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BLCOMP Newsletters

September 2015

In This Issue...

1) Wow, Net Neutrality... Now what?!?
2) Net Neutrality Petition - Strike one for the People!
3) Smart Devices in the House - Lack of Security
4) XP Embedded "Point of Sale" Security
5) Free Wi-Fi in Subways and in Big Cities

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Wow, Net Neutrality... Now what?!?

 

 

Chalk it up to the USA Litigation Gain... For the people... Ya Right!!! More Like who pays the most!!!

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 order that imposed network neutrality regulations on wire line broadband services. The ruling is a major victory for telecom and cable companies who have fought all net neutrality restrictions vociferously for years.

For anyone who lives in a market with limited competition for home broadband services, the court (United States Court of Appeals) does acknowledge that you might have some “difficulty” in finding another provider but says that it’s still not reason enough to restrict what an ISP can do when it comes to managing its own traffic.

“To be sure, some difficulty switching broadband providers is certainly a factor that might contribute to a firm’s having market power, but that itself is not market power,” the court asserts. “There are many industries in which switching between competitors is not instantly achieved, but those industries may still be heavily disciplined by competitive forces because consumers will switch unless there are real barriers.”

It reminds me of a cartoon skit "South Park" when Eric Cartman was Rubbing his chest in front of everybody saying 'Sure you can switch providers... Oh yeah I forgot... We are the only provider...' Now how true is that?!? Now the Big Businesses can limit what you see / watch / play with the NSA behind them checking up on you.... Free Internet hmm??? I don't think so!

So what is the solution??? Good question... It seems no one has an answer! We all have ideas but no one seems to have the one good solution to fix this problem... The old saying is 'the one who has all the gold makes the rules'... It's just so sad that the people put those people in power to hurt the people... I know, I know... They are not hurting the people some will say... They are protecting the people... Ya... Then why are they getting found out if it's legal ? (Right NSA???). And if the only provider who is in a service area with no competition (who is taking money from their customers) can limit or charge extra for content they do not provide is fair then something is defiantly wrong!

Some will say the provider has a right to charge / limit whatever they want or need and if their customers don't agree with it then they can go elsewhere. True if there are more providers, well what if there is only one provider for that area???

The only thing they are now promoting is the use of encryption in today's communication habits. VPNs will be the norm to get around the blockage... Pretty sad that we have to resort to this on what was said to be an open system...

Tell us what you think. The idea about net neutrality is no one should be restricted for anything!

External Reference:

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Net Neutrality Petition - Strike one for the People!

Net Neutrality Petition
Strike one for the People!

 

Well it seems the people do have a voice. A petition with a million signatures so far speaks volumes. The same petition that wants Net Neutrality to the people. The government currently responding to the FCC and Courts could be more tech minded but the one thing they listen to the most is the people's voice (especially during an election year). Money talks but votes count more. Ref

We all hope the government listens to the people on this topic. Remember when the cooperation ran the work environment, the unions became the 3rd party to represent the workers because the government wouldn't listen. Do we want to see something similar to Internet as well??? Right now the Internet is a privilege to the home user and some people are already speaking about making it a civil right to have the Internet. If this happens and the cooperation are saying they can charge their customers whatever they want then I foresee a union like organization acting as a 3rd party with dues and political power speaking for the people.

This might sound like a great idea and in company workforce related environments it is really needed, but in the digital Internet age we do not want slow downs on technology advancement due to litigation. What we can do is tell the government to have a set fee for the Internet use with NO Hold Backs or Speed / Bandwidth Capping. What the cooperation could do is have extras for content usage on their own networks above and beyond the Internet providing while not charging extras for external usage. This will cause competition and soon to lower prices like it should be, not price gouging on the little guy who has no choice but to pay just to use an external service like PayPal or Netflix.

I'm just glad that people are not bending over and taking it like the Internet providers hope they would. By sending the message to the governments that the people who keep them in there are not happy with the lack of Net Neutrality just might make a difference and bring back Net Neutrality back where it is needed.

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Smart Devices in the House - Lack of Security

Smart Devices in the House
Lack of Security

 

It seems that 1 out of every 3 homes on average in North America have at least one smart device installed and running on their LAN network. Smart devices can be a tv, fridge, stove, door lock and bell, baby monitor, security system, video system, thermostat, ect...

Since the start of computers on the Internet with all the viruses out there the anti-virus / anti-trogen movement is always one to two steps behind the hackers responsible. Knowing all about virus and such you would think smart devices would follow since most times they have the same or close to the same in power on the Internet.

Let me explain... The typical computer of today has a display device (screen) with a input device (keyboard / mouse), a storage device (hard drive) and memory (ram) all connected via a CPU (central processing unit) and controlled by a preset list of commands (programming).

The smart device of today has a CPU, ram, storage device and programming. Most important the smart devices have a full operating system running in the background that is now getting to be a standard of today (such as Linux or XP Embedded). What they lack is a form of upgrades and anti-virus updates. Maybe when they first come out on the market they had the current level of updates to their operating system, but anyone who has a computer knows every one to two weeks there are usually new security upgrades available. Remember they are also on your Local Area Network (LAN) which is also connected to your Internet hookup.

