Spend Their Time.” ReadWriteHack.
- Dan Rowinski. “Why Samsung is Cloning Google Play On Its Smartphones.” ReadWriteMobile.
- John Paul Titlow. “The Internet Assault on Traditional TV is Working.” ReadWritePlay.
- Sean Ludwig. “Wunderlist Adds Premium Version with Group Assignments, Unlimited Subtasks, & More.” VentureBeat.
- Mark Hachman. “Beware the House ‘Review’ of U.S. Copyright Law – It’s a Trap.” ReadWrite.
- “New Version AirDroid 2 is Live. Free on Google Play.” AirDroid Team Blog.
- Jeff. “Amazon Coins – Virtual Currency for App and In-App Purchases.” Amazon Web Services Blog.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” This is true of so many important aspects of life. We know we should do something about them, but we don’t – because we forget about them or the effort seems greater than the benefit.
Unfortunately, sometimes these important aspects of life decide to blow up in our faces. For example, most of us have learned the importance of keeping oil in our cars and performing regular oil changes. We know that while this is “out of sight” it cannot be “out of mind.” But, have you ever been in a that ran out of oil? I have and it is not a pleasant experience. The engine implodes on itself with many strange, loud, and scary sounds while smoke billows from the hood and nauseous odors waft through the vents. The car slows to a stop and never starts again. Cue tears, tow truck, and etc.
It is time that our technology security becomes one of these “out of sight” but better not be “out of mind” aspects. It has long been time…but if you are a casual technology (computer, smartphone, etc.) user you probably don’t think much about security – and if you do, I hate to say it, but a good bit of your knowledge is probably based on outdated or downright false information.
Today, LivingSocial, a company with over 50 million users, was hacked. This follows a few weeks after Evernote was compromised with its similarly millions of users. Whether you are or are not a customer of these services isn’t the point. What is the point is this: Your identity, personal information, and financials are not safe.
Don’t wait until your Facebook page is plastered with pornographic images to change your password. Or until you send all of your friends emails explaining how you are really lost in London and need them to send money orders to a bank near you. Or until your credit report shows debts you never accumulated. Or your personal emails and documents are flouted across the web for all to see.
Resist the temptation to unplug the computer. I know what I’m saying is a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) and in general I hate when people use FUD. It is usually uncalled for and unproductive. In this case I think it is both called for and productive – but it will only be productive if you take the right steps. The right steps are not to unplug your computer and abandon technology forever. The right answer is to take the time and energy it will take to learn how to live and act in a more secure way in a technological world.
Why not just unplug? Good question – this is the usual action folks who spread FUD about technology are hoping to provoke. That or they want to convince you to buy expensive technological solutions to resolve your issues. Let me give you a few good reasons not to unplug:
- Technology is not going away. To withdraw from it is to withdraw from reality. Yes, technology can be overwhelming, addictive, insecure, and bad – but you have to learn how to utilize technology and not be enslaved to it. This is necessary for your job, for communicating with friends and relatives, and for living a productive life.1Those who aren’t convinced might consider reading Kirkpatrick Sale’s Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age.
- This isn’t just about your connection to the internet. Look, part of this is simply an educational campaign, b/c the truth is that technology security is horribly weak everywhere. You can unplug from technology – but you can’t force your bank, your relatives, your credit card companies, or so on to withdraw – and so your information is still out there.
- We are on the edge of extinction. By this I mean, don’t allow fear to control your life. Take reasonable steps towards risk management – but don’t stop living. Look, this entire world, this entire universe is crazy. At any moment we could all be dead. Don’t believe me? Look at the earthquakes that hit Haiti and Japan or the tsunamai that wiped out hundreds of thousands of lives in moments just a few years ago. “But Dave, that wouldn’t happen here. We aren’t on tectonic plate faults, etc., etc.” Then look at the Spanish Flu which wiped out millions of lives – many of the young and strong – during the early 1900’s, the millions that died in World War I and World War II in combat, or even better – look at the Black Plague which wiped out perhaps 50% of the world’s population a few hundred years ago.
- Manage risk, don’t run from it. Let me reiterate on the above point – everything is a risk. We can’t avoid risk, we aren’t in control. We can manage stupid risks. Don’t run in front of someone with a loaded gun; don’t drive a car at excessive speeds in bad weather2Or at all, but I’m just trying to emphasize the outrageous.; and don’t wait until your identity or finances have been compromised to get serious about security.
What Should I Do?
- Remember, we are talking about risk management – not risk elimination. These steps will reduce the likelihood of exposure, but they won’t eliminate it.
- Invest some time into learning about technology generally and security specifically. The better you understand what you are working with, the better you can utilize it safely. For learning about computers generally, check out GCF’s Free Computer Training courses. For information on security specifically consider reading materials available from US-CERT3United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. They are a government organization focused on technology security and offer a number of documents aimed towards the general reader.
- Begin utilizing LastPass to manage your passwords, ensure you have secure passwords, eliminate weak passwords, and so on. It is a little bit of a learning curve – but once configured it’ll make life easier and it is free.
