Happenings Around The Office

Lately I’ve been interested in picking up some new hobbies.  I’m about to get a dog, so things have been busy.  I am a lifelong fan of Corgis, but this time I’m getting a Lab.  I don’t know, I needed a change.  However that doesn’t stop me from loving Corgis.  There are so many Corgi gifts on the internet that I just can’t stop buying them.  There is literally a panoply of things to buy.  I recently purchased the Corgi Planters from Home And Wild and I couldn’t be happier.  They are so cute!  Now, hopefully I’ll be able to keep these succulents alive.

The hardest thing, I think, about keeping succulents is knowing how much light they need.  They can be kind of sensitive!  It’s funny, in my opinion, because succulents are supposed to be so resilient.  Well, I have a handy way of killing them very quickly.  It’s almost a bit ridiculous.

But back to the subject at hand.  I’m super nervous about having a dog!  It’s a big life change. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous….more nervous than excited.  I honestly have started to think that my nerves are stemming from financial issues.  I’m seriously nervous about suddenly going broke and not being able to afford everything.

I’m also worried about the drain on my time.  I usually LOVE spending time with dogs.  But he is a puppy, and I know it’s going to be extremely time consuming.  But I need a change and I want to start doing the things I’ve been putting off in life, because hey…tomorrow is never guaranteed.  I want to start doing things and living and not being such a perfectionist and stop being so anxious about everything.  I’m an overthinker to the max!  I wish I could just operate like I’ve had 2 beers.  I feel like my judgement is just as good but my fears are less.  I really like this post from Lifehacker on how to stop being an overthinker.  But reading a blog post is one thing – putting it into practice is entirely another.

So what do you think?  Do you have any advice for little old me?

Meanwhile – here is a video of CUTE corgis for your enjoyment.


Tips For Keeping Your Data Secure

It’s so important these days to protect your data online.  There are several things that you can do to improve the safety of your personal data, however many people don’t know anything about this or even the first step in preventing identity theft, fraud, or other similar online crimes.  Becoming the victim of identity theft could cause a lot of problems, destroy your personal credit, and make it almost impossible to get back without paying large sums of money.  This is why we highly recommend to people that they learn the most they can about staying safe online and ensuring that they get into good security habits for their everyday life.

First of all, we cannot stress enough that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  The more that you know about online threats and the many shapes and forms that they come in, the more you will be able to prevent them in the first place.  You’ll know how to spot phishing attacks in your email as well as what websites to avoid to avoid getting a virus.  We suggest a basic readup of how hackers tend to steal personal information and then stay up to date by bookmarking and reading security blogs such as Krebs on Security or ARS Technica.  Even Wired has a great security page that you can bookmark and come back to periodically.  The more you know about what to look for and how to prevent it the better you will be at avoiding getting into trouble in the first place.

Another great thing that you can do that is very brainless is to ensure that automatic updates are enabled for your software.  This means that your browser, Adobe Flash, and all other software programs that routinely connect to the internet are able to download and install new updates as soon as they become available.  Most updates to these software programs are in order to patch up security holes and flaws.  So not downloading the patch will leave you open to attack.  Allowing automatic updates means you’ll never have to think about it – you’ll never forget to download and install the update.  And trust me, even the smartest PC guru will forget to do this all the stinkin time.

Employing antivirus and antimalware software is also a no-brainer.  These programs are very important and are the safest and most effective ways of removing spyware and malware.  Check out this Spyhunter 4 writeup and review over at We Hate Malware for a good idea of how these programs work and what they can do for you.

Backing up your data is a great way to ensure that you’ll never be caught with your pants down by a malware or other ransomware type virus or malware.  These can encrypt or destroy your data, but if you have a good backup of everything you’ll never have to worry.  I always tell people that the first line of defense against hacking, viruses, and malware is a good backup method.  It’s a very non-glamorous way of protecting yourself.  I often recommend that you use a dual backup method of a local backup as well as an online cloud backup such as Backblaze or similar.

These are just a few tips that you can use in order to keep your data safe, but stay tuned for more as there really is no end to how secure you can be.

More On The FBI Vs Apple Privacy Issue

This is a pretty good video highlighting several of the aspects of the FBI vs Apple privacy debate.  I liked how one of the commenters called encryption like the “1st ammendment” of our era, in that it protects free speech.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below after watching this interesting video:


FBI vs Apple Legal Tussle: User Privacy Versus Citizen Safety

fbivsappleApple is currently battling a historical privacy and security battle with the Department of Justice and the FBI. This is historical because it is the first time an important question has ever been raised in our society in an effort to balance between personal liberty and public safety. Whichever decision this issue will come down to will send a long lasting shock-waves into the future, and will be the backbone to the future policy and technological decisions in regards to digital policy.

What Happened?

On 11th December, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik (his wife) collaborated and had 14 people killed at a holiday party in San Bernardino California. The incident also caused 22 serious injuries, including a police officer. This was one of the bloodiest terrorist attack since the 9/11. Before the attack, the couple destroyed their communication devices, including phones and hard drives, except Farook’s phone which was dropped in a relative’s car.

On 16th February, 2016, a California federal Judge issued an order demanding that Apple help the FBI access the data in the criminal’s phone, an iPhone 5C with an iOS9 software build. The FBI requested that Apple disable the protections built inside the phone that erase or locks up the phone when a wrong password is used too many times. This way, Apple can try every possible passwords to allow them gain entry to the phone, through brute force hacking.

Apple claims to have given FBI lots of information. The FBI claims that the only help Apple has given them is to gain access to the information in Farook’s iCloud account from the servers, leaving out the most critical data they need; the data in the phone drive itself. The FBI thinks the physical data on the iPhone is very critical because it has information dating back to six months and this information was backed up in the iCloud. This data is associated with crime, and getting their hands into this data will give information that will help secure citizens from harm by terrorists in the future.

Another concern is that a tool that can be used to disable a disk wipe on iPhones has never been built. Apple may need to develop this tool to assist the FBI get entry to the phone data. However, creating such a tool will not auger well with the public given the statements given by Tim Cook, Apple CEO, regarding user and data privacy since the company released iOS8 back in 2014.

Is it about one iPhone?

No, it is not just about one iPhone. In fact, after the success of the first case, the FBI will always be tempted to ask for help with other iPhones just like they did with Farook’s iPhone. Following the court rulings, the FBI knows that Apple can build this “backdoor” tool privately in their labs using a special code, unlock Farook’s iPhone, and then destroy the tool without using it again. This will never happen because it is not the first time the FBI is asking for Apple to unlock iPhones. Remember the case of the man accused of being in possession of drugs?

In 2015 alone, Apple sold more than 200 million iPhones. Unlocking even quarter of these iPhones would cost millions of dollars to the buyers. This means that Apple wants to stay put and avoid anything to do with gaining access to user iPhones at all costs since, if such a tool is created, and someone steals it would be harmful and may bring the company down. Besides, creating the tool will automatically prompt the government to create a “legitimate” unlocking of iPhones under certain conditions. Once the tool is created, and the FBI and the federal government succeed in making it for legitimate uses to the law agencies, other nations will follow suit. There will no longer be privacy and security for personal users, which is a big issue for Apple.

Way Forward

The only way to find an amicable solution to FBI vs Apple issue is to have the stakeholders sit at a round table and do a serious consultation. This consultation should take into consideration the interest of both parties. It is true that Apple is significant to the economy, the citizen security is also important in the same measure. There must be no win situation in this case, since looking more on one side would either kill Apple or kill the citizens.