Archive for the 'General' Category

This is a hold up!

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Today we will be discussing Ransomware and how it has impacted so many of us – specifically in the last two weeks.

Just a reminder – We have our gadget show next week on June 15th and another one on July 27th so be sure to post any questions or suggestions and we will happily review them. I’ll leave the link to the forum in the show notes below as well.

What’s in a Name?

Ransomware – Here are a couple of definitions from experienced data journalists

With ransomware, a hacker slips into a system, then puts encryption controls in place that locks users out. The hackers then demand money to “unlock” the data.— Elizabeth Millard

Today’s ransomware scammers often demand payment in bitcoin because the digital currency is easy to use, fast, and provides a heightened anonymity for the scammers, according to the FBI warning.— Susan Tompor

The landscape of the digital world changed dramatically in 2013 with the introduction of Ransomware technology. to watch the news these days, you do feel the perpetrators have more control over us than we ever expected.

When ransomware first came out, we would all hear of cellular devices being “bricked” or individual computers locked out until a fee or ransom was paid – back then usually a couple of thousand of dollars…

But look at where we are literally today with major industries such as both Gas pipelines and the meat supply chains being effected in just the last four weeks.

The two cases I refer to are the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Meats

  1. the hack of the Colonial Pipeline a month ago shut down the plant , which incidentally controls 45% of fuel on the Eastern U.S. seaboard. This of course led to large scale panic in gasoline buying along with many gas stations being closed for more than a couple of days.
  2. The JBS meat plant a couple of weeks later is the largest plant of its kind in the world.

Both these ransomware attacks came at a considerable cost not only financially but through major supply chain disruptions. The goal of the hackers is to put these large corporations in such a place that they will pay the millions requested in ransom to release the systems back.

Colonial Pipeline payed the Darknet hackers – suspected of having a Russian origin – the equivalent of 4.4 million bitcoin – allot of which just hours before this podcast aired – was transactionally traced by the FBI and recovered this morning.

One of the offshoots of this was many phishing attacks sent to other company emails under the guise of the heading “help desk” asking the user to click on the link to avoid having the same ransomware done to their company – Of course the issue is that this was exactly what was enabled when you clicked the link.

It’s exhausting to try and maintain such a high level of vigilance in any organization – you have to be correct 100% of the time where as the hacker only needs a one off to set a chain of events in motion that creates a consumer frenzy due to a race for the resource.

The same type of hacking event transpired at JBS Meats at the end of May and CNBC business news noted that due to the hack the plant was down 22% in cattle production and 19.6% in Pork production globally. While JBS managed to get their services online relatively quickly in many of the countries where they have a presence .. the rumours of prices escalating due to the hack had market and industry experts in a tizzy for about 48 hours.

Due to the wide reach these two consumer services, we see how such attacks are consequential to our societies and how much work it is to lock out foreign actors.

In the United States, President Biden’s department of justice going forward will now be treating the investigation of such attacks as terrorism.

One expert in the field of cybersecurity is Michelle Johnson Cobb. In the past, she has discussed several solutions towards integrated security controls and their databases, threat assessments, and the sharing of sensitive classified threat information from countries around the world.

Michelle notes that there are 3 things to keep in mind while shoring up organizational risks. From her interview with DarkReading on Vimeo she cites the following:

  1. Be able to audit your security controls and understand what they are doing
  2. Do an end to end analysis looking for open access passes from a physical environment to a cloud based solution and ensure that information cannot leave the organization on the way through
  3. Engage in vulnerability management – an example looking for patch management and change management protocols .. that will greatly reduce risks.

On the topic of employment in the field, Michelle raises an excellent point that I will second here. Today, there is a gap of over one million jobs in the US in the field of cybersecurity – A statistic from a couple of years ago shows that 58% of women in the field have advanced computer science and engineering degrees compared to 47% of men.

But somewhere between graduating and getting on the career path, women are turning away – or being turned away from – cyber security. On a personal note, and as one of the only women in the majority of my meetings, I will say that it is critically important to have widely diverse teams to discuss cyber security from all the possible angles.

And as one of my heroes Ruth Bader Ginsberg said,  “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Cyber security jobs are on the rise and it is of critical importance to promote and recruit women into a field that will only grow in importance as the years go on.

