Tag Archives: Privacy

xkcd explains the Heartbleed bug

Webcomic xkcd does an excellent job of explaining the “Heartbleed” bug:

If you know something about programming this is bug is the result of dynamic memory and lack of bounds checking. It allows the server to return the contents of RAM that may include information like passwords, login ids, etc. that are normally not visible externally. If you’ve recently logged in your information could easily still be in RAM and vulnerable but if you haven’t it’s likely nothing of yours remains. It’s all dependent on whether or not someone has determined a particular server is vulnerable and exploited the bug.

So what should you do? First, check this list on Mashable. If there’s a site you use frequently and it’s marked as vulnerable, change your password now. Otherwise, you can probably take your time but still change it. Consider using a password manager like 1Password or LastPass to make creating and managing passwords easier. Turn on multi-factor authentication where available. Also consider a personal password expiration policy. Yes, I know it’s a pain but if you use a password manager generating a new password is painless.

Security isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing, it’s an ongoing process.

NSA can bridge the air gap

You have to admit the NSA is nothing but thorough. We all know they’re grabbing data from the Internet and cell networks and while that might lead you to believe you’re safe if you’re not actually connected to a network, you’d be wrong. Very wrong. The NSA has spy devices with built-in radios that can send data from unconnected computers to listening stations miles away. While this requires physical access to the computer, once installed they are undetectable unless you’re looking for an RF signal. They claim to only be using this technology against foreign targets but at this point does anyone believe them?

The Sad Decline of ‘60 Minutes’ Continues

60 Minutes used to be on the forefront of investigative journalism. Just mentioning the name would strike fear in the hearts of anyone associated with dirty dealings. Now, with this Sunday’s thinly-disguised propaganda piece on the NSA, 60 Minutes has abandoned all pretext of being investigative.

23andMe Is Terrifying, But Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks

After bailing out of the approval process, 23andMe’s DNA testing kit was (technically) banned from sale by the FDA. But it’s still for sale.

Charles Seife in Scientific American says that’s not the reason you should be concerned. That’s because 23andMe’s real business isn’t medical research, it’s data collection.

Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet

As part of my Information Security training, the architecture of TCP/IP and the OSI model were covered. They introduced TCP/IP (the basis of the Internet) as optimized for access, not security. Never has that been more apparent than now, with what the NSA has done with the Internet backbone via their QUANTUM program.