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Uncategorized29 Nov 2015 10:31 am

During breakfast today, my son and I were talking about the DOT com bust, and, it got me to thinking about the company I was working with at the time. They created a large number of DOT com businesses. With no rhyme or reason to them. They created an auction site, with all the overhead of a big company, so it cost them $87 dollars to list a hammer on their auction site. And like the rest of the DOT com nonsense, they were losing money hand over fist. So what does a big company do? It bundles all of their failed DOT com businesses into a holding company, call a team meeting together, and announce that they are firing everybody and shutting down the business. I was fortunate as a consultant at the time. I was working for the parent companies E-Commerce web site, which they pulled back into the parent company, before the armageddon date for the rest of the digital businesses. We were all in the same building at the time. It was absolute madness. People were shredding documents so fast that the clogged EVERY shredder in the building. People were walking out the door taking their computers, boxes of their stuff, fax machines, printers, anything not nailed down. And the company was so naive that they didn’t have security at the building. Just call an all hands meeting and FIRE everybody. It was one of the most bizarre days I will ever remember from my career. About 6 months later, an invoice from the web hosting company for the digital businesses that were shut down ended up on my desk. I looked it over, and it was not of the same format that I had been receiving in the past for my web hosting services. It looked like a odd maintenance fee. So I started to dig in a little further. It turned out that one of the digital businesses bought a 5 million dollar EMC Symmetric Disk Storage array system. And they shipped it to the web hosting company. It was a company asset. NOT a lease like the rest of the equipment at the hosting center. Typical for the group president of the failed DOT com business to piss away 5 million on a piece of hardware. And then, after they fired everybody in the business, it was FORGOTTEN. The web hosting company had turned off all the lease equipment. But, the 5 million dollar disk array was still sitting there. ME: Lets Bring it back and use it. This caused the parent company all manor of consternation because they could not figure out how to account for a 5 million dollar asset that was not on their books. I had weeks of arguments with them about accepting the asset. And, then I had to convince the hosting company that it was my asset. And we wanted it back. That also took weeks. Because they typically did not accept customer hardware. They simply leased equipment to the customer. That discussion took weeks. And was so bizarre that the first time I sent a truck to retrieve the hardware they turned away the truck. Finally I got the parent company to agree to accept it, and the hosting company to part with it, and it was returned. And i remember the parent company telling me that they used the EMC array for their first SAP implementation. It had terabytes of storage that worked perfectly for their SAP project. Funny to remember all of that after talking to Josh about the DOT com boom and bust.

Uncategorized02 Sep 2014 07:06 pm

At the office I have been a detractor of the “cloud”. There is a perception by “the business” that using the Cloud and Elastic Infrastructure the likes of Amazon will save money. My position has been simple. In the risk analysis of using the cloud, understand the classification of the data you wish to store there, and understand that if “they” want access to it in the cloud, “they” will get access. Insert who you want as “they”. Competitors. Bad Nation State actors. Hackers for profit. And include the cost to “the business” if a disclosure event were to occur in the analysis. “the business” does not like to hear this. They typically pucker up when I talk of disclosure events. Fine. Put your head in the sand. I go back to “Just smile and wave boys, Smile and wave.” Today, there are questions now if Apple, one of the most storied IT companies in the world, were at fault or a party to the latest round of celebrity pictures being posted on the Internet. I have a concept for a solution to the problem that I am noodling over. I am thinking about it as Digital Rights Management on Steroids. Rant done for tonight.

Uncategorized29 Jul 2014 04:42 pm

I logged on to the Sun box in my basement this evening, looking to test something on a Solaris box, and decided to look at the log files.  In the messages file I see a bunch of errors: “fatal: padding error: need 168 block 16 mod 8”

Yes, I am forwarding SSH from my Internet IP to the Sun box so I can SSH into the server from the Internet.  And apparently, somebody or multiple somebody’s are trying some type of brute force attack on SSH to get into my machine.