Personally – I have built my company into two tiers this year – the client consultative arm and the education arm – from which the Tea and Tech Podcast and this blog was born.

We have much work to do to encourage female youth in the field of STEM. I hope if you are reading this and know of any young women that are interested, you help them further and hopefully they will be a part of the growing work force required in the coming few years.

Next week we are reviewing gadgets and a few things that are just helpful for your peace of mind whether you are designing flawless networks or enjoying a cup of tea.

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Skybox on Dark Reading: Integrated Security Platform

Garçon the wine list s’il vous plait!

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Welcome back to the Blog!

This series will offer another 10 posts and…where we focused on definitions of networks and architecture in the first set of 10 posts – this series will do a more deep dive into how different technologies are used in our daily lives. We may use the past blogs as reference points in the footnotes, so if you need to catch up on a specific topic you can find the link there.

Also in this series – which I’m very excited about – we will have two posts dedicated to useful and – let’s be honest – very cool tech gadgets and apps.

I’m looking forward to your posts on the forum for anything you would like me to review so please don’t hesitate to ask! We have those coming up on June 15th and July 27th so be sure to post any questions or suggestions and we will review them. I’ll leave the link to the forum in the show notes below as well.

What’s in a name? Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) …

Here is the difference between the two things.

  1. Machine Learning is: a current application that gives machines access to data and lets them learn it for themselves.
  2. Artificial Intelligence is: the broader concept of machines that have now learned the information and are then able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart”.

Today I’m going to chat about Artificial Intelligence and how it is making its way into our main streets touching things that we do every day.

To start on this journey of AI we are going to focus on wine – so cheers to you all! It’s always 5pm somewhere right? …. and you’ll be looking at your next glass differently when you read how artificial intelligence has become a partner in how we drink wine.

As we know, wine has been around for thousands of years,  but the wine you enjoy today has likely had a variety of technical supports that were never available save for the last decade or so.

Along with drones patrolling the vineyard to send messages back to the farmer about which vines needed attention, or what land soil requires more nutrients, Imagine a patented technology that merges the human sensory system and AI in order to offer interesting recommendations to you. This is something completely different than the Institute of Masters of wine and certainly not the NOSE of the relatively few real master sommeliers around the globe.

However Pam Dillon CEO of Wine Ring , and her partners, have created an AI patented technology that allows the algorithm to combine it’s machine learning with your input of your likes and dislikes and come up with recommendations for wines that hit the mark of what you would want to drink.

Holding several patented technologies, Wine Ring has the most comprehensive database in the world and has created a technology in Artificial Intelligence through Machine Learning that is based on the stack of the network interface.

For more detailed drawings of the stack you can head over to the patents list on the winering.com site …but for now imagine two sets of information being poured into a glass to create the perfect wine choice.

On the left – the input is from the digital stack of AI that has had machine learning through certified wine experts on all the notes and components of thousands of types of wine.  From the right input, is your human gut feeling on what you like – which is often based on your senses of taste, smell, and, to some degree, even the experience of where you were when you had the wine which is a fairly esoteric experience.

I will personally never forget a glass of wine I had in Santa Barbara on a business trip – our table was outside and I could hear the waves of the ocean and saw the majestic Santa Yuz mountains on one a clear day in June with a picture perfect blue sky. That ice cold white zinfandel went on to be a favourite of mine, but I will confess that it has never tasted quite the same as it did that idyllic day

Wine Ring’s amazing patented technology has, as Pam Dillon describes it, “software that works as a sensory product and is able to refine the most complex data in order to learn how to offer you back suggestions from the database that take into account your likes. The AI does this by rationalizing the inputs you have made and matching them with the machine learned information in order to offer you that perfect bottle of wine you haven’t heard of but will become your new favourite.

This software was built by PHd’s in physiology and mathematics along with one of the largest groups of wine experts in the world.

Pam Dillon is a ground breaker in the AI field of technology. She has been nominated this season for an award for AI Entrepreneurship and I wish her much success at the event in July.

AI is here in our lives – likely in ways that go unnoticed by us in many instances – but look around and question and wonder how technology is making planned (or in some cases we will get into next week) unplanned decisions for your world.

Be curious and ask questions – the more we educate ourselves the more we can be conscience of technology and what it offers.

