Saturday, May 22, 2010

Facebook: One stop shopping for identity theft

I've witnessed two camps emerging lately.  On one side we have "I'm closing down my Facebook account" mostly driven by those that have been turned off by recent articles in Time and elsewhere about how easy it is to data-mine other's Facebook profiles.  At the other end we have the "I'm not that private of a person, and anyone that wants to know what Grandma cooked us for dinner is fine by me..."

I'm somewhere in-between.  I consider myself technically savvy enough to configure my profile privacy settings and watch Google alerts to see when my name surfaces on 3rd party sites.  Recently I've watched friends post some fairly benign information, but in 2-3 clicks - I realized they'd given away more than they'd realized.

Here are just a few things you might not have thought about when it comes to why you want to be a little more private and a little more guarded about what you share on-line.

How many of your web site security settings use 'secret questions'? Credit card companies, on-line e-mail services like Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail, cell-phone companies, your company's self-service password reset tool, your 401k, your brokerage account - all of these typically employ 'personal information' type questions as part of an identity scheme.

  1. Mother's Maiden name - Want to find out someone's mother's maiden name ? - Look at Facebook, find their aunts/uncles/cousins. - It's easy, that is the last name that's repeated 2nd to the person's last name. (Even easier are those that friend their mother that put's their maiden name in parentheses :-)
  2. Street you grew up on - When you look at the percentage of friends on Facebook that are from High School, you're already within the zip-code.  Now you just think about who rode what bus and a little Googling of their last name to see if their parents are still in the same house and you're there. - Many of my friends that didn't go to my high school list the high school they went to,, so just surf around that high school on Google Maps and for smaller towns - you'll find you are closer than you'd suspect.
  3. First Pet - Just browse those scanned in childhood photos. - Obviously not as common, but you'll be amazed if you surf some of those albums what you'll find.
  4. First Car - How about those famous "Notes" threads/chain-letters that go around from time to time ? - Heck, I think if you search my profile back far enough I even have a photo of it for you.
  5. Favorite Sports Team - Again, thank you Facebook for creating "Fan of" and "Groups" - it won't take long at all to identify their allegiance - that is assuming that they didn't go to a Big-10 NCAA school and have a front-license plate to give this one to you as a freebie.

So - What DO you do about this ? - I've discussed this with a few highly respected security folks that I know and I'm starting to consider using an alternate persona for my on-line security.  Someone that I know lots about.  Just as an example - What if I were to answer Mother's Maiden with "Bouvier", Street I grew up on with "Evergreen Terrace", and First Pet with "Snowball" ?

That's all for now. I gotta go update my Facebook status with the 3 digits off the back of my credit card.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thank you Cisco !

After nearly 10 years with one of the greatest companies in the world, I've decided that Friday April 9th will be my last day with Cisco.  My departure is one which is based solely on my excitement around a unique opportunity that has presented itself.  I have nothing but the highest level of respect and admiration for all of those at Cisco whom I'm proud to call mentors and friends.  I continue to have the highest confidence that Cisco will be amazingly successful based upon their incredible leadership and the talent of individuals around the world.

Before I turn my attention to what awaits in the very near future, this week will be focused on ensuring that I wrap up or hand off existing projects and ensure that I'm able to stay in contact with so many of you in the future.

All my very best -

Monday, July 13, 2009

Twitter is to RSS what AOL was to the WWW

?? ??

Okay - I've had enough and need to tell someone. While reading my favorite blog site today I noticed them asking me to follow them on Twitter. I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would be some mindless bantering between Josh & Ryan, but sadly that was far from the case.

People, please ! - Twitter was meant to be for comments/information from people. - I've bent my own rules in the past for the likes of @StatTweets, but this has gone too far.

All these sites which are auto-tweeting based on a blog-post or addition of a news article are starting to annoy me. Google Reader did a nice job acting as a webtop RSS aggregator, but evidently that was too frickin hard for people. - Maybe it's because Google didn't have a cute little bird on their site.

