“Wait till later” – Rocky

“Wait till later” – by Rocky the debut of the up and coming artist… more soon…

“Wait till later” – Rocky

“Wait till later” – by Rocky the debut of the up and coming artist… more soon…

Fuzz Ball Horror

Fuzz Ball Horror #FuzzBallHorror – Let me know if you can sleep tonight.

Fuzz Ball Horror

Fuzz Ball Horror #FuzzBallHorror – Let me know if you can sleep tonight.

All devices can be hacked?

Written by Hopeton Smalling

I received a link to a video that Professor AVI Rubin presented a year ago on the subject of device security. This professor explained how hackers could compromise medical devices, cars, phones, and P25 transmitters. He then shared a presentation that was the equivalent of a horror film about everyday technology. Specifically, he showed how devices such as a defibrillator could be reversed engineered and hacked. To demonstrate the medical device hack they placed this medical device into a piece of meat, (what a way to sound the alarm, huh?) and then disrupted its operation.  He continued and showed the same attack process for cars, phones and police scanners model P25. However, I believe that these examples have the same syllogistic error.

Explaining some of this error is the central point of my post. My criticism will examine the strength of examples presented by Professor Rubin. To begin, I find his first error is in his title, “all devices can be hacked”. This use of assumption using universal statements can be found throughout this presentation. This error can be described as a  existential fallacy.  This is the form of a categorical syllogism with two universal or absolute premises with a particular conclusion.The errors presented in many of his examples can be found when the exploited vulnerabilities of these devices need not be instantiated.

The first cellphone exploit that he presented utilized the reflection of someone using a cellphone. This exploit relied on several specific events to successfully exploit someones data.These events include the following:

1. The user wearing reflective sun glasses
2. The user entering a password
3. The user remaining still while a camera captured all of this data

The fallacy is that this risk may never exist if these events don’t occur in this specified order. If the exploit relied upon reflection then, it would need perfect lighting conditions also. Many users set their phones to be password free and further variation can occur with non numeric log in screens. I argue that any of these events may never occur. Further, if they did occur and someone’s password was captured, they would still need to access (wireless/wired) the target phone to use it.

The second example was that medical devices can be hacked and controlled by wireless access. The shock value of this argument was the use of meat and statement that this device could be deactivated.  The error of this argument is that this recreated exploit doesn’t present a concern because our medical data is protected by HIPPA. Since 1996, federal law prohibits anyone form gaining our confidential information. I argue that if someone can gain this information with evil intent, they’re too close and wouldn’t need to hack a medical device to cause harm.

My final example of the error of his argument is the exploit using the accelerometer. (A accelerometer allows smart phones to detect motion.) This exploit relied on several specific vulnerabilities to successfully exploit someones data.

1. An iPhone being left in proximity of someones keyboard.
2. Someone typing on a keyboard.
3. Being able to retrieve this iPhone and capture the data.

The main error of this example is that it assumed that a traditional keyboard would be used. The facts are that desktop sales are declining each year and may not be the primary computer used by someone typing. Further, other devices such as tablets and web conferencing don’t rely on keystrokes of sensitive data. (Just ask SIRI) Consider the likelihood of someone ignoring an iPhone on a desk and typing confidential information next to it. Unless it were cloaked, wouldn’t the average person return it to lost and found? (I’ve been told that not returning an iPhone could be considered petty larceny, but this is besides the point.)

Bottom line is that all devices may have vulnerabilities but its unrealistic to be a victim of hacking with the scenarios presented by Dr. Rubin. Don’t be foolish there are real dangers today from potential hacking attacks on everyday devices. However, personally I’m not scared by the broad lose argument presented here. One way to protect yourself from the average exploit is to be vigilant about physical security. Protect your passwords, be aware of your surroundings and lock up all your devices and software from the untrusted. Just because someone is your “friend” on Facebook doesn’t mean they should have the keys to your car. Use wisdom with technology and protect yourself from cyber terrorism in 2013.

Please contact me with any questions at contact@realtechguru.com, and leave a comment.



Begin 2013 with efficient and effective technology

by Hopeton Smalling

As 2012 draws to a close it’s a great time to make decisions on what technology needs to be replaced, tweaked or eliminated. In my office I feature many computers specified for a variety of functions. As a technologist my philosophy is to adopt new hardware or software only when the old technology fails to efficiently and effectively serve its purpose.  To this end, I’ve decided monthly to evaluate my technology needs and improve my hardware and software as needed. Specifically, my core technology includes an Iphone, mini windows laptop, Ipad and Windows laptop which all serve a variety of purposes. I have tasked my mini laptop to run 24/7 in support of running a application that I use to monitor and support my MT4 robots. Additionally, the Iphone is the most “smart” phone on the market and provides ubiquity to allow me mobile access to my data. I use my Ipad in support of my research with specialized applications such as EBSCOhost, kindle, pages, kobo, ibooks, notes and WebEx. My windows laptop is loaded with tons of specialized applications that allow me to perform high powered functions such as application, and web development when needed.

