Rocstor Encrypted External Hard Drives

Rocstor LogoRocstor specialise in data storage and secure encryption solutions: that’s encrypted external hard drives to you and me, but it’s an increasingly important market. Andy and Scott talk to Anthony Rink from Rocstor about how their products can keep your data safe.

Rocstor offers a range of external data storage products with real-time encryption built-in as standard. The encrypted drives meet FIPS Level 2, meaning that it’s hardware-encrypted (not software) and that any tampering of the drive to get at the crypto keys is obviously apparent. To suit different circumstances, some models use tokens, others PINs and some use both with ruggedised and waterproof units also available. Depending on features, $250-$300 gets you 1 TB of secure external storage.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Dynamics ePlates: Credit Card for Today’s World

Dynamics Dynamics Inc has developed cards for Visa that have chips embedded into them. The battery inside the card will last at least four years. There is a user interface including buttons and a magnetic stripe that changes so user can make different choices at the point of sale.  The user can easily change the awards available on the cards through the website. There are currently fifty different award partners that the card can be connected to. You also receive the rewards a lot faster than you do with a normal card because of the system they have establish. These cards are more secure than normal cards due to the fact that the information is stored in an embedded processor on the card

Dynamics Inc is also developing a card that has security code embedded in it. You have to punch in the code for the card to become active. When the right code is punched in the card number appears and the magnetic stripe becomes active After a period of time the number disappears and stripe erases. F’or further information and sign up for a card go to Dynamics Inc website or the UMB Bank website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Daniel J Lewis of the The Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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Lowe’s Iris Home Automation Program for Security

Kevin Meagher from Lowe’s  talked to Todd and Daniel about the Lowe’s Iris Program.  The idea behind the Lowe’s Iris program is to bring home automation to the masses. The base program which is a security program starts at $175. You control the program through a smart phone or a computer. The base program is very easy to set up you simply plug the base unit into the router, hang the sensors up and do the setup and you are ready to go. The total setup should take about an hour to complete. Lowe’s is working with their vendors to make sure that the vendors devices work with Iris.  If you’re looking for device that can run under Iris just look for the Iris logo.

There is no subscription for the entry-level program. The more advanced program which is known as Magic is an all-inclusive program and is available for $10 a month. The Iris program is fairly new and its development is continuing.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Daniel J Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast

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Iris Security Smart Home

Iris is a new home security system being offered through Lowes, the home improvement giant that has stores around the country. The Iris system is not new, but a lot more upcoming features were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and Andy McCaskey stopped by the booth to take a look.

Iris is about more than just security. It is also home automation. For instance, the system can tie into your irrigation system and keep your plants watered. Each feature will require a separate controller, but the good news is that each is affordable — think X-10 type pricing, but with better features. You can even put a tag on your dog’s collar to control pet doors. All of this can be handled from an app via iOS or Android.

All of this is available for $15 per month. You will need to purchase the individual sensors, but that is, of course, a one time cost. Those interested can visit this Lowes site for more information.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net

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You May Have to Reset Your Twitter Password

twitter-bird-white-on-blueDid you get a rather ominous sounding email from Twitter today? If so, you are not alone. Twitter sent out email today to users whom it felt may have been affected by the unauthorized attempts to access Twitter user data. I first heard of this because my husband received one of these scary sounding emails. Shortly after he dealt with it, a few of his friends on Twitter mentioned that they got the email, too.

There is a post on the Twitter Blog called “Keeping Our Users Secure”. It says:

This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led us to identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens, and encrypted/salted versions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.

If one of the 250,000 was you, then Twitter either already has sent you an email about it, (or will be doing so shortly). The social media company suggests that affected users change their password. There are details about what Twitter considers the characteristics of a strong password to include on their blog.

Twitter also repeats the advisory from the United States Department of Homeland Security that encourages users to disable Java on their browsers. Twitter does not specifically state who the attack came from, but it does say this:

This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked.

YubiKey Neo

YubicoYubico the maker of the YubiKey introduced a NFC version at CES 2013 . YubiKey is a One Time Password dongle. It provides a strong two factor authorization to any site or platform.  All versions of YubiKeys use best practice security process. YubiKey works with various password managers such as Last Pass and PasswordSafe. You can also integrate with a VPN and software tokens. The traditional YubiKey works with multiple platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac, along with browsers like Chrome and Firefox. The new NFC version, theYubikey Neo can be used by simply tapping the YubiKey on to a NFC enable device.