Imagine as an example, you get the latest smart tv on the market with all the bells and whistles out there. 6 months go by and it updated maybe a few times. Just so you know those updates are mostly applications updating not security most of the time. You notice the station / Chanel your watching is normal but the Internet activity on your high-speed modem is going nuts. All the computers on your network are off. You wonder what the hell is causing all that data through the modem and why??? In the background your tv has gotten a virus and already collected your personal information from the computers behind your firewall router when they were on and is now transmitting the data to an external server hoping you won't notice. Also it could be acting as a controlled virus server in a group of other controlled servers on the Internet called BOT NETS. Who knows... These are just Possible scenarios that can happen due to lack of security updates.

The manufactures of operating systems know they have to stay on top of this push-pull virus venture, if they don't they walk a fine line in the court systems of today. Why do the manufactures of the smart devices not feel the same way??? The first court loss to the manufactures of the smart devices will slow down production and cause all the prices to go up.

Know I'm not saying all the manufactures of smart devices do not update their product lines, the more consumer friendly operating systems do. How ever in most cases as an example in android devices (not the only one) the main operating system was updated and released to the manufactures to fix the current bugs, but the manufactures hold that update due to the trial testing that is needed for their own software crap they add-on to the operating systems. This leaves the consumers without the needed updates that would protect the users. Hackers know this and use it to the full potential they can. As a result you get a lot of infected smart devices that steal consumer information or become part of a bot net to apply to a DDOS attack in the future.

All I can say right now is the manufactures of the (so-called) smart devices need to get off their asses and set the priority to helping the consumers of their products. They must be reminded that the consumers are the ones who pay their salaries and keep them in business.

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XP Embedded "Point of Sale" Security

XP Embedded "Point of Sale" Security

 

We've seen them in the stores, the Quick Checkout Self-serve Lines. When they first came out no one wanted to use them until they found it was 100% faster in everything scanned correctly.

I've even used them before I heard about the flaws in them. I figured those machines you here about are somewhere else and not these. Until I finally saw one crashed and to my horror it was a windows XP screen showing in the background. Now I know if I have to use them only use them with cash or coupons, never use debit cards or credit cards.

If you believe the hype on the Internet they say these machines are getting hacked and personal information (like credit card numbers with PIN numbers) is being captured after confirming they are correct and then sending the captured data out to know groups who then sell that information to the highest bidders.

What I know is the operating systems inside these machines are usually running XP embedded and are most likely not being upgraded. How do I know this??? Very simple! Do what I did, when you find one crashed look at the bottom right side of the task bar and it will say how many upgrades are pending. The number I saw was astounding to say the least. If you ever owned a Microsoft Operating System you know it usually has a least 1 to many upgrades (usually security) every 2 to 4 weeks. Also on most operating systems they automatically upgrade after a very critical update. The number of upgrades pending I saw said this station was never upgraded after the last repair done on it. Very scary indeed. The most likely reason for this is Microsoft Updates, they happen at the worst time and some financial software do not like to be interrupted while running... Just a guess!

As noted during this crash I witness the only supervision was the attendant saying not to use that terminal for obvious reasons but didn't stick around to turn off the unit but to help another customer at another terminal. I also noticed a USB port I could have easily inserted with a USB data stick in which it would auto load any program I wanted. Very scary indeed! This is what security experts are saying that happened in the ongoing corruption of these terminals.

All I know is when I use them now I only pay with cash!
The last thing I need is someone to get my debit or credit card with my PIN number and take all my cash or run my credit up.

What a shock when I saw the default XP logo screen still running Service Pack 1. Very soon there will be no support from Microsoft for these terminals, with no updates available what will happen then? Will the stores all upgrade to a newer system?!! I think we all know the answer to that one! - NO! TOO EXPENSIVE!!!

Remember to save yourself more grief just use cash and or coupons. Store cards are ok if they have limited funds on them... Your choice to decide, you know my answer!

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Free Wi-Fi in Subways and in Big Cities

Free Wi-Fi in Subways and in Big Cities

 

What a concept, free wi-fi for the masses... Well it's not a dream, in some places it's a reality! I speak in favor of the New York subway system, just last year they invoked cell phone usage in all their subways and now adding free wi-fi while waiting for the trains. Very soon they will have free wi-fi and cell phone usage in the trains, now that would be nice.

As for the big city's having free wi-fi, why not? With today's technology level it is more than available and sustainable. With all the coffee shops now adding free wi-fi for all their customers knowing it would get more people into their shops, the first thing they noticed was the rise of revenues due to the home page the customers were greeted to upon joining the network.

With the revenue cities could get via local business's advertising on the home startup page and sponsoring toward the network they could see a big increase on sales and web migration to the local companies most people didn't even know they existed. How many people look up a company for the hell of it now? Unless they need it and what they are looking for is not in the big box stores people really know who else is around. As well as the local companies could use the local advertising (at a discounted rate I'm sure) instead of paying big bucks in the advertising market.

They say "Build it and they Will Come", and by statistics it holds true. It benefits the local companies, the local advertising and most important the local consumers not having to over extend their cell data plans. Using statistics for the subways in New York it is noted by the end of one year over 500 million users will use the free wi-fi while waiting for their train. And by connecting to the free wi-fi and seeing the start page good for the local area / subway stop they might see something available nearby they normally would not now about. This causes more revenues to be generated!

New York City has proven it for their subways, maybe the downtown core in the future??? Who knows??? I think Dallas was working on something for the downtown core. It shows at least city elected people are finally getting it, the people want it and they need it. The bigger the city infrastructure is the better chances a free wi-fi system could happen. Big campuses for schools, some subways systems, some downtown cores, airports and some condos / gated communities are doing it so why not everywhere there is city infrastructure???

Just my thought on it, with a strong I.T. background I now it can be done!

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