News

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

2017.08.08 01

The man who wrote the book on password management has a confession to make: He blew it.

Back in 2003, as a midlevel manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bill Burr was the author of “NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A.” The 8-page primer advised people to protect their accounts by inventing awkward new words rife with obscure characters, capital letters and numbers—and to change them regularly.

The problem is the advice ended up largely incorrect, Mr. Burr says. Change your password every 90 days? Most people make minor changes that are easy to guess, he laments. Changing Pa55word!1 to Pa55word!2 doesn’t keep the hackers at bay.

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

Facebook is re-sculpting our memory

2017.07.18 03

For much of history, the only way to chronicle life was to write about it. Now, many of us take selfies on our smartphones to share on Facebook, and create picturesque albums of our daily meals on Instagram. And as the mediums we use to recall and review the past change, so do our very memories.

Daniel Schacter, a psychology professor at Harvard University, first established the effects of photographs on memories in the 1990s. In one experiment, he showed that it was possible to implant false memories by showing subjects photos of an event that they could have conceivably experienced, but didn’t. In another, he found that not only did looking at photos boost the memory of that particular event, but also impaired memories of events that happened at the same time and were not featured in the photographs. The primary focus of Schacter’s lab is on how memory relates to other cognitive abilities. His research has shown that weaknesses in our memory are positive attributes in allowing us to think meaningfully about the future.

Facebook is re-sculpting our memory

Facebook says it shouldn’t have to stay mum when government seeks user data

2017.07.18 02

Facebook is fighting a court order that prohibits it from letting users know when law enforcement investigators ask to search their political communications — a ban that Facebook contends tramples First Amendment protections of the company and individuals.

Most of the details of the case in the nation’s capital are under wraps, but the timing of the investigation, and references in public court documents, suggest the search warrants relate to demonstrations during President Trump’s inauguration. More than 200 people were detained and many have been charged with felony rioting in the Jan. 20 protests that injured police and damaged property in an area of downtown Washington.

Facebook says it shouldn’t have to stay mum when government seeks user data

Why emojis may be the best thing to happen to language in the digital age

2017.07.18 01

The fourth annual World Emoji Day (yes, it’s a thing) is Monday, celebrating the explosion in use of the little characters that have changed the way people around the world communicate.

Some have despaired that the symbols are the harbingers of the end of the written word. But experts say that far from destroying language, emoji are enhancing people’s ability to fully express themselves as text-based communication increasingly replaces face-to-face interaction.

“Emoji is making us better communicators in the digital age,” said linguist Vyv Evans, author of The Emoji Code. “Saying that emoji is a backward step would be like saying when you speak to someone you’re not allowed to make any facial expression.”

Why emojis may be the best thing to happen to language in the digital age

With New Digital Tools, Even Nonexperts Can Wage Cyberattacks

2017.05.15 01

SAN FRANCISCO — Hackers are discovering that it is far more profitable to hold your data hostage than it is to steal it.

A decade-old internet scourge called ransomware went mainstream on Friday when cybercriminals seized control of computers around the world, from the delivery giant FedEx in the United States to Britain’s public health system, universities in China and even Russia’s powerful Interior Ministry.

Ransomware is nothing new. For years, there have been stories of individuals or companies horrified that they have been locked out of their computers and that the only way back in is to pay a ransom to someone, somewhere who has managed to take control.

You don’t even need to have any skills to do this anymore,” said Jason Rebholz, a senior director at the Crypsis Group who has helped dozens of victims of ransomware.

Ransomware has allowed people who are not computer experts to become computer thieves. It used to be that hackers had to be a little creative and skilled to get money out of people. There were fake antivirus scams that promised to clean up your computer — for a fee.

With New Digital Tools, Even Nonexperts Can Wage Cyberattacks

What you need to know about the massive hack that hit the British health-care system and elsewhere

2017.05.13 06

It was first reported in England — hackers gained access to the National Health Service computers, effectively shuttering the entire system. Patients were told to stay home; doctors and nurses were unable to access email or medical records and had to take notes by hand. The hackers demanded a ransom, to be paid in bitcoin.

By Friday afternoon, though, it was clear that this was not a limited attack. Businesses in at least 11 other countries reported similar cyberattacks. Many were paralyzed.

According to Britain’s Independent newspaper, these attacks may stretch around the globe, from Portugal to Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Germany and Russia. It “is much larger than just the NHS,” Travis Farral, director of security strategy for cybersecurity firm Anomali Labs, told the Independent. “It appears to be a giant campaign that has hit Spain and Russia the hardest.”

If you run a business, back up every computer in your office and have a plan for what to do if your system goes down for a while. Be smart about setting up your network, so that most users don’t have complete access to the system. This makes it harder for a ransomware attack to infect everything. And make sure your users are educated about the common kinds of attacks.

What you need to know about the massive hack that hit the British health-care system and elsewhere

How to stream your video collection to any device

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As great as Netflix is, movies and shows don’t stick around on the service forever. As licensing deals renew or expire, Netflix loses old videos and gains new ones—which means that, on any given day, you might look up your favorite TV show only to find it’s gone.

For a more reliable option, you could buy your favorite digital content from portals like iTunes or Google Play. But there is another solution: Set up your own version of Netflix. Simply store the videos you own on your home computer, and from there, you can stream that content to other devices around the house.

In proper technical parlance, you’re actually turning your computer into a server, something that “serves up” content for other devices, or “clients.” A client might be anything from your phone to the PlayStation 4 connected to your living room TV.

A few years ago, you pretty much needed a degree in IT to get everything connected. Today, the Windows and Mac operating systems, as well as third-party apps, make it relatively easy to set up your own streaming service from the comfort of home.

How to stream your video collection to any device

FCC website hit by attacks after ‘net neutrality’ proposal

2017.05.13 04

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Monday that its website was hit by deliberate denial of service attacks after the telecommunications regulator was criticized by comedian John Oliver for its plan to reverse “net neutrality” rules.

The attacks came soon after Oliver on Sunday urged viewers to file electronic comments with the FCC opposing the plan unveiled by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to reverse rules implemented under President Barack Obama that boosted government regulatory powers over internet service providers.

Pai’s plan faces an initial vote on May 18.

FCC website hit by attacks after ‘net neutrality’ proposal

Amazon’s ‘Echo Show’ Gives Alexa the Touchscreen It Needed

2017.05.13 02

THE AMAZON ECHO is a stupendously powerful device. It can control your lights, play Ed Sheeran jams, keep a to-do list, check the weather, order pizza, tell guests your Wi-Fi password, and so much more. But as you embrace this chatty-computer future, you begin to see its limitations. Sure, you can book a flight with your voice, but it’s so much easier when you can see the price chart. You can set six timers, but can you remember which one just went off? Voice-only games are fun, but not as fun as a game you can see and touch.

Hype aside, voice control is not a replacement for screens, but a complement to them. As Apple’s Phil Schiller recently said, “There’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations.”

That’s what makes Amazon’s newest Echo, the $229 Echo Show, a smart move. It’s an Echo … with a screen. The Chumby lookalike exists mostly to talk and listen, but glance at the screen and you’ll notice that as it reads your calendar events, it displays them, too. When it announces that the Warriors won, it shows you the box score. It lets you interact with almost everything by touch or by voice, using whichever one you find most convenient. The speaker gets loud enough to rattle the kitchen counter, you can see the 7-inch screen from anywhere, and the far-field microphone array works just as well as the Echo. Plus, the setup couldn’t be simpler. Plug it in, connect it, done.

Amazon’s ‘Echo Show’ Gives Alexa the Touchscreen It Needed