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Avoid A Breach

Security firm SRC Cyber cites a report from the United States Government Accountability Office, The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (PDF) reported a 782% increase in cyber incidents from 2006-2012. As this number increases, SRC Cyber and other cybersecurity companies are pressured to create products and tools that not only defend against potential threats, but

Are Your Buds Twisted?

Does this sound familiar? You about to walk the dog, grab your iPod and have to spend the next 5 minutes untangling the $%*&@ earbuds. It seems happens to everyone who owns an Apple iPod or iPhone your “EarPods” (even though Apple has shipped its white in-ear headphones with every iDevice since the iPod in

How to Spot a Phish

Phishing scams are spam emails sent by cyber-criminals that can lead to identify theft at home and data breaches at work. Phishing attacks pretend to be from a legitimate person or organization to trick you into revealing personal information. A phishing attack begins when a cyber-criminal sends an email that looks like it originates from

25 Years of the Firewall

The firewall has turned 25 years old this year. In commemoration, McAfee created a timeline of the events that shaped the development of the device most of us rely on the protect ourselves from each other. The infographic shows how the firewall’s evolution coincided with high-profile security events: 1995: WM/Concept first virus to spread through Microsoft

Comcast to Unplug Motown

Comcast (CMCSA) will abandon Detroit if it’s plan to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The cable giant filed a response (PDF) to parties objecting to the nation’s second largest provider’s plan to acquire TWC arguing against claims that it would grow too big under the merger. Under its

Avoid A Breach

Avoid A BreachSecurity firm SRC Cyber cites a report from the United States Government Accountability Office, The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (PDF) reported a 782% increase in cyber incidents from 2006-2012. As this number increases, SRC Cyber and other cybersecurity companies are pressured to create products and tools that not only defend against potential threats, but also aid in recovery if an incident were to occur.

security breachesSRC Cyber points out that security breaches can happen to anyone at any time. You, your family, your doctor’s office, your college, the stores you shop in, the websites you visit, and even the agencies that meet basic needs like water and electricity. The article claims that system problems and human error account for the majority of data breaches the most common single cause at 42% is malicious intent.

This SRC Cyber infographic shows how three of the most high profile recent attacks have had an effect on security spending, attack awareness and in the case of the Target breach how it’s hit the company’s profits.

 

Avoid a Breach

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Are Your Buds Twisted?

Are Your Buds Twisted?Does this sound familiar? You about to walk the dog, grab your iPod and have to spend the next 5 minutes untangling the $%*&@ earbuds. It seems happens to everyone who owns an Apple iPod or iPhone your “EarPods” (even though Apple has shipped its white in-ear headphones with every iDevice since the iPod in 2001, they updated its earbuds to “EarPods” in 2012) have conspired against you. Whatever you call them, the earbuds have mysteriously tangled themselves into a knot so vicious that you risk snapping the wire to get them undone (especially the little thin wires that go to each earpiece).

EarbudsTo be fair, at the Business Insider says it happens to all earbuds, not just Apple’s (AAPL), but iPhone tangles seem more visibly conspicuous because their wires are white as part of Apple’s branding. BI observes that the knots even occur when you coil them carefully before putting them away. Typically the headphone wires will knot themselves on a daily basis.

Mr. Edwards explains that the tangling happens for a reason, and it has been the subject of scientific research. Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith of the University of California at San Diego Department of Physics proved that iPhone earbud tangles are a function of the length of the wire and the amount of “agitation” the wire is subjected to. The author explains that when — length versus agitation — are plotted against each other, the rate of knots and tangles obeys a statistical pattern that describes a curve.

Einstein playing guitarThe physicists published a paper titled “Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string” (PDF) their research revealed that the length a cord influences how much it will tangle when sealed inside a rotating box. The length of Apple’s iPhone earbuds are 55 inches long and right at the 50% tangle-rate-sweet-spot of the curve.

BI provided a schematic showing how a cord that starts off neatly coiled and quickly becomes tangled inside a rotating box, even though there is no gremlin inside tying them into reef knots. It shows that one end of a wire only has to cross another part of the wire twice to start spontaneously knotting itself.

Tangled earbudThe research shows that your earphones are indeed spontaneously knotting themselves. The knots really do form as a matter of physics, so it is an unstoppable force of nature that can’t be prevented.

That is, until Professor Robert Matthews of Aston University in England saved the day. at BI says the physicist has developed a surefire way to end all earbud tangling: clip them together.

Professor Matthews suggests that you clip the two earbuds together and attach them near the audio jack to create a loop. He claims that this will reduce tangling tenfold. He told ABC News,

First, by forming the loop you’ve effectively reduced the length of string able to explore the 3-D space by 50%, which makes a big difference. Second, you’ve also eliminated the two ends, which are the prime movers of knot formation.

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CNET says the tangled earbuds research has attracted interest from biochemists concerned with the tendency of thread-like DNA to get itself tangled. The new study suggests nature may form loops in DNA to prevent this happening.

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

How to Spot a Phish

How to Spot a PhishPhishing scams are spam emails sent by cyber-criminals that can lead to identify theft at home and data breaches at work. Phishing attacks pretend to be from a legitimate person or organization to trick you into revealing personal information.

PhishingA phishing attack begins when a cyber-criminal sends an email that looks like it originates from your bank. The email might hint at a problem with your account asking you to “confirm” account information by clicking on a link that takes you to a fake website. The fake website asks you to type in your bank account user name and password. The goal is to convince the target that the web page is legitimate so that they will enter their credentials. Once entered, attackers can access an individual’s finances.

