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Ask Slashdot: Convincing My Company To Stop Using Passwords?

Vokkyt You're fighting a few fronts here (247 comments)

You have a few challenges ahead of you; political ones, technical ones, and fiscal ones.

Are you just hoping to be the initial voice of inspiration and get everyone behind you? Or are you ready to be the advocate for the two factor auth you're proposing? Unless you've done your research and you know a lot of others in your department are on board with this proposal already, your proposal is going ground itself without much more than a candle flicker.

People tend to be really resilient to change, even really bright tech folk. "Good enough" is the motto that most people live by, so you're going to have to make a really enticing argument or get a lot of support across the board before even presenting this. Check with the necessary Systems folk; do they have ideas or wants or problems with a Two-Factor auth for users? Do the math for your accounts; are you saving enough money that it will make someone look good? Check with your Help Desk/Ticketing software; are password resets really enough of a problem that they're impacting people's work flow?

I promise you that most folks in a position to make a decision like this aren't staying up at night wishfully hoping that someone suggests TFA for the company, and few non-tech people in the company are even going to know what the hell you're talking about.

You're going to need to be prepared to really explain your idea and show that it already has support, else they're just gonna look at you like you suggested catapulting the ring into Mordor.

about 2 months ago

Twitter Should Use Random Sample Voting For Abuse Reports

Vokkyt Riot beat Bennet to the idea (132 comments)

Riot has had a system like this for some time, the Tribunal, and they allege it works pretty well. It used to have an in-game based reward (absolutely minuscule amount of IP, the in game currency), but they have since removed it, and last I checked it still had high numbers. I don't know if Riot is the originator, but I know it's a pretty major part of their abuse/harassment control.

I really don't know if a Tribunal style method would carry over to Twitter - I remember that part of the reason that people liked Tribunal was just the absolutely ridiculous stories you could read about players and the crap they pulled, and the in-game jokes made it worth it. Riot also made a mini-game of the system, insomuch that you get ranking based on how often your suggested ruling lines up with the actual ruling made on the case. You don't get anything in game anymore, nor does it affect your game profile, but people seem to like it. Likewise, Riot's punishments aren't just pardon/ban, but a range of punishments which can be administered by the admins there.

One thing that does make me kind of worried is that there's not a lot really holding people to the abuse Twitter accounts; in Riot's case, having a Level 30 account (necessary level to participate in the game in full) takes a bit of time, and while many users have accumulated quite a few spare accounts, eventually those pools run dry -- on top of that, primary accounts tend to have in game purchases tied to them, so loss of the account represents a financial loss. With Twitter, you can make a spoof account in seconds with no penalty, and harassment accounts are able to participate immediately and by necessity for Twitter to work. Without the time commitment or something tying people to the account, I'm not sure that this will have as great of an impact.

about 2 months ago

Chromebooks Overtake iPads In US Education Market

Vokkyt Re:Can parents opt out (193 comments)

You haven't. You may have had headlines if you enabled it, you may have had spam, but you're not getting the targeted Google ads like with vanilla Gmail, and if you are, I'd love to see a picture of that with the non-gmail domain clearly visible. Honestly, a picture of screen instead of a screenshot is even preferred.

I really dislike Google in general, but GAFE is pretty straight forward and they're pretty honest about the whole "no ad tracking" stuff.

about 2 months ago

10-Year-Old iTunes DRM Lawsuit Heading To Trial

Vokkyt Re:Change in operations instead of cash.... (246 comments)

No, the point is that FairPlay stopped iTunes audio from being playable on other devices for a short period of time, which is a somewhat fair complaint in certain scenarios. For the plaintiffs who bought up the music on iTunes with the expectation that they could play it on other music devices, it really depends on what Apple wrote and did not write which will determine if that complaint is valid. For those who wanted to be able to put music from other services onto their player, it depends on if the courts deem the restrictions FairPlay added to be required by the Apple contracts with the Music folk.

The lawsuit site itself seems more interested with getting as many people involved as possible to add legitimacy rather than actually talking about how bad DRM was at the time, but at the time it was a fairly legitimate complaint, and nowadays that shit just wouldn't fly period.

However, at that time, the laws about DRM on music were very anti-consumer since the market was still trying to maintain the old style of music sales and weren't quite ready to give up the whole ordeal. The thrust of the complaint made in the lawsuit is that Apple's DRM obligations to the music companies did not require the restriction that the music only be played on Apple devices.