I’m really looking forward to exploring many tech advances with you in this series – and don’t forget to drop us any questions or requests in the forum for our Gadgets series coming in two weeks

I’ll leave you with a suggestion of an app for your phone that I recently downloaded and now use every day.

My Mind is an app that takes your screenshots and links and pics and sorts them and tags them – yes using AI – into a slick interface that is so easy to look at and use.

Things that you don’t want to forget are searchable with it’s use of AI even if you haven’t attached any tags of your own – put in a picture of a green car and searching under green will bring the pic up for you. It really is a great extension of your own mind to remember things and populates across all your devices with single sign in.

Join me next week for part two of Machine Learning and AI – along with a discussion of the dreaded Ransomware that has shown itself even more over the last two weeks.

cam.

Wine Ring

How AI will Revolutionize the Future of Wine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgNS-xU2FN0

 

The World We Live In ~ Part 2

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Welcome to the Blog  ~ number 10 and the final in our first series for 2021’s first quarter.

We will be starting up Series 2 – also with 10 podcasts and blogs, on June 1 and have more discussions and interviews with thought leaders around how technology shapes our lives.

Artificial intelligence … This is machine learned “thinking” that are programmed algorithms to make highly advanced software determinations in fractions of seconds.

Here is one of the things that has me do a sit and think … We have become so used to hearing the phrase “it’s says so on the computer” … it concerns me how much credence we have all given to an inanimate object.

Are computers here to stay?  It’s most likely they are – failing some massive electromagnetic wave pulsing mechanism that covers the globe and takes down all the servers and switches ,… but I’ve only seen that fantasy on Star Trek – so yes it is my view that in my life time and many generations to come these bits and bytes machines are running allot of how we interact with the each other and the world.

What impact are all those AI algorithms having on our lives?

Large conglomerates are responsible for the direction that the programmes take… How is our data manipulated and cycled back to us as specific topics, advertisements or how others interact with us?

An excellent example of this is In the the most recent article of the science based journal Phys.Org– written by Emily Storz of Drexell University.

In an interview with Dr. Kelly Joyce, a Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Science, Technology and Society Dr. Joyce notes this “The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the use of AI and automation to replace human workers, as part of the effort to minimize the risks associated with face-to-face interactions.”1.

She expands on that thought by noting that “Increasingly we are seeing examples of algorithms that are intensifying existing inequalities. As institutions such as education, healthcare, warfare, and work adopt these systems, we must remediate this inequity.” 1.

Let’s look at a life example that is relevant to headlines today ….

AI practitioners may not be aware that data about X (e.g., ZIP codes, health records, location of highways) may also be data about Y (e.g., class, gender, race inequalities, or socioeconomic status),” said Joyce, who is the lead author of this study.

“They may think, for example, that ZIP codes are a neutral piece of data that apply to all people in an equal manner instead of understanding that ZIP codes often also provide information about race and class due to segregation.

This lack of understanding has resulted in the acceleration and intensification of inequalities as Machine Learning systems are developed and deployed.”

“Identifying correlations between vulnerable groups and life chances, AI systems accept these correlations as causation, and use them to make decisions about interventions going forward. In this way, AI systems do not create new futures, but rather replicate the durable inequalities that exist in a particular social world,” explains Joyce 1.

We as a society, have allot to understand about how every key stroke of our data is being used.  With such examples of those by Dr. Joyce, we need to all start to have more comprehensive opinions on how and why this technology is being used on our behalf.

As I’ve said before, this is the goal the website forum and our podcast entitled Tea and Tech.   The education of ourselves and others We want to gather together and discuss how we can help and shape the tech world going forward. What do we want our world and that of our children’s world to be.

This topic is as massive as all the conduit fibre tying us together!!

Stay tuned here for more Blog news ~ Please post your thoughts on our forum … we are excited to have honest conversations around all of this – and see you in Series two on June 1 2021 as we do just that!

 

  1.  https://phys.org/news/2021-04-future-artificial-intelligence-requires-guidance.html

The World We Live In

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ARPANET – which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network is the original computer-based mail and messaging that became possible with the time-sharing of computers in the early 1960’s.  Over time, a complex web of gateways and routing systems linked allot of them together allowing a common basis of interoperability.