Hence my comparison to AOL for the WWW. - Evidently since people couldn't figure out how to use an RSS reader - they needed a single-site to provide a 'follow me' button. - I'd be much happier had Twitter become a catalog of RSS feeds but since they require you host your tweets on their (often overloaded) system - we're all left to be mystified when they become unavailable. This sounds a lot like people not being able to handle and opting for keyword:"PizzaHut"

So -
People, keep-on tweeting.
@CNNBrk - You're the worst offender of all.
@Engadget - Liven it up a bit, talk to us and back at us - but don't just auto-post
@ev - Cash out ASAP, I think Twitter's days are numbered.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Truncation gone wrong

...and this boys and girls is why it's important to plan for various browser widths and screen resolutions.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Palm Pre Launch Day - A retrospective

Well, here I sit 12 hours after obtaining the hottest new gadget of the day - the Palm Pre. - Am I glad I did it ? - Not really,,, Am I sorry I did it ? - No, I'm not sorry either.

When I first heard Palm had a new phone coming out at CES 2009, I thought - "Yawwn." - I don't really miss my Treo 650, but it was my first mobile-mail device and it deserves a spot in my gadget museum.

WebOS - What on earth are they thinking... WinMob, Blackberry, Android, Symbian and,,, oh-yeah iPhone OS. - Does Palm really believe we need yet another OS to need to write apps for ? - Please !

Then came Josh Topolsky on Jimmy Fallon and something clicked. - Wow, there is excitement, buzz, talk about a new gadget, and best of all - IT ISN'T APPLE !!!! Don't get me wrong, this blog is being typed on a MacBook Air, but I really am getting a little tired of Apple being what every possible technology innovation is compared to. - Bring on Google, C'mon Palm - and oh, by the way - do you have a Flip! camera yet ? - If not, go buy one now... please :-)

The Decision
Kristen broke her phone a few months ago and has been limping along on an old Motorola Razr/Krzr. - She's forgotten her phone so many times recently that I told her, "You need to have a relationship with your phone so you don't forget it" - referring to me and my iPhone. - She said she wanted a real keyboard (she has an iPod Touch) and I said - Oooohh, so you want the Pre ? (she showed no opposition and mild interest, so the deal was done...)

This meant I'd be leaving Verizon before our contract is up, at least for her phone - so I called to verify costs and all seemed reasonable. (I know a thing or two about ETF's from my iPhone days). - So today, June 6th couldn't come quickly enough to get the new family member.

Waiting in Line
Wide awake at 6am, I got ready and headed off to the local Sprint corporate/retail store by about 6:20am. I was #7 in line. - It was general chatter about blog postings and rumors for the next 90 mins, when the attention turned towards our goal.

The Sprint employee emerged to set out balloons & pass out sheets of paper with a number on it. #3 was buying 2 phones, so I got Pre #8. - They warned us that we'd need to wait outside while they kept staff ratios in check. - At 8am (not a minute sooner) - #1-5 entered.

After a full hour with #1-#5 in the store, #6 & I finally got to go in and play with their 2 demo units for 15 minutes. - Then 15 minutes later They rang up my Pre, Touchstone & car-charger (while I grabbed cookies for those still waiting outside) and off I went.

It wasn't as magical as I'd hoped. - The Sprint person already cracked the seal and we were in a hurry to an appointment and I wanted the battery to charge while I was away. - That's when I found out about the extra-sticky base on the Touchstone. - I guess it's kinda cool :-/

First Impressions
  • Sharp Plastic
  • Hard to open/close the slider
  • Fingerprint City
  • Wow, Apple must really own those multitouch patents
  • Small display
  • Only 3/5 bars
Sure, it's neat - don't get me wrong. - But the Industrial Design excels while the mechanicals and weight left me wishing for more.

WebOS & Setup for use at Work
Associated to our WPA2/Enterprise (PEAP) wireless over ECT - No problem !
Exchange ActiveSync - seemed to go with no problem, but it turns out this is a near fatal-flaw in this 1.0 release of WebOS/Synergy
Personal IMAP & Yahoo mail (this is Kristen's after all) setup easily.

