Friday, March 4, 2016

Top 4 Security Concerns of 2016 and How to Prepare Yourself

Top 4 Security Concerns of 2016 and How to Prepare Yourself

Each year technology is getting smarter, smaller and more ubiquitous.  This technology is empowering a more productive workforce, but it is also empowering hackers with more tools to disrupt and plunder businesses and individuals. So what are these threats and what can you do while at work or home to prevent a breach? Keep reading!
1.  Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Increase.

In an ever increasing arms race between information security professionals and the global network of hackers, hacktivists, and script kiddies the good guys have managed to develop a myriad of technologies to stop them in their tracks.  But there will always be an Achilles heel to this technology that can never be removed entirely from the loop - the human element.  Phishing, phone scams, and other social engineering techniques are proven and reliable ways for criminals to gain a foothold in any company.
What can you do about it? 

Slow down - Thinking before you click is always the best option.  Do you really need to click on that hyperlink from an unknown sender? Hover over any hyperlink to make sure it is going to a trusted location.

Double Check the “To” line - Have you double checked who you are replying to in an email?

Question callers - Should you go to a web page that some random person on the phone just instructed you navigate to?  The answer is no.  More often than not, IT staff will reach out to people who have contacted them first.

2.  Smartphones Make A Smart Target For Attackers

According to a 2015 Pew Research study nearly two thirds of Americans now own a smartphone.  From a smartphone you can bank, buy food, get a ride home, or track your fitness. These devices provide a staggering amount of information about you and the world around you, but they can also provide would be attacks with a treasure trove of information if they gain physical or virtual access to your device.  How can you prevent this access?

Harden your phone - The best way to prevent physical access to your phone is with a simple lock screen.  Most phones these days offer many quick and easy ways to lock your device.  Pins, patterns, pictures, and fingerprint scanners are available on many models of phones.
There is no such thing as a free app - Many free apps include ads to generate revenue.  These ads may or may not be policed and could take you to a malicious site if you intentionally or accidentally click on them. 

Practice app austerity – Do you really need 40 apps on your phone? Try removing old/unused apps and also be sure to do a bit of research (read negative reviews or google the app) before you install something on your phone.  While the vast majority of app developers are not malicious they may still collect a ton of information about you.  This information could be exposed if they are hacked.

3. Does My Toaster Have A Virus?  The Internet of Things (IoT) Is Almost Here

Did you get a smart TV this Christmas? How about a smart watch or maybe a smart fridge?  These types of devices are all part of the Internet of Things (IoT).  As with any connected device, the more popular the device, the more likely it is to be the target of attacks.  There are very few known vulnerabilities for these kinds of devices, but that doesn’t mean they are invulnerable from attack. 
Keep your device up to date - If you own one of these devices make sure to be vigilant and keep your device software up to date. Be sure to keep an eye out for news about possible vulnerabilities that could compromise your device.

4. Small and Medium businesses will become a bigger target for cyber criminals

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report revealed that 74% of SMBs experienced a security issue in the last 12 months, and this number will only increase due to SMBs being perceived as easy targets.  If one of your business’s clients or partners gets compromised their relationship with your company could be leveraged to social engineer your companies employees. 
The most likely avenue of attack would come from phishing emails or fraudulent phone calls coming from compromised email accounts or phone systems.  See item number one on how to prepare for this kind of attack.

Which of these threats concerns you the most?  Please discuss this, and anything else in this article below! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

3D Printed Penguin.

3D Printed Penguin.  That is all. :D

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Android Exploration Tools For The Rooted User

Got Root?

Once you have rooted your android device there are lots of cool applications that open up to you.  As a curious IT professional I comb the net looking for good apps for my phone.  I think of them as a digital Swiss army knife.  Not all of these applications require root, but most require it to unlock the full potential of the application.  

Hacker's Keyboard  -

Don't let the name fool you.  There is nothing malicious about this keyboard.  It simply adds more "traditional" keys that are often left out of smartphone keyboards.  Things like the directional pad and toggles to press two buttons at once (CTRL + ALT).  While not as quick as standard keyboards, the extra keys are invaluable while SSH'd into a box.  

SSH Tunnel -

Ever find yourself on a more "restricted" network?  Wish your phone could visit the sites you want while still taking advantage of that sweet sweet bandwidth? Wish you could add a layer of encryption to your network traffic?  Well now you can!  SSH Tunnel connects to a home or remote server running S


This is a fantastic SSH client (or telnet if that floats your boat) for android.  