Many of the universities in the United States were part of ARPANET, The aim was to enable software portability among its systems… so someone had what I like to call a “sit and think” and decided the smarter route to go would be to attach the function of email to software not hardware … I guess you can thank them for the constant alerts on your device….

Over the past 8 weeks, we’ve discussed some of the different ways technology has impacted our lives and the physical mediums that move electronic bits and bytes around the globe.  We’ve chatted about a variety of topics From WANS, VPNS, ENCRYPTION, GPS AND COMPRESSION TYPES – and as I’m sure you know – barely scratched the surface of any of these.

When you start really disecting where and why things exist and how they came to be, its pretty fascinating.

Steve Jobs famously said  “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

I think that one of the casualties of the 24 by 7 always “on” culture is that our headspace seems to have shrunk when it comes to research and investigating topics in more depth – I know that’s easy to say – so many of us are consumed with things that get in the way of the “sit and think” and we research the why’s very little these days.

But, rightly or wrongly, this world is run on technology …. however I advance the argument that technology doesn’t have to frustrate and consume you.

When you come up against something that doesn’t’ make sense, find a way to break down the information about it into smaller pieces to understand what and why that technology exists.

Technologically, I think we are at a tipping point around the world – heightened by this pandemic that we have all been living with the last 13 or more months, technology has been utilized more in the last year or so and at a greater speed than anytime in the last decade.

As historian and world renowned author, Yuval Noah Harari said “Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours during a crisis. “

How many corporations around the globe changed the way they ran their business in a matter of a few short weeks once the world went into lockdown. Most of these changes were fuelled by the tech industry and, while there are some that are not proving out to be positive, many of them have allowed us to stay connected together while apart – certainly in ways that we wouldn’t even have envisioned in 2019.

There are many and varied technologies that we will explore together as we go forward but more and more I will be writing on the whys.

Don’t be hesitant to ask yourself a couple of questions as you live in the day to day technological world…

  1. Someone made this technical product and decisions around how it works – was it the right one for this time or could it be better? and
  2. Does it work for me and what I am trying to achieve

Next week’s Blog will wrap up the 10 part series we launched back in February with a look into AI – artificial intelligence.

We will start series two on June 1 and have more in-depth discussions and interviews with thought leaders around the impacts of global technology and breakdown what it all means to your everyday world.

 

 

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Where content is Queen

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After last week’s exploration of the first computer programme written by Ada Lovelace in 1843, this week we have jumped ahead more than 175 years in time to highlight the digital platform of YouTube.

MPEG, which is the acronym for Moving Picture Experts Group, are images that are compressed for transmission.

Broadcasting companies use three different kilobits per second speeds.  There is a 56 kilobits per second (Kbps), 200 Kbps or 500 Kbps speed and they all have their uses. MPEG compression allows you to pick the bit rate when encoding a moving pictures – or video as we know it.  If you think of the programmes you watch, an action film or sporting event requires a much higher bit rate to capture all the images and if you are watching a movie that has the characters more sedentary, you don’t need the same type of bit compression.

Speaking of video ….. According to Internet rankings, YouTube is the second most-visited website after Google Search and the scope of this platform is mind boggling!!  As of May 2019, there were more than 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute and one billion hours of content watched on YouTube every day.

More of the population’s younger demographic will likely never have cable and will stream news and shows over YouTube instead.

In our month end chapter to women in tech, we salute the CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki.  As one of the original founders of Google, she become their first marketing manager in 1999.  While leading the online advertising business, she was put in charge of Google’s first video department and while there realized how successful the small start up called YouTube was doing in the marketplace.  She put forward a proposal to her team at Google that they buy YouTube and has been their CEO since 2014.

Wojcicki studied history and literature at Harvard University and, after graduating with honors, went into the technical space after bypassing her original plans to get a graduate degree in economics.  With two masters degrees and named one of time’s 100 most influential people in 2015, Ms. Wojcicki is more than the CEO of this highly successful video platform.

She is a strong advocate in doing away with gender discrimination at technology companies and has led the charge in helping foster girls education in computer science pushing to make coding main stream in school systems today.

