Email from Sam: Dear Tech Talk, My internet connection went down on a Friday, and the service rep gave me a service call time for Monday, maybe. My HP notebook has wireless capability so I turned it on and checked what wireless networks were available. There are 3 secured and 1 unsecured wireless networks. I am able to logon to the unsecured wireless network, a NETGEAR network. The signal is low and only about 500K but works. Am I breaking the law by using someone else’s wireless network? Is there a way to find out where this wireless network is and who owns it, hopefully it is a free public wireless network? Am I in any danger from using this wireless network? I am not doing anything that requires a password, and I have Windows Firewall, Norton antivirus, and Windows Defender running on my computer. Thanks, Sam
Tech Talk Responds: What you’re doing is very common. There are a number of problems that arise from connecting to an unknown but open hotspot. It is illegal to access computer resources without authorization. In addition, when you connect to the internet, the owner of the connection can see everything you do if they so desire. Chances are they won’t even know unless you hog all of their bandwidth. So the risks are small, but they still exist.
Email from Alice: Dear Dr. Shurtz. I’ve read your articles about how a secure home wireless network is important. But lets say I’m in a cafe, and I’m connected to their public wireless, is all my privacy compromised? I have a firewall and I suppose that will block any attacks into my laptop, but what about the information I send out such as online banking and the like on that public wireless? Alice
Tech Talk Answers: You are absolutely right to be concerned. There are steps that you need to take to ensure both your security and your privacy.
Use a firewall! It keeps other users on the wireless network from accessing your computer.
It you are sending any passwords, always use SSL, the web address will start with https://. The “s” is very important. It means the data is encrypted and more difficult to intercept.
Secure your Email! Email is perhaps the biggest open security hole in these situations. If you use a POP3/SMTP email client, the default configuration for most is totally unsecure. You should contact your email provider and see if they support SSL connections. If they do, it’s a slightly different configuration in your email program but once done all of the communication between your email program and email servers are securely encrypted.
Online or web-based email services deserve special consideration. Most do not support https connections. The one exception is Gmail, which will use https if you make sure to login through an https connection, and have the "always use https" option selection in Gmail’s options.
Consider a VPN. Secure a VPN service which is really an encrypted connection to a proxy server. Everything is safe in this case. Road warriors should consider this option seriously.
Profiles in IT: Robert Kalin
Robert Kalin is the founder and CEO of Etsy.com. Etsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade.
Robert Kalin was born in 1980, the son of a Boston furniture maker.
He dropped out of high school and later earned his GED.
He started his career with cashier positions at Marshall’s and Strand Books.
He also was a freelance carpenter and hauled barrels of broken concrete for a demolition company
He briefly attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and then faked an MIT student ID so he could take classes on the sly.
He so impressed the professors there that they helped him get into NYU.
He graduated from NYU in 2004 with a BA in individualized study. While at NYU he learned how to build a website.
At the age of 25 he was just another aspiring furniture designer, working out of a cramped Brooklyn apartment and hoping to scratch out a living selling his stuff online.
When hours of surfing for a site that would allow him to do just that got him nowhere, Mr. Kalin had his epiphany. He came upon the idea of Etsy, and then the name, and then the design.
While he designed Etsy’s site and wrote the online copy, he convinced Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, two classmates from NYU, to help him develop the site.
For capital, he turned to a furniture customer who gave him $50,000 in seed money.
It took two and a half months of intense labor get the site up and running.
They used PHP, Python, PostgreSQL, OpenBSD and Gentoo Linux.
Etsy was launched on June 18, 2005 by iospace, a small company composed of Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik.
The servers were still based in Kalin’s Fort Greene apartment, went live. It caught on almost immediately
Etsy then received more than $27 million in funding from investors, including Sean Meenan, Spencer and Judson Ain, Union Square Ventures and founders of Flickr and Delicious.
In January 2008, Etsy received an additional $27 million in funding from Union Square Ventures, Hubert Burda Media, and Jim Breyer.
In September 2008, Etsy hired Chad Dickerson, who formerly worked at Yahoo!, as Chief Technology Officer.
In 2009 Etsy, claimed 2.4 million registered members in 150 countries and more than 155,000 active vendors who sold $58 million worth of goods in the first five months of 2009.
Etsy has a permanent office called the "Etsy Labs" in Brooklyn, New York and currently has 70 employees.
The company takes a 3.5% cut of each sale and charges 20 cents every time an item is listed on the site.
In March 2010, Kalin said that the company is profitable and "plans to go public, though not until at least next year.
A Timeline Compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Since its incorporation just over five years ago, Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation.
When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice.
Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default.
Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.
As Facebook grew larger and became more important, it could have chosen to maintain or improve those controls. Instead, it’s slowly but surely helped itself — and its advertising and business partners — to more and more of its users’ information, while limiting the users’ options to control their own information.
First Non-Latin Web addresses Go live
Net regulator ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has switched on a system that allows full web addresses that contain no Latin characters.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called "country codes" written in Arabic scripts.
