Apparently, some people believe it is better to expose their children to full-strength deadly diseases and hope for the best than to vaccinate them. Thankfully, Ars Technica has the explanation of why this is a bad idea:
Though most children who get the itchy, highly contagious viral disease go on to recover after a week or so of misery, chickenpox can cause severe complications and even death in some. Complications include nasty skin infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation, hemorrhaging, blood stream infections, and dehydration.
TechRadar looks at the simple question: “Do I need a VPN?” (Spoiler alert: Yes, you do). The real value in this article is that it explains just why you need to use a VPN, and what benefits there are when you have one. It also discuses the disadvantages of using a VPN, and offers advice on what to look for in a VPN provider.
With so many fly-by-night VPN providers popping up, it can be hard to separate the good from the not-so-good. Fortunately, there are a few key characteristics to look for in a VPN. First, make sure the server offers private browsing. Most subscription-based VPNs host their own network servers, which means they’re able to allow their users the comfort to browse anonymously. Most free VPNs, on the other hand, use open networks which are often unsecured and full of privacy gaps.
I personally use Freedome, with a fallback to KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited. I’m a big fan of F-Secure products, so that’s why I like Freedome. VPN Unlimited is my fallback simply because I got a great price on a lifetime VPN through them.
Other kinds of malware are a different story. Mac systems are subject to the same vulnerabilities (and subsequent symptoms of infection) as Windows machines and cannot be considered bulletproof. For instance, the Mac’s built-in protection against malware doesn’t block all the adware and spyware bundled with fraudulent application downloads. Trojans and keyloggers are also threats. The first detection of ransomware written specifically for the Mac occurred in March 2016, when a Trojan-delivered attack affected more than 7,000 Mac users.
This is well worth the few minutes it will take to read.
I love computer security. Worked in the field for half a decade, but got out of it when I moved to Memphis. Would love to get back into it, if I had the opportunity. So when I see stories like this Register article about a Western Australia Auditor General report on poor password security, I like to pass it along in hopes that others will learn a little something from it.
Among these [60,000 easily guess passwords], ‘Password123’ was in use by 1,464 accounts, ‘Project10’ by 994, ‘support’ by 866, ‘password1’ by 813, and ‘October2017’ by 226, to pick only the top five worst offenders in popularity order.
Folks, the most secure password is one you can’t remember. That’s why I recommend a password manager. Pick one really good password to protect your master database, then let the password manager generate all your passwords going forward. Periodically change your master database password. Lather, rinse, repeat. What password manager? Well, I personally use LastPass. If you don’t want to pay for one, try out KeePass. If you don’t want to take my word for what to use, I can also advise you to consider any of these recommendations from LifeHacker (spoiler alert: they recommend the same 2 I do, plus a few others).
But the important takeaway from this story should be that you can’t do this on your own. You’ll probably mess up. People are bad at generating random passwords. People are bad at remembering hard passwords. People are bad at keeping track of hundreds of passwords (that’s how many I have – others may not use as many as I do). But computers are really, really good at this stuff, so let them do the heavy lifting here.
Project MKUltra From 1953 to 1973, the CIA funded covert research on mind control at dozens of reputable institutions, including universities and hospitals. A source of inspiration to horror-fueled shows like Stranger Things and films like Conspiracy Theory, the covert project is today recognized as torture. In the hopes of revealing strategies by which the government could deprogram and reprogram spies or prisoners of wars, unwitting civilians were drugged, hypnotized, submitted to electroshock therapy, and shut away, sometimes for months, in sensory deprivation tanks and isolation chambers.
If you have heard about credit card skimmers, you probably know the advice to tug on a credit-card scanner before using it. That’s not really that effective against more and more of the scanners, as they are getting smaller, and more easily hidden within or on top of real scanners in such a way that a sharp tug just won’t reveal them any more. Enter the Skim Reaper, a scanner that works instead by checking for multiple voltage spikes such as those caused by a hidden reader.
We have partnered with law enforcement agencies to comprehensively characterize skimmers, with the goal of designing and delivering strong tools to reduce this kind of crime. As a result, we created the Skim Reaper™, which specifically targets overlay and deep-insert skimmers.
SkimReaper is aimed specifically at overlays and inserts. It uses a card-shaped sensor with a printed circuit that, when powered, can detect the voltage spikes created by coming in contact with magnetic reader heads. If it detects two or more, there’s a skimmer in play.
While I have found no information yet on how to build your own nor how to buy your own Skim Reaper to keep yourself safe, I am sure that both a DIY guide and a pre-made Reaper purchase option will happen before too long.
You might think that carbon is carbon, and that if we find there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere, its source can’t easily be proven. But chemistry is a bit more complicated than that; there are different kinds of carbon, as there are of most elements. They’re called isotopes. One isotope of carbon is carbon-14.
The science involved isn’t really that difficult to understand. The knowledge that we are doing this and possibly making the planet uninhabitable for ourselves isn’t hard to gain. But getting some people to believe it sure seems tough. As denialists become fewer in the United States, we are hopefully moving to a period where we can make progress on reducing our effect on the planet, but we still have a way to go before we become part of the solution. But the general population is catching up to the scientific consensus, I think, which is a good thing.
The most frustrating thing, though, is that some folks knew 40 years ago, and rather than work to prevent this and make sure everyone knew about the potential harm, they kept it silent and made sure to profit from the ignorance of others. I know that this is just how big corporations work, but it still sucks. And I realize they did do research on the topic, but they could have brought humanity’s knowledge of the problem much further along than it is know if they had made a big deal of it in the 70s. That’s just me being a hopeless romantic, though.
They found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s brief bit on the Parker Space Probe, I thought it was worth taking some time to share more information about the project. This is some of the best we have going on in the scientific community (in my not so humble opinion), and I thought it was worth learning and teaching more about it. Watch live in the embedded video above, or read on for more details than you ever realized you needed.
The Parker Space Probe launch window opened this morning around 3:30 Eastern Time and extends to August 23rd. So depending on the weather at Cape Canaveral (Space Launch Complex 37, more specifically), the probe may already be on the way to the sun by the time you read this (I’m writing it a day before launch but posting around 7 hours post possible launch time).
So if you ever wondered just how fast we puny humans can make things go, it turns out that right now something around 430,000 miles per hour is our peak achievement. That’s the projected speed of the Parker Solar Probe which will be launching tomorrow morning, just a few hours from now. I have more reading to do to come up with a more substantial post on the probe, but I hope to put something together tomorrow so you can get learned. Just know that this probe is going towards the sun to study solar winds so we can learn how to better prepare for them in the future. (Image stolen from the Engadget article to which this news item is linked).
The spacecraft will also reach speeds up to 430,000 mph, making it the fastest-ever human-made object. That’s nowhere near fast enough to reach Alpha Centauri within our lifetime — it has to travel around 7,000 years to reach the star closest to our sun — but fast enough to get from Philadelphia to DC in a second.