RSA reports 2013 was a record year for phshing attacks. They report that nearly 450,000 phishing attacks were launched in 2013 with loses estimated to be nearly $6 Billion. The security firm believes that these attacks will continue for the foreseeable future. They point out that it only costs an attacker $65.00 to spam 500,000 email addresses.

PhishingSymantec reports (PDF) that 1 in every 392 emails a user receives is a phishing attempt. 71% of the phshing attacks were related to spoofed financial organizations and login credentials for accounts seem to be the main information phishers are looking for. Dell SecureWorks delved into the depths of the online underground economy and found the value of personally identifiable information (PII).

  • Visa and Master Card account numbers are worth up to $15
  • American Express account numbers are worth up to $18
  • Date of Birth (DOB) is worth up to $25

On his excellent excellent website, Brian Krebs revealed the black market value of hacked credentials.

  • Active accounts at Facebook and Twitter retail for just $2.50 apiece,
  • $4 buys hacked credentials at wireless providers ATT.com, Sprint.com, Verizonwireless.com, and Tmobile.com,
  • Groupon.com accounts fetch $5,
  • Fedex.com, Continental.com and United.com accounts for go for $6.
  • iTunes accounts go for $8 on the cyber underground economy.

In a new phishng twist, attackers are going after medical records to exploit the broken health-care industry. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company.

With these threats in mind, PhishMe developed an infographic, click on the image below to see the complete image.

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Since many cyber attacks originate with a phishing email, the best way for organizations and individuals to protect themselves online is to identify and avoid phishing emails.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

25 Years of the Firewall

25 Years of the FirewallThe firewall has turned 25 years old this year. In commemoration, McAfee created a timeline of the events that shaped the development of the device most of us rely on the protect ourselves from each other. The infographic shows how the firewall’s evolution coincided with high-profile security events:

These security breaches triggered security developers to react with more advanced firewall technology:

  • 1998: Evasions researched
  • 2009: Native clustering for high availability and performance introduced
  • 2012: Software enabled security introduced, making blade technology obsolete.

next generation firewallPat Calhoun, SVP at McAfee, explained in a Help Net Info article that it was not until 2009 when the modern firewall we know and love began to evolve. In 2009 Gartner published its definition and a paper on “Defining the Next-Generation Firewall. (PDF)” According to its definition, NGFWs are:

…deep-packet inspection firewalls that move beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall.

It its paper, the Gartner authors explain that “Firewalls need to evolve to be more proactive in blocking new threats, such as botnets and targeted attacks.” Mcafee’s Calhoun points out that NGFW discussions started in 2003 but the technology really didn’t get on the right track until Gartner defined it in 2009.

 

25th Anniversary of the Firewall

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Future NGFW development efforts need to integrate application control, IPS and evasion prevention into a single, purpose-built box with enterprise-scale availability and manageability solution.

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Comcast to Unplug Motown

Comcast to Unplug MotownComcast (CMCSA) will abandon Detroit if it’s plan to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The cable giant filed a response (PDF) to parties objecting to the nation’s second largest provider’s plan to acquire TWC arguing against claims that it would grow too big under the merger.

ComcastUnder its purchase plan, Comcast will withdraw from some markets, continuing to operate, as it does now, in 16 of 20 top markets, only a different set of 16 mostly on both coasts. Comcast lawyers stated, “Comcast will no longer have a presence in the Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, or Cleveland DMAs (designated market areas).”

MLive explains that companies like Dish Network, Netflix and various TV networks have complained that the Comcast-Time-Warner merger would create a new, massive cable company with an anti-competitive advantage. Religious television programmer My Christian TV complained that the deal would make Comcast “the only significant cable outlet in approximately 98 percent of all African-American communities in the country.” Comcast’s response:

Comcast has never served several markets with significant African-American populations such as St. Louis, Cleveland, and New Orleans, among many others, and after the Transaction, will no longer serve Detroit… Comcast estimates that after the transaction, it will serve markets that include approximately 78 percent of the country’s Hispanic households (not counting Puerto Rico in the denominator), though of course many of those households will not be Comcast customers.

Comcast to cut serviceBloomberg says the castaways in Detroit, Minneapolis and elsewhere would belong to a new company, GreatLand Connections Inc., to be created in what the companies call a tax-efficient spinoff. The new company’s debt would exceed industry averages — something that has raised concerns about service in those communities.

“We don’t have the answers we need,” said Ron Styka, an elected trustee with responsibility for cable-service oversight in Meridian Township, Michigan, a town served by Comcast about 80 miles west of Detroit. Municipal officials told Bloomberg they have questions about service, including whether subscribers can keep Comcast e-mail addresses or if the cable-channel lineups may change.

Charter CableGreatLand will start with $7.8 billion in debt, according to a securities filing. Bloomberg says that debt is equal to five times Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The debt ratio for Comcast is 1.99 times Ebitda and for New York-based Time Warner Cable it’s 3.07 times Ebitda, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. David Osberg, city administrator of Eagan, MN told Bloomberg.  “It’s not clear whether GreatLand will be financially qualified,” to provide services.

The new company will buy management services from Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) according to Bloomberg. Charter, which had sought to buy Time Warner Cable, would own a 33 percent interest in GreatLand and become the second-largest U.S. cable company with more than 8 million customers counting GreatLand’s and subscribers it gets in purchases and swaps with Comcast after the merger is completed.

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I worked a couple of jobs last year with Comcast last year and it always took them 3 or 4 months to provide service to business customers so many Detroiters may not be sad to see the cable giant go. The Philadelphia company last week acknowledged major customer service woes after a series of viral videos documented the experiences of exasperated customers.

Comcast CEO Neil Smit announced the hiring of a new head of customer service, and wrote in a blog post:

It may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for. But that is our goal and our number one priority.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.