Monday, September 8, 2014

How to survive Apple's big day.

 If you’re like me, you are at best mildly curious to see what Apple unveils in Flint, MI, tomorrow.  At worst, you’re dreading the onslaught of Apple news, commentary, and reactions.  If the rumours about the iWatch and iPhone 6 are true, tomorrow could be the most annoying launch day in Apple’s history. 

It won’t be easy, but it is possible to get through tomorrow without being bombarded.

  • Don’t turn on the TV.  There will be speculation about what will be revealed, what effect it will have and why we should care.  I can assure you that it won’t be all that interesting.
  • Do not turn on your radio on the way to work.  If you still listen to traditional radio in your car, now might be a good time to look into streaming services, satellite radio, mix tapes, audio books, meditation, anything.
  • When you get to work, avoid anyone wearing an Apple shirt.  Just skirt around them a la  Office Space.  If they’ve chosen today to show their undying support for a brand, you don’t want to talk to them.  Trust me.
  • Turn off all updates on your phone.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, vine, Facebook, flipboard, all of them  Do the same on your computer. Uninstall your browsers if need be. Filter all emails with Apple in the subject line to your junk mail.  You may not think that certain feeds will be filled with Apple gushing, but you’ll be wrong.


At some point during the day, someone will probably want to talk to you about an iSomething.  I have two surefire strategies for this scenario.  For the more casual conversation partner, I suggest a quick change of topics.  Ignore the question completely and ask them about something else they care about.  How’s your kid doing in softball this year? or You look great, are you exercising?  The key here is to sound really excited to talk to them.  I’ll leave it to you to decide whether hearing about little Billy’s last home run is better than hearing about how “revolutionary”, “game changing”, or “disruptive” the iWatch will be.

If they have the glazed eyes and sweaty palms of a rabid fan boy, they will need something a little more...jarring.  If you can feign a good cry, do it now.  Clutch your mouth and start sobbing. Maintain eye contact for a few seconds before running away while flailing your arms.  If you can’t cry on demand, I’d substitute an urgent bathroom trip. Key here is a sudden look of surprise mixed with sheer terror.  Exit the area immediately with one hand on your stomach and the other on the seat of your pants.

If you can make it through the work day, you should be home free.  Just remember to stay away from any sort of live news or comments.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  Things should be back to normal in a couple of days.  Of course, it may just be easier to call in sick and cocoon yourself in bed until the hysteria subsides.  Good luck.




Photos courtesy of theapplecollection.com

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blackshades Breakdown

Photo: FBI.gov
The last couple of weeks has been dominated by talk of Blackshades and the FBI crackdown on those using it.  We did a number of media interviews around Blackshades and here's what we think people should really be focusing on:

The price:  At $40.00, Blackshades was a bargain.  Such a low entry point is great for mass adoption and a quick payday.  Mass adoption however, stirs up attention from law enforcement.  While the FBI managed to make almost 100 arrests, I doubt that any of those are what we would consider high value targets.  

The Response:  The FBI has made a lot of noise about this operation, and rightly so.  The scale of the operation was huge, involving 300 searches in 19 countries.  With almost 100 arrests, it's clear that the FBI has gotten better at working with their counterparts around the world.

Sadly, while the FBI is bringing justice to those using the Blackshades malware, the NSA is busy doing the exact same thing that the people arrested were.  I think it's safe to say that their software cost a lot more than $40 though.


Blackshades gives people something to be scared of:  

Let's face it, the general public just doesn't care about their privacy as much as we might like them to.  If their credit card info is stolen, the bank picks up the tab.  Someone might read their emails or gain access to their social media accounts?  They're already posting most of their personal lives for all to see anyway.


What people are scared of is someone posting naked pictures of them online.  The webcam functionality of malware is usually of little concern to security folk.  It is, however, a big concern for the average citizen.  Having to replace your credit card is an annoyance.  Naked pics of you being passed around your school or workplace is something that might actually elicit a change in behaviour.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Heartbleed: What Do I Do?

The KeePass Password Safe icon.
The KeePass Password Safe icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You've probably read a little about Heartbleed by now and you either understand the details or not. For some additional reading you can visit heartbleed.com. Either way, you are, and should be, worried if this is going to affect you directly. The answer, probably. Not all sites and software rely on the security torn open by Heartbleed but many do. For these locations which are currently vulnerable you will need to confirm that they, the site owners, have fixed the issue BEFORE changing your passwords.

How do you do that? Go to Heartbleed Test or Heartbleed Checker and type in the site you're worried about, such as your banking site.

If it comes back green it was either fixed or never had a problem. I recommend a password change anyway. You are probably overdue for one.

If it comes back red, check back again later until it comes back green. Then change your password.

I think you'll find at this point that many sites have fixed the issue, but it can't hurt to check.

For those who are interested in the related CRA website shutdown from Heartbleed, read this story as well: ctvnews.ca.
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