When technology needs to be maintained it’s common for these devices to slow down or fail to perform. Should one discard hardware when it fails to perform? I argue that there are key tweaks for all your devices that should be performed before an investment in new hardware is considered. The following are my New Year recommendations to enhance the performance of your windows laptop/desktops.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen more maintenance required on windows computers than other platforms. There are a few common solutions to everyday performance problems faced. Many common problems include: virus and spyware infections, low disk space, and low memory available.

You should always run anti-virus software to assure protection in a windows environment. I recommend AVG for personal use and believe this is one of the most comprehensive protections at no cost on the market. If you are already infected and need to clean your machine I would recommend Malware bytes to begin your search for this infection on your machine. After you run this application then I recommend running AVG until your machine finds no infections. Contact me if you require more detailed assistance or recommendations. contact@realtechguru.com

Low disk space is a common problem on any device including phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. You should know how much space you have available and then determine your next course of action. Specifically, if you are using a smartphone and tablets and have less than 200mb available you may need to delete some content to assure your device will continue to perform properly.  On laptops and desktops you should not have less than 1GB of space on your disk or you will begin to see dramatic drops in performance.  It’s possible to reclaim space on your hard drive or add space as needed. A cheap and inexpensive method is to buy a thumb drive and insert into your high speed usb port. This holiday season you can finds sales that would allow you to pick up a thumb drive/hard drive to increase the storage available for your machine. Additionally, you should know that there are many ways to reclaim space on your computer that is lost due to application temp storage. There are many applications that will save temp files, cache or other files that can be relocated to help you reclaim need hard drive space. Your main hard drive should always be protected and needs free space to perform efficiently. (Commonly labeled as the C: drive) google desktop is one of those applications and can save gigabytes of files. (To check this application goto C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search) You will need to go to this location and right click and select properties to inspect this folders size.

Low memory warnings can also be connected to low available free disk space because of something called virtual memory. However, if you are running any version of windows with lower than 2GB of memory then you should consider a physical upgrade and add more memory or upgrading your device. This recommendation is very general and would need to be increased if you are using your device to run applications that have higher memory requirements.

I wish everyone a happy holiday; contact me if you require more detailed assistance or recommendations. contact@realtechguru.com



The AT&T IPhone 5 and the potential impact of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology

The AT&T IPhone 5 and the potential impact of (LTE) technology

By Hopeton Smalling

Today marks one year since the passing of Steve Jobs the founder of Apple computers. On this day, it’s fitting to review a feature of the new IPhone 5, because it demonstrates that Apple is still future focused. “..skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is” This quote from Wayne Gretsky is profound, comparing it to the impact that Long Term Evolution technology (LTE) will have on data usage. Steve Jobs used this quote to describe the next generation innovation of his team at Apple. LTE technology is a new standard of mobile broadband that will promote innovation. ATT and other mobile providers are stating that that LTE can have speeds up to ten times faster than 3G and will revolutionize mobile devices. To put LTE in perspective, you should remember the impact that broadband has had on everyday uses of a computer. Remember when 56k modems were the main source of connectivity for residential and business email? (I know most of you are not old enough to remember the moan and groans from the back of a 100lb desktop computer.) However, the cloud and rich content support of LTE will make dialup seem as archaic as the printing press. Further, there are uses of data that are yet to be developed, that will leverage LTE.

If you consider that 2G mobile speed only provided basic text, email, and basic web with voice connectivity. 3G speeds advanced society with mobile access to internet, video and applications. To highlight the impact of LTE, consider that mobile broadband TV requires the streaming of lots of data. Mobile video wouldn’t exist without 3G speeds and reliability. It’s certainly hard to believe that the world existed without YouTube or Hulu on mobile devices, but it did. Now LTE technology will support improved rich content, and cloud access with lower levels of latency. Now the issue for most mobile subscribers is the management of data charges.

When one thinks about the impact of data charges on usage, it reminds us of the important topic of net neutrality. Net Neutrality is the concept that content will not be throttled, but content will remain open and not be blocked. (Like it is in many countries like China) This issue is much more important than the cost of data. This issue is about freedom to engage content without restrictions from internet service providers or other entities. There are still debates about what the future of content will be. However, as mobile providers have planned, next year could be when more devices will be rolled out with this technology.