I checked the box, and nobody has managed to hack there way in using SSH, but, its amazing that a bad actor out there found the open SSH connection on my home comcast.net IP address, and they are going to town.

Interesting, to think that if they could get into the server, would that be a launch point to root kit that machine, and the MAC’s on my home network, looking for credit card numbers, account ID’s and passwords, PayPal, etc.

There are so many bad actors out there nowadays.  I’m very excited to be going to Black Hat and Def con next week and learning more about the state of cyber security.

 

Uncategorized20 Jul 2014 06:18 am

I was sitting in a meeting this week with agents from three different three letter agencies to discuss the state of hackers and malware and threats against systemic financial institutions.  There were about 20 members of the various agencies around this giant conference room, and I was sitting there trying to be a fly on the wall.

The agents at the meeting were discussing the various bad actors and the potential threats against our countries in structure when one of the agents asked if we traveled to China.  When somebody in the room said yes.  He then asked if when traveling you brought your technology, e.g. Laptops, iPads, iPods, iPhones, Android devices.  “Well we issue loaner laptops.”  He saws, “well good… when you get back to the states, do not connect your laptop to your company network, burn it, and throw it out.”

A lively discussion began where he explained that if you take your technology to China and use it, it will be compromised.  period.  And once it is compromised there is nothing you can do, including reformatting the device, or resting it to “factory” defaults that will make the unit safe again.  The malware that will be embedded in your machine is so sophisticated that it cannot be removed by any means.

They did have a good recommendation.  If you need to travel to China or Russia, and have an office there, have loaner technology available for you in country, use it while you are there, and leave it in country.  Never bring it back and never run the risk of allowing malware infested technology to get back on to your corporate network.

This will lead so some additional challenges next year as we are opening offices if China and expanding their functionality.  We know that they will not be connected back to our private company network and we have policies in place that only information with a Data Classification Policy label of “public” be allowed on computers in China.  I’m sure this is going to lead to some interesting IT security challenges for later this year.

When the meeting broke one of the agents sitting next to me notice my interest in the “burn the laptops” comment, and said it me… “The same warning holds true for Russia.”

I believe the person who made the initial statement on China was one of the “Agent’s in Charge”, so I respect the warning that was given.

Next month I am going to be out at Black Hat and Defcon.  I put in a request for a loaner laptop for my travels.  I am going to make sure that “bluetooth” is disabled on all of my devices, and WI-FI turned off on my iPhone.  How about my personal Mac?  I am NOT staying at the headquarters hotel for either event because they do have contests called “capture the flag” where they count the number of devices that they can compromise, and they project on the main conference hall a screen called the “wall of sheep” which broadcasts the passwords that they capture from the open access points they set up, and when a device automatically connects to the “free” internet, WHAM, they have compromised your device, installed a root kit on it, display all the passwords from your device, and add one to the count of devices that they have compromised.  I also do not connect to the hotels internet when I am in down for this convention, using my phones Internet for when I want to connect and check email, but, I have been reading that even cell phone Internet has the potential to being compromised.

What do you think about bringing my personal technology to Black Hat and Def Con?  Will it be at risk with the precautions I am taking?  Leave Facebook comments with your opinion.

Uncategorized25 Sep 2013 11:09 am

I have had the opportunity to lead the selection of a secure email delivery system for my client.  This level of technology raises the bar on securely delivering emails to recepients across the Internet.  For those of you not in the know, older legacy company email systems deliver emails across the internet in a non-secure fashion.  My cool project gave me the opportunity to look at some really cool email delivery systems.

As a aside of this project, i had the opprtunity to learn all about advanced persistent threats.

What is that you ask?

A hacker sending you what looks to be a legitimate email that instead has malware inside of it.  For example, one of the vendors that we spoke with recorded over 23 million SPAM emails that were preported to be from Walmart regarding a flat screen TV being delivered to your house.  Instead, there were 3 links in that email that when clicked on, would install a virus on your windows PC that would attempt to steal all your most personal information.