Whether or not that is true will be revealed once the contracts are shown, I guess, and it will be up to the courts to say if any interpretation is necessary.

about 2 months ago

Espionage Campaign Targets Corporate Executives Traveling Abroad

Vokkyt Re:marketing (101 comments)

I want to second this as the reason that a lot of people are afraid of going the proper security route.

At the University I work at, we have been trying to push through full disk encryption for computers that go out into the wild for years now, and each time we're told it's impossible because "what if someone loses the password?"

Even with two key solutions that would ultimately at least allow access should we need it, we're told that the possibility of someone leaving on a trip and getting locked out of their computer is completely unacceptable.

about 3 months ago

WireLurker Mac OS X Malware Found, Shut Down

Vokkyt Technical Report from Unit42 on the Malware (59 comments)

There is a PDF report on the main website for Unit42 about the malware, but it has a fairly invasive registration process. Signed up with bs info and uploaded to public google drive for everyone.

Link to the researchers website for those cautious about the gdocs link

Straight Link to the report (requires registration)

Have not read the technical details yet, but it looks fairly comprehensive.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Single Sign-On To Link Google Apps and Active Directory?

Vokkyt Re:What the hell (168 comments)

Well, GAFE accounts aren't normal google accounts. Function wise they're the same, but Google promotes that they are not put through the same advertising analytics that normal gmail accounts are.

From the GAFE website:

Google Apps is governed by a detailed Privacy Policy, which ensures we will not inappropriately share or use personal information placed in our systems. Google complies with applicable US privacy law, and the Google Apps Terms of Service can specifically detail our obligations and compliance with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations. Google is registered with the US-EU Safe Harbor agreement, which helps ensure that our data protection compliance meets European Union standards for educational institutions

FERPA is the big stickler here, as google really couldn't offer the service without being FERPA compliant, and they couldn't run Google Business as usual and still be FERPA compliant.

Now, as to whether you choose to believe their claims, that's another story, but you're approaching it with a lot of misinformation, it seems.

about 3 months ago

Facebook Sets Up Shop On Tor

Vokkyt Re:Why? (125 comments)

I think more people will just think "What's Tor?"

This is really a "news for nerds" sort of deal here. The general public, and even most power users aren't going to be all that interested in it due to the niche. As to why Facebook has elected to pursue an onion site, who knows. I doubt it's because they see a big future in Tor, or maybe they do. Given that Tor has a bit of a burden of knowledge to actually understand what it offers, most users won't know or care.

I'm willing to believe that it's possible an irresponsible journalist could really misrepresent the story to the public, but I guess I'd like to see it before it happened, and I feel that the Facebook PR engine would be quick to jump on any major misrepresentation due to recent allegations of Law Enforcement Officers using Facebook to aide in arrests for drug users. It's just not the kind of urban legend that they'd want out there to have to deal with.

about 3 months ago

Hackers Breach White House Network

Vokkyt Re:Russians as bogeymen? (98 comments)

The evidence from the actual report that it's of Russian origins is a little specious for my taste, though part of the reasoning isn't exactly unfounded.

Their evidence that it's of Russian origin is that a large number of the malware samples (APT28 as categorized by FireEye) included Russian Language settings along with English and "neutral" (which defaults to the environment defaults). That certainly is an eye-brow raiser in my mind, but I wouldn't say we got anyone with their hand in the cookie jar.

The other reasoning is just specious and/or speculation. The compile times for the malware seem to correspond to the Timezone for Moscow/St. Petersburg working days, which just seems like an odd assessment to make. Even if the government were to be paying hackers in Russia to make and operate malware, are these hackers actually punching in and out for 8 hour work days? Not to suggest that this isn't exactly what is happening, but it just seems like coincidence is an equally plausible scenario with this.

The other evidence is FireEye's own speculation on the targets could apply to other actors as well.

Their analysis of the malware otherwise is pretty good, but I think there just isn't enough to really peg it down. There are plausible explanations for the evidence that FireEye brings up which is no more of a stretch than it being of Russian origin.The language setting is good evidence, but there are some fairly valid reasons why that might be the case.

about 2 months ago

How To Beat Online Price Discrimination

Vokkyt Re:Book directly with the airlines (163 comments)

Yeah, this is one I've never really understood. I used to think that you had to use the intermediary sites since when I was younger, my parents either always used agents or third party sites once we got Internet access.