- Continue to learn about technology generally and technology security specifically on an ongoing basis. Think about how many hours you spend using technology (not just on a computer but also a phone, tablet, using an atm, credit card checkouts at local stores, and so on) and also about all the ways your information is used technologically (banks, schools, non-profits, government, and so on). Consider the total number of hours you spend each year and then choose a reasonable number (say five or ten…or maybe twenty five…depending on how quickly you pick up on technology subjects) to spend on learning about technology and security in the upcoming year. Note how small of an investment you are making relative to the amount of time and energy you spend with these technologies.
- Consider talking to someone who knows technology who can make more personalized suggestions for you and who can review your technology overall for safety. If this individual tells you not to spend any time on security – find someone else. Make sure what they are saying is lining up with what you are learning from US-CERT or similar authoritative sources of security information.
- On a similar note, most techs (in my experience), including myself don’t mind talking to people about security – but feel frustrated when asked about security and then ignored. Please make the conscious effort to listen and understand. Far too many technology conversations are started with someone asking me a technology question and immediately letting their eyes glaze over. This communicates two things, “What you are saying isn’t important” (and for many of this, this is our livelihood) and “I didn’t mean I wanted to learn, I meant can I use you to make me secure so I don’t have to learn?” (okay, okay, maybe you wouldn’t put it in those words, but when we regularly get these questions with a regular lack of interested in the answers…it is hurtful).4Yes, geeks/techs do have feelings, even if they may not express them.
- Consider the practices your employer utilizes for maintaining security. Do they exist? Are they realistic? Many companies are horribly insecure…and it might be time to sit down with your boss (if they are open to that sort of conversation) and talk to them about the need for technology security in the workplace.
- Share this article or similar articles and the documents from the US-CERT with friends, family, and co-workers. Help raise awareness about the significant issue that is before us in a way that encourages others to do something about it rather than being overwhelmed by fear and running away.
Technology security is everyone’s concern. This is not a hopeless awareness issue. We’ve brought awareness about drinking and driving, drug addiction, mental illness, and healthy eating to varying levels of public awareness – the same is necessary for security.
You will be safer and more productive using technology securely. You will be a better employee but helping encourage safe technology at work. You will be a helpful citizen by encouraging proper security implementations at local, state, and national governmental levels.
I’m available to answer questions, comments, and criticisms via
the comments on this post. Please feel free to write me with your technology security concerns, if any of this is confusing, or if you find the materials I provided for training in technology or technology security too difficult and I will do my best to assist you in finding materials which will work with your current knowledge level regarding technology.
- Alan Henry. “Automagic is a Powerful , Easy to Use Automation Tool for Android.” Lifehacker.
- Is Lifehacker recommending we replace Tasker with Automagic? I’m not sure they are ready to go quite that far, but it certainly sounds like Automagic is worth investigating.
- Devindra Hardawar. “Samsung Dives into the Galaxy S4’s Design (Spoiler: It’s All About Nature Again)“. VentureBeat.
- Joe Wilcox. “I Cannot Recommend Nexus 4 Wireless Charger [Review].” BetaNews.
- Nick Statt. “Weaponizing the Patent System: A Tiny Startup Faces Financial Extinction.” ReadWrite.
- Innovative eyewear startup Ditto is experiencing patent litigation from behemoth Glasses.com (1-800-Contacts). This is why we need patent reform.
- Barb Darrow. “AppFog Drops Rackspace Support.” GigaOm.
- Interesting, not sure what it indicates about AppFog or Rackspace or both.
- Brian S. Hall. “Dear College Students: LinkedIn Is Not The Same As Facebook.” ReadWriteSocial.
- Laura Hazard Owen. “Target To Promote Products Endorsed By Wired, Including Fitbit And Belkin WeMo.” GigaOm.
- This is good news. It will raise the general consumer awareness of and interest in these sorts of innovative products, increasing demand and driving down prices.
- Rebecca Grant. “GoDaddy’s New CEO Wants To Change The World, One Domain At A Time.” VentureBeat.
- I’ve always tried to stay away from GoDaddy preferring to use a ten foot pole in its proximity…but I’m excited to see what CEO Blake Irving has in mind.
- Josh Costine. “State Launches Opinion Network Where You Don’t Need Followers To Be Heard.” TechCrunch.
- Ricardo Bilton. “Chat app messaging has finally overtaken SMS — here’s why that could be a bad thing.” VentureBeat.
- I don’t agree with Bilton, b/c I don’t think the chat apps will remain proprietary in the full sense. That said, I am befuddled by why the chat app providers have not already implemented a protocol like Jabber (XMPP) to allow cross-platform communications. This is how the various IM applications (e.g. AOL, Yahoo) work together.
- Nick Peers. “RainbowDrive Finds the Pot of Gold in Cloud Storage.” BetaNews.
- I’m not particularly interested in unifying diverse cloud storage (free) options to create a larger unified pot. I use SugarSync and am happy to shell out $5/mo. for my plan. But for those who are looking to increase their storage while avoiding cost…RainbowDrive is an innovative idea.
- Darrell Etherington. “Keen Home Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for its Connected Central Heating and Cooling Vents.” TechCrunch.
- Leena Rao. “Handle Is A Priority Engine And Task Management App For Your Inbox.” TechCrunch.