In the month of March, we have highlighted four past and present strong wonderful women who have changed the shape of the technological world that we live in.  As a woman in technology for the last two decades, I know some of the challenges and obstacles that they would have been through but, on a personal note, it can be a highly rewarding path to pursue.

I hope that whatever your interest is in the making of our technical world, you find your way filled with new information that allows you to make educated decisions about how you wish to engage with tech.  It impacts all our lives and it is important to understand the what and why around that.

Next week in our blog and podcast we will be looking at the past weeks discussions and how they weave into the world we live in today.

“Once Upon a Time…”

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Everyone reading this post has never not known some form of computer interaction – the fact that you’re reading this on a device is definite proof!

Whether it be from your groceries scanned at the food store – the price “magically” appearing on the display – the more intricate and inner workings of your automobile, to a cellular device that has more programming in it than Apollo 11, much of the world is surrounded by technology hundreds of times a day.

“…the iPhone 6’s clock is 32,600 times faster than the best Apollo era computers and could perform instructions 120,000,000 times faster.”(1.)

Imagine when this wasn’t the case  … it really wasn’t so long ago.

In our continuing series for Women’s Month, we are focusing on the first computer programme to be written … in 1843!

Ada (Byron) Lovelace, born to the poet Lord Byron and his wife, is the first person to “have recognized that the full potential of a computing machine, and one of the first computer programmers.” (2.)

After her father’s death when she was only 8, her mother promoted her towards maths and sciences as she feared that, if focused on English, Ada would become mentally ill and pass away in early life like her father.  By twenty she was married to a man that would be made the Earl of Lovelace making her a Countess.  With an engaging aristocratic social life, Ada managed to invite such intellects as Sir David Brewster, Charles Watson and Michael Faraday while still staying in constant touch with her mathematics mentor from Cambridge, Charles Babbage the “father of the computer”  known as the Analytical Engine. (3.)

In the mid 1800’s at the turn of the Industrial Revolution, machines were used for single source applications – in other words sewing machines were used to sew, steam engines were used for power  and so on.   Ada, through a complex series of applications, saw that the Analytical Engine could build beyond single source and be constructed to have a wide variety of uses.

“An Italian engineer, Luigi Frederico Menabrea wrote a paper on Babbage’s Analytical Engine.  He wrote it in French, however Lovelace, who knew French,  spent months, translating and notating Menabrea’s paper.  Her notes ended up being three times longer than the actual work and she understood the workings and possibilities of the Analytical Engine better than even Babbage, its inventor.   What’s more, within her detailed work, she created a way for the engine to calculate Bernoulli numbers in steps.”(4.)

“The Analytical Engine can do whatever we know how to order it to perform…. it can follow analysis, but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths” Lovelace wrote.

As we look into all the interactions we have with technology, that statement is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago,  however with the ongoing development of Artificial Intelligence we are moving far beyond where even Ada Lovelace would have imagined.

 

 

 

  1.  https://www.zmescience.com/science/news-science/smartphone-power-compared-to-apollo-432/
  2. www.theiset.org
  3. https://www.plethorist.com/charles-babbage/
  4. www.SeekerIndie.com
  5. www.SeekerIndie.com

“Recalculating”

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It’s hard to remember back to folding up a large paper map accordion style … but before GPS (Global Positioning Systems) became main stream, navigators everywhere had maps spread out on their laps working through the twists and turns that would get them to their destinations.

“The Global Positioning System technology in the United States of America, currently run by the U.S. Air Force, uses at least four satellites. Radio signals are transmitted to earth constantly by orbiting satellites. The closest satellites pinpoint your location through trilateration which is a process that uses time to measure distance (distance = rate x time). As the satellites communicate with each other and the devices on earth, the satellites need a detailed model of earth that contains the surface elevation (so the system can work more effectively).” (1.)

Born in 1930 in Virginia,  Dr. Gladys West was instrumental in the development of GPS with a team at the Naval Laboratory.   She started her employment in 1956 after graduating in mathematics with a Masters in 1955.  During her career, Dr. West programmed orbital calculations on one of the room sized IBM computers and designed algorithms that proved the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Dr. West worked on prgrammes and calculations to define precise modelling of the shape of the Earth ~ specifically the oceans.  This definition and specifics of the geoid was further enhanced to create the very first use of GPS.