But when someone pointed me to http://matrix.itasoftware.com/, which just lists flights and prices instead of actually letting you buy, I never went back to the annoying third party sites. I've never really gotten a deal on the third party sites that was any cheaper than just looking up the cost on the informational site and buying the itinerary straight from the airline, nor have the hotel deals been any cheaper or different for me than just booking the hotel independently. I know that my folks like it because it's all of the prep-work done from one site, which is a fair point, but I personally just haven't seen the benefit.

about 3 months ago

Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

Vokkyt What privacy concerns? (168 comments)

While this is useful information to have, the privacy implications are a bit unsettling.

As best I can tell from the description, this sounds similar to what Disney and other themeparks use to track their wait times for rides, except the amusement parks occasionally hand out little RFID "things" to guests at the ride entrance and ask the guest to give it to the operator.

As far as I'm aware, any time you're polling for WiFi networks you're broadcasting your MAC; this just seems like a fairly benign way to get information about a process without getting actual data on an individual.

Granted, you can somewhat reliably tie together a MAC addy's travel path if you have the ability to see all the places that MAC has been, but that was true even without this particular software.

So, yeah, what is the concern about this software in particular? It seems like the complaint is more with how the scanning for networks works.

about 3 months ago

Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

Vokkyt I'm not sure who this is helping (173 comments)

Email users tend to fall into two distinct categories of usage; heavy and "guess I have to use email", and you can trace the distinction almost straight along generation gaps. From my experience, most of the heavy users of email tend to customize systems to what works best for them -- in my work at University IT, the heaviest users usually have very nuanced inboxes with dozed of folders and filters they constructed to suit their needs, disabling any and all auto-sorting for fear of missing an email. Our biggest complaint from users tends to come from the fear that we did something on our Google Apps for Education filter settings which is preventing email from reaching them (even though we run a "virtually" vanilla set up with our Google Apps domain).

The rest of the users just thrive in the chaos of an inbox and either reluctantly use the auto-sorting provided by Gmail or quickly search how to disable it. (The fuss when "Important" messages came into existence was absolutely balloons; users rightfully complained that they had no idea why there was a yellow indicator next to every message in their inbox, since the google filter was marking every message as important). Most people don't really get that much email, at least not the same way that Google seems to think. The inbox search is so good that many users just seem to be content remembering a few key words and then searching for the email when they need it. I constantly see inboxes with thousands of unread messages since the users just ignore any email they don't want to read.

Watching the video and reading the associated blog post, at best it looks like a dedicated app that does what the tabs already do, as well as a few extensions which monitor the contents of email. Some of the features, like the live flight updates, would probably be pretty cool, but I'm curious how well it can interpret itineraries that fly under other airlines for part of the itinerary. (e.g., last international flight I took was on Finnair, and I traveled American Airlines for part of the flight as part of the Oneworld flight alliance; so the actual AA flight was numbered differently than the Finnair listing as I received it, AA#### as opposed to AY###)

I really doubt that this is going to do anything except eat up more space on the Android default home screen as one of the many apps that phones have to ship with, but hopefully a few of the informational features will leak over to Gmail proper.

about 3 months ago

Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals

Vokkyt Re:Lawless land (239 comments)

Except that's not what they're asserting. Law enforcement has been granted powers by the higher powers in the government to occasionally perform actions that would be considered illegal in order to resolve a larger crime. (e.g., impersonation, possession of drugs, possession of illegal firearms, purchasing illegal substances). The DEA's assertion is that this is merely an branch of those granted powers. You might not like that they have been granted the powers to do this, but that doesn't mean that they "...assert that we live in a lawless land where [the DEA] can do what they please." There are pretty strict rules about what it is they can and cannot do when they do these sorts of operations and judges can and often will throw out entire cases if the law enforcement officers mess up during the operation.

Facebook's contention isn't that the DEA can't do this; they openly acknowledge that there is a review of the process in place, and I have no doubt that if tomorrow the DEA released a statement saying "nah, we totally can", then Facebook wouldn't even pursue the angle. Facebook's argument is that such actions really mess with the business model Facebook has; if people have to live in fear that government agents are routinely posing as users to get information, then users are going to migrate away. Not all, but enough to probably hurt Facebook's reputation.

You can argue about what law enforcement should and should not do in the course of an investigation, but there is a long history of precedent which says "hey, this is a-okay", at least the impersonation part. Whether or not the Plaintiff actually "gave consent" as the DEA assumes is a whole different matter, and I suspect their case and all cases from it might get thrown out based on that alone.

about 3 months ago

JP Morgan Chase Breach: Shades of a Cyber Cold War?