For anybody that does not have up to date anti-virus software on your PC, stop what you are doing immedaitely and update your anti-virus patterns to ensure that your personal PC is protected to the best extent possible from this scary threat vector.

 

 

Uncategorized12 Sep 2013 09:38 am

After watching the keynote from Apple on the new iPhone 5s I have decided that there is one compelling reason to get the iPhone 5s. Since I started using my iPhone, I have stopped carrying around a digital camera for taking pictures. My wife has a really nice 35MM digital with a high mega-pixal count for special occasions, but, all I carry around is my iPhone.

So, with the iPhone 5s, apple has significantly improved the picture taking ability of the 5S so I am in.

I also have a strange problem with my Son’s iPhone 4 hand me down. For the last few months his iPhone has used over 6GB of network traffic even though the phone is on the home wireless network and I can’t imagine him using that munch bandwidth during a month. I am going to call AT&T to complain today, not that I expect that to help, but, I will hand me down my iPhone 5 when I get the iPhone 5S in a few days.

Uncategorized12 Jun 2013 04:06 pm

I finally got my Macbook Pro upgraded to 8GB of memory.  My Macbook worked great with the previous version of MacOS but, when I upgraded the memory the mac started getting a bit pokey.  A colleague at work thought the hard disk might be going south, but, when I brought my Son’s Mac to the Genius bar, I had them plug mine into the diagnostics which confirmed that everything was working fine on the Mac.

Apple has an interesting policy to not upgrade equipment.  They will fix it if it breaks, but with like kind parts.  In retrospect that makes sense from an integration testing perspective.  Apple was always about quality.

So, I ordered memory from Newegg, and got the wrong kind and sent it back for a refund.

Then I ordered the correct memory but at the wrong speed.  I was surprised that the faster memory would not work.

Next I ordered the correct memory and speed on eBay, and got dead on arrival memory, which I also sent back.

Finally I ordered the correct memory at the correct speed from Newegg, ordering Kingston memory.  Fourth time was a charm.  The new memory is working perfectly, and the Macbook pro is once again screaming fast.

I would go through at least a Windows notebook a year sometimes two a year until I moved over to the Macbook pro.  I have had this same Macbook since 2010, and its still working great.  Apple macs amazing technology.

Uncategorized16 Jan 2012 03:19 pm

I have switched my laptops from Windows to MAC and I love my Mac Book Pro.  It works perfectly, and is really fast. But, I have always had a windows PC in my home office.  A few years back, I got a Quad Core Dell PC, which for a long time ran smoking fast.  But, for quite some time my home office PC has been acting quirky.  Applications would lock up.  Internet surfing to web sites would freeze up for a few moments, which was very noticible and annoying. 

I ran Dell diagnostics on the PC, and no problems were detected.  Except when the test go the video card, the test froze up for a while finally ocming back to life, but, no problems were detected.

So I started thinking about getting a new PC for the home office.

After looking for a new computer I went to the back of the computer to check the video connections on the back of my video card.  I unplugged both to find DVI connections.  After reconnecting the first monitor would not come back to life, so I went to the back and really worked on the connection.

BINGO.  I rebooted the machine and its running REALLY fast again.

I believe thsat the monitor is PLUG and PLAY and there was a problem with the connection that caused the PC to quirk out and lock up.

This has to be one of the strangest computer problems I’ve seen.  And my home office PC is back up to FULL SPEED!

Uncategorized09 Jul 2011 02:43 pm

I suppose I am a child of the Nasa Space Shuttle program.  I can still think back to the wonder and awe of watching the first space shuttle lunch when I was a youngster over 30 years ago.  And, to this day, even with my current schedule, I still found the time to watch the last 15 minutes of the countdown and the shuttle zoom into orbit.  With the internet today, and Nasa TV, watching the shuttle launches live has gotten easier and I still took the time to watch almost every launch.