The standard YubiKey is $25.00 and is available now. The YubiKey Neo which includes USB and NFC is $50.00. Right now there is a 7–9 week delay in shipping for the Yubikey . If you are looking for a way to keep secure then you may want to look into various Yubico products including the new YubiKey Neo.

Identity Theft Made Easy

Viz Top Tip… Make identity theft easy by posting a picture of your credit card on Twitter or other social media.

Credit Card

(The airbrushing is mine)

Quite unbelievably, this young lady posted a picture of her new credit card on Twitter – “Ahhhhh my first credit card buzzing aint the word my friends” - and it was retweeted to me. I was tempted to DM her and ask for a picture of the back but that seemed churlish. Dumber than a box of hammers, if you ask me.

Miss Alex Mathewson, congratulations on acquiring your first credit card but you might want to check your new statement for some unexpected purchases.

Top 10 Worst Passwords of 2012


It’s sad that, even today, lists like this exist.  Unfortunately, security continues to be a major issue for computer users around the world thanks to, not only malware and viruses, but also just plain old lack of understanding by many users.  The biggest problem can be insecure passwords, which account for many of the highest profile hacks that make the news.

Recently the web site Techie Buzz put together the top passwords of 2012 using data from Splash Data.  The results weren’t pretty, with “password” once again topping the list and going along with such favorites as “123456” and many more easy to hack passwords that nobody should seriously consider using.

You can view the list below, but if you have family or friends who are less than sophisticated computer users then perhaps you should share this information with them.  These are the first passwords used in a basic dictionary attack which can brute force it’s way into an account in mere minutes.  If you are using anything on the list below then please change it now.  Add capital letters, numbers and symbols and, especially, more characters.

#              Password                Change from 2011
1               password                 Unchanged
2               123456                    Unchanged
3               12345678                Unchanged
4               abc123                     Up 1
5               qwerty                     Down 1
6               monkey                    Unchanged
7               letmein                     Up 1
8               dragon                     Up 2
9               111111                    Up 3
10             baseball                   Up 1
11             iloveyou                   Up 2
12             trustno1                   Down 3
13             1234567                  Down 6
14             sunshine                  Up 1
15             master                      Down 1
16             123123                    Up 4
17             welcome                  New
18             shadow                    Up 1
19             ashley                      Down 3
20             football                     Up 5
21             jesus                        New
22             michael                     Up 2
23             ninja                         New
24             mustang                   New

Mozilla Pushes 16.01 Update for Firefox

Yesterday Mozilla took the unprecedented step of pulling down a version of Firefox and warning those who had already installed it to stop using the browser.  The move came after a rather bad security flaw was found in the software that would allow a malicious site to potentially be able to determine which websites users had visited and obtain access to the URL or URL parameters.

The company quickly pushed a fix for the Android version of the web browser, but took until today to issue a similar patch for the Windows version of Firefox.  Mozilla has now made Firefox version 16.01 available for download and those who have the browser installed should receive an automatic update upon the next launch.

While it was perhaps a bit of an embarrassing escapade, the company did work fast to fix the issue.  The flaw was less of an actual security threat and more of a privacy concern, but it was an issue that still needed to be addressed quickly.  You can head over to Mozilla to grab the update if you didn’t receive it automatically.

Lookout for Android Can Now Find your Phone Even When the Battery is Dead

Last week I told you that Lookout, the popular security app for Android, was teasing a big announcement for this week.  Today their new update began rolling out to users and it came with several new features, but the one getting the most attention is called “Signal Flare”, which allows users to locate lost phones, even when the battery has died.

Signal Flare works by frequently flagging the location of your device so that if the battery dies, or is removed by a thief, you stand a better chance of still being able to locate it.  The company claims to locate thousands of phones every day for their users, but that when the service fails a battery is to blame in 30 percent of the cases.

While Signal Flare is the hot item in version 3.0 of the app, it’s not the only improvement.  Lookout also rolled out a new user interface, an “Activity Feed” that lets you see what’s going on in a single glance at the app dashboard and a “Safe Dialer” protection which protects against dialer-based attacks, such as the one recently seen hitting the Galaxy S3.

For all of these improvements, Lookout remains a free app (there is a premium version as well).  Version 3.0 is now live in the Google Play Store.  If you already have the service installed then you likely have received the update pushed to your device automatically.

NOTE: I should also, in fairness, note that Avast also produces a very good, and free, mobile security app.  Thanks to Milos over at Avast for pointing it out to me following my post last week.