Vokkyt FUD. They don't even know. (96 comments)

From the article:

"But much remains unanswered about the intrusion, including just who the hackers are, which other financial institutions were hit and why the hackers went down a path inside JPMorganâ(TM)s computer system that contained troves of customer information, but not financial data."

They have no motive, no indication of who, or why they did what they did. I agree with posters saying that it's officials throwing out a red herring to get everyone worked up over Russia instead of poor security.

about 4 months ago

New OS X Backdoor Malware Roping Macs Into Botnet

Vokkyt Re: I have seen some malware trying to infect my M (172 comments)

Eh, most probably couldn't. If it's not a trusted developer, by default they cannot install it (a la apt-get or other package managers). They would have to have the known how and awareness to go in and change it to accept all installers, which I don't think many will.

about 4 months ago

Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

Vokkyt Re:Fox News? (460 comments)

The press is much to blame, never checking qualifications or accomplishments when reporting the work of so called 'scientists". Due to that, so much bullshit is promulgated that never comes to fruition, people naturally become skeptical. Promises of fuel cell being ready for mass adoption, promises of medical cures on the way, etc.

It's even worse that that though -- it's not just that the media doesn't fact check, it's that most media members lack the ability to fact check, as do their audience. It's the game telephone on a national scale, and it's hurting everyone when a rather important but nascent study on polymers gets conflated to "scientists create new ultra-capacity battery purple monkey dishwasher".

The report itself doesn't really focus so much on this disconnect though as much as it the social dynamics of credibility; according to the article, we're trained to focus more on "friend or foe" than "true or not true", and the first challenge in communicating serious scientific advances to people is getting past the friend or foe response. The article refers to Climate Change as an example of this, and it seems true that most people cannot enter into discussions of climate change without there being a political agenda attached.

What this really comes down to is poor logical training -- it's not that people are outright illogical or that science and pure logic are the most ideal way to be (as they aren't), it's that we're just wired to have an emotional investment, and too often, the public gets hurt by this wiring. Rather than take a second to try and see if the content is or is not valid, or to separate the person speaking from the evidence presented, which admittedly can be difficult if you are very invested in a particular belief (political, religious, mystical, personal, and so on). I've always used the example of liking Burzum versus liking/approving of Varg Vikernes and his personal beliefs; you don't need to subscribe to the latter to accept the former.

However, the article just suggests that we can't really get past that friend/foe check.

I think this is really where celebrity scientists (Tyson, Nye, Sagan, Asimov, etc) can really help out everyone. I'm re-reading two of Asimov's books "A short history of [chemistry|biology]" and I think that there needs to be more of this. Asimov was an incredible writer and had a knack for telling a good story, and even better just explaining science simply. Sagan has some fairly poetic ways of describing the universe which spoke to people in an easy way, Bill Nye brought a good sense of entertainment to science and made it fun for kids. The more writing and early exposure people can get to this sort of material, the better people can begin to separate the human behind the science from the evidence presented.

(Of course, this is not to say that scientists are without their own prejudices or agendas; reading the history of chemistry has shown how sometimes a leading scientists' personal agenda stymied progress just because they were perceived as an authority. Everyone, regardless of training, is subject to this bias)

about 3 months ago

Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Vokkyt Re:So then they get another warrant ... (504 comments)

Slightly different scenario. Yahoo had the data and refused to turn it over. Apple is in effect ensuring it can never have the data that the NSA is seeking without new code. Warrants, in this instance, can't really be used to compel you to make something you wouldn't otherwise make. That's not the type of a warrant they can actually seek; there is no "do what we tell you warrant".

Apple's entire gambit is to avoid the messiness of the law aspect by just preventing their own access to the data so they have no means to actually comply with such a request. They can't get in trouble for refusal for such requests anymore than they could get in trouble for being asked have Tim Cook shit out a unicorn.

about 4 months ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

Vokkyt Re:10 MPS would still leave us behind South Korea (533 comments)

That's kind of irrelevant when US cities can't match Latvian speeds. The major ISPs can claim they can, but what is advertised is quite frankly no where close to day to day usage.

about 5 months ago

Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

Vokkyt Re:Why? (753 comments)

Technically, they also can just walk around and shoot organ donors to steal organs, but it doesn't really mean they are. There are a lot of nasty things the government could be doing that it isn't.

It's not unreasonable to have a very healthy distrust of government, but in this case GP is right; the current government has historically just been meticulous about their monetary demands. It is more unreasonable to assume that they'd just send out a demand for money with no explanation or reasoning than it is to assume that the GGP is just making up a story to sound cool.

about 6 months ago


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