While driving to another appointment accepted the update to WebOS 1.02 (67mb). It timed out over wifi - but finally prompted to install while we were in motion. It took 10 mins, but went fine.

We noticed some signal issues when Kristen got her first call (Hey Katie!). - Not sure yet how much talking on the deck helped or not. - We're still at very low minute usage.

Speaking of the minute plans,,, As someone leaving Verizon, I was pleasantly surprised that Sprint gives you 7pm-7am for nights/weekends, and TeleNav-based turn by turn navigation as well as "Sprint TV & Sprint Radio" which are included for nothing extra/month...

Oh, and it's Navigational maps are in 3D vs. iPhone's Google Maps-only 2D - nice !

Top Complaint -
  1. Exchange ActiveSync MUST get working and fast. - I'll talk to some folks closer to the EAS stuff at work to see if we can identify if it is as I expect...

  2. The slide out keyboard mechanical feels plasticy/cheap.

  3. 3/5 bars in the house : I'd hate to pay $5 a month for the Femtocell (AIRave)

  4. NO Tethering-Hello !?! C'mon Sprint, turn it BACK on as it was listed as a feature leading up to launch

  5. Battery life - 12 hours of modest usage (mainly data- not voice,
Top Faves -
  1. Synergy - Once I am able to get Exchange into this, I really like the unified & grouped view of all mail accounts

  2. Gosh that keyboard is nice to have back - not as great feeling as a Blackberry, but solid

  3. Brilliant display/resolution UI

  4. Flash on the camera - excellent

  5. Nice that it has a standard micro-USB port along with the Touchstone - C'mon Apple, Play nice someday eh?
I'm sure other things will arise over time, but for now - that's the summary of Day-1.

Prefully yours,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Like Sands through the Hourglass

Kristen and I are on our way off for what has started to become a bit of an annual tradition of taking an international trip each year. I'll admit that I do enjoy traveling for work, but it does cause problems on the home-front as well with me being gone between 15-30% of the time.

After a great time in Iceland and last year, and south-Australia the year before - Kristen got intrigued by what we were seeing in the media about the growth-boom in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. I was initially hesitant - partly due to the proximity of places like Iran and Afghanistan, but also due to the sheer cost of such a trip. - I really wanted to go somewhere that we could use United miles since I am under a constant fear that should they re-file for bankruptcy we would see those disappear in a hurry.

When we went to book the trip, it become obvious that costs would be prohibitive. I tried to refocus on a potential western-Australia trip and possibly a combination with New Zealand. I hear both are rather incredible. Upon going to book the flights to Sydney/Perth, a new United ad appeared - "Introducing Daily Non-Stop to Dubai" - This changed everything, first off - as a new flight, the free/mileage-based tickets weren't all gone. Secondly, I too had gotten excited by what I've seen happening with the growth of Emerging Markets at Cisco.

So here we sit in the United lounge (5 hour layover) waiting for the 15 hour flight from Washington Dulles to Dubai. - It's a very short trip, only 5 days - but it should allow us to get a quick sense of what it's like. Already I have had a positive response from an old-friend on Facebook telling me that Dubai rocks.

Since booking the trip, we've gotten a lot of "Wow - Dubai ?"; I'm no idiot - I can hear the sentiment of 'why on earth would you go there ?' or 'that sounds scary !' in the voices. - C'mon folks, do you realize how in today's global economy such a US-centric attitude is going to be our biggest barrier towards economic growth and technology innovation ? - I look at this trip as an immersive lesson in how it's not just tech companies that are "Dealing with Darwin" but it's countries as well. - I applaud what I've read about Dubai preparing to evolve from an oil-exporting based economy to a trade, tourism and innovation based economy. - I sincerely hope I enjoy my vacation there, but before stepping foot off the plane, I'm already hoping that I'll be making this trip again for work soon.

I hope to share more from the desert-