Between an industry-wide push to encrypt all web traffic and the newfound popularity of secure chat apps, it’s been a boom time for online privacy. Virtual private networks, which shield your web traffic from prying eyes, have rightly garnered more attention as well.
BETWEEN AN INDUSTRY-WIDE push to encrypt all web traffic and the newfound popularity of secure chat apps, it’s been a boom time for online privacy. Virtual private networks, which shield your web traffic from prying eyes, have rightly garnered more attention as well. But before you use a VPN to hide your online shopping from the IT department at your company—or help protect yourself from state surveillance—know that not all mobile VPNs are created equal. In fact, some are actively harmful.
“These days, many people know what a VPN is and what they can do with one,” says Kevin Du, a computer security researcher at Syracuse University and IEEE senior member. “Not many people know what a bad or flawed VPN can do to their devices, because they don’t know how VPN works.”
VPNs have been around for years, as have their attending trust issues. But while previously VPN enthusiasts were mostly a core base of desktop users, the mobile boom and app store accessibility has created an explosion in mobile VPN offerings. And while some are genuinely looking to offer security and privacy services, plenty do more harm than good.
In a recent in-depth analysis of 283 mobile VPNs on the Google Play Store from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, researchers found significant privacy and security limitations in a majority of the services. Eighteen percent of the mobile VPNs tested created private network “tunnels” for traffic to move through, but didn’t encrypt them at all, exposing user traffic to eavesdropping or man-in-the-middle attacks. Put another way, almost a fifth of the apps in the sample didn’t offer the level of security that’s basically the entire point of VPNs.
Read the rest at wired.com
Originally published on PrintMag . Data is now recognized as one of the founding pillars of our economy, and the notion that the world grows exponentially richer in data every day is already yesterday’s news. Big Data doesn’t belong to a distant dystopian future; it’s a commodity and an intrinsic and iconic feature of our present - like dollars, concrete, automobiles and Helvetica.
Data is now recognized as one of the founding pillars of our economy, and the notion that the world grows exponentially richer in data every day is already yesterday’s news.
We are ready to question the impersonality of a merely technical approach to data, and to begin designing ways to connect numbers to what they really stand for: knowledge, behaviors, people.
Big Data doesn’t belong to a distant dystopian future; it’s a commodity and an intrinsic and iconic feature of our present — like dollars, concrete, automobiles and Helvetica. The ways we relate to data are evolving more rapidly than we realize, and our minds and bodies are naturally adapting to this new hybrid reality built of both physical and informational structures. And visual design — with its power to instantly reach out to places in our subconscious without the mediation of language, and with its inherent ability to convey large amounts of structured and unstructured information across cultures — is going to be even more central to this silent but inevitable revolution
Complexity is an inherent feature of our existence — the world is rich in information that can be combined in endless ways. Creating new points of view or uncovering something new typically cannot happen at a mere glance; this process of revelation often needs and requires an in-depth investigation of the context.
Today’s modern home and office printers are predominately based on one of two popular technologies, Laser or Inkjet. While manufacturers of printers will play up the assumption that the cost printers evolve around the machine, the true cost of printers is not in the printers, but in the supplies. With either technology, the cost of the ink and toners, are usually one half the cost of the printer or more. But if you stop to consider, it’s difficult to come to the conclusion that more than half the cost to manufacture a printer would be the printer cartridge. Especially considering that more and more of the cartridges you buy as the printer gets older, including ones sold as OEM, will be remanufactured empties that get recycled. Yes, even original equipment manufacturers remanufacture and resell the cartridges. The only difference is that OEM’s don’t discount or distinguish between first run and remanufactured cartridges.
The profit model for modern printers is based on this same basic idea, they give away the printer at an extremely low margin or even at a loss but make up for it in years of ink and toner sales. But you can’t really blame the manufacturers. When the average consumer shops, they generally just look at the initial, “out-the-door” price. Just give it some thought. If you were shopping for a new laser printer and you saw two competing models with comparable features from comparably reputable brands, if one were selling for 1150 and the other were 1350, you would probably buy the 1150 model all things being equal. But they would not be equal, because the replacement cartridges for the cheaper model would be 180 and the cartridges for the other would be 130.
Assuming you went through a cartridge a month, after a year, you would have spent a third more on the cheaper printer.
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The Internet of Things (IoT), is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices“), buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data. In 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as “the infrastructure of the information society.” The IoT allows objects to be sensed and/or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. When IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart grids,smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
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The internet of things ( IoT), is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as ” connected devices” and ” smart devices”), buildings and other items- embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Source: Yahoo! Finance
AT&T says it has developed a new technology it calls AirGig, which links up to standard power lines and uses a special transmitter to deliver super-fast gigabit internet wirelessly.