Network Discovery and Fing

Want to find out what devices are attached to the network AND what services they are running?  Look no further than these two fantastic apps.  Think of them as NMAP lite.  Another neat feature is that once you have found a service (say SSH) on the network it will launch ConnectBot (or similar) to make the connection.  

Orbot: TOR For Android

Run Silent, Run Deep...web!?  Yup, you guessed it TOR has an official android client!  Once installed it has links to their own secure web browser and the duck duck go search engine.  Very cool stuff.  Tested and it works!

kWs: Android Web Server

Want to host a simple web page from your phone?  Look no further than the kWs web server!  Who needs a computer to update your personal site when you can just log into the server in your pocket!  It allows for 10 connections at once so it isn't going to help you rake in that sweet sweet ad revenue, but just think of all that sweet geek cred you will nab!  Check out my guide here!

Shark and Shark Reader for Root

At first I thought these were very cool, but they are actually of much less limited use than their IRL counterparts. The reason for this is the app is add supported SO...when you harvest those sweet, sweet packets they come cluttered up with lots of "noise" from the adds.  If you can filter that info out great...but it is just kind of a hassel.   

aTorrent & uTorrent - bit torrent clients for Android 

Torrent to your phone!  Tested and works like a charm (both clients).  Just make sure you are aware you will destroy your data plan if you aren't careful.

If you dear reader have any apps that you can't live without share em with me!

As always thanks for reading!!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why Intel Steams Me! Grrrr!!

So I am an avid gamer, and a Linux user something which, until recently, really hasn't gone hand in hand.  That is quickly changing with the advent of the Steam client for Linux.  More and more games are being ported to the client or are being created especially for it.  Enter me and my primary Linux laptop powered by an Intel 4500 gma chipset.  It plays some simple games just fine (FTL, Dungeons of Dreadmore), but when it comes to graphically intensive games it isn't great, but it should be able to play some older games like Half-Life 2 / other source engine games just fine (like it does in Windows).  Unfortunately this isn't the case.  I use the latest version of Linux Mint, but the standard drivers are terrible for the Intel terrible that all of my Valve games are just plain broken.  They either go to black or load upside down.  While there are some work around fixes, but they require using some bleeding edge drivers (xorg edgers ppa for example).  I tried these, but I ended up installing it wrong and had to roll it back.  So I have been finding many other people are running into the same issue.  One such user is found here... he was running into the same issue as me and when they asked Intel communities if they could start a Linux community to address some of these issues they got this pithy response...

Intel® currently has no intention of opening a Linux subforum.  The Intel linux drivers are developed by the linux community as well.

Basically "We could care less about the new ground swell of Linux based gaming.  If you want it to work fix it yourself."  As a Linux user this much is obvious as it is what Linux is all about...DIY.  But Linux is also about communities, about little pockets of users with similar interests coming together to resolve their specific issues.  When Intel's official response to making a forum community to help Intel GMA chipset users get their game on is PISS OFF, well it pisses me off.

TL;DR - Intel should not ignore the up and coming Linux gaming community.  Instead they should embrace the community and provide just that, a community space for Linux gamers to congregate.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Netflix on Linux!!!

Really not sure how I missed this, but you can now get Netflix on Linux!!

Huge shout out to fellow Iowan Nixie Pixel for posting this very workable workaround over at her linux youtube page.  Also, if you don't know who Nixie Pixel is be sure to check out her YouTube vids and other sites.  Lots of helpful info and news about Linux, Open Source, and gaming to be found!

To install on Ubuntu / Mint (64 or 32 bit)-

Start terminal

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio

$ sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop


For Fedora (only 32 bit systems) 

You need wget first:
su -c 'yum -y install wget'

Installing Netflix:

wget -c

tar -xvzf Netflixplayer.tar.gz

su -c 'sh'

Running Netflix from cmd line:

sh /usr/bin/

I did the install on the latest version of Linux Mint and encountered no problems.  The interface seems somewhat wonky at times, but everything works great.  It is really, REALLY unfortunate that Netflix has not developed something like this themselves.  Oh well, Linux community FTW!  Check out Nixie Pixel's video walk through below.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why Linux?

