Virtual private network

It’s been in the news that President Trump is to sign a law rolling back a recent privacy regulation:

“As shocking as this sounds, virtually nothing has changed about the privacy of the average American’s connection to the Internet as a result of this action by Congress, except perhaps a greater awareness that ISP customers don’t really have many privacy protections by default. The FCC rules hadn’t yet gone into effect, and traditional broadband providers successfully made the case to lawmakers that the new rules put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis purely Web-based rivals such as Facebook and Google.” — Post-FCC Privacy Rules, Should You VPN?, by Brian Krebs

So people are thinking about using a virtual private network to have more privacy. The linked article is the thing to read about VPNs.

The SFMTA hacker got hacked himself

A security researcher was able to guess the answer to the secret question on the hacker’s email account, and reset the hacker’s password. Bian Krebs observes,

Finally, as I hope this story shows, truthfully answering secret questions is a surefire way to get your online account hacked. Personally, I try to avoid using vital services that allow someone to reset my password if they can guess the answers to my secret questions. But in some cases — as with United Airlines’s atrocious new password system — answering secret questions is unavoidable. In cases where I’m allowed to type in the answer, I always choose a gibberish or completely unrelated answer that only I will know and that cannot be unearthed using social media or random guessing.

Hacked, forged, who knows?

Hackers can break in to systems and leak the documents they find. Hackers can also edit the documents they find, and present those files as authentic.

Maybe ten thousand of the documents are authentic, one is edited to add Joe Biden’s name to a list of attendees at a meeting, and one is a completely made-up document about Huma Abedin’s tax returns.

“Imagine trying to explain to the press, eager to publish the worst of the details in the documents, that everything is accurate except this particular email,” says Bruce Schneier.

Fortunately, he continues, “Major newspapers do their best to verify the authenticity of leaked documents they receive from sources. They only publish the ones they know are authentic. The newspapers consult experts, and pay attention to forensics.”

So at least there’s that.

Good advice

Stay with people. Under no circumstances let yourself be taken somewhere, for where you are going has a name. It’s called the “secondary crime scene”, where your worst nightmare will enter your soul. Do NOT get in a vehicle, do NOT walk around the building into the alley, stay where others will see you, if you can’t flee to safety, drop to the ground. Let him PICK your dead weight off of the ground, and if he tries, fight like hell. If he says “don’t scream or I’ll kill you”, he’s probably going to kill you anyway, don’t go out quietly. He doesn’t want to get caught. He LIKES this. Run, crawl out a window, go to lights and others. Make noise. If you are in a car and being followed do NOT drive home, drive to your nearest fire station (staffed 24 hours) or police station (though they may not be open 24 in 7 in all jurisdictions) and start honking your horn. DO NOT get out of your vehicle until the threat is removed. — Fighting for Something – Thoughts on Self Defense, by Brigid

Crazy talk on guns

Scott Adams explains why gun control can’t be solved in the USA:

“So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. … But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as ‘Put down your gun so I can shoot you.'”

Crazy, right?

Horns for houses

It’s surprising we don’t have horns on our houses. Not viking longhouse horns, but car horns. It would be handy to have a horn button on the TV remote control so I could honk at the neighbor if he started to blow grass clippings into my yard, or if he honked at me. A house horn would also be a burglar alarm, so if the neighbors heard your house honking they’d know something was wrong.

When I leave in the morning I push the button on my key fob. My car horn honks, the lights flash, and the door unlocks. The house could work the same way. The house lights would flash, the house horn would honk, then the car lights would flash and the car horn honk. If I went back in the house because I’d forgotten something, as often happens, the whole thing would be repeated. It’d be a festival — every morning, and again in the evening.

If houses had car horns, then when a heavy truck went down the street it would set off all the houses. Some houses would be too sensitive, so that a squirrel on the roof would set them off. Horns would honk and lights would flash until everybody went outside, ran off the squirrel, locked the house, unlocked it again to get the dog, went out, locked and unlocked, and then went in and relocked. If your friend came over at midnight asking for bread to set before a visitor, everyone would know about it, and even if you didn’t care about your obligations, you’d come down to him, as soon as you could find the remote.

Viking longhouse horns up on the roof peak might not be a bad idea though.