The project is only in its early test phases for now, and AT&T hasn’t announced where and when it’ll deploy it publicly. But based on the company’s blog post announcing AirGig, it sounds like AT&T will likely target rural areas at first.
Gigabit internet is several times faster than the standard broadband most people get in their home. The AirGig project attaches antennas to existing power lines and uses a millimeter wave frequency to broadcast gigabit internet to devices.
AT&T wouldn’t describe exactly how the technology works, but would only say it’s not tapping into the power of the power line.
AT&T says AirGig is several times cheaper than standard wireless internet because it’s cheaper for the company to deploy and deliver. It can also be used over open wireless spectrum.
AT&T isn’t the only company exploring wireless gigabit internet. Google, Facebook, and the startup Starry are all experimenting with ways to bathe the world in super-fast wireless internet access.
AT&T* unveiled today Project AirGig, a transformative technology from AT&T Labs that could one day deliver low-cost, multi-gigabit wireless internet speeds using power lines. We’re deep in the experimentation phase. This technology will be easier to deploy than fiber, can run over license-free spectrum and can deliver ultra-fast wireless connectivity to any home or handheld wireless device.
First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.
Recently, some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the Internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them. Moreover, they have seen a certain profile of attacks. These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.
The attacks are also configured in such a way as to see what the company’s total defenses are. There are many different ways to launch a DDoS attacks. The more attack vectors you employ simultaneously, the more different defenses the defender has to counter with. These companies are seeing more attacks using three or four different vectors. This means that the companies have to use everything they’ve got to defend themselves. They can’t hold anything back. They’re forced to demonstrate their defense capabilities for the attacker.
Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down.
The lesson here is simple enough. If a device has an exposed USB port — such as a copy machine or even an airline entertainment system — it can be used and abused, not just by a hacker or malicious actor, but also electrical attacks.
“Any public facing USB port should be considered an attack vector,” says the company. “In data security, these ports are often locked down to prevent exfiltration of data, or infiltration of malware, but are very often unprotected against electrical attack.”
For just a few bucks, you can pick up a USB stick that destroys almost anything that it’s plugged into. Laptops, PCs, televisions, photo booths — you name it. Once a proof-of-concept, the pocket-sized USB stick now fits in any security tester’s repertoire of tools and hacks, says the Hong Kong-based company that developed it.
While it’s true that email was (and, despite your valiant efforts, still very much is) a barely-manageable firehose of to-do list items controlled by strangers, one of the few things that it did have going for it was that at least everything was in one place.
Trying to keep up with the manifold follow-up tasks from the manifold conversations in your manifold teams and channels requires a Skynet-like metapresence that is simply beyond me.
With you, the firehose problem has become a hydra-headed monster.
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Close to 70 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, and two-thirds of all adults and a whopping 90 percent of young adults use social networking sites like Facebook. Both are experiencing massive amounts of online engagement outside traditional structures.
If your organization has a website (and especially if you engage in fundraising), it is imperative that your Internet presence look and work properly on mobile devices as well as on full-size displays.
As Google continues its quest to “make the web more mobile-friendly,” businesses with websites built only for desktop computer viewing are at risk of slipping in search rankings. In 2014 Google started using websites’ mobile performance in the algorithms that determine where a site places in search rankings. Websites that look just as good on smartphones as they do on desktop computers actually get a boost in search rankings.
There are many ways to manage your website’s content. Some site owners completely build their own website from scratch. Others may use an existing software package from a company like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, which can provide a theme, design, and templates. When using existing website software, the site owner doesn’t build the whole site by creating code, style sheets and scripts, but only provides the content (such as photos, images, and text).
At LocalCause, we build websites using content management systems that automatically detect the device being used to view your site and optimize the layout on the fly to deliver the optimal experience regardless of whether your visitor is using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
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Katherine W was seven when her third-grade teacher issued Chromebooks to her class. Her dad, Jeff, is a serious techie, but the school’s tech choices didn’t sit well with him. He was able to get Katherine an exception that let her use a more private, non-cloud computer for the year, but the next year, Katherine’s school said she would have to switch to a laptop that would exfiltrate everything she did to Google’s data-centers.
The rules around data-collection and kids are complicated and full of loopholes. Though they seem, on the surface, to forbid Google from creating an advertising profile of kids using school-issued laptops, the reality is that kids are profiled as soon as they click outside of the Google education suite — so when a kid watches a Youtube video, her choice is added to an advertising profile that’s attached to her school ID.
Jeff worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to negotiate Katherine’s right to keep using non-cloud computers in school, with better privacy protections for her.
EFF has published a guide for students to improving Chromebook privacy settings, too — so if your school makes you (or your kids) use Chromebooks, you can make good choices about keeping your data private.