That is a question many of my non-Linux using friends often ask me.  Why waste your time learning about an OS that takes so much extra effort? I mean if it was that good EVERYONE would use it right???

Linux is specialized tool. It is not a swiss army knife like windows. It is not as easy to use, but limited in scope like the spork that is Mac OSX.  It is more like a tool chest full of specialty tools...think torx head screwdrivers and tricorders. With these tools you can do nearly anything you can imagine!  Let us look at all of the ways Linux just plain does it better.

Linux Is Everywhere

Do you use any of the following? An Android smartphone, a wifi router, DVR, DVD player, or the internet? Of course you do!  Guess what? You use Linux!  Linux can be found in each one of these devices in much the same way DNA can be found in nearly all life on Earth.  It is pervasive yet hidden.  This is the main obstacle to the OS's mainstream desktop use.  It can be tailored to many different applications from the Mars rovers to the computer I am typing this on.  This wide array of options often overwhelms users new to the OS.  Do they use Ubuntu, Arch, Gentoo, Debian, Puppy Linux, Slackware...well you get the picture.

So WHY Linux?? 

For all the reason listed above; that is why!  Got a spare computer, router, tablet, or Martian rover lying around gathering dust?  Put some Linux on it!  Where do I start??  Below you will find some helpful links to get you started on your Linux journey.  I would encourage you to browse my blog, but it is more focused on someone that has already started on their journey.  Here are some links to get you started...

Lifehacker's Guide to Linux - This is a great jumping off point and it brings you to one of the most helpful sites on the internet...not just Linux!

Distro Watch - When you are ready to pick a "flavor" of Linux this is the place to start.  Great info on all variations.

Linux Questions - You WILL have questions, and this site has nearly ALL the answers.  For users of all skill levels by users of all skill types.  Bookmark this site like yesterday.

Ubuntu - Quickly becoming the "Face" of Linux, this site has a wealth of information for users that have decided to use the novice (and expert) friendly flavor of Linux.

I hope this post helps you on your journey.  If you ever have any questions feel free to comment on this blog or send me a shout out on twitter ( @assi9 ).

Thanks for reading!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Acer Iconia a200: THE REVIEW!!

Well it has been a few months and I have really come to enjoy my Acer Iconia a200 tablet.  The picture quality is fantastic and the performance is great. Graphics intensive games run quickly and look great.  A perfect example of this is the massive new A Bards Tale (which btw way is a great game for all you RPG fans out there).  The game textures look about on par with a high end computer circa 2004.  So I like to get right to the point with my reviews.  So lets get to it.  First lets start off with what is wrong with this tablet.

The Bad

The volume controls are shit.  The rocker button is small and hard to operate.  It feels solid and quality, but just a little too solid.  If it was a wee bit bigger it would be much better.

Power save mode is a blessing and a curse.  When your tablet is idle the WiFi will shut off.  This is a good measure to save battery life and I am all for that, but when downloading very large files it is nice to be able to do so with the screen off.  This "feature" can also be annoying when bringing the tablet out of sleep mode as it will often resume the app you were in and then interrupt said app with a flood of new email alerts and whatnot.

The Good

FULL SIZE USB.  Yea.  That's right I said full size USB.  You can plug all sorts of goodies into this.  USB hub, keyboard/mouse combo, even an external hard drive!  This tablet pushes the boundaries from standard android tablet to decent netbook replacement with the proper case and keyboard mouse combo.

Micro-SD Card Slot.  Use this to expand the 16GB of hard drive space to whatever you darn well please.

Easy root*!  I used THIS method to root the tablet.  Follow the steps to the letter and you will be just fine!  Took me about an hour to get this all set. Many thanks to the great folks over at  *FYI - After rooting my tablet the newest version of Hulu stopped working.  It seems to be the only application affected by the root process.  I was able to find a version of Hulu (read hacked) that worked, but it doesn't seem to be very high quality.  But hey it works.

Couple final thoughts.  Tablet cases are shit and so are the styluses.  Both are very expensive and in the case of the styluses...garbage.  I did manage to find a decent case for it. The Case Logic iPad/ 10" Tablet case works great as it can hold the tablet in an upright position.  Only one caveat...the little bungee cord in the upper left hand corner will occasionally press the power button and shut off the screen or sometimes even the tablet.  I opt to just unhook it.

See below for links to this tablet and case!  Thanks for stopping by! :D