Kahomono - It Means Lucky

Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy that day.

Category: InfoSec and IT Page 2 of 27

Antisocial Media

Photo: NYTimes

The Senate report on social media influence in the 2016 election is out and… it’s bad.  To compare the 2016 election cycle to a Pearl Harbor-type attack via the internet would not be extreme.  In fact, it would put you in good company, such as with the New York Times.

Click it!  You know you want to.

It’s hard to know what to do about this that’s effective.  Encourage everyone you know to vet news sources.  The Times (NY and LA alike), the Post, CNN and MSNBC are still showing me some commitment to reporting reality and not propaganda.  Even the WSJ is OK if you just avoid its editorial page, which is basically the reincarnated spirit of Ayn Rand.

And get the hell off Facebook, finally.  In fact, pretty much all “social media” is vulnerable to this influence, so using it in any way as a source of news is completely insane.

Breaches

Today’s post is over at Safer Computing, about data breaches and what they mean to you.

Uptime 3: Climate Change

Today’s post is back over at Safer Computing, about climate control for your electron-guzzlers.

Uptime 2: The Power

Today’s post is over at the newly re-homed, back and better than ever, tanned, rested and ready safer-computing.com!  It’s a continuation of the Uptime mini-series.

Uptime

Every one of us has a data center to care for.  Not everyone takes it as seriously as some do.

The mouseover text for this one reads:

The weird sense of duty really good sysadmins have can border on the sociopathic, but it’s nice to know that it stands between the forces of darkness and your cat blog’s servers.

Point being, what’s trivial to you or me is not so trivial to someone.  And if that someone is a member of your household then you need to take it seriously, if for no other reason than shalom bayit

Think about the things a data center does to create a fundamentally good environment for the computers it houses: climate control, power protection, redundancy, fire protection, physical security.  

But Kahomono, I hear you saying, my house is not a data center!  Oh no?  Let’s talk about a job I had a few years ago.  OK, quite a few years.  But still: we were opening a new data center for a major NYC bank.  We had three computer rooms: the Mainframe room had 8 IBM 390s.  The Time-Sharing room had 4 Honeywell DPS-8s.  And the Mini room had about a dozen computers of various makes: Data General, Pr1me, Tandem, Digital.  There were also a handful of IBM PCs floating around, with which nobody was very impressed.  So let’s round up and say that this “Data Center” — and it was surely that — had about 30 computers housed in it.

How many computers in your home now?  Do you even know?  I can say that in a typical home housing a family of four, you probably have… more than in my 1980’s era data center.  40?  Maybe close to 50?  Consider that your phones and tablets, your set-top boxes, DVRs, gaming consoles, “smart home” controllers and endpoints, not to mention every “smart” appliance you connected to your poor overtaxed WiFi, are all computers at least as powerful and capable as that VAX in our Mini room back in the day.  So if you only counted your desktops and laptop computers, you missed the mark by around 90%, is my guess.

And every one of those computers is capable of violating at least one tenet of information security.  (Remember CIA?) 

  • Confidentiality: it could leak information about you and your activities that you would rather it didn’t.  
  • Integrity: It could damage or alter information it holds, making it less useful or even harmful to you
  • Availability: you could lose information you don’t want to lose.  Think emails, tax returns, photos, music collections, movies, saved game progress.

So what do you do about it that doesn’t turn you into that guy in the cartoon above?  More on that to come.

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