FCC's New Rules Could Threaten Net Neutrality

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating a proposal for new FCC rules on the issue of network neutrality, the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally. Unfortunately, early reports suggest those rules may do more harm than good.  READ MORE

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Why You Shouldn't Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

 

By ROBERT LEE HOTZ
Wall Street Journal
April 18, 2014

Talk about dirty money: Scientists are discovering a surprising number of microbes living on cash.
 
In the first comprehensive study of the DNA on dollar bills, researchers at New York University's Dirty Money Project found that currency is a medium of exchange for hundreds of different kinds of bacteria as bank notes pass from hand to hand.
 
By analyzing genetic material on $1 bills, the NYU researchers identified 3,000 types of bacteria in all—many times more than in previous studies that examined samples under a microscope. Even so, they could identify only about 20% of the non-human DNA they found because so many microorganisms haven't yet been cataloged in genetic data banks.   READ MORE at WSJ
 

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Proposal to Prevent Grid Attack Lacks Power, Critics Say

April 17, 2014

A year after gunfire knocked out a substation that funnels power to Silicon Valley, the U.S. government has promised to make power companies amp up protection of equipment vital to the electric grid.  Read full article at the WSJ

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The Heartbleed Bug - What to Do Now

Websites that exchange sensitive information with users have, for many years now, secured the connection between a users browser and the web site by encrypting the information.  The system is called SSL for Secure Sockets Layer and TLS for Transport Layer Security and up until the begriming of 2012 the software that implemented these techniques, OpenSSL protected the information as it flowed over the  Internet by making it unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient.  A programming mistake (A missing bounds check)  introduced into the software introduced a flaw in  a function of the TLS protocol called heartbeat.  

 

That flaw allowed a non-standard heartbeat command to return 64 KB or about 32 pages of text of unencrypted data.  In effect, the programming error allowed an attacker to access the very information that SSL/TLS was intended to protect.    Named for the heartbeat function that allows the data to be viewed by attackers, the bug has become known as Heartbleed.

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Windows XP Support Ends - Why You Need to Know

 
April 8 2014 is the last day that Microsoft will support it’s Windows XP operating system.   This is important for anyone with a computer running XP  because that is the date Microsoft will stop issuing patches, or fixes, to the software leaving users vulnerable to attack when new exploits are found but not fixed.  Windows XP was first released in October of 2001 - over 12 years ago.  One might think that 12 years would be enough time to find and fix all the bugs in the software that allowed attackers to take over your computer but then one would be wrong.  There have been 9 “critical” or “important” patches released for XP during the first few months of 2014.  

NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.

 

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Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism

February 5, 2014
 
SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.
 
Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.  Read the original WSJ article  about the susceptibility of the US power grid and how a critical vulnerability of being ignored.
 

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