Show of 05-17-2014

Tech Talk

May 17, 2014
Email and Forum Questions
  • Email from Rachel in Fairfax: Five months ago I bought a Samsung portable external hard drive. It’s come to my notice that these removable media drives can become very vulnerable to virus and bugs affecting them. I’m extremely worried about this. My portable drive is about 1/3 full of video movies. I have hundreds of movies stored. I want to guarantee that they will remain safe and preserved for hopefully many decades to come. What can be done to insure longevity and safety to the drive and its contents? Rachel in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: External hard drives are no more likely to be affected by malware than internal drives. In fact, they’re slightly less likely to be affected- since most malware infects the system that’s stored on the internal drive.
  • Your biggest risk is disk failure. Someday, sometime, perhaps without warning, it will break. I think it’s fair to say that eventually every hard drive will fail. Some fail sooner, some fail later, some stop being used before they fail, but they will eventually fail. When a hard drive fails it may fail in a way that allows the data to be recovered, or it may fail so catastrophically that it destroys all data on the drive.
  • If there’s only one copy it’s not backed up. You need to start backing up that drive of yours immediately. You could get a second hard drive and copy all the files to it. If you keep two copies of each file, you should be OK. You might also use an online backup service, like Carbonite, to keep a second copy.
  • You might get a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage solution with two disks. Set it up in duplex mode so that you are writing to each disk simultaneously. In this fashion you will always have two copies of every file.
  • For instance, a Buffalo DriveStation™ Duo is a 2-drive, USB 3.0, high capacity, redundant storage and backup solution for PC and Mac computers. Configure for full capacity or mirror the hard drives for redundant data protection. In RAID 0, it configured as one hard drive. In RAID 1, is is configured as two duplexed hard drives. The 2 TB model is $229.99. That would give 1 TB of duplexed storage. There are many other options available. Since these files are so important, I would get a RAID storage device and connect to your network for shared storage.
  • Email from Peter in Fairfax: Dear Doc and Jim. I recently purchased a Phantom Vision 2 drone after listening to you talk it about it on the air. I have flown it a few time in the back yard and have had a great time. My wife is a lawyer and is worried that I would be breaking the law or violating FAA restrictions if I fly it elsewhere. What are the regulations that restrict the use of drones (location, altitude, tasks, etc.). I really need your help. I would hate to have to choose between my wife and my drone. Peter in Fairfax
  • Tech Talk Responds: Peter, I have good news for your. Flying your drone is legal. Here is an actually FAA communication and the link to the full text.
    • Title: Flying Non-Commercial is Legal
    • Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Part 91, Docket No. FAA-2006-25714
    • Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the National Airspace System
    • SUMMARY: This notice clarifies the FAA’s current policy concerning operations of unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System.
  • Section relevant to drone: Recreational/Sport Use of Model Airplanes
    • In 1981, in recognition of the safety issues raised by the operation of model aircraft, the FAA published Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards for the purpose of providing guidance to persons interested in flying model aircraft as a hobby or for recreational use.
    • This guidance encourages good judgment on the part of operators so that persons on the ground or other aircraft in flight will not be endangered.
    • The AC contains among other things, guidance for site selection. Users are advised to avoid noise sensitive areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, and churches.
    • Hobbyists are advised not to fly in the vicinity of spectators until they are confident that the model aircraft has been flight tested and proven airworthy.
    • Model aircraft should be flown below 400 feet above the surface to avoid other aircraft in flight.
    • The FAA expects that hobbyists will operate these recreational model aircraft within visual line-of-sight. While the AC 91-57 was developed for model aircraft, some operators have used the AC as the basis for commercial flight operations.
    • Link: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/reg/media/frnotice_uas.pdf
Profiles in IT: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim
  • Founders of YouTube (http://youtube.com)
  • Chad Meredith Hurley was born 1977 near Birdsboro, PA
    • Hurley is currently Chief Executive Officer of YouTube.
    • He received his B.A. in Fine Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
    • He got a job at PayPal around 2000.
    • He designed the logo that is still used by PayPal
    • Hurley is a user interface expert and was primarily responsible for the tagging and video sharing aspects of the site.
  • Steve Shih Chen was born August 1978 in Taiwan.
    • Chen is currently Chief Technology Officer of YouTube
    • His family immigrated to the US when he was 8.
    • He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    • After graduation from college, he became an early employee at PayPal.
    • Chen was also an early employee at Facebook, although he left after several months to start YouTube.
  • Jawed Karim was born in 1979 in Merseburg, East Germany.
    • He currently serves as YouTube advisor.
    • His family moved to the United States in 1992.
    • He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    • He left campus prior to graduating to become an early employee at PayPal.
    • He got his BS in computer science in 2004.
  • Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim met while working at PayPal.
  • YouTube was born when the Hurley, Chen, and Karim wanted to share some videos from a dinner party with friends in San Francisco in January 2005.
  • Sending the clips around by e-mail did not work because of file size.
  • Posting the videos online was difficult.
  • So they got to work to design something simpler.
  • The site soon became one of the most popular on the Internet because it was designed it so people can post almost anything they like in minutes.
  • Jawed uploaded YouTube’s first video on April 23, 2005. He is standing in front of elephants at the San Francisco zoo
  • On October 16, 2006, Chen and Hurley sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion.
    • Hurley’s share was $345.6M (735,319 shares of Google)
    • Chen’s share was $326.2M (625,366 shares of Google)
    • Karim’s share was $64.6M (137,443 shares of Google
  • YouTube is currently not profitable, with its revenues being noted as “immaterial.”
    • Its bandwidth costs are estimated at approximately $1 million a day.
    • It is estimated that in 2007, YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000.
    • As of April 9, 2008, a YouTube search returns about 83.4 million videos.
  • YouTube affected the Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corp whose web address was utube.com, which was frequently overloaded with high traffic volume.The web address utube.com has since been sold to a copycat site.
The CanTenna – War Driving Security Report
  • Laptop with Netstumbler installed
  • 3db Dipole Antenna through moonroof
  • Wi-Fi PCMIA card (Orinnoco)
  • Took survey between my house and station this morning.
  • Results
    • Number of access points — 420
    • Encrypted access points – 272 (65%)
    • Unencrypted access points – 148 (35%)
    • 802.11b (11 Mbps) — 55 (13%)
    • 802.11g (54 Mbps) – 365 (87%)