At the time this technology was limited to the military until an executive order, signed by President Regan, allowed for individuals to have access to the algorithm science and from that point forward the race was on to incorporate it into much of the technology we use today.

With any address you look up on your phone map app, the calculations are running behind the scenes to triangulate your location and bounce off the geographic attributes between you and your cited destination…all those instructions coming from the chosen voice on your phone are simply following the signalling of how to get you to your destination based on satellites in spacial orbit that are bouncing signals off the earth and back to you in commands like “Turn left now” ….. Recalculating …..

Dr. West has a memoir available about her life ~ I highly recommend this book ~  it is such an enjoyable read! (2.)

1.https://blog.marinersmuseum.org/2021/02/dr-gladys-b-west-the-women-who-reshaped-the-modern-world/

2.  https://smile.amazon.com/BEGAN-DREAM-Dr-Gladys-West/dp/0578676389/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=it+began+with+a+dream&qid=1612549078&sr=8-1

Can you hear me now?

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Happy International Women’s Day!  

As we celebrate women in technology this month, it is wonderful to highlight one of the leading pioneer’s of Bluetooth and WiFi techniques.  Hedy Lamarr, a famous actress in the 1940’s, played a pivotal roll in “spread spectrum” science during World War II.

It was her knowledge of jamming technology, that was crucial in ensuring that torpedoes could be set off course during the war.  Years later, in 1957, the technology was created into a “sonobuoy” –  a device that is dropped into the ocean for anti-submarine warfare or, as is now the case, vast underwater research based on sonar frequencies.  In 1962, the same technology was installed by the Navy during the Cuban missile crisis.

The spread spectrum science is used today in Bluetooth technology although still sometimes used in WiFi signalling.

So what is the difference between the two?

“Bluetooth, developed in the late 1990s, is a technology designed to enable short-range wireless communications between electronic devices, such as between a laptop and a smartphone or between a computer and a television. Bluetooth works by using radio frequencies, rather than the infrared spectrum used by traditional remote controls.  As a result, Bluetooth eliminates the need not only for a wire connection but also for maintaining a clear line of sight to communicate between devices.”1.

“Wi-Fi is similar to Bluetooth in that it also uses radio waves for high-speed data transfer over short distances without the need for a wire connection. Wi-Fi works by breaking a signal into pieces and transmitting those fragments over multiple radio frequencies. This technique enables the signal to be transmitted at a lower power per frequency and also allows multiple devices to use the same Wi-Fi transmitter.”2.

As we can see, there is a difference between the two and, while you can sometimes use bluetooth without a wifi signal, the two are required the majority of the time to function in the environments that we have today.  Wifi transmits at a much higher frequency than say your cellular devices.  Common rule is the higher the frequency, the more data that can be passed over the spectrum.  Because this frequency is sensitive you’ve likely experience spots in your home where your devices doesn’t work as well or you can’t hear the caller.  We all have that “dead zone” usually around the load barring wall that has internal steel construction or the furnace room that sends all kind of interference into the spectrum – not to mention the interference if you microwave is on or your trying to chat on the phone while doing your laundry!   This is one of the reasons that cell phones are not allowed in the wards at hospitals – two frequencies clashing between your device and a medical one is not an optimal outcome.  While these signals are getting more resilient with further technology, it’s still important to understand why a “no cellular devices here” sign exist.

The Internet of Things (IoT) runs a low wifi frequency for your Zumba, door locks. lights etc.  and is set up over your network – the PAN example from our Tea and Tech Podcast ~ Episode 3.  As “multi radio mesh deployments” become more standard the world of WiFi will surely be less of “can you hear me now” and more of “can you link to me now”

  1. https://www.britannica.com/technology/wireless-communications
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/radio-wave

 

 

 

 

But there’s a lock on my door …..

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To continue on from last week, we are discussing data breaches and how your personal information could be exposed for nefarious means.

Data breaches are malicious attacks on a network in order to get inside the firewall and take information that is deemed valuable.  How valuable is your social security number (USA) or passport number?  VERY!  These numbers are linked to you and all that you have medical files attached to, own, lease, and/or bank with.

“It is estimated that there is a hacking attack every 39 seconds.” (1.)

