Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

If you have been anywhere near a TV, Radio, or Internet news site you have probably heard the word ConFlicker. I’m not here to talk about this internet terror itself, but I am here to talk about the actions that people are taking. As the title of this post says, the state is scrambling to fix an issue that cannot be fixed. What I mean bythat statement is that although ConFlicker can be stopped technically, it was built to thrive on societal ineptitude of internet culture by means of social engineering. 

The infections scheme is based on Social Engineering concepts. A time honored tradition of thieves, rouges, and conartists. Social engineering has the power to make people accept totally believable, yet factious, stories which gain information and confidence of victims to further the personal greed of criminals. I would like to say that this rare, but with AIG, Madoff, Enron, and Katrina scandals in the news I believe it is more common place now than ever before. Here in America, our society is built on the fact that you’re innocent until proven guilty. I believe that is the correct way to view the world, but this leads us to trust the good in people and hinders our skepticism. This innate idea to trust sometimes blinds us to the reality that there are harmful people, whose only intentions are to steal our identities and money.
Enter Conflicker, a computer worm that infects your unpatched computer through visiting bogus websites setup by hackers. Most people who visit these malicious websites are steered there through cleverly disguised social engineering techniques such as spam emails, hacked accounts social network accounts, and variety of other unassuming methods. 60 Minutes recently did an episode that showed how a hacked Facebook account was used to direct friends of that account to infect websites. As soon as I saw that computer generated Facebook message from the hacked account it sent warning signals off to me, but probably 90% of people would have clicked the link. This type deception is the true danger of Conflicker and other virus like it. The major way the virus is effective is if your unpatched computer is tricked in to visiting an infected site.  
You might be wondering what all this has to do with government. As much as the government tries to patch all their machines and cut internet usage to their workers this will not be enough. Conflicker, while nasty, is not the issue, it’s the methods that spread Conflicker that need to me addressed. Until we start teaching internet users to be savvier or law enforcement can eliminate the threats at the source, Conflicker is just the means of this attack and not the solution for stopping the problem.

So what are we to do about this threat???  It is a two pronged solution, education and punishment. I will not go into punishment here, but I’ll only say that most of these cyber attacks come from Russia and China which we have few options for recourse even if we know who is the criminal. Education, Conflicker is not a technical issue; it is a computer/internet education issue. Patched computers with updated antivirus software are at little to no risk. The systems that are at risk are the ones that do not patch the OS or the Anti Virus protection is outdated. This is why we need to better instruct people why they need to keep their Antivirus up to date. We need to show computers users how to keep their operating systems patched. We need to educate people on what to be suspicious of when they receive emails, IM’s, text messages, tweets, etc…. The power these hacker are given is because overall society of internet users are oblivious to simple, but crucial steps to deter criminals. This is not saying that by teaching the mass how to be safer on the internet will end all problems. There have been and will always be people that prey on the uneducated, the less fortunate, and trusting. 
For> more information on Conflicker or a means of scanning your computer to see if you are infected 
For more information on Conflicker or a means of scanning your computer to see if you are infected read Adrian Kingsley-Hughes – “The ‘no bull’ guide to Conficker
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Just an idea

Would anyone be interested in an every other month get together, for 2ish hours, where you would have 3 or 4 people give a 15 minute speech/lecture on a tech type topic and Q&A afterward? Think TED, but local Tallahasseeians giving mini-lectures on technology topics they find relevant. It could be anything they want it to be as long tech play a role in it.

Ideas:

  • Photography and how you use the web to show your work.
  • Digital creation through Photoshop.
  • How to get more followers on Twitter???
  • How to use Twitter to advertise and market.
  • The benefits of using open source technology.
  • How to Partition a RAID 0 disk array.
  • Using Web 2.0 Technologies and Social Media to be more efficient.
  • How to edit music with Audacity. Using technology to enrich church.
  • How to setup a Media Center PC in your Living room.
  • What makes a good password and how to keep your information safe while on line.
  • Spam and Scam how to protect yourself from phishing.
  • How to start a podcast.
  • Whatever………….

 

With the presenters permission we could film it and create a Channel on Youtube to share these presentations.

If you think this might be something that you are interested in please let me know by commenting below or Twitter me @verticalgambit

Until about three weeks ago, I had never heard the word millennial used in the context of referring to a specific group people. I first heard the word when I was in an hour long IT session, Web 2.0 Technologies. The presenter used the term millennials to describe college students who will be entering the workforce looking for the same functionality they use on the web to help solve business problems. Like most cliché technology words (solutions, beta, streamline, The Cloud, ect.) I’ve heard over the last three years, I did not pay this one any attention. Now, everywhere I turn, this word is working its way in to the business vernacular. It seems now that word is really starting pick up some steam. It will not be long, if it has not happened already, before we see Rick Sanchez twittering and talking on CNN about millennials.

If you are not sure what a millennial is then, join the club. Millennial is another name for Generation-Y. Depending on where you look you will find different number, but basicly millennials are anyone born between 1977 to 1998. These are today’s teens to early thirty something’s that have grown up in the internet age. Some key attributes of this group are the early adoption, multitasking, no brand loyalty, and the need for on demand services. Most millennials care more about functionality, simplicity, user collaboration while appearance is secondary.

A recent article I read in Computer World magazine, Vol. 32, Number 38 (September 22nd 2008), pushed me to write this post. The publication dedicated two pages about how “Millennials Demand Changes in IT Strategy.” This article talks about a new generation of internet savvy users who are more likely to work for companies that take advantage of progressive web 2.0 technologies. It the same regard, companies that have strict policies are likely to lose talented young workers.

Herein lies the problem, if you are an upstart business with minimal data restrictions building a mobile and dynamic environment, attracting young talented workers is easy. There are many pitfalls for government funded state organization . The major issue for this type of change is security. Government organization cannot sacrifice security for usability. There are so many restriction that have been legislated on government agency to protect information it is virtually impossible to get anything done due to the fear of being sued or in violation of outdated government mandates.

Very soon this governmental inability to progress forward is going to lead to a bigger issue than security. It was hinted in the Computer World article that the lack of hiring young talented replacements will come to a head as soon baby boomers start retiring. This mass exodus of institutional knowledge coupled with the fact that most of the talented college graduates are not looking to work for the government is going to crush the public sector within the next ten to fifteen years. As the pace of information moves steadily faster and faster, government Information Technology departments are doing all they can to stay afloat. With budget crises across the county, any type of progressive projects or recruitment within State and Federal government IT is limited. The fact is that millenials, who may be able to find solutions to upcoming technology issues, are going in to the private sector because of the antiquated policies of government. This is the basic “Catch 22” that need a solution now, not later!

What are your thoughts on the state of Government IT or millenials?