Profile of a Nigerian Startup

  • In 2008 Abasiama Idaresit returned to Nigeria, after studying for a degree in Information Systems & Management at the London School of Economics.
  • He felt the Internet could transform the business landscape in Nigeria. That, in fact, was the focus of his dissertation — the impact of technology on small businesses.
  • By Internet-age standards in Nigeria those were early days. Facebook was just picking up, and no one had heard of Twitter; Internet advertising was almost unheard of at that time.
  • Baby M was a small business that catered to the needs of new mothers and their babies. It operated out of one store in Ikoyi, Lagos, near where Abas lived, and also had a network of sales agents who combed the streets of Lagos in search of customers. Monthly revenues were in the region of one thousand dollars.
  • Abas tried to convince Baby M’s proprietor to give him a chance to show how the Internet could help her advertise cheaply and find new customers. At first she wasn’t very keen. Until Abas offered a money-back guarantee in the event that he failed to fulfill his promise.
  • With nothing to lose, she gave him around US$250.
  • The results were phenomenal. Within three months, says Abas, Baby M’s revenues grew from $1,000 a month to $100,000 a month.
  • That feat attracted the attention of Google, which has since developed it into an Internet marketing case study.
  • Shortly after, Abas incorporated Wild Fusion, to do for other businesses what he’d done with Baby M.
  • Wild Fusion has since grown remarkably, from its founder’s first $250, to over a million dollars in revenue in 2012. It doubled again in 2013.
  • It was the first Nigerian company to become a Google Adwords partner, and today provides digital marketing and online media-buying services to a client list that includes names like Unilever, Pepsi and Diamond Bank in Nigeria, and Vodafone in Ghana.
  • While global corporate spending on traditional mediums (TV, radio, print) has either declined or stagnated in the last few years, Internet advertising budgets have steadily grown, and will continue to, into the foreseeable future.
  • The shift is beginning to be noticeable in Nigeria, and everyone — from banks to beer companies (here and here) — is now seeking to actively engage consumers on the Internet.
  • Wild Fusion has just opened a country office, in Nairobi, Kenya; its third, after Nigeria and Ghana.
  • In five years Abas envisions offices across Africa, and annual revenues of $100 million.
The Digital Arms Race
  • Have we replaced the cold war with the coders’ war?
  • Even the experts are surprised by how fast the online threats have developed.
  • It’s taken less than a decade for digital warfare to go from theoretical to possible.
  • In 2007, attacks on Estonia swamped banks, newspaper and government websites.
  • NSA warned of something it called the “BIOS plot,” a work by an unnamed nation to exploit a software flaw that could have allowed them to destroy the BIOS in any PC and render the machine unusable.
  • The US It has been building up its own capabilities to strike, if needed. The only documented successful use of such a weapon, the Stuxnet worm, was masterminded by the US in the form that caused damage and delay to the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Last year General Alexander revealed the NSA was building 13 teams to strike back in the event of an attack on the US.
  • The UK is spending over 500 million pounds on cyber warfare.
  • Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution, said 100 nations are building cyber military commands of that there are about 20 that are serious players, and a smaller number could carry out a whole cyberwar campaign.
  • We are seeing a classic arms race like we saw in the Cold War.
  • The big difference between military-grade cyber weapons and hacker tools is that the most sophisticated digital weapons want to break things.
  • SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems are being internet-enabled to make them easier to manage, which of course, also make them easier to attack.
  • Zero-day flaws are relatively rare and expensive and hard to come by. They’re sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars by their finders.
  • Once an attack has been launched, the zero-day used is known to everyone. Take Stuxnet. Even though it seems to have had one specific target — an Iranian power plant — once it was launched, Stuxnet spread very widely, meaning security companies around the world could examine the code, and making it much harder for anyone to use that exact same attack again.
  • But cyber-warfare does raise some more difficult issues, she says. What about attacks that do not cause physical harm, for example: do they constitute attacks as defined under the laws of armed conflict?
  • What are rules? If I hack your power grid, is it a fair response to shut down my central bank? At what point is a missile strike the correct response to a denial of service attack?
  • A recent report warned that the cybersecurity efforts around the US electricity supply network are fragmented and not moving fast enough, while in the UK insurers are refusing cover to power companies because their defenses are too weak.
  • As we connect more devices — especially the ones in our homes — to the web, cyberwar is poised to become much more personal.
  • As thermostats, fridges and cars become part of the internet of things, their usefulness to us may increase, but so does the risk of them being attacked.
  • The internet of things, and even wearable tech, bring with them great potential, but unless these systems are incredibly well-secured, they could be easy targets to compromise.