The move is the first step to allow web addresses in many scripts including Chinese, Thai and Tamil.
More than 20 countries have requested approval for international domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The three new suffixes will allow web addresses to be completely written in native characters. All three are Arabic script domains, and will enable domain names written fully right-to-left.
One of the first websites with a full Arabic address is the Egyptian Ministry of Communications.
ICANN warned that the internationalized domain names (IDNs), as they are known, would also not work on all PCs immediately.
You would have to update the software on their computers to view the domains.
Website owners in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will now be able to apply for web addresses using the new country codes.
Face Detection in Picasa 3
I recently upgraded the free program from Google Picasa 3.
It scanned every face in the picture directory.
I attached a name to faces I recognized and it placed copy of all the pictures for that person in the same directory.
Very easy to locate photos of Aunt Sally now.
I very nice feature.
Download Picasa free: www.picasa.com
Feds seize $143m worth of bogus networking gear
Federal authorities over the past fives year have seized more than $143m worth of counterfeit Cisco hardware and labels in a coordinated operation that’s netted more than 700 seizures and 30 felony convictions, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Operation Network Raider is an enforcement initiative involving the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies working to crack down on the bogus routers, switches and other networking gear.
In addition to costing Cisco and other US businesses millions of dollars, the scams could threaten national security by infusing critical networks with gear that’s unreliable or, worse, riddled with backdoors.
As part of the operation, Ehab Ashoor, 49, a Saudi citizen residing in Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced this week to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay Cisco $119,400 in restitution after being found guilty of trying to sell counterfeit gear to the US Department of Defense.
In 2008, he attempted to traffic 100 gigabit interface converters that were bought in China and contained labels fraudulently indicating they were genuine Cisco equipment, according to court documents. The kit was to be used by the US Marine Corps for communications in Iraq.
In January, 33-year-old Chinese resident Yongcai Li was ordered to serve 30 months in prison and pay restitution of $790,683 for trafficking counterfeit Cisco gear, officials said.
The prospect that government and business networks may have deployed bogus gear has raised national security concerns, since much of the counterfeit equipment originates in China.
Similar espionage fears were raised by research from University of Illinois researchers, who in 2008 showed how they were able to modify a Sun Microsystems SPARC microprocessor to effectively create a hardwired backdoor capable of logging passwords or other sensitive data.
In May of 2008, Cisco officials said they had no evidence that any of the counterfeit networking gear contained backdoors.
Since late 2007, US authorities have made more than 1,300 seizures of 5.6 million bogus semiconductors. More than 50 shipments were falsely marked as military or aerospace grade devices.
MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
OCW is not an MIT education.
OCW does not grant degrees or certificates.
OCW does not provide access to MIT faculty.
Materials may not reflect entire content of the course.
1900 courses available across 40 departments
Google Search Tricks
These search tricks can save you time when researching online for your next project or just to find out what time it is across the world, so start using these right away.
Convert units. Whether you want to convert currency, American and metric units, or any other unit, try typing in the known unit and the unknown unit to find your answer (like “how many teaspoons in a tablespoon” or “10 US dollars in Euros”).
Do a timeline search. Use “view:timeline” followed by whatever you are researching to get a timeline for that topic.
Get around blocked sites. If you are having problems getting around a blocked site, just type “cache:website address” with website address being the address of the blocked site to use Google’s cached copy to get where you are going.
Use a tilde. Using a tilde (~) with a search term will bring you results with related search terms.
Use the image search. Type in your search word, then select Images to use the image search when trying to put a picture to your term.
Get a definition. If you want a definition without having to track down an online (or a physical) dictionary, just type “definition:word” to find the definition of the word in your results (i.e.: “definition: serendipity” will track down the definition of the word “serendipity”).
Search within a specific website. If you know you want to look up Babe Ruth in Wikipedia, type in “site:wikipedia.org Babe Ruth” to go directly to the Wikipedia page about Babe Ruth. It works for any site, not just Wikipedia.
Search within a specific kind of site. If you know you only want results from an educational site, try “site:edu” or for a government site, try “site:gov” and your search term to get results only from sites with those web addresses.
Search for a specific file type. If you know you want a PDF (or maybe an MP3), just type in “filetype:pdf” and your search term to find results that are only in that file type.
Calculate with Google. Type in any normal mathematical expressions to get the answer immediately. For example, “2*4? will get you the answer “8.”
Time. Enter “what time is it” and any location to find out the local time.
Find a term in a URL. This handy trick is especially useful when searching blogs, where dates are frequently used in the URL. If you want to know about a topic for that year only and not any other year, type “inurl:2009? and your keyword to find results with your keyword in URLs with 2009 in them. Use Show Options to refine your search. Click “Show Options” on your search result page to have access to tools that will help you filter and refine your results.
Search for a face. If you are looking for a person and not just their name, type “&imgtype=face” after the search results to narrow your results to those with images of faces.