My favorite parts of watching the space shuttle were listening to the flight director pole the fight operations teams to get a go / no go decision for the launch, and finally, at T-10 seconds, the sparklers ignighting under the main engines to start them and bring them up to full thrust at T-5 fore the launch at T- zero when the solid rocket boosters were lite and away we went into the heavens.

I typically try to be a positive guy, and have a positive look at things, but, I was sad knowing that the United States and Nasa will probably not have an American Launch vehical ready for another 20 years.

With all of the bizaree entitlement programs and foreign wars not in our countries strategic interests that we have paid for over the years, it is completely ludicrous that Nasa did not have the vision or funding for a replacement for the space shuttle.

Over the last 30 years, the parade of Nasa Adminstrators has been asleep at the wheel, and should at least be identified as being wildly incompetent for not driving forward a replacement vehical for the space shuttle. 

The space shuttle was wholely unique in the history of space flight.  The hugh payload bay is amazing.  The abililty to launch the shuttle like a rocket, and land it like an airplane is amazing!   I believe that the space shuttle is one of the most amazing inventions ever in the history of the world.

But, the program also shows what is completely inane in our country and our ability to piss away money.  We spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the space station, and now, have no way for the united states to send repacement parts, supplies or astronauts to the space station.  I predict that in 5 years, we will dump the international space station out of space and into the ocean because we can’t repair a critical component required to keep the space station in space.

And there is the hubble space telescope which has expanded our view into the cosmos.  With the space shuttle, we flew 3 or 4 repair missions where we launched the hubble, and went back to fix key components to keep the hubble alive.  Nasa has already said that on the next catestropic failure on the hubble, they will send it crashing into the ocean, and another chapter of billion dollar scienticific exploration will come to an expensive end.

Nasa should have started designing a new space shuttle 20 years ago, and had the vechical ready to go with the retirement of the space shuttle program.  Imagine apple coming out with the iPad 1, and never designing the next generation technology.  That is unheard of business, but, at Nasa, thats exactly what has happened and we allowed it.

And the cost of human capital in florida is also another tragedy of the shuttle program shutdown.  10,000 or so people will lose their high technololgy jobs associated with United Space Alliance and the Kennedy Space Center.  And what about all of the people who live in the towns surrounding KSC who have businesses that will no longer be frequented during the thrice a year shuttle lunches that bring hundreds of thousands of people to Florida?

I hope that Nasa comes back to its senses and once again dreams of soaring into space.  I certainly hope that they do and can 0nce again “boldly go where no man or women as gone before”.

Final Spsace Shuttle Launch of Atlantis

Uncategorized25 May 2011 08:08 am

I have been thinking about the Sony security breaches where hackers entered their environment and grabbed customer data.

A good network behavioral anomaly detection system could have detected the information leaving the Sony network for a new location, but, there is a chance they it could have missed the incursion.

But, if Sony had invested in DLP technology, they could have created an exact fingerprint of the sensitive customer information stored in their databases, and then, using DLP Data in Motion monitoring technology, they would have been notified when the sensitive information was detected traversing outbound from their database server to the Internet. 

If you think about it logically, customer name and credit card information should not be moving from any database at Sony out towards the Internet in clear txt format. Credit card numbers leaving for the internet clear txt is a violation of PCI compliance standands and could result in Sony being restricted from accepting credit cards.  Or if there was some type of clear txt credit authorization process for one credit card, create a rule that monitors for the movement of 10 or more customer names and credit card numbers across the DLP network monitoring sensor and alert on that movement.

With Sony now reporting a $3.2 billion dollar loss for the year, clearly the price point of implementing a complete DLP system would pale in comparision to the cost of the disclosure events now facing the company.

If you would like to dialog about implementing DLP at your company, contact me today!

LG @ objectsoft.com – remove the spaces

And visit us online: http://www.objectsoft.com

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