It seems no one is immune and we have only to review the headlines over the last few years to remember some of the large corporations and government entities that have been breached.  Do you remember the Heartbleed security breach uncovered in 2014?  It had been running for two years and had done some serious damage to many of the worlds “secure” information sites.

“We’re not talking small time sites like hot rod forums or collectible card game swap sites, we’re talking banks, credit card companies, major e-retailers and e-mail providers. Worse yet, this vulnerability has been in the wild for around two years. That’s two years someone with the appropriate knowledge and skills could have been tapping into the login credentials and private communications of a service you use (and, according to the testing conducted by Codenomicon, doing it without a trace).” (2)

Referencing some data breach statistics directly:

  • The average cost of a data breach currently sits at $3.86 million. That number rises to $8.64 million if you only analyze the USA. [IBM]
  • Worldwide cybercrime costs will hit $6 trillion annually by the end of 2021. That number will rise to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. [Cybersecurity Ventures]
  • Remote work increased the average breach cost by $137,000. [IBM]
  • The average cost per lost or stolen record per individual is $146. [IBM]
  • The average ransomware payment rose 33% since 2020 and now sits at $111,605. [Fintech News]
  • By the end of 2021, ransomware damages will reach a total of $20 billion, 57x greater than the damages in 2015. On average, there is a ransomware attack on a business every 11 seconds in 2021. [Arcserve]
  • The average price for a Business Email Compromise hack is $24,439 per case. [Verizon]
  • The average cost of a malware attack sits at $2.6 million. [Accenture]
  • In 2020, phishing accounted for 1 in every 4.200 emails. Every minute, companies lose $17,700 due to a phishing attack. [Symantec]
  • The average cost of information loss, the most expensive aspect of a cyber attack, is $5.9 million. [Accenture]1.

These numbers are staggering and it is helpful for us to understand how we have left some information behind when we log in to different sites on our various devices.

There are a variety of security applications that we can utilize to mitigate some risk.  Having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) client as part of your home set up is a valuable tool.  You can Google and read many of the options based on your location, and this helps to suppress allot of your information as you are surfing websites.

Breaching data bases is a full time business for some – not only individuals but government actors as well.  It is our job to shelter ourselves as best possible from having our information commoditized if we don’t wish it to be.

Related to the above statement it will be interesting to see how this year plays out with FaceBook as various countries look to change the large monopoly of information that FB currently enjoys.  I’m sure we will be discussing in the coming months…

“If you are not paying for it, you become the product.”(3)  True words we should all review as we move through the day using all this technology.

Next week we will discuss the in-depth workings of VPN’s and how they relate to our previous discussions.

  1. https://phoenixnap.com/blog/data-breach-statistics
  2. https://www.howtogeek.com/186735/htg-explains-what-the-heartbleed-bug-is-and-why-you-need-to-change-your-passwords-now/
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/03/05/if-youre-not-paying-for-it-you-become-the-product/?sh=5e40e14f5d6e

The beginning, the middle, but to what end?

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From Wiki’s to WAN’s how does all this technology serve us?  Are we protected from ourselves or will the age of information prove to be too much?

“To understand why we have less privacy today than in the past, we must look not just at the gadgets. To be sure, we should be wary of spies and thieves, but we should also look at those who protect us and help us—and we should also take a good look in the mirror.” 1

When the original World Wide Web came to be, individuals’ words and actions online were well hidden – cloaked behind some magic filter it seemed, but in reality hard to access because the network architecture precluded an easy interface to retrieve the data.

Today, these platforms are constructed to be able to log transactional bits and bytes of information that we create when we simply sign on. Making it easy for both organizations and individuals to piece together our personal IP address information that is left behind, technology today has enabled a vast variety of third parties to create literal dossiers of our every keystroke.

As we navigate consumer good websites, social media applications or news organizations, we are leaving behind a digital trail that finds us again in the form of advertisements, game suggestions, or local coupons in the sidebar of our searches. Is this trade off of information for marketing opportunities enough of a value to us to abandon the anonymity we would otherwise have? If it isn’t, why are we complacent in accepting this, and, if it is, how much further down the road are we willing to travel?

Blog posts written by:  cam  ~ Harvard Alumni, Owner of Spicy Pear Media Inc , a technology and education consultative firm.

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