Internet of Things Strikes Back

As you may have heard, last week a large portion of the internet suddenly went dark. Major websites like the New York Times, Twitter, Spotify, and Reddit were temporarily unavailable. The reason quickly became clear – a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack against Dyn, an internet services company.

This denial of service attack overwhelmed Dyn’s servers with bogus requests from infected computers so that legitimate users couldn’t access Dyn’s services. Servers, computers which store information online, can only handle a limited number of requests for data. Malicious actors sometimes attempt to block users from accessing the data by directing a large network of infected computers (a botnet) to make rapid requests for large amounts of data. These requests overwhelm the server and block legitimate users from accessing it.

There are several strategies companies can use to avoid denial of service attacks. They can block the offending bots from their services or attempt to separate human-made requests from automated ones. A common strategy is to block computers from particular geographic areas. Malicious actors have responded by spreading their botnets across the globe in distributed denial of service attacks. Generally speaking, the more computers participating in an attack and more spread out those computers, the more difficult to block it. One is to block computers in

So what made this attack so special? Well first off, it was enormous. The botnet included 10s of millions of computers and requested 1.2 terabytes per second from Dyn, smashing the previous DDOS record of 600 gigabytes per second. Secondly, most of the bots weren’t strictly computers. Instead, web-enabled CCTV cameras and DVRs were the main attackers. The hackers had broken into these devices using default usernames and passwords and built a huge botnet out of them.

The unprecedented size of the overwhelmed even the relatively well-prepared Dyn and brought down many sites reliant on the company. It marked an unanticipated consequence of the growing Internet of Things – weakly protected web-enabled devices will allow hackers to built huge botnets. Security experts and internet business are still figuring out how to best respond to this new reality.

Lives Within Technology

As we live in the digital age of iPads and new forms of security in our homes, an average person ends up spending up to 5 hours on a device a day. This long interaction with devices is called “digital mesh.” We might think that we are getting smarter with our “smart” devices, but are they just making us dumber and less efficient?

As we snapchat around the world, we feel a sense of connection between others but this bond isn’t the same as it used to be with face to face interaction. Personally I love learning about new technology and getting the latest gear from watches to smart phones, but I still would want to time travel and see the world for one day without these devices. Continue reading “Lives Within Technology”

Cyber Security ID and Authentication

Hi all! David here. I hope everyone has had a great start to the year. I know mine has been wonderful, as I have been working alongside Mr. Ashley, learning and discussing issues pertaining to the world of computing security and information assurance.

Computer security (or cyber security, info security, digital security, they all mean the same thing). It’s a broad topic which contains dozens of components and thousands of job opportunities (and, yes, you can still be involved in cyber security without being a math whiz).

Nations, terrorists, terrorist nations, the list goes on. Enemies everywhere are beginning to turn to another form of warfare, not with bullets or RPGs, but with bits, bites and the touch of a keyboard. Pipelines, power grids, traffic lights, and anything pertaining to critical infrastructure is exposed. On a personal level, accounts, shopping, finance, bank accounts, and anything YOU have are targets for hacks.

 

 

Your Phone Can Help You Get Fit

If someone wants to change their physique, all one needs is a smartphone.  Whether it be counting calories, counting macronutrients, tracking runs/walks, or providing different exercised one can do, it’s all available at your fingertips.

Many applications have become very popular and have even promoted and led to an increase in the general health of its’ users.  These apps include “7 Minute Workout Challenge”, “MyFitnessPal”, “Nike+”, “Fitbit”, just to name a few.  Oftentimes, these apps will use different aspects provided by your smartphone, such as GPS coordinates, or will connect to an external device, as is the case with Fitbit.  The latest additions to the plethora of options are entitled “Endomundo”, “C25K”, “Official 7 Minute Workout”, and “RockMyRun”.

Endomundo is an all-in-one cardio-based option for those looking for elapsed time, distance covered, and calories burned. Continue reading “Your Phone Can Help You Get Fit”

How Safe is Our Data?

Now a days, most of our data, personal information, and history has some form of trail that has been left on the internet. This trail can leave information exposed to unwanted visitors to venture into our data networks. As the internet grows, so does the danger of being hacked.

Currently about 14bn objects are already connected to the internet and it is expected that it will expand to over 100bn by 2020.  This means a huge amount of information that can found on the web by many people. Continue reading “How Safe is Our Data?”

Drones Saving Lives in Rwanda

zipline-drones

Rwanda is a country in central Africa known as “the land of a thousand hills.” The troublesome topography combined with the heavy rainy season from March to May makes any travel, even by car, nearly impossible. So how do people across the country get access to basic healthcare? Lots of countries in Africa and across the world organize healthcare facilities into three basic tiers: hospitals, healthcare centers, and rural outposts. Few people regularly have access to hospitals since most of the population lives in rural areas. So what’s happening to improve Rwandan healthcare?

The government of Rwanda recently partnered with Zipline, a drone company which now allows them to easily deliver blood and other medicines, such as rabies vaccines, from medical warehouses to rural health outposts. Continue reading “Drones Saving Lives in Rwanda”

Smartphones Leave Your Car Vulnerable to Hackers

Credit: NYU Tandon: Damon McCoy

Recent studies have shown that an always present but generally ignored component in almost every vehicle can leave the user vulnerable to hacking attacks.

Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, along with a few students from George Mason University, conducted what is believed to be the first comprehensive security analysis of its kind. They found that MirrorLink, a system with rules that allow vehicles to connect to smartphones, contained an easily accessible liability.

Continue reading “Smartphones Leave Your Car Vulnerable to Hackers”